Google Wave is a communication technology that can be used by educators for both synchronous and asynchronous communication.
Wave is a free social networking tool available through Google Labs that is now available to everyone. (Previously, beta testing required an invitation for Google Wave) Email has been around for 40 years and Google Wave is billed as the newest most innovative way to communicate electronically. A wave is a live shared space on the web where people can discuss and work together. Text, photos, videos, maps and more can be shared in real-time.
Learning goals are determined by the instructor. Instructors are currently using Google Wave for course activities such as small group projects or collaborative note-taking.
Users may use Google Wave to access content, respond, change, replay, send to a blog, or add new material and attachments. The wave allows users to work collaboratively and creatively both synchronously and asynchronously.
Target Student Population:
Students will need to be at least 13 years old to create a Google Wave account.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Students should have a general understanding of how email, wikis, and chat work.
Type of Material:
Google Wave is part word processor, part email, part chat, part wiki and many other things still to be determined.
Google Wave works well for collaborative group projects, where students are working together to create digital products. A Wave contains all the messages about a single topic. It is similar to a discussion forum, except the messages can be both like email/wiki (asynchronous) and chat (real-time).
Users should have access to a current web browser and and internet connection. They will also need a Google Wave account.
Evaluation and Observation
Instructors and students will be creating the content so this rating is not appropriate for Google Wave.
Google Wave can be integrated into any discipline, course and content. The content is constantly being upgraded and expanded; at the time of this review there are 68 extensions available for educators using the wave.
Google wave is still in the experimental stage and may not always be available if it doesn't become part a permanent part of the Google site. Some extensions for the wave are prototypes, a significant amount of time is needed to explore the many features of the Google Wave.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Recent research in online learning (e.g. Means (2009) and Zhao (2005)) emphasizes the value gained by having students collaborate in blended learning environments. Google Wave can be used in both real-time and asynchronous learning activities. Students may feel less isolated when working in real-time and be more reflective in asynchronous activities. Having a single tool to handle both types of communication can help small group project organization and make participation assessment much easier.
The potential of the Google Wave is immeasurable. Educators are using the site to gauge formative learning, make corrections, clear misconceptions and make iterations as students are working (real time). Using Google Wave may encourage more assignments using multimedia and less reliance on traditional text.
There was a concern about students getting invitations to Google Wave but that changed during the Spring of 2010. Accounts are now generated automatically when a student signs up.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Google Wave includes a number of shortcut key strokes that can make typed communication more efficient.
The Google Wave inter-operates with other applications. Students who are nontechnical may find the wave easier to use for interactive coursework.
Users have to learn the shortcuts so there can be some confusion as to how to best navigate in the Wave environment.
The Google Wave requires experimentation and exploration by the user. Many helpful tutorials are available; YouTube has Googlewave's channel.
Other Issues and Comments:
Many voices can be active simultaneously, which can be distracting for some users. Many extensions and prototypes are being developed which require additional exploration time and trial.