Google Wave and Schools

Google Wave and Schools

There has been a lot of excitement in the technology-world about Google's new beta project, Google Wave - and rightfully so, it is an exciting new way of thinking about communication.  There's also been a lot of confusion about what exactly wave is and what it does; and because people have had a hard time explaining the tool, it has come off as a complicated application. However, after playing with it for a couple days, my opinion is just the opposite.  

So what is Google Wave?

The easiest way to think about Google Wave is to imagine real-time email; or a combination of email and instant messaging.  You can send and recieve messages just like email - but if the person / people you are writing to are online, you can have a real-time conversation with them.  They can even see your key-strokes while you're typing.  On top of this tricked-out email system, they have added gadgets to enrich the whole experience.  These are embeddable tools that allow you to do such things as polling, video conferencing, even sudoku - again all in real-time.  There's even a "playback" feature if you want to visually see how the conversation took place.  

So what does it do for Schools?

Teacher conferencing was the first thing that came to mind when I thought of Wave.  The real-time communication tools with the flexibility of email and an archive of the conversation could be very powerful.  However, online conferencing tools could be used for a variety of things - parent/teacher meetings, online debates, class-to-class projects.  Wave combines a lot of means of communicating, mixing together email / instant messaging / video conferencing / polling / file sharing - all of which will have some great classroom uses.   

So what's the catch?  At the moment, Google Wave suffers from the same problem that Google Apps for Education does - there is no student user.  By this I mean to point out that a user in both Google Wave and Google Apps are equal and have equal access and rights within the system.  So, a student could start a conversation or a "Wave" with another student, do all this cool stuff, or do some un-cool stuff and their teachers might never find out.  

Enough of this, I want Screenshots - how does it really work?!?!

Alright, here you go, however as to not add to any confusion, I'm going to keep it simple.  You can view a screencast I quickly put together as long as you promise not to laugh - it's a one-take kind of thing: