June 12, 2009

Google Wave as a Learning Tool

The web is a buzz over Google Wave. The platform is an incredible communication tool that if realized will change the way we work, collaborate, and learn. The tool was created by the engineers that brought us Google maps. Take the time to check out the demonstration.

If you watched the video (I know it is long.) you realize immediately how this type of workflow can really improve the productivity of a virtual team. It solves one of the biggest problems on the web, which is long emails with multiple threads that contain a lot of critical information on various topics. Being able to parse that information out and understand the timeframe of the conversation is very time consuming. It also addresses integration of instant messaging and mobile phones into the conversation. Currently these sub-conversations typically get lost. Wave also is dealing with team-based live document editing, realtime photo sharing, and language translations. Impressive, to say the least.

But I immediately began to think about how Google Wave is a platform for social learning. As with any new technology there are a couple of ways to think about it. One is to consider how this might improve the traditional models of education. Think of a Wave as a tool that could support current collaborative learning models. It would also be fun to consider how Google Wave might be transformational in creating a new approach or social learning platform.

I think this will put us a lot closer to the concept Jay Cross talked about years ago called workflow learning. The concept as I remember Jay explaining back then was the learning opportunities would be embedded into the workflow process. No one would go to a class or even take an online course, that wasn't embedded into the workflow or task of the knowledge worker. Waves really open up that possibility.

I know that I will be very interested to learn more about Google Waves in the near future.


  1. Kris,
    Couldn't agree with you more. Googlwave should provide an interesting new platform to design for -- especially with the playback mechanism.

    We just need a lot of learning gadgets that we can embed in a wave to make learning seamless.

    cheers, rani

  2. Hey Rani,

    I think that your idea of learning gadgets is very interesting. Do you have some specific ones in mind? I wonder if there could be a "quiz" or "feedback" gadget that you could embed in a wave, the you thought would help a self-directed learner? or maybe it is just the ability to post their ideas, questions, comments to a forum?

    Cool stuff.

  3. Hey Lee, isn't this interesting...Great minds think alike. As a teacher who uses Web 2.0 in a variety of ways, I can't wait to get my hands on this.

    Great work,
    Mark Swiger

  4. Thanks for the note Mark.

  5. Lee - a website listing all gadgets and robots for GoogleWave - thought it might be of interest to you.


  6. I think a quiz gadget would be a great tool for the classroom. Googlwave looks like a great tool - easy enough for students to use and not too scary for those teachers that are not so tech savvy!

  7. Thanks for the link, Rani.

  8. Googlewave has the potential to be a very useful and popular way for people to communicate. I really can't wait to see what all the designers at the demonstration come up with to make the product even better. I'm sure like facebook and iphones, googlewave will soon be filled with apps to cater to the direct need of each user.

  9. The email portion of the video was very interesting. I agree that the technology looks a lot like a classroom Blackboard. This would be a great way to communicate with family that may be all over the world, but also communicating with classrooms globally. Distance learning from other classrooms in other states or countries would be easily attainable through this form of communication. Very exciting! I will be anxiously waiting to try this out.