We Caught the Wave!!! How ‘bout you?
To experience Google Wave, our Educational Technology class at the University of Missouri-St. Louis used Google Wave as our means to communicate with one another. Since the main purpose of this class was to learn how to integrate technology into our classrooms, it seemed appropriate to use this new program in order to test its capabilities in the classroom. To become more familiar with the program, our instructor, Michael, dedicated one class session to learning the ins and outs of Google Wave. From that point on, we conducted class using Google Wave to post our goals for the day, facilitate discussions both in and out of class, upload documents, provide and receive peer feedback on our work, and to facilitate our learning of other pieces of technology. Our goal was to see if Google Wave was a useful technological tool to use in our classrooms. Through our initial impressions of Google Wave in the first week of this course, suggestions on how to use the program in classroom of different content areas, and our recommendations for improvement, we will inform you on both the advantages and limitations of Google Wave in hopes that you too experiment with this program.
Middle School Math
My name is Brian and I have been a mathematics teacher for nine years in a St. Louis City middle school. For me, Google Wave is essentially an improved chat room because you can collaborate on documents and upload audio and video all in real time. For example, you can post a YouTube video and then discuss the video via text or talking while keeping a dated record of the video and the discussion. I also like the tutorials to get you started as soon as you sign up for the service. There are different gadgets you can use to do other stuff such as link your Wave to Twitter, invite persons to participate in the chat without them even having a Google Wave account, translate different languages (text), and post Google documents inside the Wave all in real time. Finally, I like how it notifies you if new users add or edit the Wave (similar to Facebook e-mails).
I am not sure how this is going to revolutionize my teaching because my students already know about chat rooms and how to cut and paste in previous chat rooms anyway. I suppose I cannot really use it if it does not have a selling point because people need that to do something new before they are willing to give up their old way of doing things. I am not sure how “great” collaborating is as of yet until I see children using it. I see this website as being a stepping stone for future use but as of yet, it is not necessarily refined.
The best function of Google Wave is many different people can talk from different locations. The drawback is that it is only making more efficient what people are already doing, and people typically stick with what they know even if it is slightly less efficient.
I would require my students to have a Google account in order to provide consistent formats regarding assignments. Google is not filtered by my district unlike social web pages. I would like to see my students work together without the complication of having to actually meet somewhere physically. The students could use gadgets such as the translator to do some of their assignments (foreign language).
High School Math
My name is Lisa, and I am a 20-year teaching veteran, 18 years in a private school and the past two years in a St. Louis County public school. A big plus regarding Google Wave is that the communication occurs in real time, similar to instant messaging. It is interesting to see someone else typing in the same wave in which I am editing. Google Wave allows for responses to be seen the moment the person types what she has to say. Another big plus is that the individualized icons make it easy to recognize with whom one is communicating, and being able to individualize the icon to fit your personality is fun. Communication for everyone to read is a huge plus; if someone has a comment to post, she does not have to send the same message out to everyone individually because the message goes to everyone who is put at the top of the message, and this number of contacts can be 50+ people.
As a public high school math teacher, I could use Google Wave to provide students with an opportunity to talk about challenging math problems online. Sometimes a number of the homework problems can be so difficult that students might not know where to even start; however, with Google Wave, students can post their question(s), receive feedback from a classmate on Google Wave, and then have a jump start to begin and successfully complete the homework problem(s). I can also chime in with helping my students, but it would be a must to inform my students that they should not depend upon me to be surfing every night.
High School English
My name is Jocelyn and I have been teaching for six years in a St. Louis County school district. I teach high school English, and I have both honors and co-taught classes. For me, at first, Google Wave looked like a normal email account. It has everything a normal account would have such as an inbox, contacts, and navigation bar; however, Google Wave is not your typical email account because you can communicate with your contacts/peers immediately without having the wait time of an email. You can actually see another person responding to your initial message or wave at the very moment they are typing, which is the best part of this program because you can receive immediate feedback to your comments or work.
I can see how this program would benefit a language arts class because students need that quick feedback especially when writing. If I had all of my students set up a Google Wave account, we could use it as a blog in class. For example, I would set up an initial wave that asks each student to post their thesis statements for an upcoming paper. Then they will post their thesis statements to the wave and be able to comment on other students’ thesis statements and give feedback. I could also provide feedback and respond to what they have posted. I could also use Google Wave outside of class as a way for my students to ask homework questions. I would need to create a wave for that night’s assignment and then tell my students that I will be on Google Wave from six to six thirty that night, and if they have questions they can post those and I will respond. I will be able to see their questions as they type them and immediately respond to them. Therefore, Google Wave could benefit my language arts classes by making the feedback I provide more immediate.
High School Social Studies
My name is Dan and I have worked as a high school social studies teacher in St. Louis County for two years. My initial response came a few months ago when I heard a bunch of techies talking about a new Google product. They were talking about how Google was promising a new view of the Web as we knew it and that it would change the way people socialize, interact, and spread new ideas. I know of some newer businesses that have already started using Google Wave as a means of mutual working and sharing. For example, an advertising business puts together a new promotion and posts it on Google Wave. Then, the business who is trying to advertise can communicate what they like and dislike about the ad, and changes can be made right there on the spot.
I think of this as a classroom tool in the same way. A student can post a paper and communicate with either their teacher or their classmates until they have a finished product. The other unique feature is that you can pick and choose what you want to share and with whom. We no longer have to choose to either share a document or picture with everyone or no one; we can select groups or classes that can view a particular piece of information.
Finally, I see Google Wave having an influential impact on my personal and professional life. However, like Facebook, AIM, and even the Internet itself, we need to get people on the boat in order to realize its potential.
After using Google Wave for a few weeks, I have come up with a few ways that I can incorporate Google Wave into my classroom. I could use Google Wave in the classroom by putting in a blog about readings, posting online quizzes to particular classes, scanning and putting up primary sources for students to analyze.
Google Wave can also allow my students to collaborate on group projects. Suddenly the excuse “we couldn’t get a ride to the library to meet up” is replaced by the twofold excuse, “our Internet was down and we couldn’t get a ride to the library to meet up.” Google Wave is an online meeting place for collaboration on projects, allowing the students to be in different countries and still work on the same project at the same time.
University Technology Instructor
My name is Michael and I have been teaching Ed Tech classes at University of Missouri-St. Louis for five years. Almost four months ago when I first looked at Google Wave by viewing a number of news articles, I really did not know what to do with it or what it was. Finally, when I received my first invitation to log into Google Wave, or Wave for short, and checkout the actual program, I still did not know what to do. When I took a class a month ago through the Sloan-C Foundation with Ray Schroeder, Professor Emeritus from University of Illinois-Springfield, I started seeing what Wave could really do. Our final project was to collaborate with people on a common project. We decided to create a wave with all the information we learned from the class, and to then pass on to others what we learned. We decided to embed personal video introductions so when others viewed our training site on Google Wave, they could know a little bit more about us. We inputted our separate blips demonstrating and sharing what we learned. Before we actually started the training wave, we collaborated in a wave with each other and it was fantastic seeing what each person was typing in real time. It was fun and exciting to work with two other people I never met before to create this training wave; it was creative too.
As an instructor, I could use Wave as a place to post homework, post comments, ideas and invite collaboration. There is so much you can do with Google Wave that we have not yet begun to scratch the surface. I wish the Twitter gadget worked better. I especially liked the Mr. Ray bot in which people outside the wave could participate in the discussion happening inside the wave. One day outside of class, I was watching a website as reporters were updating viewers in real time, all the new Apple products announced by Steve Jobs. The website had a wave embedded in their web page and two writers were updating the viewer live in the embedded wave; they updated the site in real time to keep the viewers informed. It was cool to see them typing and adding photos as the event happened live. The Nimbb gadget, is really nice as well. This gadget allows users to add embedded video straight to the wave using their webcam. I would also like to use the “Recording Machine greetings N comments” gadget too. This would be handy to have students offer feed back for peer review or verbal comments instead of doing a lot of writing that most distance learning management systems use.
While Google Wave has many advantages, there also exist some disadvantages to the web program. Students have to set up an individual Google account and their parent(s) might not allow this. Some students might not have access to the Internet at their house, leaving them in a bind if the assignment is to be completed at home. These students might be turned off to the idea of using Google Wave because they do not have a computer or the Internet at home. Some students are not comfortable with using a computer, and just when their comfort level increases, the Internet might go down-an unfortunate and unpredictable occurrence. In addition to comfort level, some students may be reluctant to stop using their familiar communication programs.
Another disadvantage to Google Wave is its inability to allow the user to easily manage folders. The different waves, although able to be put in individual folders, remain lined up in the inbox, similar to Google Mail. A less obvious disadvantage to Google Wave is in the reply to a blip. The green oval would appear and one could click inside that area to reply; however, the reply would jump to the bottom of the wave instead of the area in which the sender intended it. The solution was to actually click on the time and manually select “Indented Reply” or “Insert Above” to be precise in the blip placement.
Internet Explorer does not run Google Wave natively, and therefore another disadvantage to Google Wave is that it needs Firefox to run. Not all computers use that web browser and even though a portable version of Firefox is available for a flash drive, that portable version is not good for more than about five uses.
One recommendation for Google Wave is that it have the capability for in-line viewers for uploaded media, similar to YouTube. It would also be great to have a mobile version that actually works on a mobile device similar to the iPad or iPod Touch. Unfortunately, every time a user viewed Google Wave on one of these handheld devices, the program crashed.
To Wave or not to Wave?
After four weeks of using Google Wave, our class has come to a consensus that we like Google Wave as a professional tool. We like it because it allows you to download, upload, and edit media, and because of its ability to do this collaboratively in real time.
This new way of communicating is as close to working together in person without actually being in the same room as the other person. Because of Google Wave, people can work together and collaborate on projects from far away and still get the personal feel that video conferencing brings, only not with a video. The only thing that seems to be holding Google Wave from reaching its full potential is the fact that some people are just not ready to have a tool with as many capabilities as Google Wave, and that others are just uninformed as to how they can implement Google Wave into their classroom, business, or personal life. In order to understand Google Wave, you just have to experience it at http://wave.google.com/wave.
Brian Boeser has been a mathematics teacher for nine years in a St. Louis City middle school.
Lisa Basich is a 20-year teaching veteran, 18 years in a private school and the past two years in a St. Louis County public school. She teaches mathematics.
Jocelyn Fretwell has been teaching for six years in a St. Louis County school district. She teachs high school English, both honors and co-taught classes.
Dan Richter has been working as a high school social studies teacher in St. Louis County for two years.
Michael Porterfield is a doctoral student and teacher Ed Tech classes at University of Missouri-St. Louis for five years.
Tags: Google Wave
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