Earlier this year, Google held a developers conference to unveil an impressive online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. The tool is known as Google Wave and it incorporates e-mail, wikis, instant messaging, social networking, and image/document sharing into one online tool. There is a hour long video demonstration of the tool on Google’s website that is worth a watch if you have some time. One of the most interesting features of Google Wave is the option to have live character by character transmission of a message so that others can see what is being typed as it is being typed. This feature allows users to work on a document together in real-time. Up until last week, only a certain number of developers had access to the tool but now Google has sent out 100,000 invites to beta testers. Each tester can then invite eight more people.
An article from The Chronicle of Higher Education features commentary from some college professors and administrators who believe that Google Wave could be used as an online classroom or course management system in the future. Steve Bragaw, a professor at Sweet Briar College noted, “Just from the initial look I think it will have all the features (and then some) for an all-in-one software platform for the classroom and beyond.” Greg Smith, chief technology officer at George Fox University, agreed that the system could be used in the classroom but noted that colleges will likely still use the course-management systems they currently rely on.
Google Wave could be open to the public sometime next year so it will be interesting to see how professors or universities utilize the tool.