I’ve been playing around with Google Wave for a few days now, trying to work out what it can offer us as a new vehicle for communication. My initial impression is that it is real time email. If you are online at the same time as participants in a Wave you can use it like an instant messaging service. To improve your functionality you really need to install Google Gears. (thanks Richard for enlightening me about this!) I didn’t have this installed and found that I wasn’t able to embed Youtube videos or drag and drop pictures into the Wave. Once Google Gears was installed I was able to do a lot more.
It really only makes sense if you are using it with someone else. Trying it out by yourself is pretty unexciting. You need to be able to see what can happen when there are others working with you. Collaboration is what Google Wave is going to be useful for and I can see a use for it for students and staff. The Gravity gadget that has been developed by SAP Research in Queensland offers some insight into how business will use this tool. You can easily apply this type of scenario to school based staff and student collaborative use.
I’m by no means an expert on Google Wave, but there are some features about it that I like. Embedding videos and dragging and dropping pictures is easy and they are going to enable you to do the same with Google Docs. I’m keen to have a go at using Rosy, the translation feature, but first I have to figure out how to get it added to my contacts so I can drag it into a conversation when it is needed. (I think that’s how it works anyway!!) Then I have to find a non English speaking Wave user to see if Rosy translates conversations as effectively as it promises to do. If it did, it would be a huge breakthrough for communication with classrooms that previously had been inaccessable due to language constraints.
Take a look at the video I made to show you what it’s like. It’s not brilliant, and you’ll probably need headphones to hear the commentary, but it will give you some idea of what a Wave is like. (I made it in a hurry last night!)
Daniel Tenner has written a good post; What problems does Google Wave solve? Worth a read.