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Tag Archives: Collaborative Web Tools

Wave Hello!

So, after spending some time on various education-themed Waves (I had to limit myself because it started becoming a little overwhelming), I haven’t changed my mind drastically regarding the future of Wave. Or have I?

Yes it’s kinda cool.

Yes there’s potential.

Yes I’ve spent more time on Wave than on fb the last few days, believe it!

BUT… it’s still seriously early days. There is excitement, there is buzz – but will it come to anything?

I’m still trying to see it as a serious contender to tools currently being used in support of education and knowledge building. Here are some thoughts…

But first, here is an AWESOME indication of how awesome Wave is!

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Collaborative Note-Taking

So far the only strong case that makes sense to me is for collaborative note-taking. I mentioned this in my earlier post, and I still see this as a strong contender. Having a class all take notes in one place and be able to comment/correct/add multimedia in support of content seems like a really really cool idea. At the end, you have this great resource made up of class notes, additional info, commentary, discussion – all in one place. And I think that it being limited by just the class will keep the Wave to a manageable size.

The structure I see working, which is supported by many who are having this conversation in Wave, is this:

  • The teacher can set up the wave and invite students to it. The Wave could include the outline for the lesson that day – maybe even the slide headings and such that the teacher plans to cover.
  • Provide roles to the students: students can individually or in groups play roles like recording what teacher says (note-taker), spell checking, fact checking, supporting evidence gathering, etc.
  • Students and teachers alike can add comments or questions that don’t get addressed as part of the course of the class – maintaining what is also known as a Backchannel.

This would allow for the whole class to have a great reference in terms of notes for when they need to go over notes for an exam or paper or what-have-you. While the most construction would take place during class, this is something that could continue outside of class – but it isn’t imperative that it does.

A problem that some of the Waves foresee and I agree with, is that there will be slackers who benefit from this. But I think that as with all or most 2.0 stuff, there are always slackers or non-contributors who benefit from things (how many of us have actually done anything on Wikipedia?) Also, some educators talked about forcing kids to participate but others were quick to note that kids don’t like being ‘forced’ into anything.

Whatever the drawbacks, I do think that this is a more productive collaboration tool. I had to contribute to a Wiki for a class and it was really really boring. Even contributing to a blog is not as rewarding (no offense to this class) – the only way I feel engaged is if I have an RSS feed or turn on email notifications for comments. In a Wave – you can see people doing things in real time. There is something extremely compelling about that and I would like to think that it adds to a sense of community and could potentially act as a motivating factor in the collaborative note-taking scenario.

(There doesn’t seem to be a way for updates to a Wave to get to me other than just keeping my Wave window open and monitoring it. As a time-effective method this fails. The only way I can think of is similar to getting email updates, but that is the same as a blog. I’m sure something will come up – or we’ll get as addicted to Wave as we are to FB and keep it open all the time!)

I really really want to test this out in a real life situation and plan to test it with 4 of my classmates in another class. The output of that might be too late to report on in terms of this travelogue (some of them just got their accounts), but I will post my findings and feelings if there’s something interesting.

Assessment

This is a term that is so so so important in education – not always because teachers and educators think it is, but, um, NCLB (and check this and this out too if you’re interested). I won’t say anything more on the subject.

Regardless of the reasons for assessments, they are still a part of our educational reality today. How can Wave support this? I have one word for you: Playback.

Let’s take the collaborative note-taking example. After class, a teacher could playback the Wave to see how students collaborated and which ones did what and how much. A lot of our classes have 10% or 15% of our grade alloted to ‘active class participation’. I still haven’t clearly figured out what that means, but it still seems like a judgement call on the teacher’s (or TA’s) part.

Having said that, the Playback function of a Wave can indicated which students are actively participating in a discussion or as part of the whole Wave. But what about someone who’s role is merely ’spell-checker’ or ‘fact-checker’ you ask? Who said that students had to have the same roles for every class?? Over a period of time, one would be able to see what the dynamics of the whole year or semester look like. I think there is a LOT of potential to this approach.

Overall Comments

I have to say that since my last post, my skepticism is decreasing. But it won’t go away entirely until we can see and show how useful a tool Google Wave is. People were talking about how useful this could be for other uses in business – there was a lawyer who commented about how they could use it to collaboratively build a case file and such. I’m also seeing potential as an ethnographic or qualitative research tool. I do believe that there’s something to Google Wave.

Is it a game changer? I don’t know.

Google Docs was a game changer.

Gmail was a game changer.

Wikis were a game changer.

Blogs were a game changer.

All these tools helped us do what we already do… but better. Google Wave definitely has the potential to add to the general educational environment, but how much? There are already so many tools that support learning in similar ways. I think one of the key characteristics of Wave is that it is real time. Whether it is a serious game changer or not is yet to be seen.

Will I continue to use it? Hells yeah. Maybe even more than FB!

(Note: The interview with the educator using Wave was cancelled because he’s at the EDUCAUSE conference in Denver.)