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The Web and the Real World Vol. 3

Volume 3 of The Web and the Real World (as its come to be called).


The web and the real world… Podcast 2

This week’s podcast focuses on Facebook hijackings, social media & the legal system, Google smoke screens and more.


JM_FacebookHijack Read More »

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.


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.)

History Repeats Itself: Microsoft to Apple, Apple to Google

Although my travelogue has sought to establish a grounding for the battle between Verizon’s new Android phone and At&t’s Apple iPhone, I think that that there are so many minute aspects that contribute to the battle to encompase it in such a short travelogue.  Especially without extensive reviewing of the new device  by both the public and the media, it’s hard to see where the larger populous stands.  I’ve found it strange that I seem to have witnessed myself becoming more of a spokesperson for the Droid device even though I haven’t seen or played with the actual device myself.  I have had the chance to use the iPhone extensively and do understand the appeal to such a device, and have bought into the hype only to the extent to which I own its little brother, the iPod Touch.  Read More »

Is Google Wave the new Whiteboard?

There was a time that people seriously believed that a whiteboard would change education. Really. The truth of the matter is that whiteboards just replaced whatever technology was already being used. We’re still doing pretty much the same things, just with a different tool. I’m not saying that it’s not easier or faster, but it’s essentially the same thing.

Let me also clarify my perspective regarding Google Wave: I’m a skeptic. So, from that angle, I’ve been scouring educational Waves to see what people are talking about and how they see Google Wave being a serious change-maker on the educational scene.

Tech-minded educators are always excited when a new technology emerges that “has the potential to change the face of education”. This is actually a great thing, because Google Wave is being tested by many educators and they are trying it out with their students, talking to other educators, fiddling, faddling, commenting, chatting, polling – you get the picture. In my opinion, educators are some of the hardest people to please – they will try something out to see if it works and are very vocal about what works and what doesn’t work. They’re willing to accept the ‘potential’ of something new, but only up to a certain point. It has to deliver, else it will fall by the wayside.

Back to Google Wave for education.

A few days ago, I came across this article and the same day, about 5 people forwarded it to me (including Mushon – thank you!). It didn’t really say much except a general sweeping statement that “engaging with Google Wave – and the Web in general in fact – will lead to smarter, better performing students.” Really?

The article pointed me to some of the education-themed Waves going around, but did talk about collaborative note-taking, which is something I’ve been looking at regarding Wave. My main thought was: can Wave do something new and different for students and teachers? How is it different from tools that are already being used in educational settings?

Most of the Waves I’ve been lurking on (yes I did contribute as well!) seemed like discussion forums around the use of Wave – there weren’t as many examples of actual use – probably because not everyone has access – although there were some individuals who talked about using it in smaller groups. These waves seemed to be loooooong discussions and replies to each other. I know it’s early days still, and, to be honest, there are some people out there who are doing a great job of organizing these ways into something more coherent. It’s actually lovely to see people start using a new technology and figure out how to make it work best for them.

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An interesting Wave I read through and have been following is the Collaborative Note-Taking Wave. It is well-organized and focussed, and I think this is also because it started in a couple of different Wave (Software Roles in Education and Wave in Class) and was moved over to its own Wave once it started getting larger. The move was then more focussed, with one or two people setting out a ‘Table of Contents’ of sorts – providing headings under which other people could add ‘blips’ and continue the conversation. This actually was not a bad example of actual Collaborative Note-Taking…

Anyway, about the Collaborative Note-Taking – people really seemed to like Google Wave for this… The ideas were interesting – especially the ones that hinted at students being ‘forced’ into using tech and being told to post a certain number of times – reminds me so much of Blackboard! (There is a Wave that talks about Wave vs. Blackboard that I haven’t delved into, but you can bet I will!). It was also interesting to see that people seemed to get early on that there needs to be some structure so in a collaborative note-taking environment, there would need to be roles assigned and each student would fulfill that role during the class. Watching Wave, I think this is one of the best uses I’ve seen discussed. I guess the first use that to me, makes sense. We’re still trying to see how it all fits together, and I think this is one way that could be useful.

One user talked about a friend in school who would type out notes for every class and then pass it along to the rest of the class and the other classmates would add their own and make the notes more ‘complete’. Wave would be perfect for students in a class to create notes with – everyone would contribute, correct each other, add multimedia, start discussions on some of the notes, etc. It seems so so exciting!

The only thing I worry about is the length of the Wave – I feel that once it gets past a certain number of blips, it can get unwieldy and also might lose value as a source of reference. But I suppose as a note-taking tool, it wouldn’t go beyond a particular length.

Here is a conversation between me and one of the main contributors of this Wave:

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Like I said, it’s still early stages, BUT, Wave is bringing educators together to talk about the potential and how this could possibly bring more interactivity and interest into the classroom.

One thing I’m hoping for that will be a deviation from the way things often play out – I hope that Wave affords different things to do in new and different ways. What I mean by this is that many tools that we use now are basically replacements for how we did it before – instead of taking notes in a book, we take them on our computers. Instead of using a blackboard, we use a smartboard – we’re doing the same things with different tools. I think changing the paradigm of how we approach education is key to creating awesome learning experiences and knowledge building environments.

I am conducting an interview with an educator who has been playing around with Wave and interacting with other educators on the topic. He’s even been in on some classroom Waves so I’m looking forward to some of his insights. I was hoping to catch him today (hence the slightly late post) but he only has time tomorrow, so this’ll have to do for now.

And, even though I’m still on the skeptic fence, I have to admit that I’ve been playing around in Wave for most of this weekend – it really is very cool and it’s even cooler to watch and be part of the evolution that is Wave.

REJECTED: My Experience with 3D Buildings and an Uncommunicative Google

In this post I am going to talk about my numerous problems with this software and how I attempted to talk to Google about them unsuccessfully. I will also draw general conclusions.

My Problems With SketchUp and Google Maps/ Earth:



The last of the six problems I had with this experience has been resolved: how to know whether or not my building was accepted. A curious flag appeared on my model’s page in warehouse today. Read More »

All about the hype…where’d it go?

I know I was just as excited as everyone else to see if there was any profound revelations that might be revealed at the unveiling of the Droid by Motorola.  Unfortunately, even with the few revelations that were made, it was a little lackluster, likely due to its pre-hype status.  Though I planned on specifically discussing a few sections within this post, I think I will rather integrate some of this information with some of the newly unveiled information as they relate to each other.  So here’s a little run down. Read More »

Google: Maps, Earth, and SketchUp 7

Below I detail the problems within making structures in Googles 3D Building Maker, the software and their relationships, and a quick Google Trike Update.


The Building Maker Interface

The Building Maker Interface

Read More »

Flash Me, Touch Me,or At Least Key Me In.

iPhone users have responded…

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So here’s a little more information on where our competition still lies and some more details into the differences that might, well…make a difference.

Read More »

What is Google Wave good for?

Hello, I am back! And trying to get back into the groove of things. Please bear with me and help me out… Thanks!

SO, for travelogue 3, I’m thinking of looking at Google Wave. I received an invite a couple of weeks ago and have been playing around in it, still learning about the things one can do in there and trying to figure out why and in what contexts one can use it.

I had a friend ‘Wave at me’ and was able to look at these messages. At first I was confused. The Wave seemed to be a giant chat log of messages that everyone included on the Wave had posted. It didn’t make a lot of sense. What I did notice was that my friend posted small polls during the wave regarding what we thought of Google Wave and whether it would turn out to be useful and what kind of impact it would have. And then carried on a ‘conversation’. People replied to each other, or to different posts, and could correct each others’ posts, and add links and such.


Members or participants in a Wave being polled...

I also discovered a cool feature called ‘Playback’ that replays, step by step, every single thing that happened in the wave, including when people were added to the wave and what messages were added or deleted.

You can replay the interactions in a Wave from start to finish!

You can replay the interactions in a Wave from start to finish!

I’m still trying to figure out if the hype is worth it and if this is something that will really catch on. Here’s an interesting comment from one of the Waves:

collaboration tools are interesting & useful, but doubt this will be a “game changer”. mashing up these techs here is A Good Idea, but as the unworkable length of this particular “Wave” responses shows, it can be problematical as well.

I’m also still trying to figure out the correct lingo and a way to connect with other Wave users (I tried looking for Jason on Wave but was unable to find him). Once I figure that out, maybe we can wave at each other? =)

Some questions I’m looking at:

  • How will this benefit interactions between people – this in contrast with what’s already available out there. How does Wave do it differently from Google Docs or Chat or what-have-you?
  • How can Wave work for education? There are many tools used for classes today – wikis, blogs (like this one!), etc. How will Wave compare?
  • Is it a lot of noise or is there a way to make the chaos work? My first wave seemed like an overload – or was that because I started looking at it later?
  • How is Google Wave going to be different from iGoogle? I already have many ‘gadgets’ in iGoogle that show me my mail, docs, rss feeds, etc. Will Google Wave be the ‘one more thing’ that I have to keep track off??

Oh, and an interesting contender?

In the meantime, wave at me if you can: savasaheli@googlewave.com.

(And yes, let me know if you want an invite. Once they send me a message telling me I can invite people, I will definitely pass it on to as many people as I can!)