Coming this year, Google is going change the way we think about email, online collaboration, sharing files and publishing online content with Google Wave.
The premise behind Wave is to reinvent how we interact online. The makers of Google Maps have had some time to think about it and came up with an idea: Why do current online activities like email have to mimic their real world counterparts?
So they created Wave.
As best as I can describe it, a “wave” is a document that you can share with people. Everyone logs into Google Wave and they all see the same document (collaboration). We can all edit it in real-time without having to send anything back and forth. It’s instant. We can add pictures, links to websites, see what other people have changed in the “wave” and then see a final product. We can talk to each other in the document (instant message) and talk about changes and updates. If we want to let someone see the final product, we add them to the wave (email) by clicking on their name in the address book. Nothing needs to be emailed. There aren’t multiple copies of documents and there’s no need to wait for replies (if everyone is online at the same time working).
But what is even more special about Wave is that it’s completely open to other developers to create extensions to Wave’s abilities. Google has even created their own extensions to add a Google Map to a wave that everyone can draw on and mark places on the map for other people to see.
You can also blog a wave. Instead of going to Blogger.com to blog, you can post a wave to your blog. Then when people comment on your blog, your wave back at Google Wave shows those comments live, even while people are typing in it.
So what would Google Wave mean for RCPS schools? That’s really to be determined by the final product. Since it is outside communication, it would most likely be blocked for Acceptable Use Policy reasons. Unless Google released a version of that we could run inside the county network, Wave will probably never see the light of our school’s flourescents. We do allow access to Google Docs, which Wave takes it’s collaboration facet from and I strongly recommend Docs over Word or Apple Works on almost a daily basis to students and teachers. It auto saves, never crashes and since it’s a website, you don’t have to email documents to yourself from work/school and home.
Google Wave will likely flip the online communication world on it’s head since it integrates so many different aspects of the way we do things online. I expect Wave to be what the iPhone and it’s similar cellphone products were to the telephone but for email.
I highly recommend that you watch the following video. Let it load for a bit and then skip to about the 13 minute mark.
Link: Google Wave Preview