The Electric Educator: 9 Ways to Use Google Wave

Thursday, October 29, 2009

9 Ways to Use Google Wave

It has been great watching the stream of potential uses for Google Wave roll in. I wish that I had more than nine invitations to give out! Here are what I believe to be the best potential uses of Google Wave. Some are ideas for specific classroom lessons while others are big picture concepts. I am proud to be able to provide access to Wave for these 9 individuals. Your invitations should be arriving shortly!

Mrs. Davis: Our school district (in New Hampshire) is piloting a program for the state this year where three of our snow days will become online learning days (and will not have to be made up in June). I could see the Google Wave being used for class discussions and assignments on these snow days. Since I teach language arts, I could hold a Wave class discussion with my students and be able to continue with whatever we should have been doing in class.

Wave has great potential as a continuation of learning tool. The H1N1 flu virus has closed several schools this year already. When a school closes, a large percentage of the student body may be sick, but a large percentage is not. A tool such as Wave enables the students who are well enough to collaborate together in an online environment. Wave replaces the need for multiple services such as a Wiki to post work, Google Docs to collaborate on documents, email to communicate asynchronously, and instant messaging services to communicate synchronously. From personal experience with using technology with students I have learned that the simplest solution is the best. Using one tool instead of four is a great advancement.

Pamela D: I'm the director of a special education cooperative that provides professional development for teachers of students with disabilities. I can think of LOTS of uses for Wave in our work but my first use would be as a tool for our Inclusion Project. We have teams of school personnel involved in a yearlong project where they are learning how to effectively integrate a student with disabilities into general education classrooms. Because those teams are in 17 different school districts across large geographic area, this tool would allow us to collaborate in real time as we work with our consultant in New Hampshire and our teams here in Kentucky.

I have great respect for special education teachers. The pressure that is put on this group of professionals to meet deadlines and keep track of volumes of paperwork is amazing. As Wave begins to integrate with software and hardware tools it will become even more valuable. I can see Wave applications for the iPhone and Android handsets in the very near future. Arming each of these special ed. teachers with such devices would extend their ability to communicate and collaborate.

Johnsonlabz: I am interested in using Google wave for writing class scripts. The old version would be a student starts a story, then passes it to the next student. Here we could have 30 students at once writing the same story. A group of students would be working on introducing the characters, another on the trial that needs to be overcome, another on the conclusion. As the teacher adds information or twists, each group needs to change the story to reflect the changes. Any changes that happen in the intro need to be developed by the other groups, and equally any spins that happen later, have to be eluded to by the earlier groups. This will completely change the method of story development.

A lot of uses for Google Wave involve online learning however this idea involves students using wave in a traditional classroom setting. Whenever I promote a new technology I always remind teachers that the fundamental aspects of effective instruction remain the same. Technology doesn't change the basics, it simply repackages them in a new and exciting way. Class stories have been around forever. They were great when a sheet of paper was passed around the class. I watched two students do this for the sheer enjoyment of it this week. Utilizing Wave simply repackages this effective teaching strategy in a new and exciting way. I can only imagine the story that would be written. Who knows, perhaps the next Harry Potter will be a collaborative work written through Wave.

Abdul Rehman: One of the advantages of Google wave will be "Globalization". This way people from different cultures who speak different languages, can communicate with each other. Thus, bringing them closer to one another, another step in the direction of making this world a real "village". I spent two years in Germany for my Masters degree which was in English, where I also spent some of time in learning German. I could not communicate with some of people at University there because I could not speak German at first, By using Google wave I could have communicated with those people as well and this would have also helped me to learn German more quickly. In short Google wave will bring different cultures of the world closer, thus, bringing more peace and harmony to the world.
The integrate translation feature of Google Wave is pretty amazing. To see it in action, view the video below:

The possibilities for exchange programs, 21st century pen pals, and language classes are endless. Great idea Abdul. I'm not quite convinced that Google Wave will lead to world peace however! = )

Jeanie Robinson: I work at the Career Center Middle College High School. Our construction classes are building a house nearby. We have a mobile lab onsite that is wired for high speed internet and close circuit observation back at the high school. The idea is to integrate the building of the house into our academic curriculum. I think Google Wave would be a perfect way for teachers and students to collaborate with whoever is at the mobile lab on the construction site. It would also make it easier for the staff to coordinate lessons and lesson planning. The instant communication tools would allow us to look at pictures...maybe solve geometry problems in math class and then communicate back to the site. Look up regulations for licensing in civics and communicate back. The possibilities are endless.

Cross-curricular projects are wonderful and authentic learning opportunities, but boy are they hard to coordinate and arrange. This sounds like a fun way to utilize the power of collaboration in two different disciplines. I hope you get a chance to try it out!

Nash Sherchan: I'm from Nepal and envisioning a prototype school in Mustang village one of the most remote place on earth where we could test the eLearning (Distance Education combined with Face to Face) to those less privileged leveraging wireless internet technology and Google Wave and other social media like Ning. I would like to use Google Wave with volunteer teachers and students from different parts of the world that are interested to help the school. It would be a common platform to share, collaborate on lessons and deliver the digital contents to those students in the rural village. One of the problems we have in rural villages in the mountains is that the cost of carrying those physical books to the village is so high, that the education becomes expensive and it is not affordable to a simple farmer to send their kids to the school. Another major problem is that the talented teachers are not motivated at all to go to the villages rather be in the big cities to enjoy the benefits that Big cities offer. With web 2.0 technologies we have a chance to solve these problems. I see a great future where for the first time in the history that we can provide education to the poorest people of those remote villages at a very low cost that is affordable or could be funded by Education Foundation backed by social entrepreneurs around the world. I'm excited and thrilled about the future. I'm very positive that we can make a difference.

The cost of delivering information has essentially reached zero (for a full discussion of this idea I would recommend Free by Chris Anderson). This enables us to send valuable information anywhere in the world. I can't imagine a much better use of Google Wave than educating the poor and underprivileged. Good luck Nash, I hope that your invitation to Wave is the start of something great!

I'm a student in Cádiz, Spain. I'm fourteen years old. In school, we are creating a digital newspaper and it would be great to use Google Wave technologies on it. Our intention is to win the "Cadiz newspaper prize" so, if you help us, we will be very happy.

Using Wave to collaborate on a school newspaper or even the school yearbook is a great idea! Each department of the publication can maintain their own Wave which the editors can monitor and edit throughout the process. Different writers and photographers would be able to post their articles and pictures which could then easily be transferred in to the layout program. Thanks for submitting a great idea! Good luck with your paper and the contest!

Christy Tyler: I am a middle school science teacher. Wave would be a great tool for use in my classroom. It would allow my students to collaborate on projects as well as create one formal lab write up.

As a science teacher (biology), I understand where Christy is coming from. Wave would be a great tool to use during formal lab reports. My students continually struggle with data aggregation, analysis, and assessment. Working on a formal lab write up as a class would teach them the process without overwhelming them with the amount of work that is required. Over time the collaboration can be moved to smaller groups and then eventually be the responsibility of each student.

Drew S.: I am in search of an opportunity to reconnect with students. As high school principal, I am looking for this type of opportunity to re-engage learners in their environment, getting back "into" the classroom with technology that will allow for collaboration and transformation of education. Google Wave will provide a platform to change the way things are done; to create an open environment in education where many are still so secretive.

As a prospective school administrator, I can appreciate the magnitude of what Drew is trying to accomplish. Navigating a huge shift in philosophy and mission requires a lot of work and political will. I am in the midst of a similar battle and sometimes I wonder if it is all really worth it. Education has been compartmentalized for too long. Creating authentic learning and assessment opportunities is a critical component of preparing students for careers in today’s society. If we don't train our students to be successful in the 21st century marketplace, we have failed them. The NETS standards created by ISTE have been instrumental in identifying target skills that students should be developing in school. Google Wave is one method to encourage the development of these skills. Good luck, Drew, I hope that you are successful in changing the culture of your school. Thanks to everyone who posted ideas and observation over the past couple of weeks. Although I have exhausted my supply of invitations, I would encourage you to continue the dialog about Wave and other technologies that help preparing students for success in life. As always I encourage your comments, e-mails, and tweets.

John Sowash
jsowash [at] southfieldchristian [dot] org


  1. Nice post... too bad you lost your own thunder by making it over a week late!!!

  2. John,

    What a surprise this morning to see my post on your blog. I'm so jazzed that I won one of the nine Google Waves. I'm sorry I neglected to post my email address. You can email me at

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    Tina Davis

  3. Thanks for sharing. Better late than never ^^

  4. I am looking to see samples. I don't understand why this doesn't seem possible, if people can collaborate, what is the product?


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