A Google Wave to the LMS Haters

I steered clear of the Google Wave hype until David Wiley posted a short, resounding “things with the potential to completely transform the way we teach and learn come along so rarely I had to share.” I joked at CUNY WordCampEd that Google had all the makings of the killer LMS already they just needed to tie it together and re-imagine the flow (and I got this from a conversation in the wee hours of the night after Faculty Academy with Cole Camplese and Brad Kozlek), well Wave is in many ways that. In fact, it goes a step further and makes online conference/meeting tools like Eluminate, Adobe Connect, etc. all but irrelevant, for live video and voice can’t be far behind the instantaneous chat, document editing, map embedding, video watching, presentation sharing, and on and on and on.

And while I have to admit that watching the Google zombies present this app scared the hell out of me, the incessant call for applause sickened me, and the general sense that the open web has become the Google web deeply alarmed me—I still have no doubt that David Wiley’s assessment is right on, especially given the API will soon be unleashed upon an open web full of developers. I know that Google didn’t re-invent the LMS quite as I joked, but what they did is actually make it all but irrelevant by re-imagining email and integrating just about every functionality you could possibly need to communicate and manage a series of course conversations through an application as familiar and intimate as email. Genius, horrifying, but genius. And just to think UMW signed its students on to Microsoft Live this past fall! “Ah, Bartleby! Ah, humanity!”

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22 Responses to A Google Wave to the LMS Haters

  1. Jared Stein says:

    Yeah, the applause almost seems canned, but Wave _is_ hot, and I am itching to replace a semester worth of Moodle discussion forums with this.

  2. Reverend says:


    It certainly does make so many of the ideas of conversation and publishing we are all chasing after look somewhat quaint. I really don’t understand it all yet, but what I saw made me wonder if something like this, which is so rooted in the dominant technology of email, will actually make embed, RSS, collaborative editing and all the other characteristics of the social web quotidian to some large extent.

  3. Jason P says:

    Something I started wondering when I learned a little about gwave is whether it can solve the comment syndication conundrum. That’s to say, maybe it can be used to basically make blog posts portable with comments included? Instead of linking back to a blog post on another site for reference, just embed the wave in your blog and add your comments. People referencing/participating likewise from other blogs see all comments/threads/etc. from discussions about the post from all over the Net. Also gives everyone a WYSIWYG editor that permits incorporation of multimedia. Still trying to get my head around it but wonder if a future blog posts will just be waves and references to them will be embeds.

  4. Siraj says:

    Moodle may find the way to survive, but I am waiting to see email to be replaced with all in one like Google Wave.

  5. Siraj says:

    Moodle may find the way to survive, but I am waiting to see email to be replaced with all in one lively tool like Google Wave.

  6. Jon Mott says:

    There’s absolutely some huge potential here. I too am still trying to wrap my head around it all. And, yes, putting all our teaching & learning eggs in the Google basket makes me nervous. But the openness of the tool and conversation paradigm have the potential to redefine how we communicate throughout the learning process. I love the idea of “capturing” a conversation between experts (teachers) and novices (learners) and then being able to play it back, augment it, enhance it, share it . . . all on the fly. The possibilities seem limitless. Pretty cool stuff.

  7. Gardner says:

    I can’t wait to play. But you know me, Jim: I’m also insanely curious about the way Google got to this moment and this innovation. I want to see the Wave behind the Wave–and then make some crazy analogies that will springboard more innovation in the way we think about the peculiar and essential thrills we call “teaching and learning.”

    In other words, how did the School of Google come up with this innovation? I need a commentary track. 🙂

    I’m excited by the prospects.

  8. Cole says:

    This looks to be so close the things we’ve been discussing — but with a whole new way of looking at it. I cannot wait to see how this *really* works for teaching, working, and conversation streaming. This is the first new thing I am genuinely excited about in a long time!

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  10. James says:

    All the Google fanfare was enough to make one sick in the video, and I really worry about the domination that Wave possibly represents for Google (as if their domination is not already enough).

    However, until someone comes along who can compete on a feature and innovation front, this kind of stuff is going to get us hook line and sinker.

    All it takes with Wave, to do virtually anything one wants, is to build an extension via the open APIs. Since it was a browser based app, I’m not sure how extensions will be implemented and will they require Google gatekeeping? Hopefully, you’ll simply sign in with your Google ID and customize extensions from a repository.

    I digress. Not only does this hold great promise for both asynchronous and synchronous messaging targeted at educational needs, but when you really look at it, the potential exists to be a real killer for IM, Twitter and most other forms of informal text-based communications.

    Google will continue to empire build because of features and ease-of-use, kind of like Apple should have.

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  12. Ed Webb says:

    Once this stuff is embeddable in, say, PB Works, then the LMS will be truly redundant. I’m already delivering courses via PBWorks, but once all communication functions can be fully integrated, it will be that much slicker and easier for less tech-savvy students and faculty to work with. Google will own us all. And we will love it.

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  14. Andre Malan says:

    I think Google’s plans for Wave means that we don’t have to worry about everything being in the Google web. They showed two examples of the same technology running completely independent of Google’s servers.

    That means that institutions that can’t or don’t want to use Google (any university in Canada for example) can just install Wave on their own servers and leave Google out of the picture.

    I think the goal from a Google standpoint is to make email redundant. They know that that would be impossible if they made everything Google, so they had to make it nice and open (well that’s what they said anyway). Let’s hope they stick to that promise.

  15. James says:

    @Andre I’m not sure the instances were truly running completely independent of Google, though I could be wrong. With HTML5 and open APIs, a wave could likely appear to be running independent of Google, while very much still interacting with Google, or more importantly, storing the data on Google’s servers.

    I’m not sure Google has any desire to kill email at all. I think it still comes down to indexing as much of everything as possible. When you add this kind of collaboration to search, maps, email, groups, profiles, street view, Earth, etc, and you begin to tie them together and knowing which users are doing what, it becomes very powerful.

    In truth, I think Google’s endgame is more about building the social graph of the web and making most other communication tools redundant.

  16. Mitchell Wong says:

    I believe that in the video, Google claimed that any information sent within the other Wave servers would not pass through the Google server at all. Some other data such as the robots and gadgets currently can only be hosted on Google’s app engine though.

  17. Pingback: Learner Bytes » Blog Archive » ‘hosted conversations’, brought to you courtesy of Google Wave

  18. VRBones says:

    Scott Wilson has already converted some of the gwave gadgets to run on pure HTML5, so the technology for integration with waves purely by the whitepaper spec would seem a reality.

    The biggest impact of gwave will be its disruptiveness to established (and establishing) brands. The faster something like wave is adopted, the faster it flatlines the competition by changing the rules of the game. Open source and open API just accelerates the change.

  19. Martin says:

    In general I don’t buy into the whole digital natives argument that education has to change because ‘these kids are using such great tools everyday’. I think students kind of accept (maybe even expect) education stuff to be different (read – ‘dull’). BUT, I think Wave may change that – if you are encountering these type of tools in other contexts, then finding tools in education that is meant to achieve the same end, but does so poorly, will mean students really will ask ‘WTF?’

  20. Reverend says:

    Thanks for all the comments here. Once again I thought this was a throw away, but from it I found out that we actually may be able to host and exercise some local control over the Wave is amazing when you think about it. It makes the whole idea of that is much more tha open API, but open source, that much more powerful.

  21. Matt says:

    Google Wave really does seem to be the future of communications wether or not it is in education. The potential that Google Wave for education is truly exciting and I hope that it will someday be fully realized. The fact that it is open source and can be hosted on your own servers really show they are committed to finding useful tools to expand what email and communication can be. Google is a giant company that may seem nefarious at times but really they are a bunch of engineers solving an immediate problem that they are presented with. The social ramifications as well as the big brother impact surprisingly rarely is a part of the equation. While Moodle is good system it is clunky and too much of a walled garden. There needs to be a dead simple LMS solution out there that can be open, secure and simple to build class sites. Think weebly meets google wave. I don’t know if the wave is the answer but man it really is an intriguing next step.

  22. Stevie says:

    I found some Google Wave invites, hit me up [email protected]

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