Well it’s been a week since I was kindly sent an invitation to Google Wave. I have to admit that at first I was a little underwhelmed but since then, as I have started to add contacts, I I have started to see it’s potential. Before I talk a bit about it’s positives I would like to try and answer what I think it actually is in one sentence.

Remember this is based on just one week’s usage.

Here goes:

Google Wave is a tool that allows asynchronous communication (similar to email or discussion boards), semi-synchronous communications (similar to Twitter or FriendFeed) and synchronous communications (similar to instant messaging) all wrapped up with wiki-like capabilities for collaboration.

That’s as close as I can get at the moment to a one sentence explanation. There is probably/possibly a lot more to it than that, we’ll see. Give me another week and it may be something a bit more deep and meaningful.

In terms of educational technology it may well replace the functionality of the discussion, chat, email and wiki components of an LMS. It is exceptionally easy to create a wave and then use this as a group workspace. Students could create their own groups very quickly and easily. A similar wave might be used as an information space for the whole class.  These might be called ‘standing waves’ or am I slipping back into school physics classes?

Of course these things can be created quickly and easily already using existing tools. Probably the really positive thing about Google Wave is that all of these different things are contained in the same tool. I do like the idea that the functionality for group workspace creation is created outside of the LMS and is a private space for the group unless they invite their teacher but again there is nothing really new in that.

In summary I think it will be very useful as an educational technology tool. I can see that it will be embedded into learning management systems (LMS) but it will also run in independent environments. This will mean that users are less reliant on the LMS for communications than may have been the case before. It certainly isn’t an LMS replacement but combined with other ways of delivering content and changing attitudes to the control of content it will probably contribute to the decline of the LMS as a key educational technology platform.

BTW if you want to wave me I am masmithers at googlewave dot com.