I had indicated that this was my weekend to dig into Google Wave and see if I could understand a little more about it. Like most people, I started out with a Wave account with myself and the person who invited me. Together, we did a couple of goofy things to try it out. The good folks at Google had provided a few extensions to give you a start. So, we had done a few trivial things and you could get a sense of where this might go, but that was about it.
I decided to go a little further and create a Wave that might actually have some value. The content would have to be worthwhile enough to make the learning worthwhile but not so involved that you could get hung up on both the content and the learning of Google Wave at the same time. So, I put together a starting point for a Wave to create a resource for the use of the Ministry of Education licensed Bitstrips For Schools product. As the OSAPAC Repository Manager, I’m hoping that we might be able to add this Wave to the OSAPAC Learning Objects Repository at some point. Wouldn’t that be cool?
So, I created a simple page and then posted a message to Twitter letting people know what I was doing and invited any Ontario teacher to jump in and add to the content. The responses ranged from an enthusiastic yes from some of the people I had given Wave invites to, to some non-Ontario educators who wanted in as well, to people lamenting that they didn’t have a Wave account. Fair enough. There will come a time.
As I write this entry this morning, the Wave looks like this.
- Waves are not private. I invited a person who then invited a person that I didn’t know. That will be something that needs to be monitored if you’re going to use this environment for private development;
- This new invite did give me a chance to add another person to my list of contacts. All contacts have the @googlewave.com address;
- Playback is incredibly cool. It lets you track the development and edits of the Wave which was valuable so that I could see not only what I had done, but what others had done while I was out cutting the lawn;
- Having the extensions on the tool bar is really convenient. In order to put the poll shown above into my Wave, I just clicked on the poll icon. Just need to remember to add a question to vote on before entering it to make its placement easy;
- After voting, clicking on “Set my status” let me explain my vote of “Yes” to the question;
- The “Google Search” Extension lets you search Google from inside the wave. When you get the results, an “Add to Wave” link appears beside each result which puts the link directly in the wave. This is very convenient;
- Highlighting text and clicking the “Link” button lets you link directly to a web resource as you would expect. But, even typing return and adding more content continues the linked text. I had to go back and remove or change the link in a list of links with comments. Not a big deal, but different;
- Correcting spelling mistakes is actually fun! Going to the mispelled words gives you a pull down list of suggestions;
- Adding images in Windows was easy. Just locate the image and drag it into an area of the Wave that you’re editing. It didn’t work on the Macintosh, but clicking the paper clip and navigating to the image on the hard drive worked. Probably easier to use that route for both platforms;
- Not everyone has the Wave layout correct the first time. Once of my collaborators had nothing in the middle and right columns. After trouble shooting using Twitter and Twitpic, we were still banging our heads. He finally switched to Windows and it was all there. This morning, he claims that it’s there on his Macintosh now. No idea what happened but at least the story has a happy ending;
- You really need to maximize your window to see all of the buttons. When you shrink the window, the buttons just disappear rather than move to a pull down menu like in other applications. This came about when I suggested clicking on a certain button for one of my collaborators and she couldn’t see it;
- You can resize the columns by clicking and dragging the space between the columns;
- If you’re watching a baseball game and NASCAR while engaging in a three way chat, it’s important to continue to chat at the bottom of the window! If you chat in the middle of the conversation, scrolling to find what’s new is time consuming and there’s a real chance of missing parts of the conversation;
- The scroll bar still makes me feel like I’m browsing with mittens on! I’ve given up trying to scroll up and down by pulling it and have gone to using the arrows and navigation is smoother. I’m just not used to a window where the scroll bar doesn’t always go to the bottom;
- You can highlight and change the background of your text inside a text window for effect;
- You can insert comments in the middle of a conversation – just double click where you’d like to insert and choose edit. This is very cool but it’s conceivable that you could miss things. Thankfully, there’s playback;
- Replies are indented and if you make enough of them, you run out of space in the column;
- There doesn’t appear to be a simple way of doing backups;
- New Waves appear as collapsed windows at the top of the screen;
- Google Wave seems to take a lot of processor resources from my computer. Closing off other applications made it much more responsive, particularly after a chat/debug session that lasted close to an hour.
Most of all, I learned that there are a lot of really good people working to learn how to use this tool for collaboration. That’s so exciting as we embark on new learnings. A tip of my Tigers’ hat to those who took the time to learn with me yesterday. The Wave is far from completed and so if you’re interested in having a kick at it, please do.
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