So far, after just 1 day at Educause (and pre-conference day, actually), there has been quite a bit of talk about campuses that have gone with Google Apps for Education, and about their latest product, Google Wave.
The talks about Google Apps have gone in 2 parts, it seems.
1 – migration to e-mail was not terrible, technically. Programmatically, it takes some effort to get buy-in, but ultimately if it makes sense, then it’ll work and it’ll happen and it’s not a big deal.
2 – students are in fact using the other apps, especially Google Docs. They even write collaboratively. However, they still save out to Word and send that to faculty (electronically – they could just send the URL to the Google Doc).
I find this second point very interesting. To me, outsourcing email to Google isn’t a big deal (well, privacy, etc is a big deal, but in a less FERPA-y kind of way, it’s straightforward). But I seriously wonder whether students are getting the extra advantage of all the collaboration tools. Signs point towards yes, which is great
What stinks, though, is that it’s so hard to collaborate on Google Apps. Yes, it’s easy to share a doc and write together. Recently, however, I wanted to set up some items for my final MBA class. In order to meet my needs, I did:
- Create a Google Group. Invite people to that
- Create a Google Calendar. Invite same people to that
- Create a folder in Google Docs. Invite…same people to that.
Thank goodness I can at least share folders rather than having to have a document first. But why can’t Google let us create a site that would have all of these things, available to a set list of people? An actual collaboration space? Kind of ridiculous, IMO.
Then there is Google Wave. I am pretty sure I can figure out how to use it, especially for projects. But I honestly don’t know how I’d explain it to faculty, or develop a good use case for pedagogy. Someone suggested that it’s
- a new communication paradigm
- wiki meets gmail meets IM
So, first, I’m not 100% sure it’s a new paradigm. I guess definitely a new construct. Not sure about a new paradigm.
I’m also not sure about the wiki part. We aren’t creating a cohesive page, after all, with a wave. More like a stream of messages.
Which does mean that gmail meets IM makes some sense. But how do I explain what that means to faculty and students? Especially without Google Docs integration?