Open the education flood gates: Google Wave is coming

Get ready for the newest revolutionary product by Google, called Google Wave. It is due out in late 2009 and it's free. Brought to you by the same creative team within Google who brought us Google Maps, comments from various reviewers are:

"The platform to end all other web communication platforms"
A new communications architecture"
"Google Wave will change education forever"
"A paradigm shifter, disruptive product, and maybe even an email killer"

What is Google Wave?
It is hard to describe and apparently is much more clear when you actually see it in action. At first glance, it looks a little like an email interface. Basically it's meant to be a real-time, all-encompassing communications platform which incorporates your email, Facebook/ Twitter/ social networks, instant messaging, blogs, and file sharing. In Google Wave, you create a "wave" and add people and documents to it. According to Google, "A wave is equal parts conversation and document, where people can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more." The novelty is that this can all be done in synchronously and asynchronously.

What's so amazing about it?
Wow, it will be revolutionary. If my smart techy friends around here at Yahoo, Facebook, and FooPets are pee-in-their-pants excited, I know that Google Wave is going to take the world by storm.

Because Google Wave is focused towards real-time collaboration, interactions, and communication, its amazing features apply perfectly towards medical education.

1. Live Wiki-like functionality: Right now, I find Wikis fairly user-UNfriendly since it's hard to access and usually at a separate website location from everything else that I am working on. Google Wave has incorporated the great wiki capability of editing documents and text but in true real-time. You can edit not only your own message but ANYONE's message on the "wave". Conversations can be reorganized. Much easier to find and read a group's most recent version of a write-up or list, instead of following a disjointed string of emails.

2. Wave extensions: Extensions will allow you to manage your email, projects, Facebook, Twitter, and anything online in your Google Wave account. I'm all for consolidating all of my peripheral digital applications into one central location.

3. Each "wave" can be embedded onto a website. That means that you no longer need chatrooms or forums. You can now easily share conversions with a focus group or the public in real-time. Examples include a customer service wave or an "ask the instructor" wave where the instructor, TA's, and other learners can read and respond in real-time.

4. Playback feature: I've always felt that listservs are antiquated since you usually can't find the history of discussions or prior posts. Every year, I frustratingly re-read the same posts and discussions in listservs with constantly new members. In Google Wave, you can "playback" the history of conversations and any changes in the wave. It allows the late-joiner to get up to speed quickly.

Here's the whole 80 minute Google Wave release video, if you are interested:

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