Google announced this week that Google Wave would no longer be developed as a standalone product due to lack of adoption. This means we won’t be seeing a Google Wave based online class or plug-ins that turn Google Wave into excellent groupware for student-student collaboration. It should be noted that many of the advanced features that Google Wave included, like line-by-line/character-by-character real-time writing collaboration have been incorporated into Google Docs. If you haven’t signed on to MSU’s Google Apps for Education Suite since it was announced, you may want to try it out. While many pundits are mourning the demise of Wave, but others such as Christopher Dawson notes that Google will continue to reincarnate Wave in other products and already have done so with some of their latest offerings.
Many seem to believe a rich social network may be the next offering that Google puts together. If this does for collaboration and small group work what Ning has done for social connection, we’ll surely take notice and say something about it on this blog. Keeping privacy in mind, it will be interesting to see if Google’s next offering allows closed-groups (by invitation only) like Ning and Wave did. Allowing controlled access is as important to maintaining a sound virtual learning environment as the rich collaboration and communication features these cloud based tools provide. It is worth remembering, when you use new and experimental tools that are provided for free in the cloud.