At teacher's college we are often asked to participate in co-operative learning activities. Co-operative learning is more than just group work, it refers to learning from others within a group and not just the teacher.
I have tried Google Docs to jointly update a single document, but it required transforming the document to and from different formats.
I kept thinking that working as a group between face-to-face meeting should be more interactive and productive.
Have you heard about the new Google Wave?
Google Wave is a collection of web-based collaborative tools to improve our ability to work (or play) together. Once you have been invited to join the Google wave pilot program from a friend you can start a wave or discussion thread with anyone in your Google contacts who also has a Google wave account.
How is Google wave different from Google docs?
A Google wave is a hybrid of joint document editing (but in real-time - you actually see each person typing on the screen at the same time), discussions, and instant messaging.
Google waves can also include Google gadgets such as voting on updates to a document ( or just playing sudoku :->).
When to use a Google wave?
I have found that starting a wave at the beginning of a project using a single document with collaborative editing works well.
Avoid going crazy with attachments, it simply defeats the purpose of collaborating. Sharing your research findings is simple and effective using the wave format.
Two features that make Google wave interesting to me include:
- Keeping track of the latest updates across multiple projects (waves) quickly. You can think of it as a smart in-box.
- Automated change tracking of updates with timestamps. You can replay the updates to avoid losing any ideas as the group collaborates.
- If you add a contact to a wave by mistake you can't remove them. The person can "un-follow" a wave, but the remove contact feature has not been implemented yet.
- To attach a document (be careful with this as the whole idea is to work together on a document instead of converting between Word and Google docs formats) you need to maximize the discussion area to find the 'paper-clip' icon (no, it isn't the Microsoft paper-clip - this one just completes the attachment and doesn't offer annoying advice.
If you need to work on joint projects across a large group consider how Google Wave might be a good fit. Keep in mind that this is still in pilot/beta mode so there are many missing features that really should be there, but that's life when it is free.