Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Google Wave Collaboration Experiment

So I managed to get Google Wave invites for the other 2 members of our LMS Administration team.

I figured that Wave would help us improve our collaboration process - which currently consists of Elluminate or Virtual Classroom when we have the license space + teleconference (because not everyone has a working mic on their computers) + a word doc + multiple emails.

Wave HAD to be an improvement. Right?

---------------------------------

Project: Create an Intro to SkillPort program

Participants: Sid (not her real name), Sally (not her real name either), the Veteran (our senior trainer and an absolute PRO at teaching folks nervous about computers, not his real name) and me.

Setup: I created a Wave with a rough outline of decisions that needed to be made. I then sent the Wave to my colleagues. This is easier said than done since you have to go into Google Contacts, add them to the contact list, log out of Wave, log back in and hope they show up. Bah.

I added some chat areas with further information
- teleconference info (because our audio was going to be via phone)
- initial thoughts on organizing this beast
- a gadget (ClackPoint) that may have allowed us to try VoIP capabilities in Wave, had Sally owned a working microphone. (we really need to do something about that.....)
- a link to the Complete Wave Guide

I then followed up with the team via email. Since this is a new technology for all of us - I wanted to make sure everyone received the Wave and the teleconferencing information.

Sid and Sally were very excited to try this new toy. The Veteran humored us.
-------------------------------------------

The Veteran noticed right away that I had structured the outline with the assumption of a formal course. He called me out:

You know, I really think we should keep this as a more informal lab and workshop.

Good thing I wasn't in the same room with him. He would have seen tears of joy at hearing those words from him!

---------------------------------------------

A significant amount of time was spent just playing with the tool. Mostly Sid, Sally and I. The Veteran hung back and just watched the madness most of the time with the occasional comment.

Trains of thought were often interrupted with Hey, do you know how I can.....in this thing?

---------------------------------------------

We all decided that if they can get Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets to display more seamlessly in this thing that they may really have something. Forcing us to share and download an Excel spreadsheet / Word doc / other file seems to really defeat the purpose of the type of collaboration we want to do.

To share Google Docs right now:
- In the document you wish to share, click Share
- click Get the Link to Share.
- Check Also allow to edit if you want them to be able to edit the doc.
- Paste THAT link into Google Wave rather than try to invite people

The folks with access to that wave will be the ones who can edit the document.

---------------------------------------

We found it useful to use the wave as a dumping ground for information beyond the collaborative Google Spreadsheet. We threw in documents and presentations from previous work.

We also found that people fell into roles:
- Primary Note-taker
- Chairperson (the one who keeps the meeting on track)
- Wave gardener (the person who organizes the wave and reorganizes the information

Those of us more comfortable with chat and typing found ourselves did more typing and editing. Those more comfortable with speaking and audio did more talking. We will need to anticipate varying levels of participation within the Wave - much like chat rooms, message boards and other technologies of that ilk.

-------------------------------------

Our overall impression is that we see this having promise. But it is not quite ready for prime time as a corporate collaboration tool.
- Too tough to add contacts
- Tough to find gadgets and add the gadgets permanently to your account for easier access
- More seamless integration of Google Docs needed so that we could output manager-friendly documents

--------------------------------------

Always taking tips etc for better ways to use this thing. Please leave ideas, thoughts in the comments.

No comments: