Why did the Wave crash in Academia?

August 6, 2010 at 11:08 am 4 comments

I didn’t realize that Google Wave was being pushed so heavily in academia.  I found unenlightening this article explaining why the Wave didn’t work out in Universities.  I’m linking to it for the interesting list of folks pushing the Wave, including EduCause.  The explanation for why the Wave crashed?  Took too long to learn, and was too much of a game-changer.  I think we’ve heard those same two explanations for most technologies that don’t take hold in academia.  Guess it’s more interesting (and novel) to explain why some technology works in academia.

The expectations for Wave were as high in academe as anywhere else when it debuted in May 2009. Some higher ed bloggers suggested that professors might use Wave as a foundation for “whole interactive courses.” Citing chatter from enthusiastic early adopters, the education blog ReadWriteWeb suggested that collaborative note-taking on Wave “will lead to smarter, better performing students.” Some even mused that Wave could challenge learning-management systems — if not their information-management features, then perhaps their online classrooms. “Because Wave includes so many modes of communication and inter-operates with other applications, it could significantly enhance the way students collaborate and communicate,” read a primer from Educause, the higher-ed technology group.

via News: Washed Up – Inside Higher Ed.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , .

Off to Denmark and ICER! Hard for GT Prof to Get into High School

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  August 6, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    I had hardly heard of Wave until its demise was announced. Even reading the post-mortem reports, I can’t see any reason why anyone would have used it. It sounded like a toy for people with too much time on their hands, not a tool.

  • 2. Susan L. Gerhart  |  August 6, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Google WAVE also missed the boat on accessibility:

    WAVE accessibility Review by Jared Smith of WebAim


    For reasons hard to discern, WAVE failed to apply web standard good practices such as ALT descriptions for graphics and headings for semantic page structure presentation. In addition to excluding many people with visual or other limitations, opportunities to overcome problems with threaded email were missed.

    Whether violation of web standards was a symptom or cause of broader usability problems, higher education adopters should be aware that accessibility is not a feature to be added but rather intrinsic to the engineering of a product usable in an educational setting. Indeed, legal concerns were raised by Amazon Kindle to the level of civil rights rulings:


    Assistive technology users, by the way, do not consider web standards or technology like text-to-speech as innovative because we experience them routinely. Asking Google or Amazon or Blackboard for accessibility is not inhibiting innovation but rather bringing assistive technology advantages to the mainstream without additional cost and for a more inclusive market.

    Finally, ironic but true, the WebAim organization has a static analyzer for web pages that points out many web standards problems, see


    and useful checklists of web standards, empirical studies of assistive technology use, guide for dynamic testing using a free screen reader, and an informative blog. The original WebAim WAVE is a must-use for improving our web sites.

  • 3. Mark Miller  |  August 8, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Wow. So Google is going to shut down Wave at the end of the year. I was approached about it last year after I had written a blog post about experiences with computer science in academia, what the field had accomplished in its golden age, and musings on its future. It was prompted by a part of the article where I wrote about Alan Kay’s vision for a networked hypermedia future. The reference to Wave kind of missed the point, but I was interested in its potential after I watched Google’s demo.

    Wave seemed like something that was going “in the right direction” for dynamic networked media, but the dreams were too small. I mean, compare it with Engelbart’s NLS system from 1968, and you’ll see a few similarities, but his system was still so much more than Wave aspired to be. I was struck that there was no apparent ability to even link between threads, or between individual items in the threads! How hard would that have been to include? There was also no ability to integrate video conferencing, except via. a third party web widget, if one existed. This would’ve allowed greater interaction between remote members of a group. For it to really have worked for students in an academic setting, I think a different academic environment would have to have been encouraged, one where the students are more engaged with research rather than absorbing prescribed knowledge.

    I’ve been attending meetings of a local Lisp user group. We’ve been using Wave at our meetings, and I see some positive attributes to it in terms of posing arguments and being able to record the responses for later retrieval. One of our attendees commented at the absurdity of people meeting face to face at a meeting and spending all that time typing at each other rather than saying the same stuff by looking at each other and speaking. Maybe they’d prefer a video recording of our meetings. It would be difficult for us to record technical content this way, however, We’ve kind of used it as a non-collaborative “whiteboard” (though with no graphics).

    I thought Google was going to target Wave at the business market. It might’ve found a home there if they had been willing to flesh it out more, Unfortunately, I think the article was correct in saying that the team’s goal was “to improve on e-mail interaction,” integrating idioms from instant messaging on mobile devices. Not a bad inspiration, but if they had really tried to look at where they could go with it, going beyond the metaphor and goals of e-mail, maybe an unexpected market would’ve opened up for it, even if academia didn’t like it. Anyway, it’s a bummer it’s going away.

  • […] was going to be shut down at the end of the year, because it was not a hit with academia (h/t to Mark Guzdial). I was surprised. What was interesting and rather shocking is one of the reasons it failed was […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 10,185 other subscribers


Recent Posts

Blog Stats

  • 2,060,404 hits
August 2010

CS Teaching Tips

%d bloggers like this: