“This will change the way we communicate and educate,” commented Andrew Marcinek, an educator who maintains a blog titled iTeach.

Attendees at Google’s annual conference–largely for software developers who build programs on top of its services–got a sneak peek at the program. Google distributed login names for all conference-goers in the hope that independent programmers will find new ways to use the service.

Among other things, Google is counting on outsiders to figure out how to weave Wave into the popular internet communications service Twitter, social networks such as Facebook, and existing web-based eMail services, said Rasmussen.

“Wave starts out with the definition of a conversation–a lightweight structure of messages and a set of users,” Rasmussen said. “Instead of thinking of messages being sent back and forth, we think of [Wave] as a shared object being hosted on a server.”

And Wave has the potential to have “lots more functionality than eMail today offers,” he said.

Users can leave their replies, be away from their computers for a while, and upon their return they will see responses left by others on their Wave. It’s akin to how bulletin boards work, Rasmussen added.

For instance, an online teacher could add his or her students to a class Wave, update class information and assignments, hold discussions with students, and view the Wave’s history to see which students contribute to class discussions the most and which students might need extra help.

Instead of receiving 25 separate eMail messages from students, a teacher could use a class Wave to answer common questions or to hold weekly question-and-answer sessions.

A blogging feature will publish all content from a Wave onto a blog; the blog embeds the Wave, so users can still respond to the Wave. But students who might not use Google or who might be unable to participate in a Wave can still see and participate in class discussions through the blog

Google Wave accommodates attachments, and users can drag and drop in items from their desktop, although programmers said this feature still needs a bit of support at this stage.

“We think this combination of collaborative editing and inline discussion makes for a very powerful collaboration tool,” Rasmussen said. “It could be a great tool for researchers and students, too.”

Links:

Google Wave preview

Joe Corbett’s ISTEConnects Blog Post

Corbett’s Classroom 2.0 Blog Post

Andrew Marcinek’s iTeach Blog