Black Wave: Embedding Google Wave (etherpad and mindmeister) into Blackboard

There was a lot of talk at ALT-C this year about whether the VLE was dead. My personal view is divided. One one hand I can see the important role VLEs play in quality assurance. They are a controlled environment where the institution can validate learning, storing copies of work and making them available for external examination. On the other had VLE have a tendency to be rigid, forgoing flexibility and personalisation; ignoring the social change which is evident in other parts of the web. There is now a great richness is collaboration, openness and personal learning which sits outside the doors of the institutional VLE.

This all might however be about to change as the tide turns and the walls of the VLE are eroded by a rich web of social tools which are not bound by their domain but free to seed themselves on less fertile land.

That’s enough of the two-bit pros. Want to enrich your VLE with some Google Wave here’s how:

  1. In your Wave Preview account add embeddy@appspot.com
  2. Create a new wave with Embeddy as a participant
  3. Embeddy will generate two pieces of code for you to copy to notepad (see screenshot-1)

Wave with EmbeddyScreenshot-1: Output from Embeddy

  1. Once you’ve copied the code you can delete the content and remove Embeddy from the wave
  2. Next you can seed your wave with text, gadgets etc
  3. Now open your course in Blackboard
  4. Depend on what version you are running you want to do something like add a file to the course content
  5. In the content make sure you are in html mode and paste the code generated by Embeddy (see screenshot-2)

Content editing in WebCT
Screenshot-2: Content editing view in Blackboard WebCT CE

Once you have saved this switch to student view and you can see that a Google Wave is embedded into the course (see screenshot-3). Remember the same wave can be embedded and interacted with wherever you like. So one student might want to play Sudoku in Blackboard another from a Wave client or anywhere else the wave has been embedded.

Wave embedded into Blackboard
Screenshot-3: Wave embedded into Blackboard

Why do I think Google Wave might revive a little life back in the VLE? The main reason for me is you will be soon able to host your own Wave server. This would allow blending an environment which requires validation and quality assurance with a rich social collaborative tool which is flexible enough to be embedded wherever you like.

Until Wave is put on general release I realise this is all perhaps a little blue sky. Don’t forget however that Wave isn’t the only real-time collaboration tool which can be embedded into Blackboard. After playing with Wave I also embedded the real-time text editing tool etherpad.com, or if you prefer, how about some mind mapping with mindmeister.com. Click here for information on etherpad embedding

Etherpad embedding (Click to enlarge)
Screenshot-4: etherpad embed

MindMeister embedding (Click to enlarge)
Screenshot-5: MindMeister embed

Thanks go to Simon Booth at the University of Stirling for Blackboard access.

Related post: Black Wave 2: Blackboard Wave Integration!

4 Comments



  1. I’m curious, just how can an institute “validate learning” via an LMS like Blackboard any better than they can if they had students blog or contribute to wikis or any other similar activity?


  2. I was thinking more about an institution being able attribute the work to an individual. If the blog or wiki is hosted by the institution it not a problem.

    Some quality offices get nervous when summative assessment is being carried out on 3rd party sites because they don’t have the same level of administrative control. For example, with internal systems they have check student logins, they can back up copies of the students work and manage access to it for external verification. On a 3rd party site there is no guarantee of any of this.


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