When we heard that Dan Burger was using Google Wave with his class at Vanderbilt, we asked him to write about his experience. Now that Google Wave is available for everyone without an invitation (and for Google Apps domains, too), it's even easier for groups at schools to use Wave in the classroom. Here's what Dan has to share:

This year I am taking a computer science class at Vanderbilt University on Web 2.0 and the issues that surround it. Our class isn't a traditional lecture with a big textbook and professor droning in front of the class. Rather our professor brings in plenty of guest speakers from within Vanderbilt, as well as various tech companies, so that they can talk about their areas of expertise. With so much information presented in lecture that can be hard to find elsewhere, we have found Google Wave to be an excellent tool for collaboration during lecture.

The largest benefit of Google Wave is that it allows us to have instant discussion of the class materials as it's being presented. I especially like that as one person is typing, the text appears on everyone's screens word by word. Sometimes we may post topics that are being discussed in class for future reference or share web links that are relevant to the discussion. This makes it easier to go back and review the material before quizzes. Each person on the wave lends their unique perspective on the class, and we can watch these perspectives unfold on our computer screens.

The benefits of Google Wave go beyond discussion of the material. We also use the wave to discuss administrative issues, conduct polls, and collaborate on group assignments. It could also be useful to post drawings and diagrams on the wave so that it can be used to illustrate concepts mentioned in lecture. When I was working on a group project with others in the class, we set up a special wave for our project so we could easily keep everything organized.

There are many ways you can set up Google Wave for your class. To start, go to http://www.youtube.com/googlewave and see how it works. Then, use Google Wave to send invites to your fellow students so they will be able to see your wave. Once they are on Google Wave, click on "New wave" and invite them to participate. As soon as they watch the wave unfold, it will become easy for them to contribute. Feel free to get the professor and TAs involved as well!

In the future I would like to see Google Wave provide an option to sort wave posts into sections; this way we could have one section for each class lecture as well as special sections for announcements and class assignments.

I appreciate using Google Wave because our class can now go through the material and collaborate with each other more easily, and all of our important information can be stored in one place. Our class is now more enjoyable and thought-provoking thanks to Wave.

And here's what some other students are saying about using Google Wave on campus:

We organized collective attendance of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. They sell tickets in bundles, and matching these bundles with people who wanted tickets was a much easier task with Wave. We also used it to discuss a math proof that a colleague of mine was constructing for his paper. With three of us commenting on the different proof elements, Wave was very handy.
Petko Bogdanov, UCSB

Wave has been an invaluable resources for the ACM Student Chapter at Cal Poly. Our two best uses of the tool have been for taking votes (like for meeting time preferences) and collaborating on To Do items for event planning.
Bryan Oppenheim, Cal Poly

We use Google Wave for every project in our CS373 Software Engineering class. It was great for keeping the group in sync on bugs, action items, and brainstorming ideas.
Dustin Ho, UT Austin

The Gemstone Honors Research Program at the University of Maryland has students teach several classes. Over winter break, other section leaders and myself developed curriculum, project topics, project proposals, and coordinated schedules using Google Wave.
Akhila Iruku, University of Maryland

As part of our leadership team for our on-campus tech support we use Google Wave in our meetings to provide a real-time list of what has been discussed in the meeting and what still needs to be addressed.
Joshua Archer, Abilene Christian University