Searching with Google’s Timeline and Wonder wheel

With all of the new developments on Google, I thought I’d spend one more week on Google tools before moving on to other applications in the coming weeks.  Last year, Google added two new search features that can help beginning researchers on topics of interest: Timeline and Wonder wheel.  Although the tools have been around for a while, I didn’t know how many people were familiar with them.  I think these tools would be tremendously helpful to students who are doing research projects on topics that might be new to them.  These tools can help students whittle the expanse of search results down to more digestible categories, either based on a timeline of history or based on related topics.  The really great part is that both tools display their subcategories visually rather than displaying long lists of text links that students have to mine.

To access either of these search tools, simply start a search in Google.  After entering your search terms and clicking Google Search, you’re taken to a long page of links.  To access either Timeline or Wonder wheel, just click on More Search Tools along the lefthand side of the page.  This opens up a list of options for displaying the search results.  Clicking on Timeline displays the search result based on the dates included in the text.  Clicking on any of the time periods in the graphic will limit the search to those sites that feature information related to those dates.  The nice aspect of this tool is that the list of links is displayed chronologically rather than how Google typically shows search results (which is based on an algorithm that considers the number of other sites that link to an individual page).

Clicking on Wonder wheel under More Search Results creates a graphic that displays terms related to the original search.  It’s called “Wonder wheel” because each term extends out from the original search likes spokes on a wheel.  Clicking on any of these “spokes” creates a new connected wheel of related terms.  A student can continue to refine her search by clicking on spokes and creating new wheels.  Wonder wheel will show each of the wheels connected through the shared terms and students can click backwards through the wheels.  Wonder wheel is a pretty novel search tool and would be tremendous beneficial to all of the visual learners we work with.

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