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How Google's Wonder Wheel and Timeline can help improve learners searches

This is the second post about the Google Teacher Academy that was held in London last week. The first can be found here.

Another highlight of the Google Teacher Academy was being shown that I had no idea about search! The first session, led by Lisa Thumann explored a number of search features. Two of the features would be very useful in Geography (and other) classrooms. First, a screen cast. I should add that I purposefully didn't use these tools until this morning, and shot in one take. This was to evaluate how intuitive the tools is - something that is very important in our Geography department if the tool is to be shared with staff and students. I have used a geographical example, and a topic that I am working on for a forthcoming project.

These tools help to expand the search beyond the first six or seven results that are commonly used by most young people (and myself if I'm honest!). The tools could also allow searchers to explore the information in more detail. I know that staff in my school often wish that homework consisted of more than the first few results returned on Google! Alternatively, view the screen cast here.

In summary:
  • Use the 'Latest' option to return results within the last 24 hours. This option often includes tweets, adding and extra option of interaction.
  • Use the 'Timeline' feature to sort and explore search results by date. This is very useful when exploring the relationships with past events and in evaluating past event responses e.g. have the lessons learned been implemented?
  • Use the 'Wonder Wheel' option to explore the search results through a mind-map style interface.
Personally, I didn't know that these tools existed before I visited Google, although I have to admit, that I could have discovered them through a little more exploration. However - who has the time? I can see these tools having a positive impact when shared with other teachers and young people.

It is worth adding, that these tools can only improve the search for information, and the analysis and selection (both important in a geographical enquiry) of information still needs to be developed.


  1. Great post...but I'm gutted because I was thinking of doing one on the exact same topic! Oh well, serves me right for snoozing I guess.

    Great tool and I've used the timeline a lot already.

  2. Ha ha! I was concerned about the same thing with the amount of posts around.

    Thanks for your kind words - I do like the timeline - it's helping me get my head around a writing project at the moment. Talking of which, I\d better get on it!!


  3. Excellent work - have just tried the more search features - thanks so much for that wil be very useful. Hope all well with you and yours


  4. You could always subscribe to the RSS feed of my blogs then you'd have known about them ;)

    Timeline feature very helpful for seeing how a story develops in prominence... How soon does the media forget about natural disasters in particular locations ?

  5. Thank you Meg. Hope to catch up with you at SAGT.

    Alan - indeed. I do subscribe to your Living Geography RSS but you post so often ;-) ......

  6. What I realised, after thinking about Lisa's great search presentation, is that I have always taught better search through 'advanced search'. These tools (some of which I had seen and used) showed me refining a search - getting to your desired information - is much more engaging than I had made it for my pupils. Basically, the penny dropped.

  7. The visual nature of this tool also makes it great for Primary pupils, and far more appropriate for that age range than advanced search. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, can't wait to use it in September!


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