Interesting adventures with Google

About two months ago I wrote an entry about a visit that Dr. Ross Todd had made to the University of Alberta.  I had the chance to listen to his presentation and meet him after and he showed us some interesting Google Apps, and I think I mentioned about how I was planning on coming back and doing an entry on them.  As things developed though with Christmas and other adventures, I never really got back to it.  Since I had the opportunity to present these to my staff last week I thought now would be the perfect time to highlight, just in case some of my staff members come by the blog (as I hope they do).

So first off, in order to access the first two search tools, you have to do a Google Search first, but when you do you can click on the ‘Show options’ button on the top left just under the Google image.

Google Wheel – this is one of the neatest things that I have discovered.  As someone who is often dealing with students who are writing their IB papers, I struggle to help students ‘focus’ their research questions.  I cannot count the number of times that I have been told ‘World War Two’ when I asked them  what subject they would be tackling.  Since WWII is very broad topic I was impressed when Dr. Todd mentioned that Google had developed something called ‘Wonder Wheel’.  Essentially the wheel is a different way of viewing your search.  A way of recognizing the links between various topics.  A sort of mind map in a very general sense.  The other nice thing about it is that the search remains active in the right hand column and every time you click the column readjusts to fit your new search string.  To access Wonder Wheel just scroll down to the viewing option, you’ll see: ‘standard view, wonder wheel and timeline’.  I did a search of World War II events and you can see the results.  It is not perfect, but for those students who need more focus, it is a great tool.  It can also be used in class to show the relationship between concepts.

The second Google tool is the next search option just below ‘Wonder Wheel’, Google Timeline.  This lays out your search results in a nice graphical interface, and in this case I have taken my Wonder Wheel search on the decision to use the atomic bomb.

You can see how there is a spike in the 1940s (around the timing of the actual bombing), and later in the 1990s, obviously at a time when interest in the topic surged.  If you are looking for sources this can be a useful place to start.  It also  allows you to further refine your search through the year and then down to the month.  Some sources are actually primary sources that have been digitized, others are more modern documents which refer to more modern interpretations of past event.  Many of the primary sources are archived in such a way that you have to pay for them.  I might still prefer to search the historical databases, but this is a useful, quick source.

There are a couple of other Google tools that Dr. Todd showed us, and those will be the subject of a future entry, as I think they are worth exploring.

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2 responses to “Interesting adventures with Google

  1. I’ve been using the Google wonderwheel as a vocabulary mindmap with my ESL students. It’s great how they can see soncepts and quickly click on the relevant page.

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