Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Google Options? What's That?

Google has added another feature to their arsenal of search tools. After you do a search, you will notice the “Show options” link (which toggles back to “hide options”) on the left side below the Google logo. When you click this link, you will have access to a variety of alternate search features that may make your life easier. As I review these, think about not only how it will help you, but how it will help students as well.

1 All Results: If you leave this button alone, “all results” remain. However, under this option, you will see “videos,” “forums,” and “reviews.” Depending on your search, one of these might be a handy tool to expand your understanding of the topic. Clicking video might help if you are researching a musician; with one click you can listen to a performance by Yoyo Ma. The next tab, forums can put you in touch with blogs and discussion boards on the topic. Today we are constantly telling kids to “collaborate;” this makes connecting just a bit easier. Reviews is self explanatory. Clicking this tab searches for reviews on a product of your choice. Perhaps a consumer education teacher might like this feature. I myself am in the market for a new MP3 player and found the reviews quite helpful.

2. Any Time: This button works in conjunction with the “All Results.” If any choice other than “videos” is chosen, you can select items by how recently they have been posted; “recent,” “past 24 hours,” “past week,” or “past year.” If videos is selected, the time choices refer to duration of videos: short, medium, or long.

3. Standard Results: With 1 above set at default, this button offers two features for your current search. First, Images from this page displays thumbnails of pictures on this site. I can see an advantage here for students researching to create a digital documentary. More text adds text from the webpage so viewers can quickly get a better understanding of what the page contains. The advantage of Standard Results is that searchers get a bit more information about a site and can compare it head to head with others before opening.

4. Standard view: Probably the slickest feature, the view can be changed to Wonder Wheel or Timeline. Wonder Wheel takes your current search and creates a web (concept map) of alternate search possibilities. And yes, each one of those is a live link that, if clicked, creates another wheel, and another, and another. Each time a link is selected, a new, refined set of links appears on the right. For students who have difficulty researching related topics, this can be quite a help. Historical searches can greatly benefit from the Timeline view. Clicking this will display an appropriate timeline. Below, will be significant years for the event which are links to more sites related to the topic. I can hardly wait to show this to my social studies teachers.

Clearly, you would never use all these features in a search. But as always, it isn’t about the tools, it’s having them available to know when to use them. Thanks, Google.

View the introductory video here.