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Alas, poor learners . . .your Wonder Wheel is Gone!

Gary Price’s SearchEngineLand post says it’s official: Google’s Wonder Wheel is dead.

According to Gary:

The spokesperson said that the search tool was removed due to the “initial stage” of the Google site redesign announced earlier this week.  The new search interface features a smaller logo and links moved to the top and bottom edges of the browser for a cleaner look.

I’ve been a fan of Wonder Wheel and all of the other left nav bar after-search refinements since their introduction in 2009.

Okay, the Wonder Wheel was a less-than-perfect tool. It sometimes led to relationships I just couldn’t predict or understand.  I remember it disappearing a couple of times when I most needed it.

But I loved it nevertheless.  So, why, Google, why?

Wonder Wheel allowed young researchers to visually and dynamically examine relationships among search terms. It helped in topic brainstorming. It introduced new concepts and vocabulary to learners as they first investigated a topic.  It compensated for limited subject knowledge.  It promoted the discovery of new concepts and ideas.

The good news is that my other favorite after-search refinements–timeline and related searches–seem to have survived the redesign.

I suppose I will have to revise my search poster and my lessons. I am used to change. I can handle it, but I really liked this feature and I know my students and fellow teachers did too.

Google, why didn’t you give us a heads-up?

I suspect you use all sorts of algorithms to determine what searchers use and exactly how they search.  Our little school demographic may not mean a hill of beans, but I have a feeling your Wonder Wheel will be widely missed.  Would you reconsider this part of your redesign?

And while I am asking, isn’t it time for a Scgoogle?  I volunteer to help!

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Senga White says:

    I totally agree!! Bring back the Wonder Wheel. I used it all the time when working with classes and the teaching staff and students at my school loved it.

  2. Donna Watt says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Joyce. I looked for it today and it wasn’t there, and I thought, “Maybe they just moved it!” Not happy here in NZ – I spent lots of time promoting it to enthralled teachers and students… really not happy…

    Google, are you listening?

  3. I’m not happy either. Have spent a lot of time sharing this with teachers and students. I’m sure many will miss it.

  4. This is a shame. I used it and iboogie as aids for students who needed something extra to help them see related search terms. Many of our boys struggle to “see” related topics or how to approach refining their searches or somethimes to simply understand a search and all its compnents. The visual element helped as well. Most of our boys just search google and to have that tool there was great to “open” their minds. I guess it is back to iboogie – at least that name sticks in their minds.

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