Sunday, February 7, 2010

My Favorite Web 2.0 Tool

Wordle ( has become one of my favorite Web 2.0 tools due to its simplicity of use and applicability to every subject. Most educators have been exposed to Wordle, some without even knowing it. Words clouds are fun to make and easy to modify simply by cutting and pasting. Students are able to include their own creativity by changing directions and colors. While the word cloud can be printed directly from the screen, it does take minimal effort to save it as an image to import into a word processing or presentation software. Students and teachers have come to love Wordle ad it has become an easy, effortless way to integrate technology. But, it does have some downsides. While there is an option to print directly from the Wordle site, most people want to save it as a text document. I found the easiest thing to do was to save it as a jpeg image and then paste into the document. This took me two steps as I first saved it as a pdf and then opened it to save as a jpeg.

Like most Web 2.0 tools, it is available to everyone with an Internet connection. Schools have become leery of utilizing Wordle because the opening page may contain word clouds with inappropriate words. Wordle is not moderated but has directions on how to remove some of the options, like the gallery and random words clouds that appear on the opening page. Simply have the network administrator add these blocked pages to the web filter will allow the students to utilize Wordle in a safe environment. Another way is to have the students go directly to the create page which bypasses the opening page. This does not prevent the gallery page from still being available though.

There are many ways to use Wordle in the classroom. Students can take any text document and look at the high frequency words visually. I simply fund the speech on the Internet, copied and pasted the words into Wordle, and saved it as a jpeg file. For example, the State of the Union speech given by President Barack Obama. This is the result:

This type of visual presentation will provide the students to zero in on concepts important to any classroom discussion. Through the word size, it is easy to differentiate the important concepts. In my example, it is very easy to see that he wants to focus on jobs, energy, and reform for the American people. Just think how this could be used to stimulate the discussions in the classroom.

Tom Barrett has developed an excellent PowerPoint presentation to help teachers think of ways to integrate Wordle into their classroom. While he has listed thirty-eight ways to use Wordle, I am confident that any teacher will be easily able to add their own Wordle implementation to this presentation.

Wordle is so very simple to use that I find it amazing that teachers are not using it more in their classrooms. Perhaps if they really knew how simple and effective it was, they would.

1 comment:

callmela said...

I also love Wordle! The first time I really noticed it was shortly after the elections. I saw a Wordle that Obama had done about America and I was so impressed with the power of the words. When combined using the wordle application, the individual words took on a new life that really blew me away. Since then, I have used the app in ways that I think have been empowering for my students. For example: rather than just discussing ways that 8th grade students can show their parents they are ready to take on more responsibility, I had them brainstorm a list of words and phrases that describe those traits. Students then put the concepts into wordle and the resulting visual impact was wonderful. It is easy to learn and use. As Alice mentioned, it is a bit of a hassle to print, but there are ways. I also advise brainstorming the words into a word processing document and saving it before putting the words into Wordle. Once you put the words into the application and scramble them you can shuffle them out a variety of ways but you can't go back and use them again without recreating the list.