You might have seen some of those colorful clouds of word art popping up here and there. Wondering what all the fuss is about?
The wordles above capture the themes students wrote about in two freshman writing seminars taught in the WIC Seminar Room last fall. The seminar Google and the Politics of Information taught by Dana Walker used the text The Googlization of Everything (and why we should worry). The seminar Digital Literacies taught by Patrick Wehner used the text Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World. Patrick commented, “I think the Wordle illustrated the academic conversations the students were having with the text and each other”
Wordle allows users to create a visual representation using the word frequency of any text provided. The resulting word cloud is dynamic, shareable, and, as you can see, definitely eye-catching.
So, what’s the word on Wordle? This fun tool generates a word cloud from text that you provide. The algorithm removes any common words and then uses the frequency of the remaining words to determine their size in the graphic. So, the most commonly used word is displayed most prominently. The other cool thing about Wordle is that it’s completely free–whatever you create is yours to use however you choose.
This article from “The Tech Savvy Educator” provides some interesting uses for Wordle, taking these word clouds beyond visually appealing to educationally applicable. My favorite suggestion is using Wordle to check your writing for heavy repetition. Just copy and paste your essay, and Wordle generates a word cloud displaying your prominently used terminology. You can use this graphic interpretation to infuse your work with a more varied vocabulary.
Another way Wordle can provide a new learning perspective is analyzing different texts for common themes. Try comparing the content of two poems on the same topic, or analyze the evolution of a certain type of advertisement from the past and today. The options are endless!
Wordle gives you a lot of control over how your word cloud appears. You can change the font, color scheme, and even limit the cloud to a certain amount of frequently used terms. Eager to try it out? Weigle’s diner booths are a great place to Wordle away your afternoon–we’d love to see what you come up with!