Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ahead in the Clouds

There are so many great web 2.0 applications out there these days that we're really spoiled for choice. One that I'm using with my class at the moment is called Wordle, which allows you to paste in any text, and it organises it into a word cloud with the highest frequency words being the largest.

Here is a Wordle of the comments from my first post, Engagement is Learning (hat tip to my course tutor for this idea!).

I'm using this in my Current Events programme. As a class we are looking at a particular news item that we want to explore in greater depth. After a general first reading we discuss what we think the main ideas and key concepts are, and then paste the story into Wordle and see what stands out. My students really love the visual aspect of it, and the fact that you can randomise or customise it to change its shape, colour etc.

I can also use this to add to my spelling and word study programme. They can select several relevant words from the article, and avoid selecting low-frequency words that are a bit obscure or chosen just because they looked difficult!

Another cool tool is one you'll find on this blog, called  AnswerTips , which allows you to double-click on any word on the blog that isn't a link, and it provides a box with a definition, synonyms, etc. Great for the class blog!


  1. I discovered Wordle a while ago, too. In fact, I actually revealed to my current online trainee EFL teachers a trick of the trade: namely that, instead of spending hours lucubrating over their hard-won assignments, we tutors simply (don't say it too loud) WORDLE them.

    Here's an example: http://www.wordle.net/gallery/wrdl/242804/COI

    Given the objectives of this particular assignment (I'm sure it's still engraved on the inside of your skull, Craig):
    STUDENTS more important than TEACHER - that's great. Plenty of QUESTIONs but no answers at all - that's absolutely superb in its sheer humility; and of course assessors and moderators warm to that, too. Plus a fair amount of focus on LANGUAGE TEACHING LESSONs and OBSERVER SHEETS thrown in. What more can you ask? I make that a Distinction ...in two minutes flat.

    Roll on even more powerful technology - I can do a week's work in an hour!

  2. Wordle as an assessment tool! I like it! It would also no doubt be interesting to run a few lesson plans through it, looking for some of the things you suggested.

    How about for employment? Run a few cover letters and CVs through Wordle and you'd be away laughing!