10. Playing with words in Wordle

Wordle is a Web 2.0 application which generates a word cloud from text the user provides. This then provides a visual picture, highlighting those terms which are most prominent in a particular body of text or blog site. This can provide for a lot of discussion based on the purposes of the text exploration.

For example, the ‘wordle’ below was created by inputting the famous ‘I have a dream’ speech of Martin Luther King Jr. It is interesting to see which words are most prominent as a result of this creation.


It is relatively simple to use Wordle.

  • Simply go to the create page.
  • Copy and enter some text in the box provided, or
  • Copy a website address (e.g. a blog – since it has an RSS feed – not all web sites will work here), or
  • Enter a Delicious username 
  • Then click go or submit 
  • (NB – this process requires Java to be enabled on your computer)
  • You can then play with the design by changing font, colours, layout, etc.
  • When you are happy with the design, the resulting ‘wordle’ can then be either printed and/or saved to the gallery with an appropriate name
  • You can also capture the image created using a Print screen or Snipping tool if you don’t wish to save to the gallery.

Saving to the gallery is perfectly fine, as long as you remember how you name your images for later retrieval. When using a snipping feature, you must remember to acknowledge ‘Wordle’ with the creation of the image in the first place.

NB. If Wordle doesn’t work for you, make sure you have Java enabled. You can go to java.com to download the latest version. (See Justin if you still have difficulty) 

There are a wide variety of uses for ‘Wordle’ depending on the text type you put into it. You can generate:

  • a sign for the classroom – using students’ and teacher’s names
  • a specialist vocab list
  • languages list
  • place names
  • brainstorm of key terms in a unit
  • analysis of a piece of famous text
  • analysis of the focus of your class program
  • poster of synonyms and antonyms
  • more???

# Exercise

1. Grab a piece of text or list of terms from which you would like to create an image (e.g Hamlet’s soliloquy?) and add it into ‘Wordle’. Then play with it till you like the effects. Capture the wordle by using ‘Print Screen’, copying into a Word document and cropping the image to size. Then add this to your blog, and comment on what you have chosen to capture, and why. (And how you might use it?)

2. Share other ways that ‘Wordle’ could be useful in educational settings.

NB. I would advise against allowing students to browse through the gallery, except under careful supervision. Anyone can and does use this tool, and some are not as nice as others. It is not a moderated web site.

# Extra

Many Eyes: Wordle, http://services.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/page/Wordle.html Comment on what it is and how it works.

Education World: Wordle while you work, http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/columnists/dyck/dyck030.shtml, Comment and examples of how teachers can use Wordle.

Wordle Word Clouds, http://tcoffey.edublogs.org/2008/08/17/wordle-word-clouds/ A teacher outlines uses of Wordle in practice.

 Wordle: Using word clouds in a lesson, http://www.boxoftricks.net/?p=103. Lots of ideas


2 comments on “10. Playing with words in Wordle

  1. Wordle is definitely easy to play with, and I can see opportunity for using it in any subject, even maths. We sometimes forget that all subjects have their unique vocabularies and it is important to find ways of helping students to engage with that vocabulary.

  2. I forgot to mention when I was posting that I found a visit to http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/columnists/dyck/dyck030.shtml worth the time. The link from that page to that the Chris Pirillo video it links to is quite entertaining as well as informative, and there are some other good links too.

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