Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Snap Session - Word Clouds

Tsk tsk – shame on me, I know. I haven’t posted one of my 15-minute Snap Sessions in a while. Things have been hectic, with a lot of travel and many presentations.

Want to know what I’ve been up to since the last snap session posted here? Check here
and here
and here

I poke into my bag of “apps to try” and decided instead of focusing on one, I would mention a few that I like. There are little apps that dedicated 15 minutes to figure out and test would have been over kill. They have pretty dedicated purposes, as you will see.

The first one I really like is called Wordle. Wordle ( creates a “word cloud”, which is a visual image of the words used in a document, with used the most often appearing larger than other words.

The sample above is a word cloud of this blog entry up to the point above the image.

You can also take a URL and create a word cloud from that. For example, here is a word cloud of my last blog.

An excellent example of the use of word clouds is the recent blog posted by the President-Elect Obama’s transition team on the subject of health care

One of my plans is to go back into my web site and make word clouds for my publications. I might even do that for my blog entries here and at

Well – it looks like I was actually able to spend a good deal of time talking about this one application. I can see some great uses of this, especially in writing class.

One idea, not just for a writing class, might be to have students do a word cloud for a paper they are working on in order to get a good visual idea of the words they are using.

How else could word clouds be used in education?

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