01 March 2010

Wordle.net and Word Clouds

ImageChef Word Mosaic - ImageChef.com
If you've used Wordle you'll know what a great application it is to use in the classroom. Wordle has been having some legal problems and went offline for a (very) short while, but in the process there was a lot of activity getting together a few alternative sites. None of them have the simplicity of Wordle but here are a few.

I created the word cloud here at Word Mosaic. It doesn't have the flexibility of Wordle but you can create shapes, and embed in blogs and websites.

ABCYa is another site where the word clouds are almost the same as Wordle.  Advantages here are that you can save and print the word clouds easily.  There are some limited editing options too and no registration is required.

Wordsift.com is another site that I've used in class with higher level students as well as for personal use.  You just type in your text and the cloud is created.  However, this site is more than just a word cloud creator - there is a visual thesaurus and pictures.  When you click on a word in the cloud a visual thesaurus displays related words, pictures related to the word and a list of related videos.  There are some other features, such as sorting into categories, that I haven't explored yet.  Although the cloud isn't very interesting, you can drag the words around, add the images to the cloud and sort the words in the cloud in various ways.  One of the drawbacks is that it isn't easy to save but if you can always take a screenshot (press the print screen button on your computer to save it as an image) or if you have Windows Vista or 7, use the built in snapshot feature to save it.  This site was created by Stanford University to aid the teaching of English.

Tagcrowd is a very basic wordcloud that looks similar to Wordsift but without the extra features.  There is no control over output but you can embed in blogs and save it.  No registration required.

Tagul is a word cloud with a difference. I played around with this some time ago and you really need to spend some time to get it right.  If you have the time and patience, the end result is pretty good because you have a lot of control over output.  As well as that, you can add links to the words (a bit like a blog tag cloud) .  I ended up using Glogster to do what I wanted to do with Tagul as it was more straightforward but it could be a useful tool.  One drawback is that you can only have 10 word clouds, but registration is free.

VocabGrabber is similar to Wordsift and acts like a thesaurus as well as a word cloud so it is useful for higher level learners.  You can click on the words in the word cloud and the words pop up in a visual thesaurus with related words, there's a dictionary definition and a list of quotes or references using the word.  A very neat tool, again, I've used with my students with a positive effect.  If you want to pay, (about 3 dollars a month or 20 dollars a year) you can subscribe to a host of other  useful features.

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