Online Creativity Tools: Wordle Reviewed

If you like the idea of using words to make art, you will probably enjoy Wordle. A free web-based tool, Wordle is fun and easy to use. You may end up with a word cloud so pretty, you'll want to frame it. Learn more about what this program can do by reading this review.

word cloud

What Is It?

When you use Wordle, you will end up with what the site calls a 'word cloud.' No sign-up, registration or downloads are necessary to use the site. Just put some text into the image creator and click go. You can also use the URL of any website with an RSS feed to create a word image out of the text on that site. There are other options to create a word cloud, but these are probably less suitable for an educational setting.

The result of feeding text into the program is a sort of abstract picture made with words instead of shapes. Words are assigned a random arrangement, font and color that you can change. In the standard version of the program, the size of the individual words is determined by how frequently they appear in the source text. An advanced version of the program allows you to weigh words as you like by assigning each one a numeric value.

Why Is It Cool?

The site is very straightforward and easy to use, and it allows users to have as much or as little control as they want. The results can be quite aesthetically pleasing, and the program could be a good way to foster a positive association with words. I can see some creative students using Wordle to create attractive study guides or memory-joggers. Plus, I think it's pretty cool that a free, simple program exists that will make pictures out of words. You can even print your results and hang them on your wall.

What Are Its Drawbacks?

As an educational tool, Wordle has limited applications. It might be used as a jumping-off point for certain vocabulary exercises or as a means of getting kids to think abstractly about language, but it's more of a toy than a tool. In fact, the website describes Wordle as a toy. Even so, teachers could probably get creative with how they can incorporate the site into their lesson plans.

Where Can I Get it?

You can use Wordle by visiting this site.

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