Ok- first thing first: I am self-proclaimed technology un-savvy 20-something future teacher– I will be the first to admit that. HOWEVER, when the Tech Knight held a virtual class full of information and knowledge regarding presentation skills (i.e. how to use slides as a tool to enhance your presentation and keep your audience engaged), I thought, ‘hey, this isn’t too far outside of my comfort zone- I am familiar with how to use PowerPoint- I can really delve in and learn some great stuff about this tech tool.’ So, as I’m sitting there in our virtual classroom and we’re going through the 69-slide presentation, no problem- until we hit slides 58-65. Now, the Tech Knight wants us to select one of the visualization resources (tools used to bring things like images/photography, word clouds, infographics, and mind maps to a presentation) or sharing and creation sites, and create and review a product.
I think this assignment is practical and is designed for us to really explore and get to know different types of tools we can use in the digital classroom- I’m looking forward to it. I go ahead and choose to get some experience using and creating word clouds; and, since the Tech Knight offered it as a resource, I went ahead and chose to create and review Wordle. Apparently, this was a mistake. My first try yielded this as a result:
So, okay- I’m a little annoyed at this because it’s not working and I don’t know why, but I can handle it. In fact, the site has a troubleshooting link right below my image that failed to show up- ‘great!’ I think, ‘I’ll just navigate there, figure out what my tech un-savvy self did wrong and I’ll be good to go!’
WRONG! Java? Firewall? Web Content Filter? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?! Naturally, even though I’m not 100% sure what it means, I go ahead and click on the first troubleshooting link, the one about Java, which inadvertently causes me to have to go to the kitchen and make a real cup of joe. I digress. The next thing I see is this:
Seems harmless, so on to ‘verify Java version’ it is. While my computer is getting it’s Java fix and I’m sipping my cup of joe, I’m faced with this screen:
I wait a bit, on this screen, but nothing is happening. Next logical step (in my mind), is to go back to the troubleshooting menu and click the second thing, which leads me to this:
It’s like I’m reading a foreign language. WHAT? (now, if you’re really playing along, you’ll know that I tried this three times- kudos if you can tell!) At this point, I’m super frustrated and feel like a total technology failure. However, as a teacher I know there’s no such thing as failing- so I persevere on and I reset my Mac.
Feeling like ready to tackle this challenge, I navigate back to Wordle and try my hand at creating a word could (for what feels like the hundredth time). I press create and am greeted with this:
Ok, so I’m done with Wordle. My review? Not friendly for Mac users (I would assume) and not a word cloud site I am going to use in my professional life or within my classroom. 0 stars.
HOWEVER, I still needed to complete the Tech Knight’s assignment and create a product. Luckily, because the internet, there are dozens of other word cloud creation sites, and I was able to easily create this:
On Word It Out
I really liked both of these sites, and only personal preference for design would lead me to chose Tagul as my favorite. Both sites allow you to either create a world cloud from individual worlds or, will create a word cloud based on a chunk of text input by the user. Unlike Wordle, neither of these world cloud creation sites seem to evaluate the input text and evaluate it to display frequent words in increasingly larger sizes. However, I think that could actually be beneficial in a classroom setting. For example, when examining the Declaration of Independence or US Constitution, students might create a word cloud to see what words, phrases, or ideas are used most frequently throughout. However, if we allow an algorithm to pick out what words are and are not important, and then present the answers to our students, are we promoting the 4C’s? Or, are we simply giving students the information they need without asking them to genuinely interact with and make connections to the content? Therefore, I like the features of the sites Tagul and Word It Out that would allow students to have more input on what words to use, how large to make them, and even get creative in the overall shape of the word cloud. Ultimately, I would give word cloud sites 4 stars.
AND, HEY- if you know what I did wrong when trying to use Wordle and can help me troubleshoot, feel free to let me know! Comments welcome 🙂