I heart Wordle

Given my fondness for tag clouds, it’s inevitable I would love Wordle – it generates word clouds from text you input. Nothing new there, but here’s the catch – it’s lovely. You can manipulate the text colour, orientation, layout, etc.

I’m not sure tag clouds always add value, but I think we could use them a lot more – for instance at the OU we do a lot of student surveys, often with a free form comment section for students to fill out. As a course team chair I would get back lots of data, plus all of the comments. Wading through these was difficult and time-consuming. A simple tag cloud of student comments would instantly highlight what the main issues were.

Apart from that, I think I am going to refuse to read any report that doesn’t start with a nice tag cloud summary.

Here is one from a 30 page SocialLearn report I fed through Wordle. Doesn’t tell you much, but is pretty:


  • Laura

    I think this is very telling… advertising gets way more prominence than the word University 🙂 I wonder if one day we’ll write reports from the tag cloud up…

  • James

    This is great – I’m going to run the unit specs for my BTEC students through this so they get a nice visual indication of what the course is all about.

  • Martin

    That’s a great idea James – and what would be even better would be if they let you have their notes at the end, so you could run it through again, then you can say to the next cohort ‘And this is what the students think it’s about’

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