Monday, April 11, 2016

5 Fantastic Word Cloud Tools for Chromebooks

Word Clouds are a favorite tech tool for classrooms.

You input are large passage of text, and then a shape is created from the words, with the more frequent words displayed in a bigger font size, and the less frequent words shown smaller.

This can be a great tool for many classroom activities:
  • Students can analyze their own writing to see which words they use often (perhaps too often).
  • Brainstormed ideas from the class can be collected to see which ideas rise to the top.
  • Text from famous speeches and writings can be displayed in a cloud to reveal keywords and themes.
  • Submissions from polls and votes can be imported to see the most popular responses.
For years sites such as Wordle and Tagxedo have provided teachers and students with easy to use word cloud generators. Unfortunately those sites use Java and Silverlight which do not run on Chromebooks. As more and more schools deploy Chromebooks, schools have been scrambling to find new options for generating word clouds.

Thankfully there are now several excellent options that use newer technology and will run properly on a Chromebook. See below for five examples of Chromebook-friendly word cloud tools that you and your students can use.

Tagul
https://tagul.com
Tagul is the most powerful option of the tools we will examine, but is still very easy to use. Key points about Tagul include:
  • You need an account to use Tagul, but can simply choose to use your Google account to log in so you do not need to create a username and password just for the site.
  • Can add words by typing them in, pasting from a document or spreadsheet, or importing from a website.
  • Can choose from a wide range of shapes, including uploading your own shape.
  • Can adjust fonts, layout of the words, and colors.
  • Can save your word clouds to access or edit later.
  • When done you can download the image, print, or share online from the site.
  • There is a paid version which let you download higher quality images, but otherwise you can do everything in the free version.

Word Clouds for Kids (by ABCYa)
http://www.abcya.com/word_clouds.htm
As the name implies, this tool is much more suited for younger students. The site is colorful and user friendly, with only a few options, so young children should find it welcoming and easy to use. Key points include:
  • You do not need an account to use Word Clouds for Kids.
  • You can add words by pasting them into a large textbox.
  • There is a limit of 2,000 words, so you may have to cut down the original text.
  • After the word cloud generates you can adjust a few settings including font, layout, color, and number of words.
  • There is also a randomize feature to adjust all the settings randomly.
  • When done you can save the final result as a JPEG image.

Wordsift
http://wordsift.org/
This tool is simpler than Tagul, but is easy to use and does a nice job, so it would be a good choice if you just need to make a quick word cloud, or perhaps for younger students. Key points include:
  • You do not need an account to use Wordsift.
  • You can add words by pasting them into a large textbox.
  • Then you create the word cloud by clicking the “Sift!” Button.
  • Click the “Cloud Styles” button to change the layout of the cloud.
  • Click the gear icon to open the advanced settings and adjust maximum number of words, font, color, and more.
  • Through the advanced settings you can also download the final result in PNG or SVG format (although the download feature was not working for me when I tried it).

Word Cloud Generator (from Jason Davies)
https://www.jasondavies.com/wordcloud/
This option is also simpler than Tagul, with fewer options and features, but works well for a quick word cloud. Key points include:
  • You do not need an account to use Word Cloud Generator.
  • You can add words by pasting them into a large textbox.
  • There are only a few options such as type of spiral, font, degree orientations, and number of words.
  • You simply click “Go!” To generate the word cloud.
  • The final result can be downloaded in SVG image format (which will need to be converted to a more common format for many applications).

Word Cloud Generator add-on for Docs
Google Docs Add-on link
Rather than being a website, this tool is actually an Add-on for Google Docs. It has the least amount of options of any of the tools here, but is convenient if you want a word cloud made from the text in your Google Document. Key point include:
  • Install and use as a Google Doc add-on from the Add-on menu.
  • When you run it, a word cloud is displayed in a panel on the right of the document.
  • The word cloud is much smaller than the other tools and does not have an option to resize.
  • There is not an option to save the word cloud, although you could use a screenshot tool to capture the image.
  • Advanced options allow you to set the maximum number of words, as well as list words to exclude.

What other word cloud tools have you used on a Chromebook? What creative ways have you or your students used them? Feel free to share your ideas and experiences in the comments below.

10 comments:

  1. My students love Tagul. They really like that they can upload their own picture and can save their clouds, which they can access from anywhere using their school issued gmail account.

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. I love WorditOut too http://worditout.com/word-cloud/make-a-new-one

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  4. Hi thanks for the very informative and useful post. The Word Cloud Generator add-on for Docs now have an option to save the word cloud. You can either copy the image to the clipboard or save it locally. Full disclosure: I know the developer personally.

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