Tagxedo is a tag cloud generation tool that can be used to create meaningful images from important lists of words or a block of text.
The resultant cloud can be molded into various shapes. The word cloud can be used in classrooms for learning moments, increasing pedagogy, or increasing student affect. The subject site is a way to incorporate fun into the Internet, and into a classroom (grounded or online).
The learning goals will be determined by the instructor.
A student using the subject site can create a word cloud for a class assignment. Word clouds are used to visually compare the frequency of words or phrases within the same sample or between different samples.
Target Student Population:
This tool does not require a log-in. It can be used with school-age students through adult learners.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Students will need a list of terms or block of text to import into Tagxedo. They should have a general understanding of what tags are and why certain words in a tag cloud are larger than other words.
Some practice with Tagxedo is recommended before using advanced features. Pro (paid) version allows custom shapes. Basic version is free.
Type of Material:
Tagxedo is a Web 2.0 technology that allows users to generate their own content from a list or block of words.
Professors can use this tool to introduce students to important terms that will be discussed during a course. Students can use this tool with other social networking tools to create tag clouds that highlight frequently used terms. Tagxedo works well with a Twitter ID to get a better idea of what a user frequently tweets about.
Tagxedo requires a current web browser that supports the Microsoft Silverlight plug-in.
Broadband connection is recommended.
Evaluation and Observation
Instructors and students will use Tagxedo to generate content. The Content Quality rating does not apply.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Tagxedo is an excellent tool for students to use in vocabulary-related projects. It also works well for reflective activities, especially when students are asked to write meta-reflections. Tagxedo has lots of bells and whistles for students who aren't satisfied with default colors and shapes.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Tagxedo is easy to use. Students just copy and paste a block of text or provide a URL to web page and Tagxedo does the rest. Customization is easy. Each setting area has a refresh button that allows users to randomly choose another style. The associated arrow button can be used to choose a specific setting. Once completed, the word cloud can be saved for use in other applications. The Word Options feature allows users to eliminate common issues with word clouds such as removing punctuation and frequent words such as "the", "is", and "and."
The only possible concern we have is the use of Microsoft Silverlight plug-in. Hardy Leung does a good job explaining why he chose Silverlight over competing technologies in the FAQ section of the site.
The programming that drives the site is in the background. However, some aspects of the control panel could be more intuitive. For this reason it is recommended the user spend time practicing before creating the final project.