Every teacher should have a Personal Learning Network, and part of my PLN is the group of educators I follow on Twitter. This Sunday morning, I was checking my Twitter feed, and received the news that Wordle (the tool many teachers and students use to create word clouds from speeches and other text) is down due to a trademark infringement claim.
EdTechSandyK had re-tweeted this morning this message from EdTech4Me:
RT @EdTech4Me: http://wordle.net is closed down for legal reasons Needs #trademark legal advice show support by using hashtag #savewordle
In 140 characters or less EdTech4Me (Lisa L. Winebrenner) stated the problem, provided the URL of the affected site, appealed to her network for help, and even created a hashtag of #savewordle for others to use to create a searchable feed for those commenting on the problem. I saw her message because EdTechSandyK is in my network. With Twitter, the spread of such appeals can grow exponentially, reaching thousands of users very quickly.
And as quickly as those tweets went out, there also arose tweets of alternatives to wordle, while the site is offline:
NMHS_Principal tweeted: Just checked out Tagul http://tagul.com/ and WordItOut http://worditout.com/ Gr8 alternatives to Wordle (thx @web20classroom)
Those are two sites he recommends, and he credits Twitter user web20classroom for the tips. Delving further into my PLN, I checked out Shelly Terrell’s Twitter page and found a link to this excellent discussion of Wordle alternatives from Maria Constantinides: http://marisaconstantinides.edublogs.org/2010/02/10/tech-tools-pedagogy-ii-word-clouds/ It includes a summary of the alternatives with pros and cons of each.
And how powerful is the networking of individuals? In the time for me to compose this post, wordle.net is back online (albeit temporarily?). I’m interested to see what Jonathan Pheinburg reports on his blog as to the resolution of the trademark claim http://blog.wordle.net/
And the best takeaway from this event may be from Dodie Ainslie @djainslie:
Problems with Wordle reiterates need to be flexible educators- remember purpose first, then tool #edtech #edchat
Having a PLN keeps me in touch with the latest events and allows me to tap into the expertise and wisdom of a host of knowledgeable educators. When we have a PLN, we can also participate in exploring and resolving problems together.
A clarification and additional credit, pls check out EdTech4Me’s comment to my post – the #savewordle tag did not orginate with EdTech4Me but passed along through @digitalmaverick, who advocates doing more to preserve wordle than passing along alternatives: “The creator of Wordle gave us the concept and let us use it FREE – so surely we should do all we can to #savewordle not go elsewhere?” Thanks, Lisa!