When I was first introduced to tag clouds, I thought they were interesting, excellent for pulling themes from longer works (trying putting text from an entire chapter of a novel into a tag cloud generator...it is so interesting to see the results), great for analyzing redundancy of word use in original works, and it has some other unique niche uses.
One benefit I'm finding, though, as I publish and share more work digitally, is that the tag/word cloud generators give me a great idea of what I'm thinking (and writing) about.
I recently used a word/tag cloud generator called Tagxedo to evaluate the themes of this blog, Getting Tech Into Ed, and I combined that with my tweets for @brianyearling. I think the results are so telling of what has been on my mind over the past few years. It also made me think about how something like a digital portfolio and blog that a student produces for academic purposes could be turned into a wonderful reflection tool when it comes to a freshman or sophomore conference to determine next life steps. Perhaps the use of a tag/word cloud generator could pull some beginning themes out of what they've studied and written about that could influence the conversation and give them some ideas upon which to reflect. The same is true of an end-of-year conference with a teacher, a student-led conference, or just a reflection on a whole class blog.
The tool I used that produced the results below is www.tagxedo.com .