Friday, August 21, 2009

How to make Wordle safe for classroom use.

A couple of days ago, I got an email from Becky Foellmer, of Lakeview Jr. High in Downers Grove, IL. She suggested:

Since it is very easy to set most networks to block specific sites, blocking the gallery at http://www.wordle.net/gallery is a simple process. That eliminates the concern of students seeing inappropriate content there. Then […] instead of having the latest examples showing on your homepage (which could easily contain inappropriate content), you could simply put up several samples of your choosing that are appropriate. This, I believe, would allow those of us in the field of education to much more comfortably utilize your site within our classrooms.

This seemed to me to strike an excellent balance, in that it’s something I actually have time to get done, and it’s practical for educators, I hope. Therefore, I’m happy to announce that from now on, the Wordle front page will never feature images or links that are inappropriate for classroom use. It's now possible to configure an institution's "site-blocking" software to keep Wordle safe for classroom use.

Simply have your networking administrator block the following base URLs1:

  • http://www.wordle.net/gallery
  • http://www.wordle.net/next
  • http://www.wordle.net/random

and your users will not see anything that's not safe for classrooms. You’ll still be able to save your work, bookmark your individual Wordle creations, print them out, and share the URLs of saved Wordles with each other and with families.

Please let me know whether this works out for you in your school or other institution.

1By "base URL" I mean: "block all URLs that begin with the given text", and not merely those literal URLs.

27 comments:

Sharon said...

This is fantastic! Thank you so much! Our teachers find Wordle to be invaluable in analyzing student stories, collectively overviewing important points in essays and reviewing word usage in writing assignments. This makes it so very much better!

Mrs. Robin Martin said...

I agree with Sharon. Thank you for considering educational use. It isa fantastic tool for every subject!

Jen said...

Thanks so much!
We enjoy wordle very much -- and now you made it even more user-friendly for the elementary classroom.
VERY APPRECIATED.

Diane Quirk said...

Thanks for being proactive for the educational use of this tool. I've asked my district to help me test it out.

Nedra said...

Thank you! This looks like an excellent solution. If the admin at my school will do this I'll be using Wordle much more this year with our elementary students.

megbg said...

This is awesome. I use wordle often with my fourth graders but have been leary to let them do their own because of possible inappropriate ones. Great news!

NIna said...

Thank you so much! I could very well understand your dilemma in not being able to monitor what is created, but this seems like a great solution. We love using Wordle in our classroom.

NIna said...

Thank you so much! I could very well understand your dilemma in not being able to monitor all the creations, but this seems like a great solution. We love using Wordle in our classroom.

Martha said...

Thanks for making the changes! Educators LOVE Wordle! This will make it even better.

Kathy Schrock said...

This not work in some districts, since some of the content filters block only at the domain level, and any one of these would block the entire Wordle domain. :-(

Ruth said...

Thank you so much! This will help the IT folks at my school division suport our use of wordle!!

Jonathan Feinberg said...

Thank you all very much for these encouraging comments.

@Kathy, thanks for letting me know. If it turns out that most schools have a system like yours, I'll have to go back to the drawing board.

Kathy said...

Great information, which I'll pass along to our readers. We recently did a feature on Wordle in schools.
http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6666671.html

sha said...

What a great accommodation, Jonathan. Thanks! I've loved your site for a while and had found a "work-around" by linking to the /create page for my 1st and 2nd graders.
Awesome app and I appreciate you sharing this great visual tool with us all!

LKP said...

Thanks so much. I had JUST finished teaching a grad class for teachers who loved Wordle but knew they couldn't let their kids use it due to the inappropriate content. Can we still get the embed code without going to the gallery? My teachers want to embed their wordles in their wikis. thanks again!

SueH said...

Jonathon, I think you've shown great leadership in responding to one teacher's concern by making your Web 2.0 tool safer for kids. I am the blogger for the Wilkes University Instructional Media Program (http://wilkesinstructionalmedia.blogspot.com/) and will make sure this is mentioned next week. Meanwhile I have done a Wordle write up in my own blog (http://bigreturns.posterous.com/wordle-a-case-study-in-leadership) and will post a mention in Classroom 2.0 today as well. Thanks.

Jonathan Feinberg said...

@LKP

I've changed the Wordle URL scheme such that a saved Wordle now lives under http://www.wordle.net/show/... instead of http://www.wordle.net/gallery..., so that the embedding and bookmarking of saved Wordles should work fine, even when blocking the suggested URL patterns.

Bart said...

The other challenge schools have comes from the resources for wordle being stored on appspot.com which also house web anonymizers and other resources that violate school Internet policy. Please consider moving needed resources to the same site as the html code.

Bart
Twotrees Technologies

nateshorb said...

I'm a fifth grade teacher hoping to use it on the first day of school. This is good to hear! Thanks!

sherri75 said...

Thank you! I sent this to our technology department yesterday and they made the suggested changes. It's great to have Wordle back. A quote from our technology department - "Wonderful! It's nice to see that site owners will make their creations
friendly to educators!"

Becky said...

This is a great help to education. Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness to teachers.

txgrl said...

My teachers now seriously LOVE me again!! It was rocky for a few months, after having shown them this great tool and us having the exact same problem. I sent them your blog post about the fix and tada!! WORKED!!

THANK YOU for keeping us educators in mind!! I even blogged about your greatness, https://gblog.garlandisd.net/users/adteaman/weblog/629e4/Wordle_dillemmasolved.html

Kevin said...

Wordle just started showing up on our 8e6 filter as an anonymizer. Anyone know anything about that or seeing the same thing on their filters?

SCC English Department said...

Just a general thank you for making this tool in the first place - brilliant for schools. We like using it for Shakespeare plays and word-counts. Thanks!

M said...

You are a gentleman and a scholar. I look forward to using Wordle more in my classroom. Very user-friendly. LOVE LOVE LOVE Wordle. I like the hint to link straight to the create page, too.

Mrs Webb said...

Thank you for these tips - I have used Wordle with my practicum class (year 2/3) as a reflection on their learning. I hadn't thought about blocking the content as it may be inappropriate. I will now endeavour to do this before I next use Wordle in class :)

I would also love to hear anyone else's tips on how to effectively use Wordle in the classroom....

Glenn Hervieux said...

Thanks for Wordle and thanks for considering student eyes & minds ;)