WHAT IS TAGXEDO?
Much like Wordle, Tagxedo is a word-cloud generating program. Tagxedo takes texts from documents, from online input, or from websites and turns them into beautiful word-clouds with the click of a button. Users can choose from a variety of shapes to customize their clouds, including hearts, clouds, famous celebrities, stars, animals, and more. This shape feature is the main distinction between Tagxedo and other similar word cloud programs. Tagxedo also allows users to upload their own images to turn into word-cloud shapes, furthering customization possibilities. In addition to shape users can customize the colors and font to create their own personalized final products.
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WHO REVIEWED TAGXEDO?
We’re continuing to explore ways to utilize this resource, but up to this point my design students have utilized it as a form of infographic, as a dynamic digital art product, and as tool for visually supplementing text-based information. We’ve used Wordle in the past, which is a similar resource, but Tagxedo has greater flexibility: saving graphics in a high resolution format for print-based use, for instance, provided us with the ability to create posters and other large applications.
Tagxedo also provides users with an option to link to a dynamic web-based visual. Students, teachers, and administrators enjoyed the effect of the mouse roll-over – the way that each word would enlarge was an action that users found eye-catching. We were delighted to discover that clicking on a word would result in an internet search to define that particular word. With this information in hand, we began to test various educational uses for this resource.
My students and teachers both found this to be a delightful resource, and one they enjoyed experimenting with. The variety of visual options allowed students to model a diverse range of designs.
However, I frequently heard users comment that they would like to be able to come back to Tagxedo at a later time and continue to edit their graphic; the current iteration of this resource does not allow this to take place.
I used Tagxedo as a “warm-up” project to get my students to start thinking about using typography as a design element to create their own self portraits. Students were instructed to explore the program and somehow create a personal reflection of themselves using typography, shape, and value. They were then required to give a written explanation of how the logo/personal design was a reflection of themselves.
Some students were first hesitant that it would be just another duplicate version of popular word cloud sites. However, they were pleased to see the wide variety of options and versatility that expanded the simple idea into new heights.
One thing that really stood out was the ability to incorporate personal font and adjust every aspect of the design. For those who want a basic program, templates and set-schemes are available, and for those who are more advanced, they can customize many aspects of the design such as tightness, background colors, and fonts. Students enjoyed being able to change shape, color, and text until they found the final outcome that was most visually pleasing. They found the buttons self explanatory and easy to adjust.
Their favorite aspect of the website was the ability to upload words from personal sources such as YouTube, tumbler, and FaceBook. Instead of having to spend time to think of random words and adjectives, several students simply inputted their personal blog and ended up with an array of words that perfectly described them.
On the downside, the inability to see all of the adjustments made while altering the settings until the whole design was reloaded made the process a bit lengthy for my students with a strong background in design. Another downside was the lack of shape and color options. Although there were 50 set designs and color schemes, students got bored with them after seeing everyone doing the same things.
TIPS FOR CLASSROOM IMPLEMENTATION:
- Prepare the text you’d like to use in advance and consider editing content to include only the key words and phrases that emphasize the point or concept you hope to illustrate.
- Although this resource has an option to eliminate words like “a,” “and,” the,” etc., there is still a tendency for irrelevant words to appear in prominent visual locations. Eliminating those words may render more appropriate results. By contrast, repetition of key words often results in emphasis of those words in the finished design.
- Users should first browse through the Tagxedo website for excess information provided on the program
- The layout of the website was a little confusing at first because of too much crammed on the homepage with info, links, and examples
- In addition to using the link to insert words, use the lock buttons, which allow you to keep certain settings and still click random to mix everything else.