Friday, March 23, 2012

Information Literacy Word Cloud

So, this week went from hard to, well, harder, when midday yesterday I sensed I was coming down with a cold. When I woke up today, it had settled in fully, and now my head and nose are as stuffed as can be. Since I can't take medicine due to being pregnant [To my mommy-readers, any suggestions for pregnancy-safe cold remedies?], I am praying this goes away with rest and fluids over the weekend. (My husband's homemade chicken soup will help too, I'm sure!)

I'm posting, though, to share something I created based on the work of my students. As I've mentioned a few times before, my research partner Teresa and I co-designed a course called Rhetoric & Social Media, which is now running for the second time since its inception. While I co-taught it the first time around (Spring 2011), this time I am less involved on a weekly basis, though I have been coming into the classroom on days when the discussion topic is especially related to information literacy (the thing we librarians teach, and the aspect of the course which is my specialty). Well, this week we designed an assignment deliberately around the concept of information literacy--something I have never done before, if you'd believe it, even though I teach information literacy in every class I instruct! In other words, this is the first time I presented the name of the concept to my students (I just get more and more "meta" in my instruction style as time goes by...) and had them brainstorm about what it means. The brainstorming began even before our class meeting, on the Facebook Group Wall for the private Group Teresa and I created on Facebook for this course. I then led the students to continue brainstorming during the class meeting itself (which met yesterday), and together we parsed out what it means to be "information literate" in both academic and everyday settings (man I love my job).

After the class meeting, a student shared in the Facebook Group an in-Group Doc (i.e., document) he created using the various terms we brainstormed as being related to information literacy. This led Teresa to post a link to Wordle, suggesting someone create a word cloud using our class brainstorming session. So, I went ahead and did just that, and I absolutely love the graphic that resulted, so much so I need to post about it here.

Before I post the graphic, let me explain how I created it. Leading up to my class meeting with the students, I posted the following prompt to the Facebook Group Wall for the course:
To be answered before class on Thursday 3/22: "What is information literacy? and/or What does it mean to be information literate?" Comment on this thread by listing "formal" or "borrowed" definitions of information literacy (attributed in some way), your own understanding based on your experience with the phrase (and an explanation of that understanding), or by responding to a peer's definition.  
As you can see, the students were allowed to go "find" a definition on the web, as long as they included a link to the source. They could also write out in their own words their basic understanding of what the phrase means to them. I then took all the text from the comment thread that was directly related to how they defined the phrase, and inputted it into Wordle, which then created a word cloud weighting all the words in the inputted text--so, the bigger a word is in the resulting word cloud, the more often that word occurred in the text originally inputted. Once the word cloud was generated, I decided to exclude the words "information" and "literacy" (plus a few other extraneous words), because those two words came out way bigger than the rest, making the terms we brainstormed difficult to read. The result? A word cloud depicting my students' understanding of information literacy:

Wordle: Information Literacy
Click on it to see it full-size.

How cool is that? I love my students and I love my job.

And I must say, geekery like this makes hard weeks like this one bearable. 


  1. I don't know if you like spicy food, but I find that if I eat a bowl of kimchi jiggae made with homemade chicken or beef broth that my stuffiness starts to move... though having a runny nose isn't always more fun.

    Other than that, breathing in steam with some a few drops of peppermint oil can clear you out for a little bit. I find it doesn't last very long. Drink lots of agua fresca, eat lots of chicken soup, and try and get some rest (not easy with a job... though not easy with two kids either ;)

    FWIW, when I have had colds I've taken Sudafed at night just to help me get to sleep initially. But there seems to be mixed feelings on whether that is 100% safe.

    I hope you are feeling better soon!

    1. Thank you for the suggestions, Nicole! Alas, on normal days I'm not much of a spicy food eater, and with the increase in heartburn lately I have been extra careful in that regard.

      My husband suggested the breathing-in-steam idea as well, with something like VapoRub in the water (since we don't have peppermint oil on hand). If I find I am in need of some nose and throat soothing this weekend, I may try it.

      If the cold is still lingering on Wednesday, which is when I have my next baby doctor appointment, I'll probably just ask him which meds (if any) I can take. He's pretty down to earth in this regard, and unless something has been conclusively proven to be "bad for baby" he'll probably give me the OK to take it.

      Thanks again!

  2. Lots of rest, Vit C, soup, ... I have been trying a Neti Pot when I get really congested... and trying to decrease stress... Hugs!

    1. Thank you Elizabeth! I forgot all about my Neti Pot (I have one, but haven't had to use it in a while). My doctor actually suggested something like that early on, if cold symptoms were to arise at any point during the pregnancy. Thank you for reminding me! :)