MyTips: Re-energize Your Practice

MyTip#3:  Try a New Technology

1.  Look at text differently using word clouds

Although it’s not really new (been around since 2008 or so), Wordle is always fun. Have you heard of word or tag clouds? Have you tried creating a word picture with Wordle? You can paste in the URL of any website that has an RSS or Atom feed OR you can type or copy-and-paste in collections of words from brainstorming sessions. The number of times a word appears determines its relative size in relation to other word. You can select different colours, fonts and arrangements. Keep two words or more together (counted as one) by inserting a non-breaking space.

I’ve seen it used as a way to focus on central concerns or topics in learning sessions or meetings. It’s a great way to summarize a session or to start a new day’s blog post.

I’ve tried another service called WordItOut but it isn’t as attractive or as easy to use (personal opinion). But you may want to play to see what you can make it do.

A new option I found called Tagxedo is worth exploring. You can create word clouds in specific shapes and share them in different ways. This word cloud generator looks more flexible and powerful although it jumps around a bit when I was testing it. They say that the base services will remain free although they do plan to start charging once they have tested it more thoroughly. So get in there and experiment now!

2.  Take on a creativity challenge.

While I don’t find the idea of posting a picture a day of my life a challenge, I do think that the idea of collecting thoughts and responses on a topic(s) on a regular basis is a good one. The Astronomy Picture of the Day site provides a collection of pictures of the universe with an explanation by a professional astronomer. It’s a wonderful way to explore and learn.

You can build a collection of images using free sites like Tumblr but be aware of the terms of use – many of these free sites hold onto the copyright of your images and can use them for other purposes. If you don’t care, go for it. Here’s an example of a traveling A Picture A Day site.

It’s easy to collect images with your phone – check out the Instagram app – there are a million others including ones that allow you to collect video and save it to a cloud site. You can even host an Instagram Photo Contest if you get inspired.

And don’t limit yourself to photos or video – try branching out and challenging yourself to be creative in areas that might be unfamiliar – great brain stretching. I took a look on the Net and found that the Scouts even offer badges for creative challenge projects!

3.  Try some of the new communication options

Google Hangouts is free and powerful. If you’re already a Google+ user, it’s so simple to send an invite to a contact and just start talking and sharing documents.

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About Cloudsyl

Now a mid-Island observer of the Cloud
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