Monday, September 6, 2010

Random Word generators - who knew what a business it seems to be?

Many creativity exercises and tools use random word generators.  As I understand it, there are two good reasons for this:

  1. The exercise or tool is designed to prevent undue focusing.  Dan Pink, in Drive, describes how an experiment on creativity and rewards showed that offer a reward causes people to focus too tightly and not consider outside or less-obviously-relevant ideas.  By artificially offering an less-relevant input, we open our minds to a wider range of possibilities.
  2. This wider range of possibilities might be all we need as many words have different meanings and conjure up different thoughts that can have the same endpoint. - Most roads do lead to Rome.

Here are three random word generators I have found online. They are listed in no particular order but I am surprised that there is sufficient market for a good generator that products like it exist.  The trial version appears sufficient to my needs.

I said the first was sufficient to my needs, but in testing the three - far more exist- the words offered were somewhat beyond the understanding of my students.  I am likely to use vocabulary lists from their reading or conversation books, although the results will be less random.  The students will still need to understand the meaning(s) of the words and describe how they relate to whatever problem is at hand.

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