November 9, 2013 Alphabetizer (and Randomizer)

One of my rules for this blog is "no tool too small" - in fact, sometimes it is the tiny tools that can be most useful. That is the case with the web-based tool I want to write about today:'s Alphabetizer:

Don't let the name fool you: it is an alphabetizer OR a randomizer and, as you can tell from past posts, I love random. Plus, it will also remove duplicates (very handy!), and it's very agnostic when it comes to how terms are separated in the list. I use this little tool several times every single day. It's just so much quicker and easier than messing with a spreadsheet to provide the same functions!

So, for example, I keep online something I call "The Stack" which is a list of the student Storybook assignments I have in my to-respond pile. I need that to be a comma-separated list in alphabetical order, making it easy for students to quickly check and see if their name is on the list. So, I use the Alphabetizer to keep that list up-to-date, reconciling it to the pile of assignments I am working on at any given moment. That's a way I use the Alphabetizer every single day.

I also use the Alphabetizer to randomize chunks of HTML such as rows in a table. So, for example, I keep a list of all the Storybooks in a class at my class wiki: Myth-Folklore Storybooks and Indian Epics Storybooks. Sometimes, though, I need to randomize that table listing for student commenting assignments. You can see the results here: Week 10 Internet assignment. It's the same table as in the wiki, but randomized with this tool. I just strip the HTML of the table down to its rows, with each row on a separate line, and then I use the randomizer to randomize those lines. After that, I add back in the table tags. Five minutes: all done!

Another time when I use the Alphabetizer is to randomize AND alphabetize the blog responding groups. You can see what I mean here: Myth-Folklore Blog Responding. Every few weeks, I randomize the blog groups (and I randomize the chunks of HTML to do that, since I need to randomize not just the names in the groups, but also the links that go with them). Then, so that students can find which group they are in, I alphabetize the names as you can see there at the top of the list. Randomize AND alphabetize: I use the tool for both. :-)

I know there are lots of other alphabetizer and randomizer tools online, along with other kinds of text transformation tools. I just happen to have found the tool years ago and I keep on using it. Count me a fan!

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