The world is swimming in data. Census data. Education data. Economic data. It can be difficult to make sense of all those numbers especially when they’re arranged in some gargantuan Excel spreadsheet. Luckily, loads of sites are appearing online to help make all that data a little more digestible. Take SHOWMappingWorlds. Funded by a bunch of international agencies (Amnesty International, UNESCO and Unicef, for example), SHOWMappingWorlds allows users to select different datasets from America, Japan or from the whole globe. Want to see the illiteracy rates for different countries across the globe? Use the drop down menus to select People and the Education subset where you can see the sizes of the countries change size visually to represent the respective illiteracy rates of each country. You can also choose from a multitude of different datasets to show American dropout rates, Iraqi war deaths, unemployment rates or even beer consumption. The great part is all of the maps can be embedded in other locations or downloaded to your local computer. Check out the worldwide illiteracy and American dropout maps I created below.
I think data visualization sites can be really beneficial in our classrooms. If we want our students to be able to make data-driven decisions, we need to help them learn how to access data online, make sense of it and use the data in constructive ways. Sites like SHOWMappingWorlds can help students digest the sea of data that’s out there in a visual way.