Common Sense Review
Updated November 2014


Interactive animated charts explore global development trends
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • Videos, lesson plans, and blog posts support classroom use.
  • Pre-made presentations and graphs can be integrated into lectures.
  • The videos highlight a wide range of global development issues.
  • The interactive tool allows users to create animated bubble graphs.
Stellar interactive charts integrate global statistics into the curriculum with vibrant, accessible visuals.
Teachers may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information available, the time needed to learn how to use Gapminder, and the complex nature of the topics.
Bottom Line
Gapminder brings meaning to what otherwise might be considered “boring” numbers; students learn about social, economic, and environmental development.
Jennifer Sitkin
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

The charts alone may not be enough to engage kids, but teachers can put a human face on the issues at stake. Interactive features and short videos help boost student interest.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

A valuable tool for students and teachers to visually explore and better understand global development trends. Sample lesson plans encourage use of prior knowledge, critical thinking, and collaboration. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

A video tutorial, an annotated guide, and a collection of teacher resources help kids navigate the site and help teachers learn how to use Gapminder in the classroom. 

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

There are multiple ways to use Gapminder to support student learning. Teachers can use the pre-made charts and videos to supplement lectures or follow the extensive lesson plans for whole-class instruction. The lesson on "200 years that changed the world" demonstrates how to lecture about global development from 1800 to the present. Another option is for students to have their own devices and use the interactive chart tool to research a topic to further their understanding of global development. A structured assignment that requires students to first play around with the different parameters and then focus in on one topic would be beneficial. Students could compare regions or specific countries on an issue such as health or education.

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What's It Like?

The Gapminder website encourages the use of statistics and related information to learn about social, economic, and environmental development around the world. The primary feature is the Gapminder World tool that presents world data in interactive, animated charts. Users can choose the topic, select different parameters, and compare countries and regions over the past 200 years. Topics include health, fertility, literacy, debt, population, employment, and energy. Example charts are available to use as is or as models for the type of information that can be displayed on the bubble graphs. Beyond the charts, there are videos, lesson plans, and PowerPoint presentations. Charts are integrated into the additional resources and cover specific content such as child mortality, life expectancy, and human development trends.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Gapminder helps students see the importance of using statistics to investigate global development. Once teachers and students understand what's available on the site and how to use the Gapminder interactive graph tool, the possibilities for research are endless. The ability to manipulate the charts by changing the parameters and highlighting various countries or years should increase student ownership of their learning. Teachers can use the lesson plans provided or create their own to guide students through the process of analyzing the data to draw conclusions. The included videos, card game, and global development quiz are all great ways to introduce students to Gapminder. The topics covered on the site are ideal for current events issues in social studies or for a world geography course. As a bonus, students who use this app will quickly see cross-curricular connections between math, science, and social studies. 

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See how teachers are using Gapminder

Lesson Plans