Teacher Review for Gapminder

An Engaging Exploration of Global Data Sets for Secondary Students

Kellie A.
Technology coordinator
Cherry Creek School District, Greenwood Village, CO
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
My Rating
Learning Scores
Setup Time Less than 5 minutes
Great for Further application
Knowledge gain
Student-driven work
Teacher-led lessons
Whole class
Great with Advanced learners
How I Use It
Gapminder is a great tool for interacting with and understanding global data sets. It would fit very naturally in a social studies classroom, especially world geography, as it looks at different types of country data over time. The date ranges vary, depending on the data being viewed, but the visual representation of the information is both engaging and informative. Like most sources that present statistics, Gapminder would fit into an activity that was already structured as part of an inquiry-based lesson. While it is interesting to view the different graphs available, giving kids a specific focus and an essential question (or several) would result in a deeper learning experience. The founder, Hans Rosling, has given several TED talks that incorporate Gapminder, and those would be good starting points in looking at the power of statistics and global trends. For those teaching about creating info graphics, the source data is included, which would be an effective way to explain to students how the graphs themselves are constructed.
My Take
Gapminder is an engaging way to view statistics for different countries over time, either in isolation or as a comparative study. As part of an exploration into the effects of one factor on another, it has a lot of potential. It is interactive in its presentation and visually appealing and lends itself to inquiry-based activities. Sharing happens via link, but the site would be even more useful if the graphs or charts could be easily embedded via embed code. The site also has some teacher resources and lessons suited to the information provided, including a card game (downloadable as Word or PDF). The 2.5 minute video demo is almost a must when first using this tool as it isn't very intuitive. There's a wealth of information here, but figuring out how to view and use it takes a bit of effort.