Review by Polly Conway, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2013

newsmap

Cool map tool lets you visualize global news in nonlinear way

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Teachers say (1 Review)
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Grades
7-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Though not a new site, it works like a dream and has many applications.

Cons: It's an old site that hasn't been updated in several years.

Bottom Line: Students can learn a lot from viewing the news in a totally different way, but newsmap doesn't have a lot of support or extensions behind it.

You can use newsmap to illustrate different things about the global news environment. Ask students to experiment with creating maps that feature news from just a few countries, or ask them to research what certain countries report about a particular subject. They can set up a few newsmaps and compare them, observing how some places report the same news differently. 

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Newsmap is a website that "visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator." The site pulls all its content from Google News, organizing it by color, country, and subject, offering a customizable, nonlinear way to observe news trends. Sign up with an email and password, and then look at the standard newsmap; it includes many countries and color-coded boxes that contain headlines from categories such as world, national, business, technology, sports, entertainment, and health. Each color has three different tones relating to a story's publication date. A dark shade indicates a news story is from more than an hour ago. A medium shade means it's a news story from more than 10 minutes ago, and a lighter shade means the news story is from the last 10 minutes. You can check and uncheck boxes to see different configurations of content; for example, you can choose to view only Argentinean entertainment news or only sports headlines from the Netherlands.

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The site was created in 2004 and hasn't been updated in a few years. It still runs well and doesn't look dated, but the designer is no longer with the site and probably isn't returning to update or adjust it anytime soon. Still, it's a neat idea that helps users visualize the news in an unusual way. Similar to the many popular mind-mapping sites, newsmap presents information in a highly visual, nonlinear format. It can help users discover patterns and observe what kind of news each country reports on the most, but further applications aren't obvious.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

The colorful, streamlined map makes the various headlines and subjects easy to process, and kids will have fun customizing their views by adjusting countries and categories.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Kids will see the map adapt and change as they place their own restrictions on it; making those choices can be empowering. The patterns kids discover on Newsmap can give them a fresh understanding of cultural differences.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

The site is basically a standalone program; it works well but hasn't been updated in ages.


Common Sense Reviewer
Polly Conway Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Lisa K. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Babson College
Wellesley, MA
2
Newsmap is News Overload

What didn't work for students was the layout and the amount of information spread across the website page. While students liked the top headline news in one place, for most, it was too much information at once. Each news story is color coded organized by country, subject (technology, sports, etc.), and publication dates. Although this is helpful, it is still information overload. On the plus side, the search tool is really good. Another plus is the short descriptions provided when you hover over a news item. Unfortunately the good tools were not enough to keep students from going to direct news sites and away from Newsmap.

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