Top Ten Posts in 2016

These were the posts on WorldView Software’s blog that were most popular over the past year:

  1. Home page / Archives – See the latest post here
  2. American Ancestry in Maps – there are LOTS of people with German ancestry
  3. Transgender People in History – definitions, historical examples, and more
  4. The Museum of Lost Objects – documenting antiquities lost to war
  5. How Do Polls Work? – when is a poll a valid measure of public opinion?
  6. Economic Indicators – non-traditional indicators of economic well-being (or not)
  7. Phases of the Moon – why we keep track of the moon
  8. Could You Come up with $1,000 for an Emergency? – a personal financial literacy issue
  9. Secular Homeschoolers – why WorldView’s materials are a good fit
  10. Using Pokémon Go to Teach Local History – how to work the fad into your lesson planning

Have a happy new year, and thanks for reading!

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Explanations for #Brexit

The global shockwaves caused by the UK’s referendum vote to leave the European Union (aka “Brexit”) are still reverberating. To assist in guiding class discussions of why the vote went the way it did, we offer the following round-up of articles:

  • Brexit: The story of an island apart File:United Kingdom EU referendum 2016 area results.svg This story, from the BBC’s Mark Mardell, explains the narrative of independent British identity that some aspects of British culture and politics nourish.  And this map shows how the vote split geographically, showing a very divided country.
  • Brexit: how a fringe idea took hold of the Tory party This Guardian article is more about the inner workings of Westminster-level politics, in particular the Conservative Party (also known as the Tory Party, which was its name until 1832).
  • This 24-minute video from a University of Liverpool expert in EU law, and this article/video from CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour, talk about the truth or lack thereof of the Leave campaign, and of the media’s coverage of it.  Lying about the EU is nothing new for the British tabloids; it’s been charted by The Economist based on data the EC has compiled:

    three bar charts detailing most-often told lies, lies by publication, and lies by subject area
    Number of EU myths debunked by the European Commission
  • Continuing the theme that the media coverage was deficient, this opinion piece from the Institute for Fiscal Studies points out that economists utterly failed to make the consequences of a vote to leave clear to elites, let alone the general public.
  • These two pieces, opinion A tragic split and blog post Chaos was predicted and chaos has ensued from The Economist touch on the economic effects of the Brexit vote for the UK, while Brexit and the making of a global crisis (paywall) from the Financial Times talks about the global implications.
  • And finally, The UK’s EU referendum: All you need to know This is n FAQ from the BBC that answers questions that British citizens have asked following the vote.

Many commentators are making comparisons to the upcoming U.S. presidential elections — making a Venn diagram with your students would be one way to explore that.

BulbgraphOnOffUse the Search feature to find instances of words or phrases — the search results tab will stay open until closed.

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Internet Trends 2016

Mary Meeker, an analyst at Kleiner Perkins, does what is commonly regarded as an annual tour-de-force presentation on internet trends at Code Conference. The data give a dynamic picture of where the world is and where it seems to be heading.  Why should educators be reading this? Two reasons: it’s a way to introduce your students to forecasting, and it’s a way for you to see how your teaching environment may change with technology.

Meeker’s latest is available here, and we highly recommend you read it.  All 213 slides of it!  (Keep a browser window open while you read — if you don’t speak finance, you’re going to want to do some googling.  There’s a video of her presentation as well, but being able to research while you read will help more.)

First, this is a pretty good preview of what the world holds in store for your students.  Use it to spark debate and discussion — can they dream up ways in which these trends will manifest in their own lives? What alternate futures can they envision?

One way to envision the future is to tell stories suggested by the data.  The National Intelligence Council has been doing this for several years, and the publications in their Global Trends archive are available to the public. In the  report imagining the year 2030, the following scenarios were made into stories, each written in the style of and from the point of view of a different person:

chart summarizing potential worlds in 2030(A new Global Trends report is published every four years following the U.S. presidential election, so the next one is in the process of being prepared.)

Your students can either examine the data presented and evaluate the conclusions, as this commenter did on Twitter recently for Meeker’s Internet Trends 2016 report:

You and your students can take a turn at generating data and telling their own stories of how they think things might turn out.  And remember, it doesn’t have to be global data — it could be data about their school or city, for example.

A terrific example of this type of analysis is Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 document, which will be used as a blueprint to determine their political and economic future.  The reformation includes diversifying their economy away from oil dependence, opening their culture (marginally) to women and expatriate labor, and their politics away from dependence on the biggest buyers of oil, particularly the United States.  “Saudi is basically diversifying away from the dependency on one revenue source, one country source, and one market to many markets,” according to one expert.

The second reason to read Meeker’s presentation is because it gives some insight into how the edtech environment is changing, and in what directions.  For example, when she talks about ‘hyper-targeted marketing’ she’s talking about what data can be collected and analyzed to better serve your audience — the same thing can be done for students.

slide titled "Hyper-Targeted Marketing = Driving Growth for Retailers / Products / Brands"
Slide from Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends presentation.

What will be done with the resulting data that will be collected, aggregated, correlated, and interpreted from everything in or around your classroom?  Aside from the privacy issues, what will it mean for teaching and learning?  What does this mean for the way you assess a student’s grasp of a concept? How will test design change?  How will classroom management change?

Or consider how the growth in video — use of which is one of the defining features of “Generation Z” — will impact your teaching process.  It’s not a question of if you’ll be incorporating video, but how.

BulbgraphOnOffFactual questions test recall — use them to check students’ grasp of the material.

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