Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kids Have Questions: Visualizations About Terrorism

Source: GTD WebGL Globe
With the constant discussion in the news about the high-tech use of social media by the terrorist group ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) to recruit members from around the globe, we know that many of our learners will have questions as we head into the new school year.

National newspapers show armed police in public places, and the threat of homegrown terrorism is a daily conversation from the networks to the Congressional floor, no matter what the media.

While we don’t want to make the discussion of terrorism a routine part of our classes, we do know that providing ways for students to process and understand what they see and hear can ease anxiety. Giving them concrete ways to visualize information provides opportunities to decipher the constant bombardment in the news on the subject.

Source: Periscopic

The World of Terror was produced by Periscopic to visualize the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database that catalogs terrorism events from 1970 to 2013. It is a fascinating interactive view that adjusts depending on the categories, including longest active group, recent activity, victims, geographical spread, and name of group. It’s color coded to show the number of incidents, and a click on the map provides more information depending on the selection criteria.

The GTD WebGL Globe from the University of Maryland is an interactive geographic visualization that plots location and frequency. The timeline of incidents sparks at different lengths in a neon show to pinpoint sites on a darkened globe. The globe itself can be rotated to view each year and the number of incidents that have occurred.

Source: GTD WebGL Globe
The last interactive graphic called Strange Bedfellows was produced by The Wall Street Journal. It shows how the spread of ISIS may be pushing enemies often at odds with each to work together against a common enemy.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

The educational process is not just the prescribed curricula; it's about the need to help our learners understand to the world around them. Anytime we can provide multiple views to help them comprehend the complexities of world politics, the better off they are at making informed choices as young adults.

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