Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Mayans And The Fiscal Cliff In Infographics

So what do the Mayan calendar and the Fiscal Cliff have in common? Perhaps nothing more than counting down the end of days for the world or allowing taxes as we know them to increase. There's certainly no shortage of information in the media, and it seems hard to avoid talking about these "events" with our students.

Source: KarBel Multimedia
The presidential election was no sooner over in November than we started heading for the precipice. Judging from the current state of affairs in Washington, we just might fall.

Nevertheless, we are always looking for ways to keep our students engaged as we approach the holiday break, and there are plenty of dynamic infographics available. Here are some of our favorites that we've shared with our students, and as always, they can be used in a variety of disciplines.

It's the End of the World As They Know It from has some interesting statistics regarding countries that believe the apocalypse is coming and the dire predictions of how it will happen. Another is the visualization called Countdown To 2012 from KarBel Multimedia. This design shows the ticking away to the end as gears inside a clock. There are others, such as the End of the World or the believers and skeptics infographic, which parallels the views from both sides about the prophecy, celestial significance, cataclysm, and consciousness shift.

Source: Demon-Ocracy Info (detail)
As for Fiscal Cliff infographics, there are plenty that do a nice job of showing the two sides of the issue, both on the tax increases as well as on the political points of view. Any of these visualizations make for great discussions about economics, finance, and politics. It's hard not to see how they would fit into any social studies class.

One particularly interesting visual is The Fiscal Cliff - 2013 - Cheat Sheet by Demon-Ocracy Info that uses mounds of $100 dollar bills to illustrate the financial situation. It also produced the following powerful, animated video using the same concept of using $100 dollar bills to visualize debt in the United States.

A few others include the infographic from ABC News, incorporating the red and blue color scheme to highlight the political affiliation, and The Fiscal Cliff: What Does It Really Mean?, showing a different representation of the information.

Source: ABC News
In all of these designs, it's important to carefully dissect the details. One of the things we do with our students whenever we use visualizations is to compare the data and information for discrepancies.

A key component in our curriculum is media literacy, and it's important always to include the core concepts of media literacy whenever students are looking at infographics to check for possible biases or misinformation.

Source: Colorlines (detail)
In addition, we continually want to reinforce the skills of graphicacy to build our students' abilities to be visually literate and to be visual thinkers. So much of what they see depends on a solid foundation in these areas.


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