Noel Erskine, Technology Coordinator Norris Schools

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Gapminder and Google Public data Amazing tools that few know about.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Let's face it, data can be boring but we know there's a wealth of information to be found out by looking at it.  Well these tools can make it exciting, for you and your students.  You know me... here is the short version:

Gapminder - an amazing way to view data. 
Taken from their website: "Gapminder World is free and comes with built in data. You can use it online or download it, but you can not change the data or add your own. If you would like to create your own animating bubblecharts have a look at Google’s Motion Chart in Google Docs and Public Data Explorer, where you can visualize your own data."

Gapminder World project, is a non profit group that has collected over 400 indicators on global development that are available for you and your students to use. If you want to use your own data, look at the section below where I expand on the Google options mentioned above.

Just look at a sample chart and all of it's interactivity that is available for you to use: Adults with HIV (%, age 15-49)  Look at the Play button at the bottom of this graph, and also notice how you can select specific countries on the right.  Imagine the problem solving and in-depth discussions you can have with your students as to "Why" these trends may be occurring.

Gapminder is an online tool, but they do have an offline version that you can use when an internet connection is not available.

The Gapminder for teachers section, will be especially helpful for classroom teachers.


 Google’s Motion Chart and Public Data Explorer - Use your own data too!

Motion Charts: 
If your data is in a Google Doc, you can use their charting tools to visualize data in many ways. With your Google Spreadsheet open, select insert chart.


Google's Motion Chart help site has a sample of a simple motion chart.

Have students enter data into a Google Spreadsheet and have them play around with the different chart types that are available.  It will give new meaning to data and stats.

If you are a developer or like to play around with code, you can create your own charts to visualize data in a custom way.  Visit the Google Developers Chart site for more info.

Google's Public data site:
Google's public data site allows you to upload your own data or use tons of data from large government data sets that are available to use in your charts.

The easiest way to find out what's available and the capabilities are to play around with a few data sets. And then image the possibilities when you upload your own data sets.

Nice 2 minute video overview of the Google Public data. This 11 minute YouTube video has a few tips on how to use the Google Public Data Explorer to display data visualizations, with an emphasis on classroom possibilities.

Wrap up:
There are a lot of possibility with these tools for classroom use, as well as administratively looking at your school data. Drop me some notes with any ideas or comments.


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