This site provides an easy way to look at specific demographics of countries around the world and then compare the sets of elements with those of other countries. Elements of comparison include Employment, Cost of living, Class division, Birthrate, Infant mortality, Life expectancy, Health care, Employment, and HIV/AIDs rate. Information is gleaned from the CIA World Fact Book.
Type of Material:
This site could be used at varying grade levels to help students meet the ISTE National Educational Standards related to Global Citizenship. Comparisons can form a foundation for discussions, small group and individual explorations.
Internet Connection and standard web-browser
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Learning goals will vary depending on grade level and learning standards applied. The site allows for cross-country comparisons, global connections and geography study.
Target Student Population:
Upper elementary, middle school and high school students would all be able to use this tool with varying amount of teacher guidance and assistance. The tool might also prove useful in university level general education classes.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
The continents on the map are not labelled. Some familiarity with the continents shapes and names are needed. Also, knowledge of which countries which appear on each continent should be taught.
Reading and comprehension skills and an ability to interpret percentages is necessary.
Evaluation and Observation
The tool is effective for making simple comparisons on common elements related to standards of living in countries around the world. The excerpts from the CIA World Hand Book provide more detailed information that can be used if desired.
Getting to the countries for comparison is not 100% intuitive, and younger users may require guidance in finding and selecting countries for comparisons. The world map is too small to allow for adequate labeling of each country, and the list of countries presented in a kind of word cloud format may be seen first as a page decoration rather than a large set of individual links.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The content of the material would be easy to integrate into social studies curriculum at multiple grade levels.
One of the strongest uses would be to use it as a stimulus for class discussion and further inquiry by classes to learn more about various countries by comparing with where they already live.
The site does provide opportunities to leave blog comments and subscriptions by e-mail or RSS to encourage engagement with students beyond one's classroom.
The site appears very slow in providing updates on the material. For instance, in the area of "Disasters" nothing has been added since 2010. The references to the CIA World Fact Book do not include the publication date.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The comparison tool is easy to find and easy to use. There is a drop-down menu that provides an alphabetical list of countries.
Comparisons are consistent in format, which aids quick comparisons.
The site is visually appealing. The Country of the Week feature helps beginners get started. There is an easy point and click map or the name of the country can be clicked on as accessible options.
There are no instructions for use, and there is no FAQ provided to answer user questions.
Other Issues and Comments:
As teachers are searching for ways to encourage students to gain understandings about other countries and other cultures beyond the standard holiday comparisons that are frequently used in the lower grades, this comparison tool will provide a link to "real world" issues that affect every day life of all people regardless of where they live.