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Peer Review

Why Poverty?

by Don Edkins


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.25 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Mar 01, 2013 by Sociology Editorial Board
Overview: "Why Poverty?" is a multimedia initiative created by STEPS to re-ignite interest in the problem of global poverty. It features eight full-length documentaries and thirty short films--all available online--from filmmakers around the world. Issues addressed include poverty causation and prevalence, adaptations and lifestyles among the poor, and barriers against mobility out of poverty. All the films are emotionally compelling and thought provoking. They pose difficult questions about big issues, and taken together provide a global view of policies governing resource exchange and exploitation, affecting both nations and regions. This collection can be used in a variety of ways, including class discussion on individual documentaries, team presentations on categories of documentaries, or as a data bank for more extensive research on poverty. The site also has a large resource section which includes relevant articles, listings of organizations that address poverty, contact persons, and an interactive database (data viz) through which users can compare themselves with others around the world along various indicators of well-being. The site also offers an ongoing series of blogs open to public contribution. In all, visitors are encouraged to watch amazing docs, ask hard questions about poverty, and join in a global debate.
Type of Material: This is a media-rich website which hosts a collection of high quality documentary films. The site also contains a social networking component.
Recommended Uses: This film collection and ancillaries can be used for instruction about global poverty in diverse contexts: traditional classroom, online courses, reference material, social networking tool, and learning object repository. The site provides diverse and rich content for promoting research papers, class discussions, and group presentations.
Technical Requirements: Users should have updated versions of standard multimedia plug-ins (e.g., Java and SWF).
Identify Major Learning Goals: The major goals of "Why Poverty?" according to STEPS are to: 1. Produce narratives that inspire people to think and be part of the solution. 2. Involve the best filmmakers in the creation of bold and provocative factual films. 3. Bring together broadcasters worldwide and engage audiences through multiple media platforms. 4. Create a global outreach campaign, supplementing broadcasts with extra teaching materials. 5. Engage with decision-makers and influencers to find solutions for change. More specific to the classroom, the website should serve to stimulate open discussion among students about how they might productively employ their heightened awareness about global poverty.
Target Student Population: The target population will likely be undergraduate and graduate students learning about poverty (via courses in sociology, social work, political science, public administration, economics, international studies, etc). The site would also have relevance for high school classes and community organizations.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Users should have basic computer skills in order to navigate the site. They would not necessarily need previous knowledge about global poverty.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: "Why poverty?" may well re-generate interest in global poverty. The website is well organized and clearly labeled. The documentaries are of exceptional quality, and each can stand on its own in stimulating critical thought and discussion. The website already offers instructors a great deal of value and flexibility for the classroom, although still under development.
Concerns: Lack of dedicated teaching guides for instructors. However, the site claims they will be available in March 2013.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths: This website should serve as an effective resource for instruction about the nature of global poverty. Its main strength is the quality of documentaries comprising the collection. The films tackle poverty issues and pose difficult questions. The social network component should facilitate dialogue.
Concerns: "Why Poverty?" has great value as a teaching supplement. However, instructors will need to provide additional teaching to give students a more complete treatment of poverty.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: Easy to use, engaging, interactive, great design with links clearly labeled, and visually appealing.
Concerns: Students should be able to easily navigate through the website, but may be overwhelmed by the large number of documentaries, which at first do not appear to be categorized. There is no search engine at this point, making it a bit difficult to find information and documentaries on specific topics.

Other Issues and Comments: This site will no doubt serve as an excellent adjunct for instruction on poverty. It examines global issues, while providing quality case studies of local conditions.

Creative Commons:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States