Interactive World Atlas
Speaking to Stanford University students on 15 June 2005, Steve Jobs, the father of Apple Inc.’s success, said: “It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that.” A question every person who deals with education asks themselves, be it a teacher, librarian, non-formal educator, or creator of educational tools, is how to inspire this passionate commitment in their recipients.
This question takes on special importance in global education. It is defined as a part of civic education and upbringing that broadens its scope by raising the awareness of phenomena and interdependencies that link together people and places. Its aim is to prepare recipients to face challenges concerning all humanity, which cannot be done without relating the topics in question to the personal experience of each and every one of us, by presenting how global processes influence the individual and how the individual influences global processes.
The challenge facing the authors of this project was to improve teaching methods and tools in a way that would make recipients more engaged in contemporary global problems, and enhance the attractiveness, quality, and efficiency of proposed global education activities. When accepting this challenge, the authors tapped into new technologies whose architecture will be transparent, intuitive in handling, and based on reliable information. This will make it possible to achieve an additional goal that Steve Jobs described in the following terms: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
When working with students at all levels of education, it can often be difficult to discuss problems of global education because of lack of skills with maps. This has an immediate negative impact on students’ ability to observe, memorise, voice opinions, and present arguments to back them up, to detect specific phenomena existing in parallel and causal links between them. Conversations with teachers, librarians, and non-formal educators show that difficulties are not only limited school children. According to satirical street surveys available online, a significant portion of society has difficulties finding specific countries on the map, cannot differentiate between countries and continents, and cannot say how big they are or how they are located in relation to each other. Such difficulties pose a major obstacle to any discussions about countries of the Global North and Global South.
Interactive World Atlas
The project was implemented between 15 July and 31 December 2015 by the ZNAK Foundation of Christian Culture. It was addressed particularly to young people, including students at different levels of education (high school, middle school, primary school), their parents and teachers.
Its main aim is to explain the causes and consequences of processes that occur in the contemporary world in a way that is accessible to people of various levels of knowledge about global problems. The idea is to inform Polish youth about the interdependencies in today’s world in an interesting, engaging and effective way. The project consists of the following elements:
- preparing and launching an educational tool in the form of an interactive world atlas, drawing on the work of a focus group made up of 3 teachers and 3 librarians;
- preparing and running 15 three-hour workshops for primary school, middle school, and high school students introducing them to global education issues with the help of the interactive world atlas.
The project’s long term result will be to raise the awareness among the wider audience, especially young people and children, of global issues, to encourage them to think through the meaning of global issues and interdependencies, and the interpenetration of cultural, environmental, economic, social, political, and technological systems. The project’s long-term impact will be guaranteed by creating an innovative educational tool that’s fully based on modern means of communication, where global education issues will be presented based on interactive world maps.
Interactive World Atlas
In line with the adopted schedule, the project was carried out between 15 July and 31 December 2015. The majority of activities took place in Krakow, with their effects being available all across Poland via the Internet. The project included creating an educational tool in the form of an interactive world atlas (published online at www.haloziemia.edu.pl), and organizing a total of 15 three-hour workshops for primary, middle, and high school students.
Also available as a mobile app, the atlas consists of 3 sets of information: a presentation of 12 global issues (such as water, agriculture, woods, biodiversity, energy), a presentation of the Millennium Development Goals, and a general map illustrating the division of the world into Global North and Global South. As the project was being implemented, it was decided to replace e-learning with an easier text form to present some of the information featured in the atlas. By the end of 2015 the application had over 1,000 users.
Student workshops were organised at schools in four provinces (Podlasie, Malopolska, Silesia, and Lower Silesia) between October and December 2015. A total of 293 students attended the workshops.