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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Social Mapping in the Classroom

The Huffington Post offered up what it called an infographic titled "'Community': A Map Of All The Dates, Sex, Hookups, Sexual Harassment And Other Intimate Relationships" to celebrate the return of the TV show "Community." The show, which I do not watch, is about a community college and the wacky people there. Really, like any good comedy, it's about how those wacky people connect. Thus it makes sense to build such a map.

What I like about this map is the non-standard types of connections defined. There are some adult ones, but there are other intriguing G-rated ones including "sang mall karaoke with" and "delivered a baby." Different colored lines connecting pairs of people distinguish the 12 different kinds of connections. I have to believe the types of connections selected for the map are particularly relevant for this TV show. If I chose to map, say Law and Order SVU, I'd have 12 different types of connections. I wonder what they would be?

Which brings me to a mapping exercise about which I'm daydreaming. Depending on the student population/subject/topic students might map the connections of their classmates or the characters in a book or those in a movie or TV show. The assignment might go something like this:

1) Select a group of people to map;  a group of people you know well (from school, from a book, tv, movies, sports, your family, etc.)

2) Define the key types of connections within this group. They might be familial (sister/brother), interest based (both play baseball) or silly (both have fallen into the pond). Make sure some are geographic (they ride the same bus, live nearby, attend the same church).

3) Assign each type of connection a different color/symbol and map out the connections.


1) Count how many times each type of connection is represented.

2) Which type(s) of connection do you think is/are the most important? Is it the most common one? Why or why not?

3) Are some people more connected than others? Why?

4) How would you create categories of "connectedness?" How many categories would there be? What would you call the categories?

5) Can you draw any conclusions about the more connected people? The people with fewer connections?

6) Are geographic connections correlated with other types of connections? Which types of connections seem to "go together?" Why do you think that is?

Lesson Objectives:

1) understand and use the definition of a map: a representation of a set of elements and connections between them

2) define and evaluate the various types of connections between people, including geographic ones

3) identify connections that might be correlated ("go together")