This learning sequence is designed to help students develop their understanding of the Asia region and its member countries through a process of inquiry and communicating information to others. Students use online data display software to learn about countries and to understand how data display tools can be used to make comparisons and reveal trends.
Through investigating one country in more depth, students gain more understanding of that country and reflect on the difference between knowing and understanding. Each phase builds on the previous one in the inquiry process.
Activity 1: Where and what is Asia?
The resources used in this activity reinforce the notion that there is not one right answer to the question of how to categorise the world's territories. That being said, it is useful to have an agreed working definition of the area to be covered. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority provides this definition:
Asia can be defined in geographical terms, but it can also be described in terms of cultural, religious, historical and language boundaries or commonalities.
While it includes West and Central Asia, in Australian schools, studies of Asia will pay particular attention to the sub-regions of:
- North-East Asia, including China, Mongolia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan
- South-East Asia, including Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, East Timor, the Philippines and Cambodia
- South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
Students begin by recording what they already know about Asia as a reference point for their reflection at the end of the module.
They are then challenged to identify the Asia region and, through exploring different maps, they discover that there are different opinions about how to categorise the regions of the world.
Activity 2: The diversity and rise of Asia
Students investigate ways to represent country data visually and experiment with data display tools to compare countries according to different indicators. They consider how statistics presented on a graph can help to show trends and comparisons but also that whole-country statistics can mask inequalities within a country.
Activity 3: Using data to present information
Finally, students take responsibility for explaining one country in Asia to their classmates. In this activity, they use data from the tools they experimented with earlier and include information from other sources to give a more detailed picture of the country than statistics alone can provide.
In arranging this activity you might choose to assign each country to a different student or small group of students or you might choose to focus on a few countries from each part of Asia. For example, you could divide a class of 25 students into five groups of five students and assign each group a country. Once the groups have prepared and practised their presentations, they regroup so that each group has a representative from each country to present to the small group.
To make the imagined audience for this task more authentic go to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website to see which countries have Australian embassies, which have high commissions and which are represented by embassies or high commissions in nearby countries.
Activity 4: Reflection
It is important that students have the opportunity to reflect on and discuss what they have learnt about Asia and how data and online display tools can be used to provide successful presentations.