Putting Learning on the Map: Visualizing Opportunity in 21st Century Communities


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This paper makes the case for leveraging new mapping tools to spark fresh conversations and spur collaborative action. Spatial analysis and data visualization can be a powerful first step, enabling policymakers and the public to better understand the whole, interconnected network of learning opportunities within their communities.

It complements research from a recent report by The Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity that lays out how mapping can be used to “reveal where opportunity is located geographically, and demonstrate how different groups of people are concentrated in areas of low or high opportunity.” Seeing communities with rich learning networks—as well as those with gaps and holes—highlights where inequalities exist and intersect. “Maps,” the Kirwan researchers write, “can stimulate dialogue and consensus-building among stakeholders,” and focus attention on how best to strengthen and rebuild communities. Mapping is a powerful tool for directing collective attention and investment toward closing these gaps.