Interactive infographics show data in a visual way, and make the information much more accessible for English Language Learners — and everybody else.

Interactive infographics are especially engaging because they allow users to customize the data they see.  Even though most of the links on this list are to infographics that are interactive, I’ve also included a couple of “static” infographics that I think are especially well-done.

I haven’t ranked them by preference — except for the last two, which I think are the very best ones.  You’ll find that number-one ranked infographic at the bottom of this post.

Here are my choices for The Best Interactive Infographics — 2009:

U.S. Hispanics: On the Upswing is an interactive map from The Wall Street Journal tracking the growth of the Hispanic population in each state. You can track it from 2002 to 2008.

The Cost Efficiency of Transportation is a great, and accessible, infographic comparing the cost of transporting a passenger by jet, truck, bus, train, car, hybrid, and scooter.

Summertime gets real hot here in the Sacramento area. The Sacramento Bee put together a simple informative, entertaining and accessible interactive graphic titled “How Hot Is Too Hot?” Did you know that grass stops growing at 95 degrees Fahrenheit?

Did you know it takes 5,500 gallons of water to produce two pounds of roasted coffee? That’s one of a number of amazing water statistics you can find on a Wall Street Journal interactive graphic they published today. I don’t know how it is in your area, but Northern California is in its third year of drought, and this kind of information is thought-provoking…and accessible to English Language Learners.

The New York Times has published the Immigration Explorer. It shows — by geography and time period — where immigrants from various countries have settled in the United States over the past 130 years.  My only disappointment is that, though it includes immigrants from Vietnam, it doesn’t have specific categories for others from different parts of Southeast Asia.  Nevertheless, it will be a very useful resource.

Woman’s Day Magazine has an online infographic on The Evolution of the Household.  It traces the changes in the “typical” American household through every decade since the 1950’s. It’s really quite engaging.

USA Today has a nice  interactive graphic displaying the evolution of the American flag over the past 230 years.  I’m stretching the definition of “infographic” by including it here, but it does show some good info.

TIME Magazine has published an infographic titled Leading Cause of Death. It’s a pretty amazing piece of work chocked full with data about smoking cigarettes.

Seeking Refuge is a good infographic from The Wall Street Journal showing the “the top countries of origin for refugees.”

Inaugural Words from The New York Times, I believe, was one of the more useful resources that was created for the inauguration of President Obama. “Word clouds” highlighting the most-used words in each inaugural address can be seen. In addition, words that were used in each address much more than in the other ones given in history are identified. Plus, by clicking on each word you are shown how it was used in a sentence. Comparing the words and even just using them as a vocabulary-building exercise for English Language Learners make this an excellent resource.

Ten Things You Should Know About Water is a good infographic that is a downloadable PDF.

Job Voyager is a very cool intergraphic infographic. Fast Company describes it as:

…a nifty interactive graph that charts a stacked time series of reported occupations in the US from 1850 to 2000, normalized by percentage

That sentence, however, doesn’t begin to give it justice.  It’s worth checking out both the Fast Company article and the application itself.

Why Is Her Paycheck Smaller? is an interactive graphic from The New York Times that shows women — in practically every occupation in the United States — make less money than men. It also gives a very brief explanation of the reasons why, including, of course, discrimination.

GOOD Magazine has a ton of interactive infographics that belong on this list. You can access all of them here.

There are several recession-related interactive infographics that belong on this list:

Visualizing Economics has developed a good infographic comparing unemployment in the Great Depression with unemployment during our present recession.

The New York Times published an interactive graphic titled Broad Unemployment Across the U.S. It shows both the official unemployment rate, and what the rate would be if it included “ipart-time workers who want to work full time, as well some people who want to work but have not looked for a job in the last four weeks.”

The Associated Press has an Economic Stress Index which shows, in an interactive graphic form, what is happening to every county in the United States economically. It measures bankruptcies, home foreclosures, and unemployment, and then interprets it into what they call a “stress index.”

Here’s a very interesting chart showing unemployment levels by education level. Here is its conclusion: “…for those 25 and older, education-level is correlated with rates of unemployment: the more educated you are, the less likely you are to find yourself unemployed.”

MSNBC has developed what they call an Adversity Index. It’s an animated map that “measures the economic health of 381 metro areas and all 50 states.” It’s pretty intriguing, though would probably require some initial explanation before English Language Learners could fully decipher it.  Right below the Adversity Map, you can also find a “Map:Recession-resistant areas” that highlights communities in the U.S. that have escaped the recession’s effects.

The Geography of Jobs is an excellent animated map demonstrating the loss of jobs in different parts of the United States during the recession.

Here’s the second-best infographic this year:  Is the World Getting Better Or Worse? is, I think, a truly exceptional infographic. Plus, it’s accessible to English Language Learners, though it is a bit “busy.”  Instead of explaining it further, just go check it out.

And now, here’s the the number-one ranked Interactive Infographic of the year:  The New York Times  published a fascinating infographic titled How Different Groups Spend Their Day.  Here’s how they describe it: “The American Time Use Survey asks thousands of American residents to recall every minute of a day. Here is how people over age 15 spent their time in 2008.” It actually shows what people did  every hour of everyday — sleeping, watching TV, eating, etc.  And the numbers are divided by ethnicity, age, education-background and more.  I could easily see having my students first do a similar analysis of their days and then comparing it to this infographic.

Feedback is always welcome.

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