Wednesday, February 4, 2015

How is Islam is portrayed in the media worldwide

This semester to begin Middle East History, each student was assigned a different news web site from a different country or part of the world. Into the news' sites engine, they needed to type in the word "Islam" into the search engine. They then copied the headlines into a Google Doc and copied them into Wordle.

If you are unfamiliar with Wordle, it it a graphic representation of the most frequently used words that are copied and pasted into a word cloud generator. It can help students, especially visual learners, easily spot trends.

After creating their Wordles, students inserted them into a Google Presentation. Today, we will discuss what words are currently associated with Islam as indicated by the different news sites from around the world. We will compare and contrast countries to note the emphasis. We will ask why some words are there and some are not.  For example, Islam is a religion but the word "prayer" or  other Muslim observances are hardly mentioned. Why?

This lesson follows a previous lesson authored by my colleague Mrs. Chill, where students examine their own identities and how that may lead to their perceptions in the course. Where a media outlet is located also influences its coverage of Islam and the stories that are written about it.

Just a technical note, not every student has Flash on their computers as required by Wordle. There are many other programs that create word clouds. They are listed here.

Below are a couple of the Wordles generated by this class, but if you would like to see more, visit the presentation.

The next time I do this assignment, the only thing I would change is have students actually delete the word Islam from their Google Doc so we can focus on the other words instead.
The Local (Germany)

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 11.58.24 AM.png
From the Jakarta Post

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