What is Crowd Sourcing?

Crowd sourcing refers to a set of methods of marshalling a community to contribute ideas, information, or content that would otherwise remain undiscovered. Its rapidly growing appeal stems from its effectiveness in filling gaps that cannot be bridged by other means. (An example might be asking a community to name the people in a period photograph. Family members are often the most authoritative source of this kind of information, but there is no easy way to know who to ask — so the call is issued community wide.) In the museum and academic sectors, crowd sourcing refers to an institution drawing from public knowledge to provide missing links on specific subject matter, complete large-scale tasks, or solve inherently complex issues. For many tasks, institutions are finding that amateur scholars or even people whose lives simply were contemporary to the event, object, images, or other focus being documented are remarkably effective in providing deep level detail around a topic or in documenting a large body of materials. With tools like Kickstarter, crowd sourcing has even been applied to fundraising. Because crowd-sourcing processes typically work best at scale, most such projects typically access a large number of participants. While it does not directly overlap, crowd sourcing is related to “user-generated content” and “collective intelligence,” both of which have appeared in past NMC Horizon Reports.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Education might be able to harness the power of crowd sourcing to compile a "what works" resource that reflects the input of educators and practitioners. On a smaller scale, school or class projects could bring in the wisdom of the community - could even use a wiki like this! - jean.tower jean.tower Feb 23, 2012
  • As Jean said--wikis are great for class projects. And I would add etherpad, obviously Skype/Twitter and various chat programs. Students in our class have begun to see the 'wisdom of the crowd' as the new default when searching...it's not just Google. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Mar 2, 2012
  • I consider wikis and ether pads as a first step in direction of CS where the next steps must include a broader and more complex crowd expanding out of the classroom. - claus.gregersen claus.gregersen Mar 4, 2012
  • Students have discovered the power of crowdsourcing when studying. They have created online study groups using Facebook where they share information on the exercises they have to solve, and invoke the knowledge not only of peers, but of teachers, parents and anyone they think could help. Not all is good, sometimes they are just sharing the answers and not really studying together. Our challenge is to teach them to use this source of information for their gain, not just to finish an exercise or test. It also means we are challenged to rethink what kinds of assignments we are giving our kids. - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 4, 2012
  • Students are using crowd sourcing when they work collaboratively with peers to complete a project. They are pulling together the collective knowledge of the group to increase the knowledge of each individual. Crowd sourcing on a broader scale, through the use of technology, could be a powerful process that gives the students a feeling of accomplishment and control over their learning. - karen.andrews karen.andrews Mar 9, 2012

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Recent Mind, Brain and Education research (http://www.gse.harvard.edu/academics/masters/mbe) shows that strong emotional responses aid in appropriate decision making, meaningful memory and transferring learning to daily lives. These emotional responses can be generated through connection to real-world learning, engagement and connection to a broad group of collaborators.- karen.andrews karen.andrews Mar 9, 2012

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • Outstanding opportunity to fast-track discovery and learning at a pace to suit indivdualised needs and support the overal advancement of society and global knowledge. Open source software has already shown us the value of crowd-sourcing, but now it is moving into other problem and knowledge areas - judy.oconnell judy.oconnell Mar 4, 2012
  • The use of crowd sourcing facilitates the move to personalized learning. Students would reach out to experts in the field as well as peers, teachers and those with an interest in a topic to gather data, work collaboratively to solve a problem and understand a topic to a deeper level. The use of videoconferencing is becoming more commonplace in schools. This facilitates collaboration with peers and experts in a real-time situation.- karen.andrews karen.andrews Mar 9, 2012

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon K-12 Project form.