Crowdsourcing refers to a set of methods that can be used to motivate 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. One of the most well known examples of this is Wikipedia, where volunteers provide information and definitions for subject matter of their expertise. Crowdsourcing generates what is known as the explicit form of collective intelligence. Knowledge is constantly refined through the contributions of thousands of authors. Within the academy, crowdsourcing is often a way for researchers to draw on public knowledge to provide missing historical or other specific details related to communities or families, 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 research focus being documented are remarkably effective in providing deep level detail around a topic or in documenting a large body of materials.

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

  • It is difficult to imagine a time before we (the school library and edtech communities, specifically) did not leverage crowdsourcing to build knowledge, poll colleagues, access immediate professional development, and to improve and enhance instructional resources. This is seen most obviously in the vibrant use of hashtags and live Twitter chats across the K12 community, for instance #tlchat, #edchat. Curation efforts, often collaborative, like those commonly seen on Pinterest, Pearltrees,, YouTube, Slideshare, etc., have become a stream and life line to many, presenting current awareness and creative ideas. These efforts have push a growing number of generous sharers to the forefront. Full-scale virtual conferences are now crowdsourced. Ebooks are created collaboratively by contributing authors who may never meet. Classrooms may easily meet and collaborate to learn and solve problems or share work for the greater good. (Dot Day, World Read Aloud Day, Flat Classroom Project, virtual book clubs.) Consider how research is built in communities like Mendeley,, ResearchGate. See George Siemens' work on connectivism. - joycevalenza joycevalenza May 23, 2015
  • Crowdsourcing content can, eventually, make it easier for teachers to find and share lessons with each other. And the meta-conversation about how various lessons/projects make learning visible becomes part of improving practice. Look to John Seely Brown's discussions of how communities enable practitioners to hone their craft collectively.- marieb marieb Jun 14, 2015

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

  • crowdfunding to support local projects - joycevalenza joycevalenza May 23, 2015
  • the mirror side of crowdsourcing is crowd-creation. Collaborative co-creation is a powerful example of learning by doing. The context is more authentic than projects/problems where the answer is known in advance. Teachers who co-create/share resources learn more about their craft, but students can also become a part of that creation. - marieb marieb Jun 14, 2015

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

  • Not only does collective creation increase student agency and support deeper learning, it prepares students for the real life and work that they will face when graduating. Teachers participating in crowd-creation become more skilled at the continual learning that is the new normal for the profession.- marieb marieb Jun 14, 2015- jmorrison jmorrison Jun 16, 2015
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  • An employee of the school district used it to fund her internship in Patagonia.

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

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project Sharing Form.