What is Crowdsourcing?

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?

  • (Just "thinking aloud" whether it would be an idea to collapse collective intelligence and crowdsourcing into one point or whether that would unnecessarily reduce the complexitiy of both issues - helga helga Oct 12, 2013)
  • Libraries are using crowdsourcing to get more of their digital resources identified with metadata and additional information. Others ask volunteers to transcribe materials (handwritten in the original, for example) so that they can be displayed and searched. This is especially valuable for the vast collections of individual items of historical value (photos, oral histories, diaries and letters, specialized collections of materials, etc. Some faculty work with library to develop assignments where students develop metadata for items in a collection as part of their use of primary resources in an assignment. The work of the "crowd" makes these digital materials more useful in education and research. - JoanLippincott JoanLippincott Oct 26, 2014
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • This type of activity embodies active learning and can really engage students with primary sources and in addition develop their understanding of how databases are structured.- JoanLippincott JoanLippincott Oct 26, 2014
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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