Crowdsourcing a curriculum
Today’s social media enable you to interact with people around the globe, to pose and answer questions, to seek advice. I have nearly 1,500 friends on facebook and nearly 9, 000 followers on Twitter. I an eternally grateful for how generous people are with their time, providing support and answering queries. I noticed that Alec Couros & Katia Hildebrandt at the University of Regina posted on facebook the other day that they are using crowdsourcing to develop a course they are working on ‘Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology’. They included a link to a google doc. They stated:
How you can help: We would love if you could add your thoughts below on what are essential questions or topics in the area of educational technology and digital learning. Thank you for any suggestions you can provide!
And then posed a series of challenging questions on Educational Technology, such as:
- Does technology improve learning, and if so, how (and when, and under what circumstances)? How do we know?
- How do/can innovation and technology work together? Against each other? IOW, when is it smarter to stop?
- What are the key digital skills that K-12 students need to acquire before they graduate?
They included a list of the Twitter IDs of those who have contributed. I think this is a great way to develop a course and the questions they pose are in themselves very interesting!
Crowdsourcing is the process of getting work or funding, usually online, from a crowd of people. The word is a combination of the words ‘crowd’ and ‘outsourcing’. The idea is to take work and outsource it to a crowd of workers. The most famous example is Wikipedia, an online encyclopaedia, where anyone can contribute to the development of pages. The idea behind crowdsourcing is that more heads are better than one. By canvassing a large crowd of people for ideas, skills, or participation, the quality of content and idea generation will be superior. There are different types of crowdsourcing:
- Crowdsourcing design – for example to get a logo designed
- Crowdfunding – where people are asked to contribute money to a project
- Microtasks – which involves breaking work into smaller task and sending the work to a crowd of people
- Open innovation – where different stakeholders collaborate on a business proposal.
The benefits of crowdsourcing are that it enables different people to contribute ideas and provide support. The contributions can then be filtered to get the best results. However it is important to carefully manage the crowdsourcing process and provide clear instructions on contributions.
In the OERu course, Learning in a Digital Age, we are developing we are using crowdsourcing to gather ideas for the curriculum. We have set up a wikieducator page which provides the context for the course development and a series of key questions for consideration:
- Ethics: How does my digital footprint, online identity, etc. provide evidence of what I know (Unit I), what I can do (Unit II), and most importantly, the values that underpin my contributions towards making the world a better place (Unit III)?
- ICT: How can the same information and communication technology (ICT) be ideal in one particular context yet be a bad choice in another, quite different context?
- PLN: How does your personal learning network (PLN) reflect how, when, and where you learn? How does your PLN compare to those of your classmates or colleagues?
- PLN: What is the relationship between human interaction, technologies (or materials more broadly), and ideas when it comes to cultivating your own PLN?
- Learning: How much of what you learn should be open or transparent (i.e. public) and how much should be kept private? Why?
- Ethics: How might the written word be misinterpreted or offensive to an interlocutor who has no access to verbal and non-verbal communication? How might writing this way be avoided?
- Philosophical: What is learning and how has it changed over the years, and how has it not changed?
- Philosophical: How do definitions of digital literacy differ and what single aspect sticks out the most as being the most relevant to who you are and how you learn?
- PLN: How might my PLN help me be less dependent on my instructor, allowing me to be a more independent and subsequently a more interdependent critical thinker?
People can add contributions via google docs these will then be copied to the wikieducator page. I am looking forward to seeing the contributions come in and to developing the course! Social media rocks!