19 Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is the combination of the terms “crowd” and “outsourcing.” It originated in the business world as the practice of soliciting and obtaining solutions, ideas, and content from a large, loosely defined group of people rather than from small groups of known or “expert” sources. In digital participatory cultures, activities identified as crowdsourced often vary in quality across a spectrum of contributory, collaborative, and co-creative activities. Crowdsourcing enables students to do the following:

  • Engage in participatory learning
  • Capitalize on and develop an appreciation for collective IQ
  • Develop digital literacy and communication skills
  • Create products for an authentic audience or with a broader scope than possible alone

Practice examples

  • Annotated class anthology: Students collaboratively annotate course readings with definitions, supplemental resources, or background information.
  • Annotated bibliography: Students read or watch and then evaluate materials in a shared document or spreadsheet.
  • Crowdsourcing online video: Students contribute brief narratives or perspectives, usually in video format, to create a larger digital story.
  • Note-taking: Students take course notes together within shared documents. Note-taking can be structured as an individual, small group, or whole class activity.
  • Participatory syllabus: Students help design the course syllabus in a shared document or wiki.
  • Resource development: Students curate Web resources for a shared collection that can live beyond the duration of the course.

Additional resources


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