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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Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Larry Larry Feb 8, 2012

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

  • crowd-sourcing provides opportunities for individuals to engage with small or large research topics in an active and focused way. This in itself is not new - there have been active amateur scholars for many hundreds of years - but the network effect of the internet means that individauls can connect with projects instantly and can contribute actively at low cost and without ever needing to meet the other participants. There are many opportunities for education - connecting students or lifelong learners to 'the academy' can bring benefits to both parties, and there is a motivational effect of engagement in this kind of work that encourages engagement with education so benefits to adults (of all ages) and to children. Clearly, there is also societal benefit in the wider public being able to understand and engage with the rigour of scientific endeavour, in an applied context. - Sarah.Porter Sarah.Porter Aug 10, 2012
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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 STEM+ education?

  • as described above, the impact is upon developing skills, knowledge and motivation in learners of all ages. Potentially, it would also encourage individuals to get involved in formal education again so may impact upon recruitment and retention. - Sarah.Porter Sarah.Porter Aug 10, 2012
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • https://www.zooniverse.org/ - includes several excellent examples - Old Weather (individuals analysing old ship logs to produce environmental data used for longitudinal environmental analysis) and Hear Whales Communicate (categorising whale noises) - Sarah.Porter Sarah.Porter Aug 10, 2012
  • First World War archive Europe-wide community collection project, led by Europeana http://www.europeana1914-1918.eu/en - Sarah.Porter Sarah.Porter Aug 10, 2012

  • http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ - EBird - engaging thousands of bird watchers, originally across North America but now globally, in monitoring bird movements and submitting their data to a central system, leading to better knowledge about migration and leading to better conservation approaches - Sarah.Porter Sarah.Porter Aug 10, 2012

Please share information about related projects via our NMC Horizon Report project submission form.