By Meghna Tare
Keith Sawyer, author of the book "Group Genius" wrote: "All inventions emerge from a long sequence of small sparks. Collaboration brings small sparks together to generate breakthrough innovation."
Crowdsourcing, a term first coined in 2006, basically means groups of people coming together to solve a common problem. By enabling people with similar interests to collaborate, crowdsourcing initiatives offer an opportunity to help others, learn something and gain recognition.
With crowdsourcing, ideas are generated from multiple contributors, including experts. With these practices, community-based projects become exercises in collective problem-solving. The principle of 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 is superior.
Working together is vital in any successful endeavor, and sharing ideas is especially important in education. UNESCO tapped into online crowdsourcing to help achieve Education for All. The project on crowdsourcing girls’ education in Ethiopia and Tanzania launched in July 2011 took a community-based approach to lowering drop-out rates in secondary schools in those countries.
Funded by the Packard Foundation, within the framework of UNESCO’s global partnership for girls’ and women’s education, it encouraged girls and their communities to propose solutions to obstacles preventing girls from completing secondary education. The process introduced a fresh approach to designing education policies
One of the groups that benefits tremendously from crowdsourcing in education is the faculty. Teachers and professors can share lesson plans with each other and find new and innovative ways to share material with students. They can brainstorm together to create a database of resources and best practices that benefit their institution – and then share that information with other schools as well. They can give feedback and offer assistance in further developing curriculum. Finally, faculty can use peer evaluations to help with grading practices and to receive feedback on their teaching styles
Crowdsourcing is also an important method to improve the way education is conducted by teachers and received by students. With crowdsourcing projects, colleges and universities can use collective brainpower and energy to complete what they can't do on their own, going beyond their budgets and time constraints.
From transcribing ancient documents and increasing class participation to collecting data for research and documenting campus crime, these college crowdsourcing projects are downright awe-inspiring.
Image credit: Pexels
Meghna is the Executive Director, Institute for Sustainability and Global Impact at the University of Texas at Arlington where she has initiated and spearheaded many successful cross functional sustainability projects related to policy implementation, buildings and development, green procurement, transportation, employee engagement, waste management, GRI reporting, and carbon management. She is a TEDx UTA speaker, was featured as Women in CSR by TriplePundit, has done various radio shows on sustainability, is an active blogger, and graduated with an MBA in Sustainable Management. You can connect with her on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/meghnatare/ or follow her on twitter @meghnatare