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.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

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 Oct 30, 2011

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

  • Crowdsourcing is incredibly useful in the tracking of the impacts of climate variability such as precipitation, invasive species and pests. - dgeller dgeller May 3, 2016
  • I agree with Dan. Validation is the biggest concern. Agents and specialists spend a significant part of their day identifying plants, insects, diseases, etc. If we could find a way to organize across institutions we could focus on smaller areas of subject matter and become much more accurate and efficient. - thurt thurt May 31, 2016
  • Are we confusing "crowdsourcing" with "citizen science'? To me, they're a bit different. Crowdsourcing is tapping into your community, network, or growing your network to generate ideas, etc. Citizen Science involves tapping into the potential of "ordinary" citizens to collect information and data. Crowdsourcing to me, has the potential to greatly impact the future of Extension work. It allows us to get back to our roots while utilizing a modern method of engagement that clientele can buy in to and get involved in. It meets them where they are and in the methods they want to be engaged with. By crowdsourcing information, discussion, engagement opportunities, ideas, feedback, etc. we're flipping our current "expert" model of Extension work. We now claim to have all the information and wait and hope our clients will come to us for it. Crowdsourcing allows Extension professionals to have a two-way conversation with their clientele and practice actual engagement within their communities. - seger.23 seger.23 Jun 1, 2016
  • I agree with @seger.23, that crowdsourcing holds a tremendous opportunity for Extension. We are still working in a traditional model - here is our research, here is our education - it is one-way conversation. For some reason we have been willing to have these conversations in the face-to-face environment for 100 years, but we are scared of it in the digital space. From my perspetive, it seems we are only comfortable when we are viewed as the experts - and that is not going to work. The opportunity to connect is greater than ever and we should connect and cultivate this data and we should use crowdsourcing to fuel information and opportunity. If you want to see some fabulous crowdsourcing work see plantvillages.org from David Hughes at Penn State - brilliant. We are now talking with David on how to connect and convert those conversations to deeper educational opportunities within Extension at Penn State. - JonEmigh JonEmigh Jun 5, 2016JonEmigh
  • Crowd sourcing could be used much more than it currently is (at least in our system) to assess support and interest in potential extension programs. It can also be used much more to leverage resources to fund innovative, nontraditional programs. - brian.h brian.h Jun 2, 2016 [Editor's Note: Added here from RQ2.]

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • This technology requires a substantial amount of verification which can make it difficult to use. - dgeller dgeller May 3, 2016
  • add your response here

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

  • It can provide a massive amount of data but again, it can be dangerous if the data isn't validated. - dgeller dgeller May 3, 2016
  • "Friend" raising and "fund" raising. - brian.h brian.h Jun 2, 2016

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project Sharing Form.