This post is guest written by Rene Wilson of DegreeJungle. She has outlined an introduction to crowdsourcing as it applies to online education.
The term “crowdsourcing” comes with a wide range of definitions, but basically it is the process of utilizing idea-based, problem solving inputs by a community. When the specific community is vested in the outcome, they tend to become more involved with finding the solution for the problem at hand. Based on this description, is it possible that online education students, faculty and universities could benefit from crowdsourcing? Here are five reasons why crowdsourcing is beneficial for online education.
1. Campaigning for Prospective Students
College students, high school students, and those who are considering returning to college are perfect targets for a crowdsourcing campaign. Mobile devices, the internet and social media sites are the primary methods of communication among many students and prospective students, making them the perfect source for not only campaigning, but collaborating. Instead of sending out surveys, polls and invitations to a college open house, universities can reach thousands by simply post enticing information about their programs.
2. Expert Solutions
Collaboration and participation are important in making an education system the best it can possibly be and crowdsourcing is the perfect way to “unite” educators, professionals, teachers and students who want to contribute their knowledge and experience. The majority of colleges and universities look for contributing staff members with an expertise in the specific area in which they currently have a need for. In some cases, this does not necessarily mean the educator is an expert in the field they are teaching; it simply means they met the basic qualifications for a particular subject. Crowdsourcing is the perfect solution for gathering experts with something to share, without being a staff member of one particular university. It allows experts from around the world to collaborate on a particular problem and participate in finding the solution without being in the same classroom.
3. Money Saving Encouragement
Online education is already a step towards a loose interpretation of crowdsourcing (crowdsourcing an audience of students), in that students are being taught a subject while being miles away from the instructor. An online educator may be in a completely different country from the students enrolled in the course. Studies have shown that when students are responsible for grading and critiquing their classmates, their final scoring is equal to that of the instructor and when a student or group of students are given the task of initiating the subject of study, they tend to put more effort into the project, because it is a sense of empowerment being in control of their suggestions. Crowdsourcing is the opportunity for universities to decrease the amount of mandatory instruction hours, by allowing the students to collaborate on class assignments, problem solving and grading.
4. Designing Lessons
Some online universities employ one instructor to teach multiply courses and in reality most instructors do not have the time to create a combined flow of lessons. Crowdsourcing eliminates the ideas and planning of one instructor who is attempting to research, design and connect a science class, an economics class and a literature class. Instead there is a collaboration of hundreds of people, all of which have individual interests in a particular subject, yet are working together to create a more focused lesson plan.
5. Student Opinions
Students make up the colleges they attend and crowdsourcing is the perfect way for universities and colleges to learn what their students want. Most students want to be in the loop about what their university is doing to address their issues, crowdsourcing is a simple solution for integrating the students opinions and the how they are being addressed by the university. It is a way to avoid the end of the year, lengthy scantron surveys and get the input of the students all year around. Students, who have a feeling of involvement with their college by having their suggestions heard, are more apt to take a deeper interest and a have a sense of pride in the university they are attending.
Crowdsourcing has the ability to create a resource for virtual learning, but it will only work when it is implemented. If more universities begin to let their students take a shot at solving some of their problems, many colleges and universities may find that it provides their students with real world experiences, saves money and solves many problems in the university.
Rene Wilson is a freelance writer with a passion for educating others on the benefits of combining modern technology and higher education. She is a contributing writer for DegreeJungle and suggests you visit the site for information on the best online colleges.
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