Crowdsourcing has always been a component of classroom activity but it wasn't always called "crowdsourcing" and it wasn't always very active. It used to be called "asking the class" and students could express their opinion by raising their hand. Many teachers shied away from such exercises because they were afraid of losing control of the class or giving up some of their authority. When they did ask the kids for their opinions, students were given "yes" or "no" options and, in the end, the teacher decided what she wanted to do anyway.
Today's technology has brought crowdsourcing to a new level. Teachers can using a variety of crowdsourcing tools to get feedback on lessons, garner ideas, solicit information that may increase the students' interest and participation and create an open atmosphere that raises the students' interest and involvement in the course.
Each Learning Management System (LMS) has its own crowdsourcing tools and elearning teachers would be well advised to acquaint themselves with the available opportunities. Crowdsourcing can be used to promote inquiry-based learning, to help students clear the way for critical thinking, to create a growth mindset for students and to perk the students' interest in a new topic.
Some concrete ideas for crowdsourcing in the classroom include:
- Have your students create their own unit overviews. Assign the students to work in pairs to create lists of subtopics for a specific unit. Then, let the pairs choose a subtopic that is of particular interest to them and allow them to investigate their chosen topic. The evaluation of the unit may include a presentation by each pair of their particular subtopic. This approach covers the high points of the topic through crowdsourcing as it engages students and fosters collaboration, research and presentation skills.
- Allow students to develop the tools that will be used to assess their work through crowdsourcing. Students should decide what they want to accomplish by creating their own rubric. Involving students in creating the tools for their assessment allows them to buy-into the project and assess themselves, often more rigorously than would occur otherwise.
- Ask the students to help plan the class, what they want to learn, what project ideas they have, what components of the course they have most/least enjoyed, etc. This helps each student feel responsible for his own learning and develop metacognitive skills that will help him become a lifelong learner.
JETS class at the Kadima school in St. Louis makes ample use of crowdsourcing tools via the Haiku LMS. In addition to polls and LMS interactive surveys, the students took the time to consider the learning process in which they are involved. Some of their responses include:
"I'm really enjoying this class and the pace it is moving at- I don't feel behind or rushed but we are definetly covering alot of material in class. (Please don't move faster! :) My favorite part 0f this class is the writing and ability to express my opinion and have a response to everything. I also really like the connection of Tanach to modern issues- this is FANTASTIC!
"I like polls because it shows me how everyone else feels about ideas and it's fun to see how many people I agree or disagree with. I like the discussion forums as well because I feel I can clearly express my ideas (views) and see what other peoples might be. I also like them because sometimes I'll read someone else's response and it will make me think of a new idea or make me rethink what I've said. I love images because they help me remember the topic. If I see a picture in connection to what we're learning, I can remember the picture, which leads me to remember the topic. One thing that wasn't on the poll was videos which I also enjoy for a similar reason. Lastly, I like it when we have links to other places like google docs - which I see someone put in other - because that seems to be where we do small bits of reading which is different from the short blurbs/ideas on haiku. Overall I like what we've done so far this year."