Working together is vital in any successful endeavor, and sharing ideas is especially important in education. Crowdsourcing – that is, obtaining information about best practices from a variety of people – is an important method to improve the way education is conducted by teachers and received by students.
Crowdsourcing in education has had successful effects on student results in many countries. For example, a project called Crowdsourcing Girls’ Education used a community-based approach to lower drop-out rates in secondary schools in Ethiopia and Tanzania. The key is to implement an innovation program supported by a culture of sharing ideas in educational institutions both within the United States and abroad. When a group collaborates to bring the best ideas about education together, everyone benefits.
Benefits of Crowdsourcing in Education for Faculty
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.
Universities in the United States continue to experiment with and implement Crowdsourcing innovations. Georgetown University uses crowdsourcing to implement the best time and cost-saving innovations suggested by faculty and students. A virtual IdeaScale community allows for idea suggestions, voting, and significant discussion. One of the key time-saving ideas that was employed at Georgetown included bringing class evaluations online. This step alone gives faculty more efficient and effective access to feedback, allowing them to react to student suggestions more quickly.
Benefits of Crowdsourcing in Education for Students
Students can also benefit greatly from crowdsourcing in education. On one level, they can help each other with homework and answers to sample problems. They can create and share summaries of classes, books, and other materials. On another level, crowdsourcing in education gives students a chance to participate in a group process where they are able to evaluate real-life problems and propose creative solutions.
Columbia University used crowdsourcing of ideas to dramatically enhance the student experience at the school. By allowing students to suggest ideas in the “What to Fix Colombia” community, the school received feedback and implemented changes that made a significant difference in how students operate at school. Some of the low-hanging fruit ideas included small things like revised gate hours and a new mailbox notification system. Other projects included removing the requirement that commencement speakers have a Columbia degree and reducing the bureaucracy associated with change. Through all of the improvements, the students have learned the power of sharing ideas and working together to implement change.
Benefits of Crowdsourcing for Institutions
Universities and colleges are in a competitive race for students that gets more intense every day. This race extends to primary and secondary education as private, charter and public schools compete for enrollment. By crowdsourcing ideas for enhancements, schools remain competitive, build their reputation, and draw additional students.
Crowdsourcing initiatives give institutions a chance to hear from faculty and students about what is working and what isn’t. In addition, leaders gain new insights into ways to save money and time. Changes don’t always have to be enormous. Many times, a small change makes a big difference to morale and student experience. Most of all, being receptive to ideas and change makes a college or university much more attractive to prospective students. The crowdsourcing process itself becomes a recruiting tool, showing that your institution is receptive and easy to communicate with.
George Bernard Shaw once said, “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” Sharing ideas through crowdsourcing isn’t new, but the application within education isn’t yet common. Everyone stands to gain from the process – faculty, students, and the schools themselves. For more information about how you can implement crowdsourcing at your institution, contact us today!