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.

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

  • Crowdsourcing is a creative and fastest way of acquiring information, talents or expertise at low cost. I think this tool is extremely useful for educators to validate information. It's also another approach of capturing diverse knowledge and various perspectives.- luannel luannel Oct 22, 2014
  • Crowdsourcing is important to the museum field because it's still the primary method for incorporating community voices into exhibit interpretation. Crowdsourcing is a must, now, but shifting toward Community-Sourcing, and ultimately Co-Creation of content and interpretation, will be the next steps. See my deeper explanation here: http://www.nmc.org/news/why-youll-never-hear-me-call-wikipedia-crowdsourcing - LoriByrdPhillips LoriByrdPhillips Oct 27, 2014
  • Done with sensitivity, this technique can provide greater insights about the holdings in our museums, can be a vehicle for answering important research and provenance-related questions, and lead to new knowledge, which can then be shared with other museum audiences. I think it is intimately linked to co-creation, which I agree is also "here." Yet there remains fear and distrust in many sectors of the community of this trend. - marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Nov 2, 2014

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

  • Perhaps include some kind of cautionary detail. One needs to carefully design crowdsourcing tasks to ensure it attracts the right crowd for specific information.- luannel luannel Oct 22, 2014
  • The notes regarding Collective Intelligence and Crowdsourcing should be combined in one place, as they are two terms for very similar things. (Wikipedia is even used as an example in both.) It should be noted that crowdsourcing is a form of community collaboration, and purposeful preparations for it to be a mutually beneficial experience will lead to success. For NMC I noted the 7 things you need to openly engage with your community:http://www.nmc.org/news/seven-things-you-need-openly-engage-your-community - LoriByrdPhillips LoriByrdPhillips Oct 27, 2014
  • I think the reality is that it is likely that your active participants will be only a very small number of very dedicated people. There also needs to be commitment from the organisation to keep actively participating in the process i.e. to have a planned ongoing social media and community management programme that highlights and feeds the crowdsourcing activity and gives something back to the crowd so there is more meaningful engagement all round.- croyston croyston Nov 1, 2014
  • This has to be linked to an understanding of different roles and skill sets that the people working in museums need to hone in order to leverage the full potential of crowdsourcing as well as co-creation. - marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Nov 2, 2014

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • Potential impact for education and museums could be the quality of the content. There needs to be some form of moderation of crowdsourced content. Sources may perceive and interpret the information in various ways that differ from educators or museum professionals- luannel luannel Oct 22, 2014
  • The impact of crowdsourcing is immense, particularly if it is embraced in the forms of community-sourcing or co-creation (where the community plays a larger role in the creation and the execution of a project or exhibit.) These are all examples of open authority, whereby museums take advantage of both online and on-site opportunities to more directly engage with their communities in order to produce content and interpret topics. By radically trusting their communities, museums can be seen as authentic, transparent, and collaborative -- all traits that will be increasingly important for museum audiences. - LoriByrdPhillips LoriByrdPhillips Oct 27, 2014

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

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