What is Crowd Sourcing?


Crowd sourcing refers to a set of methods of marshalling 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. (An example might be asking a community to name the people in a period photograph. Family members are often the most authoritative source of this kind of information, but there is no easy way to know who to ask — so the call is issued community wide.) In the museum and academic sectors, crowd sourcing refers to an institution drawing from public knowledge to provide missing links on specific subject matter, 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 focus being documented are remarkably effective in providing deep level detail around a topic or in documenting a large body of materials. With tools like Kickstarter, crowd sourcing has even been applied to fundraising. Because crowd-sourcing processes typically work best at scale, most such projects typically access a large number of participants. While it does not directly overlap, crowd sourcing is related to “user-generated content” and “collective intelligence,” both of which have appeared in past NMC Horizon Reports.


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

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

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