Crowdsourcing: A Model for Communication and Collaboration in the Classroom and Beyond

Proposal Title: 
Crowdsourcing: A Model for Communication and Collaboration in the Classroom and Beyond

Crowdsourcing is when large groups of people work together to create projects, review products, do research, and much more. They exist on the Internet or in the classroom. Crowdsourcing expands our definitions of literacy by acknowledging that we can do richer projects when we draw on the minds of many. This presentation will examine how crowdsourcing can be used as a model for communication and collaboration in the classroom and beyond. I will provide ideas for classroom assignments and activities that encourage the kind of collaboration present in crowdsourcing, including how students can use crowdsourcing to develop personal learning networks. 


Crowdsourcing applications harness the energy of individuals around the world to accomplish many goals, including developing technology, interpreting historical documents, observing astronomical events, and even helping study to find a cure for cancer. The list goes on and on, and you can find a crowdsourcing project for almost any topic. Most projects require no prior knowledge; the crowdsourcing website includes tutorials to guide you step by step on how to contribute your knowledge, observations, and interpretations.

Crowdsourcing provide an opportunity for diverse individuals to take part in many different meaningful projects. This presentation will explore how crowdsourcing can be used in the Rhetoric and Writing classroom and beyond. It will touch on the kinds of crowdsourcing projects that students might participate in and benefit from. More specifically, it will examine how crowdsourcing expands our notions of literacy and can be used as a model for communication and collaboration. Crowdsourcing draws on the minds of many, and by necessity it requires constant engagement. Instructors can use this model to foster an environment in which many different ideas and perspectives come together and interact actively. I will describer specific classroom activities that reflect the crowdsourcing model.

In addition to practicing crowdsourcing online and in the classroom, instructors and students can transfer this model when developing professional identities. Crowdsourcing provides a model for seeing ourselves in relation to others, one that draws on different knowledge and ideas. As I will show by proposing a classroom assignment, this model can support instructors and students as they seek to grow their personal learning networks. Students and instructors, therefore, can use crowdsourcing in multiple realms: participating in online crowdsourcing projects, using crowdsourcing as a model in the classroom, and in developing personal learning networks. Each of these areas fosters a sense of equanimity, collaboration, and social responsibility. 

Crowdsourcing, at least as it has evolved in the last several decades, is a new invention. This presentation focuses on how to take this new invention and apply it in the classroom and beyond. It will discuss how definitions of literacy should include a model of crowdsourcing, including literacies associated with professionalism. This relates to the conference’s theme of expanding definitions of literacy based on new technologies.
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