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.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Larry Larry Feb 8, 2012

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

  • It may be that crowdsourcing is one of the best ways to facilitate informal learning through citizen science. In a project on which I work, iDigBio (, we are using crowdsourcing to confirm the identification of biological specimens, particularly botanical specimens. The crowdsourced information also provides geolocation data that can inform or expand what we know about a species. Think of the success of a project like Journey North ( What a great way to get kids involved in science and seeing themselves as part of something globally important! - marcia.mardis marcia.mardis Feb 4, 2014
  • This topic also links to the OER topic. I developed an automatic metadata/cataloging tool (Web2MARC; and one of the great things about it (that I never expected) is how many consumers of OER metadata are willing to contribute standards alignments and other descriptive information to improve the quality of the available records. We simply could not sustain this project without user-contributed educational information. OERCommons ( likewise relies on user assignment and validation of CCSS assignments and quality assessments. - marcia.mardis marcia.mardis Feb 4, 2014

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

  • add your response here
  • add your response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • add your response here
  • add your response here

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

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project Sharing Form.