davebriggs + crowdsourcing   28

The MOOC movement is not an indicator of educational evolution
Somehow, recently, a lot of people have taken an interest in the broadcast of canned educational materials, and this practice — under a term that proponents and detractors have settled on, massive open online course (MOOC) — is getting a publicity surge. I know that the series of online classes offered by Stanford proved to be extraordinarily popular, leading to the foundation of Udacity and a number of other companies. But I wish people would stop getting so excited over this transitional technology. The attention drowns out two truly significant trends in progressive education: do-it-yourself labs and peer-to-peer exchanges.

In the current opinion torrent, Clay Shirky treats MOOCs in a recent article, and Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University, writes (in a Boston Globe subscription-only article) that traditional colleges will have to deal with the MOOC challenge. Jon Bruner points out on Radar that non-elite American institutions could use a good scare (although I know a lot of people whose lives were dramatically improved by attending such colleges). The December issue of Communications of the ACM offers Professor Richard A. DeMillo from the Georgia Institute of Technology assessing the possible role of MOOCs in changing education, along with an editorial by editor-in-chief Moshe Y. Vardi culminating with, “If I had my wish, I would wave a wand and make MOOCs disappear.”

There’s a popular metaphor for this early stage of innovation: we look back to the time when film-makers made the first moving pictures with professional performers by setting up cameras before stages in theaters. This era didn’t last long before visionaries such as Georges Méliès, D. W. Griffith, Sergei Eisenstein, and Luis Buñuel uncovered what the new medium could do for itself. How soon will colleges get tired of putting lectures online and offer courses that take advantage of new media?

Two more appealing trends are already big. One is DIY courses, as popularized in the book Fab by Neil Gershenfeld at the MIT Media Lab. O’Reilly’s own Make projects are part of this movement. Fab courses represent the polar opposite of MOOCs in many ways. They are delivered in small settings to students whose dedication, inspiration, and talent have to match those of the teacher — the course asks a lot of everybody. But from anecdotal reports, DIY courses have been shown to be very powerful growth mechanisms in environments ranging from the top institutions (like MIT) to slums around the world. Teenagers are even learning to play with biological matter in labs such as BioCurious.

Fundamentally, DIY is a way to capture the theory of learning by doing, which goes back at least to John Dewey at the turn of the 20th century. The availability of 3D makers, cheap materials, fab software, and instructions over the Internet lend the theory a new practice.

“I believe in everything never yet said.”–Rainer Maria Rilke, Das Stunden-Buch

The other major trend cracking the foundations of education is peer-to-peer information exchange. This, like learning by doing, has plenty of history. The symposia of Ancient Greece (illustrated in fictional form by Plato) and the Talmudic discussions that underlay the creation of modern Judaism over 2,000 years ago show that human beings have long been used to learning from each other. Peer information exchange raged on centuries later in cafés and salons, beer halls and sewing circles. Experts were important, and everybody could recognize the arrival of a true expert, but he or she was just first among equals. A lot of students who sign up for MOOCs probably benefit from the online discussion forums as much as from the canned lectures and readings.

Wikipedia is a prominent example of peer-to-peer information exchange, and one that promulgates the contributions of experts, but one that also has trouble with sustainability. (They’re holding one of their fund-raisers now, and it’s a good time to donate.) This leads me to ask what business model colleges can apply in the face of both MOOCs and peer-to-peer knowledge. How do you mobilize a whole community to educate each other, while maintaining the value of expertise?

This challenge — not just a business challenge, but really the challenge of tapping expertise effectively — happens to be one that O’Reilly is dealing with in the field of publishing. We introduced the equivalent of filmed stage shows in the mid-1990s when we created the Safari Bookshelf to provide our books on a subscription-based website. The innovation was in the delivery model, which also delivered a shock to a publishing industry dependent on print sales.

But we knew that Safari Bookshelf barely dipped into the power of the web, which has grown more and more with advances in HTML, JavaScript, and mobile devices. Safari Bookshelf is much more than a collection of web pages with book content now. As a training tool, the web has exploded with other experiments. We offer an interactive school of technology also.

So the field of education will probably see lots of blended models along the way. It’s worth noting that proponents of open content have called for licensing models that reinforce the open promise of the courses. Some courses ask students to write their own textbooks and share them — but one asks where they get the information with which to write their peer-produced textbooks. In an earlier article I examined the difficulties of creating free, open textbooks that are actually usable for teaching. Such dilemmas just show that the investment of large amounts of time by experts are still a critical part of education — but applying the broadcast model to them may be less and less relevant.

Update, December 12: I changed the link text for Clay Shirky’s article because he told me the original did not characterize it properly.
Uncategorized  @home  crowdsourcing  DIY  education  MOOC  open_content  peer_production  peer_to_peer  publishing  Uncategorized  crowdsourcing  education  open-content  peer-production  peer-to-peer  publishing-2  from google
december 2012 by davebriggs
Finland is about to start using crowdsourcing to create new laws
Who makes laws? In most of the democratic world, that’s the sole preserve of elected governments. But in Finland, technology is about to make democracy significantly more direct.

Earlier this year, the Finnish government enabled something called a “citizens’ initiative”, through which registered voters can come up with new laws – if they can get 50,000 of their fellow citizens to back them up within six months, then the Eduskunta (the Finnish parliament) is forced to vote on the proposal.

Now this crowdsourced law-making system is about to go online through a platform called the Open Ministry. The non-profit organization has been collecting signatures for various proposals on paper since 1 March, when citizens’ initiatives came in, but a couple of days ago the government approved the electronic ID mechanism that underpins the digital version of the platform. That means it can now go live on 1 October.

“The National Communications Security Authority audited our code, our security policies and our service/hosting providers to ensure that the details of citizens are safe and can’t be hacked into,” Open Ministry founder Joonas Pekkanen told me via email. “[The system verifies] the people’s identity through the APIs offered by banks and mobile operators. So people can sign the initiatives online with the online banking codes or their mobile phones.”

What’s more, the banks and operators are providing the use of their strong verification APIs for free, as part of their social responsibility policies. Welcome to Finland!

Could it work elsewhere?

There are clear similarities to be found between the Finnish model and that being experimented with by the German Pirate Party, but the Open Ministry platform is somewhat less radical and less likely to be derailed by endless collaborative editing. The first batch of proposals on the Finnish platform is pretty varied: a ban on fur farming, a requirement for all public software procurement to take into account open data and APIs, a ban on energy drinks for under-16s, and a referendum on Finland’s restrictive alcohol laws (the government has a monopoly and prices are sky-high).

Assuming they get their 50,000 signatures (the fur-farming one has already amassed 43,500 paper signatures), each will have to be voted on by the Eduskunta. Compare that with, for example, the UK system – there, an e-petition that garners 100,000 backers wins the grand prize of being considered by a government back-office and maybe being discussed in Parliament.

But could it work elsewhere? On a technical level, there is little reason why not. Indeed, the Open Ministry platform is (naturally) open-source and available on GitHub. “We encourage anyone to fork and contribute to it and use it in other countries also,” Pekkanen said.

But a lot of this drive for openness has a cultural and political basis. Perhaps it has something to do with the cold winters (as suggested to me by representatives of the Finnish Innovation Fund in Helsinki this week) or their small-ish populations, but the Nordic countries tend to have relatively close societies where people are enthusiastic about pitching into civic life. Politically, Iceland provides a great example with its partly-crowdsourced constitution.

And in terms of civic-minded tech projects that capitalize on open data, Finland has a particularly impressive roster. Just a few examples:

The Helsinki Region Infoshare project, which collates and offers up municipal datasets.
APIs for official campaign-funding audit data.
The crowdsourced digitization of Finland’s national archives.

That’s give-and-take activity, with some projects engendering trust between citizenry and government, and others benefitting from trust being there in the first place – people are less likely to contribute to an officially-sanctioned project if they think it’s pointless or exploitative. By way of a slightly frivolous example, where but somewhere like Finland would you find a national patient health records co-operative with this tagline?

Tech-driven democracy fans in other countries may not find the environment as conducive to crowdsourced legislation right now, but on the other hand they just got themselves a model to study. If crowdsourced legislation is going to work anywhere, Finland would be the right place for it to happen.
crowdsourcing  Europe  Finland  government  Iceland  laws  from google
september 2012 by davebriggs
How to Crowdsource Without Being a Jerk - Or an Idiot
In the six years since Jeff Howe coined the term ‘crowdsourcing’ in Wired Magazine, the phenomenon has grown into several distinct, maturing industries that give businesses and workers almost limitless flexibility. But crowdsourcing also significantly changes the relationships betweeen employers and workers - and not necessarily for the better.

The 3 Types of Crowdsourcing
Howe’s definition of crowdsourcing (taken from a trailer for his book) is pretty straightforward, if a little broad:

Crowdsourcing is when a company takes a job that was once performed by employees and outsources it in the form of an open call to a large, undefined group of people, generally using the Internet.

Depending on how you interpret “job,” that definition could include crowd-based funding, like Kickstarter, crowd-based voting, and other community-driven decisions, but most commonly the term applies to marketplaces for soliciting work products.

Typically, businesses offer up a request for a block of work, like a logo, software coding, marketing copy, a website or a list of voicemail transcriptions - and the crowd answers the call. Those are the basics. Every crowdsourcing marketplace has its own rules and specialty, but generally, they break down into three categories:

1. Contests

2. Open Markets

3. Microwork

Each type of crowdsourcing requires a different approach to get the most value for the money and effort you put in - and to avoid the very real opportunity to anger your existing workers and contractors while exploiting crowdsourced contributors (assuming you care about that):

1. Contests: Contest marketplaces solicit responses as an open call and generally choose just one as a winner. The client purchases the winner’s work product with the award, and the losing entrants retain the rights to their work product. Contest specialties range in scope from small graphic design projects (Crowdspring) to substantial scientific quandries with awards in the tens of thousands of dollars (Innocentive).

Very few people have a problem with the top end of the contest crowdwourcing market, which tends to add unique value with sites like IdeaConnection and Xprize . Innocentive, for example, rewards creative thinking, requires domain expertise and helps identify talent that might otherwise remain buried. Plus, Innocentive participants are trying to solve important problems, not just grind out grunt work to pleases the corporate overlords. If you want to offer a million dollars to the first person who can cure acne, have at it. Everyone wins.

Low-end contest sites like Mycroburst are a different animal. In these situations, the majority of participants end up performing hours of work with zero compensation. A logo design project, for example, might start with 100 participants, then work through several rounds of revisions and cuts before settling on a winner, who might earn as little as $200,

For the winner, if there is one, the reward might barely justify the expense. For everyone else, it’s a total bust.

To mitigate this situation, some contest sites have created secondary marketplaces (like the 99 designs Logo Store) to help artists recoup at least some money from non-winning work. Still, contests conjure the specter of ‘spec work’, and many artists have attempted to organize boycotts of them as abusive exploitation.

So what’s the right approach? At the very least, companies need to be honest about what they can spend and what they need when they create a crowdsource contest. And they need to be realistic about what they’re likely to get - a competent if not brilliant solution to an immediate problem. If that’s all you need, a crowdsourced contest could be all you need.

In most cases, though, if you can afford to actually hire a designer or a coder, you’ll get better work, more consistency, with far less ongoing management effort.

2. Open Markets: Marketplaces like oDesk, eLance, Guru, and Mechanical Turk allow employers to post nearly any job at any price, leading to a wide range of offers, from 20-minute typing assignments to complex, multi-week software development projects.

Open markets are generally free of stigma, but managing the projects can become a full-time job. Job posters often need to sift through a number of low-quality providers (or high-quality providers with the wrong domain expertise) before finding the right match. A poorly-defined job description will compound this problem, attracting too broad a range of applicants, and discouraging the real pros who don’t want to waste their time.

If you aren’t completely sure what you need, you may do better hiring a local to work through the process on-site. If you really do know what you want, be as specific as possible in your posting, and create a quick qualification process on which everyone in your office agrees.

3. Microwork: Microwork marketplaces break up large, repetitive projects into very small, discrete chunks that are managed by a highly-automated software. In most cases, the need for microwork will be driven by specific projects.

Microwork marketplaces typically focus on a specific type of work. For example, Microtask focuses on very large projects involving text and data recognition – specifically, handwritten, damaged or stylized text that computers can’t read. It has built its entire user interface and back end around increasing worker productivity for this very specific job, and the majority of its tasks take only a few seconds to complete.

Crowdsourcing task work is a delicate decision, since it pulls hours from an in-house team, needs to integrate with in-house workflows, requires a very well-definied data specification and requires a certain amount of trust in data quality.

When it works, crowdsourcing microwork can be brilliant. When it doesn’t, it’s a train wreck. Before entering into a contract for microwork, it’s criticial to nail down the specs, do your homework (and check lots of references), and give as much power as possible to the project leads so they can make the process work as efficiently as possible.
Crowdsourcing  from google
august 2012 by davebriggs
How should a hackday be run?
I’m working with a large public-sector organisation who have a considerable — and potentially very useful — body of data. They’re keen to open it up, and would like to encourage people to use it by having a hack event of some kind. At the same time, it’s gratifying that they’re clear that they don’t wish to unfairly exploit anyone.

We’re considering a number of options, and would welcome comments and additional suggestions.

The event could be held in the Midlands; over one day or two, on weekdays, weekend, or Friday-Saturday. Or a competition could be announced online, with a virtual or real-life “dragons den” type event, for people to present things they’ve worked on at home.

You won’t need one of these to take part…Computer Museum: Cray-2 by cmnit, on Flickr, CC-BY

Should we set a specific challenge, or just ask people to do something interesting with the data?

I’ve suggested prizes might be offered for both the most compete solution, and the best idea, whether compete or not. There might be prizes in other categories, such as the best idea by a young person or the most accessible product, or different categories for commercial and hobbyist entrants.

The data holders might also like to consider developing business relationships to the developers of one or more of the products, separate to any prize giving; rights in all the entries would of course remain with their developers, otherwise.

How would you like such an event to happen? We’re aware of the Hackday Manifesto, but what else is best practice, and what other pitfalls should be avoided?

Over to you…
ideas  open_data  Uncategorized  crowd-sourcing  crowdsourcing  event  hack  hack-day  hackday  Hackday_Manifesto  hacking  from google
august 2012 by davebriggs
Link roundup
I find this stuff so you don’t have to:

Enyo JavaScript Application Framework – "Use the same framework to develop apps for the web and for all major platforms, desktop and mobile."
Features | Re-usable Drupal recipes for government websites – Nice New Zealand government site sharing open source compontents for Drupal for gov webbies
Consultation Principles – guidance | Cabinet Office – "…the Government is improving the way it consults by adopting a more proportionate and targeted approach, so that the type and scale of engagement is proportional to the potential impacts of the proposal."
Inviting comments on a draft bill | Stephen Hale – "With a public commitment to feed the comments that we receive directly into the process of parliamentary scrutiny via the team working on the bill, we’re effectively enabling people to publicly contribute to the drafting of law."
The SEO war – fighting the good fight in search – A rare thing indeed – an interesting and genuinely useful post about search engine optimisation! Who would have thought that such a thing was even possible!?!?!
Bookmarks  apps  cabinetoffice  comments  consultation  crowdsourcing  drupal  engagement  framework  gds  google  govuk  govweb  innovation  javascript  mobile  opengov  opengovernment  opensource  policy  programming  Search  seo  from google
august 2012 by davebriggs
Inviting comments on a draft bill | Stephen Hale
"With a public commitment to feed the comments that we receive directly into the process of parliamentary scrutiny via the team working on the bill, we’re effectively enabling people to publicly contribute to the drafting of law."
policy  innovation  crowdsourcing  comments  opengov  opengovernment  Digital_engagement  Home  Websites  bill  commentable  user_comments 
july 2012 by davebriggs
"PyBossa is a free, open-source, platform for creating and running crowd-sourcing applications that utilise online assistance in performing tasks that require human cognition, knowledge or intelligence such as image classification, transcription, geocoding and more!"
data  datamining  crowdsourcing  opensource 
june 2012 by davebriggs
How to do a Crowd | Innovator Inside
For crowds, read communities, groups, whatever. Good stuff.
innovation  crowdsourcing  communities 
august 2011 by davebriggs
Epic Idea Management #Fails
Things to avoid when sourcing ideas from James Gardner.
innovation  ideation  crowdsourcing 
june 2011 by davebriggs
Where do the good ideas go?
"Given the challenges we face as a country and as a planet, there’s a tremendous opportunity to make crowdsourcing really work here and now. But it will take courage, patience, and a process which taps into the varied time and talents of the crowd, in its widest sense."
crowdsourcing  opengov  opengovernment 
september 2010 by davebriggs
Crowdsourcing Is Far From Easy for Government
"Once again, this case proves the disconnect between engaging citizens (and voters) and engaging government employees. For open government to work, both aspects need to be addressed and possibly synchronized."
crowdsourcing  opengov  participation  public  uk  opengovernment 
august 2010 by davebriggs
Open innovation, why bother? – 100% Open
"...if open innovation is to deliver sustainable business advantage then we need a better understanding of what motivates contributors to these initiatives, else there is a risk of a backlash against them..."
innovation  openinnovation  crowdsourcing  ideation  rolandharwood 
april 2010 by davebriggs
How to crowd source an IT strategy - BankerVision
"Big organisations are challenged when you ask them for quick decisions."
innovation  it  strategy  crowdsourcing  bankervision  dwp  government  gov2.0  government2.0  ideas 
january 2010 by davebriggs
"Britainthinks is an independent space where the opinions of the British public can be publicly expressed."
government  uk  community  crowdsourcing  inspiration  research  socialmedia  conversation  opinion  britain 
january 2010 by davebriggs
Tories announce £1m competition for large-scale crowdsourcing platform
"Cripes. HM’s Loyal Opposition has announced – if elected – a £1m prize for an online platform for large-scale crowdsourcing."
egovernment  egov  idealgovernment  williamheath  tories  conservatives  crowdsourcing  competition  procurement 
december 2009 by davebriggs
eGov AU: Could the government replace some advertising and communications contracts with crowdsourcing?
"However what I will ask is this - should the Australian government look beyond advertising and communications agencies for good communications ideas? Should we go directly to the communities impacted by our programs, invite them to provide ideas for communications campaigns and reward them appropriately?"
egov  australia  socialmedia  socialnetworks  crowdsourcing  communication  government  digitalengagement  egovau 
november 2009 by davebriggs
We Know The Experts Are Out There. - Expert Labs
"Expert Labs is a new independent initiative to help policy makers in our government take advantage of the expertise of their fellow citizens."
government  technology  politics  community  crowdsourcing  activism  internet  web  anildash  gov2.0 
november 2009 by davebriggs
GovHack: govt data + hackers + caffeine == good times | Government 2.0 Taskforce
"John Allsopp from Web Directions was an organiser of GovHack, an event sponsored by the Taskforce. It was held on the 30th and 31st of October 2009 to encourage greater use and availability of government data in support of the MashupAustralia contest."
gov2.0  australia  mashup  data  crowdsourcing  e-government  government2.0  opendata  localgovweb  ukgc10 
november 2009 by davebriggs
Idea Management - Innovation Management - Crowdsourcing - Suggestion Box - Customer Feedback
"IdeaScale enables companies to build communities based on the simple model of crowdsourcing. It begins with an idea posted to your IdeaScale portal by a user. Each idea is then expanded by voting and comments from the community."
crowdsourcing  collaboration  ideas  web2.0  community  tools  innovation  software 
september 2009 by davebriggs
Clay Shirky: online crowds aren’t always wise
"Clay Shirky, leading commentator on internet technologies and author of Here Comes Everybody, last night backed away from his earlier enthusiasm for the online wisdom of crowds in democratic decision-making. He suggested that Government use of social media should focus more on “small groups of smart people arguing with each other”, than national-scale engagement online."
clay+shirky  herecomeseverybody  massengagement  selforganising  culture  crowdsourcing  trends  future 
february 2009 by davebriggs
Great example of taking a community approach to customer service.
community  socialmedia  wiki  blogs  forums  enterprise  crowdsourcing  dell  collabor8now 
january 2009 by davebriggs

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