Sunday, May 03, 2009

Crowd Sourcing Higher Education

Despite all the efforts to begin fashioning open higher education models (see MIT, OpenCourseWare, etc.), there is less discussion of "crowdsourcing" higher education. The basic idea of crowdsourcing is inviting your customers into the business and sharing their ideas and activities within the enterprise.

In higher education I think we are more reluctant to give up our positions as "experts" to our students. Even the various "guide on the side" ideas about teaching in higher education never allow the faculty member to be in any other place than the nominal head of the class.

Yet it seems to make sense to begin including students into the instructional process. There is a considerable body of educational scholarship that suggests that "peer tutoring" can be a powerful force for learning, both for the peer being tutored as well as the tutor. Any what about an even large pool of students, former students and other interested "amateurs" who are interested in both learning and thinking carefully about the content of higher education. Isn't this a great untapped resource? Rather than let them devote all their energy to creating thoughtful Wikipedia entries, shouldn't we invite into the process of developing instructional materials?

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