Technology-enabled collaboration is transforming how we engage and connecting us in ways we never thought possible, allowing us to innovate through the wisdom of the crowds. What is the potential for students to harness the power of crowdsourcing, and how can that be supported?

Teaching the future thinkers of tomorrow

The rapid development of technology has spawned with it digital natives. Students are no longer how we envisioned them to be and learn decades ago. Gen-Y, also known as the Net Generation, are a new breed of students whose attitudes and motivations reflect their upbringing in an age where communications technology reigns supreme and decisions can be made collaboratively with the crowd.

Teachers in this milieu need to keep an open mind when catering to these students, even if at times they feel like technological troglodytes from a different era. After all…

‘If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow’ – John Dewey

Here I look specifically at crowdsourcing as one of the many ways of engaging neo-tech students. It would be wise to remember that pedagogy is the driver, technology is merely the accelerator. By understanding how the two can be intrinsically linked, only then can we value the possibilities of crowdsourcing ideas in classrooms.

Crowdsourcing ideas and why it matters

As a current student and staff member of UTS, I am interested in the benefits of crowdsourcing student ideas.

Imagine giving students the autonomy to generate their own ideas or questions using an interactive platform not constrained by time and geography. This is what ideation platforms allow us to do, supporting students to:

  • Propose ideas
  • Comment on other ideas
  • Vote ideas up or down

This concept of collaborative ideation realized through crowdsourcing may help to get even the quietest of students to contribute to class work. Whether you’re a marketing academic wanting possible strategic solutions for a hypothetical case study, or a mathematics academic encouraging your students to mind-share their different problem-solving methodologies, crowdsourcing can help students harness the power of learning from each other. The applications are however only limited by your imagination. The effectiveness is dependent on your commitment to sound pedagogies and a willingness to embrace emerging technologies.

Three reasons to crowdsource ideas in your classrooms

1. Gain fresh perspectives

What better way to expand minds and encourage innovative thinkers than to have students leverage from each other’s ideas. Classroom activities could involve crowdsourced problem solving for questions you raise, or to promote critical thinking through collaborative analysis of weekly readings on an ideation platform. You never know, you could be teaching the next Elon Musk!

2. Connect with your students

Really get to know your students, how they think and where their strengths and weaknesses lie. In using ideation platforms you may gain insights into the learning needs of students. We need to remind ourselves that to connect with future students, we need to be designing for a 21st century curriculum. Globalisation and advances in technology, communications and social media demand this.

3. Network to build an engaged classroom

Create a dialogue that transcends the classroom. This can be an online space where students can remain engaged in both course content and their classroom relationships. Supported by face-to-face teaching, the possibilities of combining ideation platforms with other online collaborative tools might be the blended-learning experiences students need.

Two free ideation platforms to get you started

A free ideation platform which allows you to collect ideas, discuss and vote.

A gamified ideation platform which offers a freemium service, allowing up to 25 participants to pose or answer questions, solve problems, vote and comment for points.

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