Crowdsourcing in Higher Education
Is Crowdsourcing Just a Fashion or Can It Truly Deliver Results?
Educational establishments are noted for the diversity of their stakeholders and the associated complexity of their communications and community engagement.
From administrative staff, to teaching staff, to researchers- all with wildly differing objectives and needs, to current, prospective, and past students all with an interest in very different courses and modules. Not to mention the external influence from government, business, parents, employers/funders, suppliers, local residents and charitable bodies interested in what Higher Education can offer.
Garnering and managing community input and ideas then, is quite a complex process in itself.
How a university used the wisdom of the crowd
To leverage and manage this complexity, one university turned to crowdsourcing to welcome and encourage feedback from within the institution.
UNED (Universidad Nacional de educación a distancia) offers an alternative higher education option for people in Spain and across Spanish speaking countries in Latin America to study part time from high school through to graduation and on to secure a PhD.
UNED trialled a crowdsourcing platform for idea generation with students, academics, management and administrative staff. Importantly, the university used the platform to ensure people where clear the university wanted ideas to help implement is strategic plan as UNED moves towards its 50th Anniversary. This was not a platform for people to enter whatever thoughts and ideas they might have.
Disruptive education utilising disruptive technology
UNED's 'Disruptive Education Challenge' stimulated ideas from pre-defined categories including:
- management processes
The crowdsourcing platform generated more than 1000 ideas from an engaged community of 2000 participants, who could also vote for their favourite ideas in this social ideas network. The predominant segment responding to the ideation activity itself were the students, who relished the opportunity to contribute but staff also made significant contributions.
Presentation at IXC's Crowdsourcing Innovation Forum
UNED presented why they had adopted the ideas4all platform to trial this crowdsourcing experiment and laid out a series of performance indicators demonstrating a positive outcome and return on investment.
In their conclusions of the pilot study, the university viewed the community engagement and idea generation as a great success, especially considering a timeframe of only three months.
It is now a question of how to manage those ideas once captured, and the university acknowledged the demands of the next step of evaluating and validating the submitted ideas for progressing to implementation.
The audience observed that any such crowdsourcing campaign must include marketing and communications initiatives as essential components to engage and incentivise participants. UNED verified that peaks of responses coincided with marketing campaigns.
The audience also highlighted that maximising engagement of under-represented groups- in this case alumni- was a key challenge to ensure successful contribution of ideas.
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