Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Crowdsourcing your eLearning - Is it possible?

This is the beginning of a huge paradigm shift for the Instructional Design community.  Actually the shift started a few years ago but as I see it today we are finally seeing this as more than the next elearning fad.  What is "this"?  What is "it"?
"It" is the reality that technology is turning everyone into experts and more importantly it is allowing all of the experts (everyone) to share their knowledge in a format that easily discoverable by anybody with a web connection.  This means that in most cases knowledge, ideas, thoughts go from one person directly to the next.  There is no need for a middle man.  There is no need for knowledge brokers (instructional designers).  Our job used to be pulling information out of SMEs and then "designing" that information into content that WE think is best for those that need to consume it.  Not so much anymore.

So is it possible that we can use crowdsourcing to our advantage?  Can we add value to crowdsourced content with sound instructional design?

One of the keynotes for Annual Gathering 09 is Jeff Howe the author of Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business.  The Blog in support of the book has a bunch of examples of crowdsourcing in action and other information. 

Jeff is obviously NOT an instructional designer however every business and field of study that uses Internet technologies is impacted by this phenomenon.  That includes the eLearning community.  You probably already crowdsource much of what you do by participating in social networks, and online forums, and professional organizations like The eLearning Guild

How do you see crowdsourcing impacting your job?  Good or bad? 


Steve Howard said...

Internally, we are embarking on a rollout of various Web 2.0 technologies - Wikis, Blogs, IM and more. This is to stimulate 'knowledge sharing' and 'knowledge capture', as well as to stimulate more general discussion and sharing of fresh ideas.

Externally, we are planning to involve our clients (learners and SMEs) in the generation of their own content, and in similar 2.0 sharing tools. This part is still more in the realms of planning than reality, but the entire management and 'senior' teams are completely behind this. Even though many don't really use these technologies, they absolutely recognise that they must be embraced.

It's going to be a bumpy but exciting ride!

Anonymous said...

I do think these are exciting times but I do have a note of caution. Encouraging sharing between SME's and others requires tremendous visible support from management. This would also benefit from incentives. We have been trying for years to create Leraning Communities in business. The tools will only be as good as the incentives and documented benefits to the bottom line.

Anonymous said...

Considering that 80% of the training we do can not be sourced from books, Google or the internet, this makes total sense.

There's no where to learn our business other than internal SMEs and people in the field. Sure, we've hired from the field and brought to corporate, but every branch/office is set up differently: number of employees, region, volume, etc, so there's no way to roll out a single "best practice" training for them. Internal SME insight guides content design, but it could never be considered the "right way" or single best practice.

There is, however, great value in bringing the top producers and managers across regions together and ask them "how" they're successful, the tools they use, methods of pipeline management, etc. We're now taking their "stories" and presenting those, all of them, to new hires as a way to create a larger context for possibilities for managing their own offices. Maybe this is crowdsourcing? Either way, there is still a resistance from most designers to "let go" and be more of connectors rather than developers.

bschlenker said...

I don't normally respond to anonymous postings. But I'll add that your comment is exactly why my colleagues and I encourage implementation of collaborative technologies to include the HR department as well as legal.
They may be frutratingly slow to change but their processes MUST change with the times as well. You are right on!