The open source software movement has long utilized and promoted the open sharing of content and ideas. Developers would be encouraged both to share the work they’ve created, and of course to build on the work of others, thus creating a much more collective intelligence amongst the community.
Crowdteaching operates on a similar basis, with teachers encouraged to both share the lessons and the content they create for their work, and to build upon the work of fellow teachers. A recent paper explores this movement via the context of an online tool that they call the Instructional Architect (IA).
The paper outlines the rise of Open Educational Resources (OER), which support the creation of lesson related content by teachers, and the paper set out to explore how teachers become engaged in this open design, sharing and modification of educational material, and also what impact these materials have on their teaching quality.
The Instructional Architect tool created by the team is designed to enable teachers to both find and design instructional material for their classes. They can then make any work they do publicly available from within the IA.
Understanding collective activity
With some 13 years of active use, the researchers have a good pool of data from the IA on how teachers are creating and sharing activity. Nearly 8,000 teachers are registered on the IA, and between them they have generated over 74,000 OER, that have been viewed over 2.5 million times.
The study found that approximately 2/3 of all OER is made publicly available for other teachers to build upon and use. As with most other communities however, there were a core of very active users, who gained much more from the site than the average.
Their analysis found that sharing of content was much higher amongst the technologically savvy userbase. Their relative teaching experience was also found to correlate with their usage of the application.
The researchers also believe their study has some implications for how similar systems may be designed to encourage greater collaboration between teachers.
“For example, the “decide-how” dimension is largely done individually, and supports for this step within the IA are mostly implicit. As such, scaffolds in the IA interface could be designed to better represent user activity (e.g., sorting search results by identified proxies of quality, including number of words, views, or copies) in order to help teachers better leverage crowd wisdom,” they state.
As the sample size used in the study is significantly smaller than most analyses of crowd based projects, the researchers are reluctant to draw too firm a conclusion from their study. Nevertheless, they believe it offers a useful foundation for building on in further exploration of this subject area.Original post