08.10.2012 - Education Sector

Crowdsourcing for education

Can crowdsourcing help achieve education goals? The concept of using group collaboration or “the wisdom of crowds” to reach a specific goal, is not new. However, the internet and social media have made the process more efficient and effective.

By enabling people with similar interests to collaborate, crowdsourcing initiatives offer an opportunity to help others, learn something, and gain recognition. With these practices, community-based projects become exercises in collective problem-solving.

UNESCO has recently been making use of online crowdsourcing to help achieve Education for All. A project on crowdsourcing girls’ education in Ethiopia and Tanzania launched in July 2011 took a community-based approach to lowering drop-out rates in secondary schools in those countries. Funded by the Packard Foundation, within the framework of UNESCO’s global partnership for girls’ and women’s education, it encouraged girls and their communities to propose solutions to obstacles preventing girls from completing secondary education. The process introduced a fresh approach to designing education policies.

Other UNESCO-led crowdsourcing initiatives in the field of education include the Education for All (EFA) Crowdsourcing Challenge. UNESCO teamed up with Nokia and the Pearson Foundation from October 2011 to May 2012 to elicit suggestions on how mobile communication could help achieve EFA goals, in the areas of literacy, universal primacy education, youth and adult learning, quality, gender parity and equality, and early childhood care and education.  The best ideas were rewarded with prizes. For World Press Freedom Day celebrations around the world were publicized through a crowdsourcing tool incorporating interactive mapping.  Information is gathered through social media (e.g., blogs, Twitter, and Facebook) and mobile phone text messages. World Teachers’ Day celebrations on 5 October are also being mapped in the same way.

Other UN agencies are also involved in online crowdsourcing initiatives: UNAIDS has invited youth to help create a new UN strategy on youth and HIV/AIDS through an online collaborative project. UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning is also calling on youth to share views, experiences, and resources to strengthen young peoples’ civic engagement within formal and non-formal education.  All young people are invited to add their voices to this Plan With Youth! Initiative, which will culminate in a Policy Forum in Paris on 16-18 October 2012.

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