Crowdsourcing ctd..

I think I’ve mentioned the idea of Crowdsourcing on and off here. One of the best examples I’ve seen is related to photos. Thanks to digital cameras the quality of people’s photos is almost equal to those of an expert. Thus, instead of companies paying thousands for one they can go online and source a cheap one for one quid. We have ELT pics which gives them away for free!

But…let’s go further. To write a longer lesson, course or materials you also need audio, video and texts. There’s a growing interest in natural sources too so a chat between 2 natives about a film they just saw may be more appealing and have more interesting language than a pre-written one.

Now, imagine having a communal bank of all these elements. All that would be needed then is to pick out language/grammar, add a speaking/writing element and Bob’s your uncle you have a very good lesson and some great materials. Even better, this could be done as online components. Very low-tech  be them as a blog post or page on your VLE. Yes, you could add some questions with Moodle or as a Google form but I find it better to just have the input and then the rest as F2F.

You could also then have a site for uploading any material/plans that you’ve made using these raw materials. that could be the ‘code of use’ i.e. you can use it but you have to give something back. In this way a bank of lessons and online materials would build up and as topics grow they could easily be put into courses or 10 unit packs.

The only problem is who would be willing to record themselves or friends and have that material as open source. Also, what would be stopping commercial enterprises from using them and making a profit?


7 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing ctd..

  1. Not to be a negative Nelley, but this type of upload/download site already exists. It ends up with a million worksheet crap because when you upload it, you get download privs. And it’s not usually done maliciously, but a lot of ‘lesson plans’ and materials are just not made by those who are that good at it. The site I was once referred to was like this and I sifted through 20 pages or so before giving up and deleting it from my bookmarks.

    However, if you add the whole uploading a conversation or chat script element only, it may be worthwhile to many people. Let everyone create their own materials from them. That seems to be more useful. Then of course, isn’t that what a lot of Youtube videos are for?

    • So, it needs to be monitored or by invite only. I’ve done this in schools and unis with resources, links, pics and even videos but it had to be maintain.

      I’ve seen loads of sites for lesson shares and bits n bobs but not something with continuity and parameters. When I make materials I need say, a 200-400 word text for pre-int, a 1-2 min listening and a short video. If there was a bank of quality examples then I could use them and the lesson is done. Isn’t this how ELT pics works??

      In the old days we have a filing cabinet of pictures everyone added to and it was very useful, then it expanded to a CALL co-ordinator who sourced texts, audios, videos and lessons and created worksheets. Others contributed. Upstairs was the corporate materials person who collected stuff every week from magazines, TV etc. Copyright issues I’m not sure about.

      A more modern example is the SGI blog. We have texts and now decent podcasts. I don’t know if they are CC but they could all be used to make materials/lessons with by teachers.

      • There’s a very big difference in quality control required between a bank of materials and ELTpics.

        I think the best crowdsourcing already happens – materials produced and posted on blogs. We know which people we admire, trust, etc. We know where to find the mats that help us or we could easily adapt.

        Sure, I suppose this bank is an ideal, but that tends to be something I’ve found more on a localised level.

        • An expanded local level perhaps? I did something similar with staff at other branches of a school I was at. We ended up with about 4 in Australia, the US, ours and Canada I think. But, yes, trust is a big issue. Like having an open Wiki or GDoc. People can just either abuse it or just add stuff that’ not useful. OR even take advantage. Yes, I dream too much perhaps!! Thx for the comments Tyson. I owe you a few!

  2. Phil if you build that site, i’d post materials and I am sure there would be a lot of others who would do the same thing. Even tho I am a course book author whose livelihood to date depends on people purchasing my materials, I’ve come to see that there is more power in true sharing than in being territorial about what one has created. Besides, who is to stop a group of people who have come together and created a crowd-sourced course from “publishing” it under a creative commons license and making it available for a price to those who appreciate it. Any money generated could be shared or just go back into the site development. Meanwhile, you’d be moving materials development forward in some magical ways by tapping into the collective wisdom and the right spirit. Count me in.

    Chuck Sandy

    • Cheers Chuck. I think this is the way we are going. We all spend ages trying to find sources for materials/lessons and make stuff but a communal bank would be good. However, as Tyson noted, there are many many sites out there for lessons but I think having the raw ingredients ie short texts, audios, videos etc would give us the tools we need. I used to use LESSON WRITER a lot and with just one text it takes you step-by-step through how to make a full lesson. If everyone did that and upload them then after a month there’d be loads of lessons and enough for a full course. That is another issue some writers have with all these ‘one-off lessons’ i.e. no continuity. I’m all for full courses and themes but I think that’s for a teacher to figure out what suits them best. Having a ‘suggested’ 10 unit course or lessons/ideas couldn’t hurt.

      I think The Language Point is a good example of pooling resources and you can win a weekly prize.

      • Hi Phil
        Thanks for the shout-out to LessonWriter. Here’s a 90-second demo for folks unfamiliar with LessonWriter:

        I’m the founder of the company, and we’re just about to launch version 2 (Late July ’12). It includes unit planning features and very cool new instructional options. It is a lot easier to use ( esp. for non-linguists) and is still free. (And we are finally making our premium school features available to teachers, too!)

        I did want to take issue with the continuity question: LessonWriter automatically sequences skills instruction for lessons created within the same class, providing a coherent and logical pathway for ELLs to build skills.

        This framework gives teachers complete creative freedom to choose content that is best for their students– motivating, relevant, or required– while retaining the structural advantages of a traditional textbook.

        Again, thanks for dropping our name. I promise you’ll like the new LessonWriter even more!


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