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Week 4: Theme 1- Crowdsourcing and Online Social Structures

Financiación colectiva - cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Colbrain:

Financiación colectiva – cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Colbrain:

Learning Objectives

  • Students can identify different types of on- and offline group forms and illustrate how these can have an added value to their project.
  • Students can describe how they would use crowdsourcing (for ideas, and other design insights) What are the strengths and weaknesses of crowdsourcing for their NGO challenge? Give examples of potential crowdsourcing options (at least 2) and critically review the strengths and weaknesses of each, giving examples and reasons for your conclusions. Provide a final recommendation to your NGO on the use (or not) of crowdsourcing.
  • Students can analyze, explain, and evaluate what they have learned on each weekly theme (this is the first) and demonstrate these skills in their weekly blogs.


This week let’s consider what online architectures help create successful innovative idea networks and marketplaces among other things. By online architecture, we mean how the online participation is structured and facilitated. This includes an understanding and knowledge of when to use certain types of group forms.

We have a range of options for online interaction today, so it is useful to differentiate what those forms
can do for innovation networks (as an example) and for your NGO client. We’ll start by differentiating and analysing different online forms and how they might be useful. You will get an overview from this week’s video from Nancy, “Me, We, Network.”

Your goal is to understand which group form(s) best supports the kinds of activities your NGO needs to facilitate in order to accomplish their goals. Think back to last week and the activities you identified in your Spidergrams. We’ll be building on this.) You will look for examples to test your ideas, starting with evaluation of some example crowdsourcing platforms. Crowdsourcing uses the knowledge of many for innovation, information collection and to gain ideas. What makes crowdsourcing work? When are other options a more strategic idea? Where is the online empowerment of the individual (me?) most useful? Where are other forms such as the bounded group or team best utilized?

By the end of this week, you will have settled on the online architecture with particular attention to group form and begin to understand how this choice inform your design recommendations. You might find it useful to consider this question: What differentiates your challenges from other types of open innovation online groups and environments? For an example, see the African News Challenge:

Monday Classroom Activity

  • Be prepared to plan your work and share your team agenda with your tutor
  • In the first breakout hour, focus on evaluating a crowdsourcing site as indicated in your team tasks
  • In the second breakout our, focus on evaluating application of “Me, We, Network” group forms to your NGO challenge as indicated in your team tasks
  • Be prepared as two students will be asked to summarize the day’s work during the Hangout
  • Be prepared to help take collaborative notes and engage in the Hangout

Teamwork Activity

This week, your task is to continue to build upon and gain additional insights into your research questions. By the end of this week you will have articulated and define the scope of your team project in terms of your NGO’s challenge, the information you have gathered from them, your activity assessments with the spidergram and consideration of online architecture(s) to support those activities.

By the end of next week you should have:

  • Explored potential strengths and weaknesses of crowdsourcing for you NGO challenge. Research and least 2 examples of potential crowdsourcing options and critically review the strengths and weaknesses of each, giving examples and reasons for your conclusions. Provide a final recommendation to your NGO on the use (or not) of crowdsourcing.
  • Identify if, where and how the “me, we, network” continuum is present in your work for your NGO. How do individuals need to be empowered? If you have identified crowdsourcing as an option, what are the group size implications? Give examples and if possible, tap your team’s connections and networks and get some first hand examples from other contexts that might apply to your NGO. Document this online somewhere and share the URLs with your instructors.

Personal Blog Reflection Prompt

Your post is due by midnight on Tuesday night, comments by midnight on Friday.

Think about your own network. Do you use online spaces primarily as an individual, which implies you find and harvest information, but perhaps don’t interact much with others online? Are you a member of defined and bounded groups? Or do you interact along the way as you intersect with others in the wider network? Which is most valuable to you? Why? Which is most comfortable? Can you notice your preferences for tools and types of groups? Explain and please use examples to demonstrate your thinking. In your response to a fellow student’s blog, look for areas to ask for clarifications or notice similarities or differences in your thinking.



  • Nancy White { Ah, you figured it out! It was one giant simulation and game! (Actually, I think it would be fun to apply game principles to this... } – Dec 18, 5:43 AM
  • Nancy White { I'm nodding in total agreement with Marcelo. Our own fears can be the biggest barrier, but it was wonderful to see all of you stepping... } – Dec 18, 5:42 AM
  • Nancy White { Hi Anna I like how you traced your learnings... excellent. One question -- what advice do you have for next years Project Community students??? Thanks... } – Dec 18, 5:41 AM
  • Nancy White { I LOVED this line: "I believe that what we are looking for today in design or the creative process is to accept people’s own ability... } – Dec 18, 5:39 AM
  • Nancy White { I had to smile when you wrote "produce something better than we did." If you could do it over again, what would you do differently?... } – Dec 18, 5:31 AM
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