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Can a classroom be crowdsourced?

07.12.2013
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2013 has undoubtably been the year of the MOOC, with millions of people using sites such as Coursera and Udacity to access courses from some of the finest universities in the world.

Whilst the delivery mechanism is opening up courses to a much wider audience, the content themselves is still very much contrived by the institutions themselves.

Versal believe that such an approach could be improved, and have set out to create an online classroom where the content is crowdsourced.

The site launched this week and provides learners with around 15 tools that can be used to create an interactive learning environment.  These tools are things such as quizzes and surveys, graphs and images.

In theory, the idea of online courses sounds extremely convenient. In reality, sitting in front of a computer screen passively watching a video and then filling out standard multiple choice quizzes can quickly become boring.

“I looked at the online educational space and didn’t like the quality of the courses offered,” founder Gregor Freund says. “There was nothing that really takes advantage of a computer’s capabilities.”

The plan is that eventually developers will begin adding to this toolset courtesy of the open API for the site.  What’s more, any courses that are created are shared online with other people to build upon.

Whilst an interesting idea, the onus will very much rest upon education professionals to create much of the content.  It is unlikely to see crowdsourced content emerge as it does on sites such as Wikipedia, or even in the open source community.

Is it therefore enough of an attraction to lure people away from creating the kind of courses we are seeing on the MOOCs, or is it trying to solve a problem that doesn’t really exist?

At the moment I’m leaning towards the latter, but it will certainly be a site worth keeping an eye on over the next year or so, especially if it begins to be used by HR departments to produce courses for internal learning and development.

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