WHEN WE CROWDSOURCE SOMETHING AND MANY OF THE IDEAS ARE GREAT
Can you guess the Meryl Streep movie? Share in the comments.
Streep’s sentiment is an exaggerated version of how I felt after my first student crowdsourcing experiment, but you get the idea.
In Fall 2011, I developed and taught the first-ever online section of Public Relations Functions and Practices, the core-required course for the PR Certificate. Every Monday for 12 weeks, our group of 13 met via webcam from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Between Tuesday and the next webcam meeting, we engaged in digital dialogue on the course blog: PRFandP.
Using Blogger.com as the platform, I wrote the PRFandP kick-off post using a barebones background, the post content and paragraph breaks. That was it. From that point on, the course members crowdsourced the entire PRFandP identity, including name/tagline, ongoing content, layout & template design, branding elements, fonts, social media integration, user interface options, widget selections, and more.
This is how it worked. In Session 1, we agreed on the blog’s objectives & target audiences. From that point on, everyone (including myself) contributed ongoing content, and one student per week was granted admin access to the blog’s primary design/functionality dashboard.
As a week’s designated crowdsourcer, the course member was responsible for building 2-4 new features into the blog’s design. The next week’s crowdsourcer would build on to the previous weeks’ additions. And so on.
At the end of the course, PRFandP stood on its own as a collection of relevant, user-generated content. From the crowdsourcing side, the blog’s brand & functionality represented the collaborative sum of each course member’s individually crowdsourced parts.
This crowdsourcing experiment is effective because the course members are also the blog’s target audience. Plus, each week’s course content focuses on important communications topics, such as branding & audience targeting, that are directly linked to the crowdsourcing decisions necessary to create a truly useful & functional blog.
Closing note: As a group, PRFandP was one of the hardest-working classes I’ve worked with over the past two years.
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