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Remember – you heard it here first!

As far as I know, I just made-up that term – so I get to define it!

  • Crowd-Teaching: (verb) the act of instructing a crowd of people as if they were a single entity.  Addressing them as a collective unit who are without individual needs and desires.  Example: auditorium-size lecture halls in which a person stands in front of 300+ people giving a prepared speech sometimes accompanied by visual aids.
    • Antonym:  Community-Teaching: (verb) teaching in a learning community where ideas are shared, knowledge is co-created and all members of the community (including the instructor/facilitator) are allowed to be creative.

You may be familiar with another Crowd hyphenated term: Crowd-Sourcing where a group of unaffiliated folks effect marketing decisions.

Example: sites where you design a shoe then folks vote on the designs and when a shoe gets a certain number of votes it is produced by the company.  (One such site is Funky Footwear)

In this instance the footware company sends a question into the crowd:

“What do you want your shoes to look like?”

Then they ask site visitors to report back with their ideas and to vote on the ideas proposed by others.  So, by providing an array of designs and letting potential consumers self-select designs, they are actually creating communities within the crowd based on the shoe design they prefer.

OK, we have this crowd of learners, can we empower them form communities through self-selection?

I guess we do this to a certain extent when we let the learner pick which course they take, but I don’t think that selection provides enough opportunity for them to demonstrate their individuality (especially in lower-division courses).  It seems like we need a way to let the learners make selections that really represent their interests, past experiences, future goals, etc. so that the newly formed communities of learners would have passion-points around which to build.

What if instead of:

English 205: Reading the Classics

We had:

English 205: Reading the Classics

Section 205.1: Reading Shakespeare

Section 205.11: Reading King Lear

Section 205.111: Reading King Lear as if it was set in 2111

Imagine what the learning community for English 205.111 would look like.  It might consist of readers who enjoy (or want to learn to enjoy) Shakespeare; who are familiar (or want to be familiar) with the play “King Lear”; who are interested in taking literary classics and placing them in a new time-frame; or who are interested in imagining a literary classic from a previous time taking place in a future time.

Now that would be an interesting class!  No one would text their friend during that learning-community discussion!  AND no one would complain about their assignments (you might have a sub-group developing a new language for the King Lear characters to speak, a sub-group designing costumes for King Lear-its in 2111, etc)

I can feel your fingers on your keyboards typing “WE CAN’T DO THAT!”

  • only 1 student would register for that
  • we don’t have anyone who would (or could) teach that
  • we don’t have a system for tracking 1 unit courses
  • we can’t possibly design new curriculum

My answer: “Welcome to Web2.0”

What if your course was online?  Available to every student in every college everywhere.  Now you not only have enough students, you are over-subscribed!  But don’t worry because you don’t need a teacher – you just need a facilitator, someone to guide the learners as they express their passion for the subject.

Yes, passion (in bold) because, believe me, the learner who is interested in taking “English 205.111: Reading King Lear as if it was set in 2111” will be passionate about their learning!

What do you think?  Come-on let me know, wouldn’t you secretly love to take “English 205.111: Reading King Lear as if it was set in 2111”?

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