How MentorMob Crowdsources Learning Sequence

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A gift and a curse, the internet is full of information.

Information precedes learning, which itself precedes understanding. This underscores the role of sequence in learning—the right information at the right time. This is a niche MentorMob hopes to fill with its crowdsourcing approach to content curation and distribution.

The early days of the internet were more than a little untamed, rewarding useable information to only the most careful or (open-minded) user. Misinformation was as easy to find as information, sending waves of scholastic audiences back to their encyclopedias.

Wikipedia, with its crowd-sourced (and often loosely-edited) content has been a lightning rod for this transfer of power, drawing the ire of educators everywhere who insist that Wikipedia is the devil, and that credibility begins and ends with .edu domain extensions—perhaps in acknowledgement of the challenge to teach learners to evaluate information.

Add to that the reality that many learners aren’t sure what it is they need to know (making searching for anything other than a vague topic and praying Google’s auto-complete suggests something useful), and you’ve got a problem that can be addressed digitally, the recipe for an internet start-up.

MentorMob hopes to circumvent both misinformation and out-of-sequence information by crowdsourcing the order in which users access ideas. An example? A teacher wanting to learn how to effectively assess higher-order thinking skills with iPads needs to understand the big idea behind assessment before concerning themselves with the iTunes store, apps or even Bloom’s Taxonomy. A curriculum director wanting to understand how to merge project-based learning with mixed-ability grouping needs to know the different forms project-based learning can take, and the way grouping can impact assessment. And you need “good” information from credible sources.

One solution, as MentorMob sees it, is playlists (a concept we’ve explored ourselves before).

Users can submit “playlists”—content in the form of a web page, video, image, etc.—that suggest information that is both credible and in a logical order. The idea here is to save the user time, introduce them to content that may otherwise hide from Google’s web crawler, and reduce their digital dead-ends.

Among the many talents of social media are content discovery, curation, and distribution. While companies continue to get a handle on how best to implement this potential, it’s interesting to see the response from the uber-ambitious start-up crowd. Like so many other crowdsourcing and social media initiatives, ultimately the quality of the playlists (and the utility of MentorMob) depends on its user-base, making it more democratic than entrepreneurial, similar in form to Learnist, and parallel in spirit to Wikipedia.

Image attribution flickr user charlief

  • http://www.mentormob.com/blog Charles Perry (@CharlesUpTop)

    It’s been interesting to see how perception of Wikipedia, and crowdsourced content in general, has changed in just a few short years. Makes me wonder if in the far future people won’t be able to believe that learners relied on experts who were not at the mercy of crowdsourced peer review!

  • Terry Heick

    Great point. I think expert authority and the credibility of crowdsourced material are two different things, but not everyone sees it that way.