Future trend: crowdsourcing content In higher education

Nice video, huh? Watch it in HD, it’s even cooler.

That’s a clip of “Terrible Lie” by Nine Inch Nails. His album “The Downward Spiral” pretty much defines being 18 and that weird, strange and wonderful time between high school and college. Anyways, Trent Reznor (who attended the college I currently work at for 1 year) has always been a pioneer of using technology to not only power his music but also his fans.

When his recording contract expired, he released a full album on his own, for free. He released, for free, multi-track files of many of his songs so people (myself included) could remix the songs and share them on his site. He released an iPhone app, for free, that allowed people to get up-to-date news, listen to remixes and share their locations at concerts and events around the world. Wanted tickets to his final set of shows last year? Twitter had clues on where to get them. Genius. He leaked new songs by putting them on flash drives and leaving them in the bathroom at shows.

This guy gets the web and technology and social media.

When a deal to commercially film one of his concerts for release on DVD fell through, he came up with a totally relaxed camera and recording policy for this shows on tour. He released raw, high def footage of the shows as torrents that anyone could download and share, mix, edit and basically do with what they please with it.

That video up there? Totally edited, graded, compressed, mixed and released by fans. Crowdsourced. Volunteers who will make nothing in terms of money, instead doing something because the love it and they want to share it.

How can we in higher education tap into those passionate fans, be it students or alumni, to help us generate content for our websites? That’s going to be one of the big things in the next 18 months, I believe.

Let’s face it, the staged photos of a professor leading a faux discussion with a group of students who happen to cover all races and genders isn’t going to cut it for much longer. Kids growing up in the user generated content era want to get the real info. They’re going to find your students sharing videos that you probably don’t know existed and their Facebook posts and Twitter updates. It’s those media touches that are going to make up a students mind, not the glossy view book.

Something to keep in mind for ’10 and going into ’11. How can we best tap into that base of content and get them to create content for us and how can we promote that content front and center. It’s going to scare the old school to death.

I’m all ears. And eyes.

7 thoughts on “Future trend: crowdsourcing content In higher education”

  1. “Let’s face it, the staged photos of a professor leading a faux discussion with a group of students who happen to cover all races and genders isn’t going to cut it for much longer.”

    We’ve been saying that for years now. And oh how I hope you’re right this time. Great post!

  2. Mike – Great post. We’re definitely following the same path and have been working on it for awhile.

    You can see a quick intro to parts of our thinking here:


    We’re focused on three things:

    1) pedagogy: teaching “digital identity” in the first year experience classes. (http://fye.swiftkick.wikispaces.net/ )

    2) technology: a school directory that aggregates and sorts feeds of student /faculty content to create relevant learning communities, among much else (http://www.redroverhq.com)

    3) community / modeling: creating model communities of peer to peer learning and engagement (that just happen to throw off tons of great content) (see #sachat on twitter and http://thesabloggers.com )

    There will be lots of versions of the technology – buddypress and drupal could both work for the feeds platform – but the basic components will be necessary for all schools.

    All this is ready right now : ) let’s get going.

  3. Mike, you are right on with this. I am especially interested in ways to make it easy for alumni to contribute.

    There’s a fine line between taking advantage of someone’s time and effort (and not compensating them), versus channeling their interests and wishes into something that benefits others. We will find that balance and use it to catapault our interactions to a more engaging level.

    Great topic and comments, thanks.

  4. Great post!! I was just looking at a few seminars around new tools, trends and technology for the educational sector. While your focus is on higher ed, I believe there is something to be said here about the way students, parents and alumni of all age groups (K-16) want to interact and the opportunities created via the open-web for building community, even within the younger classroom.

    The big question is, privacy and data ownership. When the artists “gives rights” to record, you are safe, but what will happen if content (photos, digital recordings or short video clips) is captured in a classroom and and republished? What happens when it’s a paid venue? I’m not debating, just interested in the dialogue.

    What are the rules of engagement? Will we begin to see a shift in policy and privacy within the educational sectors?

    I’m curious and find your post very interesting!


  5. Your post is so right and on time. It is time for the colleges and universites to step up their game if they want to attract students.

    I am a current student and I do think that the staff should develop a more digital savy way to get students in the doors.

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