The year is 2030. United States President Kim Kardashian has mandated students of all ages to stay at home and take online classes because classrooms have horrible lighting for taking selfies. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Bieber thought her idea was hella cool and followed suit. In fact, all over the world, celebrities turned heads of state have ordered students to stay at home and learn online. Catherine, an army brat, is living in Berlin, Germany where her father is currently stationed. She is also a first-year student with the University of Victoria, with dreams of becoming a biomedical engineer. While she is a seasoned online learner, having first experienced it during the COVID-19 pandemic ten years earlier, she is struggling in her first-year calculus class. On the eve of her first exam, worth 30% of her final grade, Catherine is desperately trying to understand l’Hopital’s rule. She has ruled out sending an email to her professor – the 9-hour time difference would mean a response would arrive as she slept. Rather than worry herself, Catherine logs on to her Studypool account and searches l’Hopital’s rule. She is quickly connected with a tutor, who within 20 minutes, has explained the concept to her and answered her questions. Catherine is now able to sleep soundly and is confident she is prepared to take the test.
While some of this scenario may seem farfetched, it holds a grain of truth on what the future may bring. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed education forever when it forced over 1.2 billion children in 186 countries out of the classroom, leading to many institutions to adopt online learning (Li and Lalani, 2020). In Canada alone, 75% of post-secondary students had all their courses moved online (Infographic: Covid-19 and Canada’s Post-Secondary Students, 2020). While online learning had already been on the rise, and the online education market projected to reach $350 billion by 2025, the pandemic has caused an “unplanned and rapid move to online learning, with no training, insufficient bandwidth, and little preparation” leading to potential poor user experiences and halting the growth of online education (Li and Lalani, 2020). The next ten years will seek to improve this, and efforts will be made to “haul education into the digital twenty-first century” and “create an opportunity for students from elementary-age to graduate school to benefit from crowdsourcing” (Ludvik, n.d.). Specifically, crowdsourced tutoring, also referred to as microtutoring, will come to prominence by 2030.
According to Crowd Sourcing Week (n.d.), crowdsourcing is “the practice of engaging a ‘crowd’ or group for a common goal – often innovation, problem solving, or efficiency”. Crowdsourcing often uses new technologies, social media, and web 2.0 to connect individuals and contribute to a project or cause (Crowd Sourcing Week, n.d.).
Crowdsourcing can be applied in multiple industries, including education. Specifically, Wengroff (2019) defines crowdsourced learning as “learning content requested, developed, and delivered by a group of individuals not normally tasked with creating learning content”. This means that crowdsourced learning content is not limited to being created by those in the education industry; rather, content can be created by those with an understanding of the subject.
In his article Why Crowdsourcing is Critical to the Future of Education, Hoen (2017) suggests that as online education becomes increasingly popular, crowdsourcing is critical to its success since it can address both the problems of delivering large scale virtual education and the challenges of receiving an online education. Hoen (2017) also contends that crowdsourcing is critical to the future of education since it can help integrate “the educational institution with the community in which it exists” as it draws “on the knowledge of [the] students, staff, and community…”.
In their article, The Future of Adaptive Learning: Does the Crowd Hold the Key? Heffernan and Ostrow and Kelly et al. (2016) suggest the promise of crowdsourcing lies specifically within adaptive education. Heffernan and Ostrow and Kelly et al. (2016) proposed there is “hope that adaptive learning technologies like intelligent tutoring systems will expand support for best practices in K-12 learning…”(p.1). The concept of tutoring is not new; as Dickson (2017) says “almost as old as the classroom itself is the practice of getting help from private tutors and classmates to fill in the gaps and complement what is taught in the class itself”. By 2030, tutoring will not go the way of the dodo, rather it will continue to be used under the umbrella of crowdsourced learning. Crowdsourced learning uses “the diversity of the Internet to help student with specific questions. Used correctly, this on-demand type of tutoring called “microtutoring” or “community-based education” could help solve problems” (Chan, 2017).
Microtutoring (or crowdsourced tutoring) consists of on-demand tutoring sessions where “students can get access to the explanations to the topics they are confused about using real-time technologies” (Patel, 2019). Ideally, students would be able to get help only when they needed it (Howes, 2020); microtutoring can connect students to tutors on their own time through popular platforms such as Studypool. Since 2014, Studypool has emerged as an online education platform with microtutoring as one its most popular services (Taylor, 2020). Studypool is cost effective to students since they can set their own price point “rather than forcing students to shell out the full fee for full hour tutoring session when they only need a concept or two explained” (Rashid, 2017).
Studypool helps make microtutoring promising to the future of educational technology. As “CEO Richard Werbe explains, …microtutoring breaks down conventional tutoring into smaller, more digestible pieces of learning. By eliminating the barrier of set-time tutoring sessions, students can master subjects more efficiently on a time interval tailored to their needs” (Martin, 2017). Furthermore, Studypool is “attempting to bridge the gap by creating equal-access opportunities across multiples developing countries [and] hiring thousands of independent contractors across the globe” (Winning 2018).
By 2030, microtutoring will become an important and necessary tool for all students, whether in the classroom or online. By using this crowdsourced approach, students will not only have their questions answered by qualified tutors, but they will also have access to multiple perspectives, leading to a richer learning experience. The future of education is promising with microtutoring – even President Kardashian would agree.
Chan, S. (2017, September 05). The new school year brings biggest trends in EdTech. Retrieved from https://newsroom.cisco.com/feature-content?type=webcontent
Dickson, B. (2017, March 14). How Artificial Intelligence enhances education. Retrieved from https://thenextweb.com/artificial-intelligence/2017/03/13/how-artificial-intelligence-enhances-education/
Heffernan, N.T., Ostrow, K.S., Kelly, K. et al. The Future of Adaptive Learning: Does the Crowd Hold the Key?. Int J Artif Intell Educ 26, 615–644 (2016). Retrieved from https://doi-org.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/10.1007/s40593-016-0094-z
Hoen, R. (2016, May 16). Why Crowdsourcing is Critical to the Future of Education. Retrieved from https://innovationmanagement.se/2016/05/16/crowdsourcing-future-education/
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Infographic: Covid-19 and Canada’s Post-Secondary Students [Digital image]. (2020, June 9). Retrieved from https://ceric.ca/2020/06/infographic-covid-19-and-canadas-post-secondary-students/
Li, C., & Lalani, F. (2020, April 29). The COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever. This is how. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/coronavirus-education-global-covid19-online-digital-learning/
Ludvik, E. (n.d.). Reimagining learning. Retrieved from https://www.maize.io/en/content/crowdsourcing-education-reskilling
Martin, E. (2017, January 13). 4 Startups Revolutionizing the EdTech World. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/283320
Patel, A. (2019, June 14). How Ed-Tech Will Transform The Education Industry [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://www.xongolab.com/blog/how-ed-tech-will-transform-the-education-industry/
Rashid, B. (2017, March 24). Studypool’s Microtutoring Is Flipping Education Upside Down: Here’s How The Young Visionaries Did It. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianrashid/2017/03/24/studypools-microtutoring-is-flipping-education-upside-down-heres-how-the-young-visionaries-did-it/?sh=159697d223eb
Taylor, B. (2020, April 16). Microtutoring with Studypool: Earn by Sharing your Knowledge. Retrieved from https://www.homeworkingclub.com/microtutoring-studypool/
Wengroff, J. (2019, July 22). What Is Crowdsourced Learning? [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://getsynapse.com/blog/what-is-crowdsourced-learning/
What is Crowdsourcing? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://crowdsourcingweek.com/what-is-crowdsourcing/
Winning, L. (2018, March 14). It’s Time To Prioritize Diversity Across Tech. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisawinning/2018/03/13/its-time-to-prioritize-diversity-across-tech/