Crowdsourcing Options
School Administrator, October 2022

The crowdsourcing space is rapidly evolving to a scale we have not seen previously. These tools no longer are nice to have but for many of us have become need to have. These tools adapt as users jump on board.

For some established companies in this space, there have been massive platform upgrades, resulting in improved and more functional products. These same tools evolve as they create entirely new elements to their original platform.

I am intimately familiar with three examples of crowdsourcing products.

»Innovate K12 is a consultancy and crowd-based platform with services tied to the science of effective community engagement and inclusion. This tool allows for a guided crowd-based data collection and curation process. Everyone who participates is heard in a structured way, and with parameters.

This is a key differentiator. As the leader of this effort, you must determine if you will choose to take more control of the submission of ideas or less control. Taking more control in this context means that ideas are reviewed prior to being posted online for others to read and address.

InnovateK12 partners with districts to cultivate more synthesized, agile and resilient school communities by provoking co-creation, co-construction and collaboration through the elevation and purposeful synthesis of stakeholder voices on its platform.

»K12 Insight is an innovator of customer experience solutions for schools. K12 Insight helps school districts streamline inbound communications on politically sensitive issues. The participatory budgeting process may have politically sensitive issues presented and giving this some thought before kicking off the process may forestall potential issues downstream. Customer experiences are a foundation for promoting family and community engagement and building trust.

This platform has helped more than 400 school districts adapt to the digital transformation. In Victoria, we used K12 Insight to help us build a “net promoter score” function into the platform for us to test by campus and department. The net promoter score answers a simple question: Are people recommending the district or not? As users give a score from 1 to 10, those who give a score of 8, 9 or 10 are considered promoters. Others are either neutral or detractors. Sum the totals and a district has a sense of whether users are promoting the school or the initiative. We will track our net promoter score through the participatory budgeting process.

»Thoughtexchange is a tool allowing leaders to listen to all voices, not just the loudest, by inviting the community to tell you what they need rather than guessing at answers chosen in a survey. Anonymous sharing ensures participants rate ideas on their merit, not on who shared them so only the most supported ideas rise to the top. Thoughtexchange can increase alignment around district policies and build trust, while allowing leaders to easily see which topics matter most. In Victoria, we considered this tool instrumental in helping design questions to solicit ideas.

These tools offer a slightly different approach toward crowdsourcing the complex issues facing school districts. The tools, however, do not make the carpenter. As leaders in this space, we must recognize each has its place, purpose and appropriate context. We also must help these tools evolve by sharing how they are working and what would make them better.