ExcelinEd: Crowdsourcing in Education

The US public education system has a lot of room for improvement. One education organization is utilizing crowdsourcing to make a change, and bring creative ideas to the system.

My School information Design Challenge

If you are a parent, do you truly understand how your child’s school is performing? While federal policies require every public school to publish an annual report card, the information presented is often complex and confusing. Schools have implemented new standards and invested in new learning models, but parents struggle to see the impact. From this, the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) recently launched a crowdsourced challenge to redesign school report cards.

Incentivizing participation and managing the crowd

School systems are great at collecting tons of data, but often lack expertise in design and the latest techniques for data visualization. Many designers have built high-level skills in data visualization, but need clients to request their work. Crowdsourcing through ExcelinEd’s platform brings together these two communities. ExcelinEd established guidelines for submissions, then all submissions were reviewed by the organization, before being made publicly available.

Value creation

$15,000 in prizes was awarded to the top designer, $10,000 to second place, and an additional $10,000 divided amongst other strong submissions. The competing designers’ backgrounds ranged from freelancers to corporate design professions. This was an opportunity for designers to practice their skills, have their work seen by individuals across the country, and potentially win money.

All designs were submitted under creative common license, meaning any school can now leverage the design moving forward.

For parents and community members, this initiative provides increased access to vital school information.


Value capture

ExcelinEd is not currently capturing significant value from a financial perspective. The organization’s platform is serving as a marketplace of ideas and potential clients, but ExcelinEd is not gaining revenue by managing the competition. Rather, the organization captures value through supporting its vision to “maximize every child’s potential for learning and preparing all students for success in the 21st century.”

Growth potential of this business

Historically, crowdsourcing has not been a major component of the US public education system. Any changes or new initiatives are established at the district or state level, and then demanded to be enforced at the school level. However, the success of this initiative has opened the doors for school systems to see how they can take advantage of the power of crowds. Other initiatives have recently been launched, such as a crowdsourced challenge through Poway Unified School District to help improve safety within schools. Given shrinking budgets and increased expectations, establishing a crowdsourcing platform for school districts represents a unique business model, driven by greater creativity, innovation, and the opportunity for lower costs.

Specific to the school report card designs, ExcelinEd could work with school districts going forward to help them implement these new systems. The organization could serve in a consultant or project manager role to ensure the success implementation of the new designs. Alternatively, ExcelinEd could launch similar crowdsource projects, but begin charging school systems a small fee to gain access to the submitted content.



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