One of the powers of the Internet is to bring gigantic problems that have very rote tasks to an equally gigantic group of people. If you know how to manipulate data and present the problem correctly, you can get some pretty spectacular results.
Crowdsourcing is the best term I would choose to sum up this process, but I feel like there's a better one we could use. Massive Amounts of Human Computers sounds more appropriate.
Google used crowdsourcing a few years back with GOOG-411 : a free phone-based information service that utilized it's voice recognition program. The devious impetus behind GOOG-411 was that it was all to get Google's voice recognition bank inundated and stocked with all kinds of information. They could then turn around and use this voice bank to populate it's other voice recognition programs.
Forbes today has a short article on Duolingo, a company that uses the same sort of crowdsourcing model to help people learn new languages.
Teachers could use these as a model for interaction. A Wiki, to a certain extent, is a form of crowdsourcing on a small scale. You could have students in your course respond to a problem and see how their combined efforts equal more than the sum of their parts. (Or the sum of individual term papers.) Any combined class project or poll is similar to this idea of crowdsourcing.
A challenge, especially with k-12 teachers, would be how to present an idea to a wide audience outside of the classroom and still keep their students safe from nefarious folk online.
What I like about both GOOG-411 and Duolingo is that they offered free solutions to a problem, albeit for a short period of time. I guess in my idealized view of things, this is how the Internet should work: offering democratic solutions to problems and simultaneously benefiting both the provider and the recipient.
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