Student-Source Mobile Apps to Stay Ahead of the Curve

[Crowd-sourcing or “hacking” has become a contemporary way to solve a problem by enlisting a team of programmers to tackle a common problem. In this Edtech article the problem involved Robonaut2, a robotic astronaut assistant. Last year I had a chance to observe from a distance how a colleague with a “crowd” of colleagues developed an app as a byproduct of Startup Weekend EDU.]


NASA recently occupied the headlines, not for a shuttle launch or moon walk, but for successfully crowdsourcing a test of the Robonaut 2, a robotic astronaut assistant.

NASA was so impressed with the quality of the 3D modeling submitted by the community that the agency has already organized two more challenges — and it’s only the latest group to jump on the crowdsourcing bandwagon. It’s time for higher education to be next.

Of the few pioneer universities that have applied a crowdsourcing — or in this case,student sourcing — model at their institution, all have experienced impressive results.

The model has been especially successful when used to design and implement new mobile applications. Not only is it high time, but it is also a necessity that colleges and universities leverage student sourcing as a means to engage the student body, decrease costs and time, and improve implementation of mobile applications at their institutions.

There are reasons top Fortune 500 companies have begun implementing crowd sourcing: access to a flexible workforce, a variety of creative talent, cost-effectiveness, fast project delivery and reduced time to market. Student sourcing has one key difference from crowd sourcing: a defined network of students.

Students are a university’s consumers. How better to provide consumers with the mobile resources they want than by involving them in the design process? If this student sourcing model is such a success, why not implement it for all university projects?

The key to successful student sourcing is an excited community, eager to volunteer its time. Mobile is the kind of project a student body will get excited about — even the least tech-savvy student dreams of creating the next AngryBirds or Snapchat app.

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