Crowdsource Your Content

Concurrent Session 9

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Ever had to get content from practitioners? Did you use surveys? Interviews? Each is a single-source collection strategy which can limit the quality of the data. Instead, the synergy created in a collaborative crowdsourcing strategy can expand the depth and breadth of the data. This session details methodologies for leveraging crowdsourcing to collect stories for Cognitive Decision Making Simulations.


Currently employed with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Sabrina Christian has served in the federal government workforce for over 30 years as an instructional systems designer. Sabrina has also provided instruction and mentoring to subject matter experts serving as instructors. When not working, she enjoys day hiking (moderate to moderately difficult trails only), travelling, and ringing hand bells.
Alicia serves as the Games Czar at the Defense Acquisition University where she specializes in the implementation of games and simulations in a variety of learning environments.

Extended Abstract

The use of games and simulations in education has become widely accepted in today’s environment. Why? They provide the opportunity for individuals and groups to have experiences that they might not otherwise have because they are too expensive, too dangerous, or happen too infrequently. Additionally with intense focus on cutting travel costs, games and simulations may be a viable alternative to present content. Defense Acquisition University (DAU) has carefully crafted a Games and Simulations initiative that includes over 60 games in the past decade.  Creating content and determining the design requirements that support rich learning experiences such as games and simulations can be a long arduous process that contributes greatly to the expense of these assets.  In order to increase relevance and believability of game and simulation content, this presentation will detail the process of using crowdsourcing as a tool for game and simulation content development.

DAU’s mission is to provide a global learning environment to develop qualified acquisition, requirements, and contingency professionals who deliver and sustain effective and affordable warfighting capabilities. To achieve that mission, DAU has a faculty of subject matter experts (SMEs) who receive training instructional strategies to support adult learning. Ensuring that the faculty is well-prepared falls under the auspices of the Faculty Professional Development (FPD) program. When DAU’s senior leadership asked what can be done to improve faculty training, a small group of DAU faculty led by the FPD program coordinator conducted a gap analysis to determine what gaps, if any, existed in DAU faculty performance, and used that analysis to determine what requirements were needed to fill those gaps.  From anecdotal data collected from DAU faculty across all campuses, the area most faculty felt the least confident in was classroom management (CM). Faculty want to ensure a great learning experience for their learners and themselves, but we all know that every learner is different and each class offering brings a new set of challenges.  While classroom management techniques are addressed in several DAU FPD courses, no training can cover every possible instance of disruptive or challenging behavior exhibited by a learner.  Providing opportunities to discuss or practice appropriate responses will improve faculty confidence and performance.

CM requires dynamic decision making that can derail or promote an effective learning environment.  As CM is highly dependent on interactions between individuals and their personalities and traits, CM provides an opportunity to express itself in a variety of ways with an even greater variety of consequences.  In order to provide less experienced faculty with an opportunity to experience the wide array of potential expressions of behavior in a classroom, it was determined that the collection of real stories from seasoned faculty would provide the most authentic content for a game and simulation.  Additionally, due to the common metaphor of a classroom and the ability for all faculty to mentally visualize the classroom environment, it was also determined that the most cost effective game and simulation strategy to pursue would be a cognitive decision making simulation in which the faculty can safely and frequently experience CM. 

Crowdsourcing was leveraged to collect stories from seasoned faculty in a multi-step process.  Because of time differences among our campuses, we conducted several sessions for each stage of the process.  First, faculty were asked to provide stories of classroom behaviors. These were actual experiences these faculty have had while teaching. This group then categorized those behaviors into buckets.  Once those bucket/categories were established, both groups of faculty were asked to add the actions that they would realistically take if they observed each behavior in the classroom.  Asking to take it one step further, faculty were next asked to add the potential consequences that they had either personally witnessed or experienced in response to their actions.  Finally, the consequences were ranked in order of most probably to least probable.

Students who experience the simulation have the ability to select a bucket or category and to choose from a variety of behaviors within each of them.  They can choose their preferred action and see the most likely consequence as well as a range of potential consequences to their actions.  These rich stories provide experiences that only seasoned faculty might have high level of experiences with making them invaluable.