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Next Chapter: Crowd Sourcing and Ethnography

September 18, 2011 in Blog, Ethnography, Summit

The first part of the design process is called “discovery.” During this phase at Next Chapter, we want to collect information that will inform our work in the days ahead. It is really important that we have student voices, as well as voices that expand beyond the summit participants. So, we are going out to “the crowd” for some data.

What are we looking for?

We are looking for information about how people learn, where they go to learn, what they are interested in learning about, and who helps them learn. We’re really curious about ideas, behaviors and places/spaces that engage people in learning…and wondering if the library already is, or perhaps could be, designed as a place to do that. Or is library not a physical place? What is a library and what happens, or might happen there?

Some specifics:

Who the crowd is: students, teachers, family members, people on the street

What the crowd can tell us: the conditions and behaviors/interactions that create a great learning experience inside and outside of school.

How you can participate: Gather interviews/responses and get them to us by Wednesday, 9/21 midnight EST

Help us by asking the following questions of people you know or don’t know in your school, home, city:

1. Where do you choose to go to learn something hard? At school? At work? At home? Why? Can you describe that place, what is it like?

2. How do you find out about things you are interested in?

3. Where do you feel connected? To ideas, to people

4. What kind of things and spaces do you need when you are working on a project with friends?

5. What tools do you use to learn about something?  [books, phone, ipad, Google, wiki, blog, online)

6. How do you share your ideas? (write, paint, video, construct, present, perform)

7. Where do you go to create something? What tools do you need?

8. Where do you go if you are stuck and can’t find what you’re looking for? Or, don’t know if the information you have is accurate?

9. If you could design a space for learning that is this place we currently call “library” what would it look like? Who would be there? What would be there? How would people interact there?

10. In your mind, is the future of a library a “place”?

Help us collect their responses in any of the following ways:

1. Video interview (.mov file posted to YouTube with the tag “next chapter” and/or emailed to

2. Audio interview/podcast (.mp3 file sent to

3. Blog comment on this post

4. Twitter updates with the hashtag #nxtchp2011

Guidelines for the interviews (should you go that route):

Don’t ask a question to which someone could answer “yes” or “no”. We want to find out what people are thinking. You’ll also want to dig further than a simple answer, giving the interviewee an opportunity to expand his/her thoughts. We want to hear the story from them. So what types of questions should you ask? Where, how, what, when, who, etc. See the list above.

If you want to work on this with your students, here are some suggestions to them:

Go out in groups of 3 or 4, or at least in pairs. Assign tasks. You should have an interviewer, a note taker and a videographer / photographer.  Choose by who is comfortable doing what. Don’t be a paparazzi. Don’t put camera in their face. Do take nice full head shots, and make sure you have solid audio. Simple is better.

Approach people/groups by politely introducing yourself and your team and say that you’re working on a special project and would like to get their opinion and experience about how they learn.

Questions? Email Laura Deisley ( and/or Jeff Sharpe ( of the Reimagine:Ed leadership team.

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