COGS 260, Prof. Dow
Fall 2016,  W
9:00-12:00 pm
Location:  CSB 003

Crowdsourcing has unleashed exciting opportunities for harnessing human intelligence and creativity at scale. In this course, students will explore different platforms and mechanisms, discuss ethical and cultural issues, and conduct novel research that contributes to the literature on crowdsourcing and human computation. Topics include human computation, citizen science, collective intelligence, crowd-powered systems, and ethical issues. Students will complete homework assignments, discuss key papers, interact with special guest speakers, and create innovative research projects in teams.  

Learning Objectives

Students will learn different definitions, applications, workflows, task designs, and quality mechanisms for crowdsourcing. Students will read, discuss, and present key papers in the field. Students will do homework that provides hands-on experience working with crowdsourcing platforms.

Students will propose new research in crowdsourcing and/or apply crowdsourcing to a novel research problem.  Students will work on teams to propose novel systems or studies, to gather data using crowdsourcing techniques, and to write a research paper and talk that summarizes the team project.

Students will learn about worker concerns and discuss ethical issues involved with labor markets.  Students will participate in forums dedicated to labor rights and requester reviews.

Course Topics

  • Crowdsourcing history and examples
  • Crowd demographics
  • Ethics, labor laws, worker rights
  • Task/workflow design
  • Creative crowds, design processes
  • Learner-sourcing, community-sourcing, gamer-sourcing
  • Collective intelligence, crowd sensemaking
  • Citizen science, crisis informatics
  • Crowd-powered applications
  • Crowds and machine learning
  • Quality mechanisms

Course Origins

This course draws on reading lists and syllabi from prior crowd course. The most direct inspiration comes from a seminar course I led at Stanford University in winter 2011, and a similar course taught at Berkeley by Bjoern Hartmann. The course also borrows from Jeffrey Bigham's course on Crowd Programming, Walter Lasecki's course on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing Systems, and Haoqi Zhang's course on Social and Crowd Computing, and Kurt Luther's seminar on Crowdsourcing and Human Computation.


Steven Dow is an Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science at UC San Diego where he researches human-computer interaction, social computing, and creativity. Steven is co-chair of the 2017 conference on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing. Steven received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2015 for research on "advancing collective innovation." He was co-PI on three other National Science Foundation grants, a Google Faculty Grant, Stanford's Postdoctoral Research Award, and the Hasso Plattner Design Thinking Research Grant. Before UCSD, Steven was an Assistant Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. He holds an MS and PhD in Human-Centered Computing from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a BS in Industrial Engineering from University of Iowa.