Shortly after the NCCL conference last month I sent out the following tweet:
I am dying to see what would happen if a publisher open-source/crowd-sourced catechetical materials. #NCCL2012
— Jonathan F. Sullivan (@sullijo) May 6, 2012
This prompted a nice exchange with a few people about whether a crowdsourced project would be eligible for the USCCB’s Conformity Review process. Scanning through the conformity resources available on the USCCB web site, I don’t see anything that would disqualify such a a project from the review process.
But what would a crowdsourced catechetical project look like? How would it be accomplished?
What is Crowdsourcing?
Crowdsourcing is a process by which individual tasks in a larger project are divided between many participants. Individuals do small pieces of the whole so that a large project can be accomplished with a little effort on the part of lots of people.
Wikipedia is the best example of a crowdcoursed project. No individual could have written all the content contained in Wikipedia. But by allowing lots of individuals to contribute their expertise to the project, Wikipedia was able to collect and organize vast quantities of information in a relatively short amount of time — while remaining nearly as accurate as more traditional encyclopedias.
What About Catechesis?
So to go back to the original question: what would a crowdsourced catechetical project look like?
Leaving aside the question of an entire catechetical program or textbook series (which I think is possible), publishers could crowdsource supplemental materials — such as parental guides or extra activities — for a specific curriculum. A simple wiki-style web site could be set up and login credentials given to catechists, DREs, or teachers who are using the publisher’s materials. They could then collaborate by
- identifying — based on their experiences using the curriculum — what supplemental materials are needed;
- outlining the scope of the individual supplements;
- writing the text of the supplements themselves, which could then be formatted by the publisher and posted to their web site as free PDF downloads.
With an editor assigned to oversee and guide the process by acting as a facilitator, a publisher could effectively outsource the creation of simple supplements without a huge investment in time or resources.
So are there any publishers out there willing to tackle such a project? I don’t know. But I’ll be keeping an eye out!
Photo by James Cridland/FlickrCC