Crowd-Driven Innovation investigates the use of crowd-based technologies in the classroom.
Dr. Liz Gerber (Northwestern) and Dr. Steven Dow (Carnegie Mellon University) are leading this design based research initiative. Online crowdsourcing has the potential to change how design education is taught. We seek to understand how online crowds can affect student learning and motivation in the classroom. While crowds can potentially provide diverse, scalable, and nearly immediate feedback, this input can also be noisy and ambiguous. Our research explores the benefits and limitations of working with online crowds in the classroom and seeks to create a socio-technical infrastructure to enable simple, frequent, and valuable interactions. This project is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Trial Classrooms

The curricula is currently under development. We will post lesson plans as we develop them. Should you choose to use them, please be in touch about what worked well and what didn't work so we can revise the plans accordingly. This curricula has been used in classes at Northwestern and Carnegie Mellon Universities. Courses include:

Try It Out

Try our Consumer Review Needfinding activity in your class. It will take 30-45 mins with little to no prep.
User data helps designers make well-informed decisions that can influence product adoption. Online data collection does not (and should not) replace face-to-face data gathering methods, but it can provide an additional research method to add to your tool belt. For this activity, you will gather and synthesize information from an online review site to understand customer needs/desires about a particular business venue. The goal is to be able to: mine social media sites for needs/desires and analyze large amounts of social media data. Try it!

News & Events

CSCW 2013 Panel on Feb 25, 2013
Liz and Steven will be on a panel about Micro-volunteering: Helping the Helpers in Development.

Read our CHI 2013, Apr 27 - May 3, 2013
Dow, S. Gerber, E., Wong, A. (2013) A Pilot Study of Using Crowds in the Classroom, Computer Human Interaction Conference, Paris, France.

Received NSF Cyberlearning Grant in Aug 2012
We received an NSF Cyberlearning Grant to study how to bring crowdsourcing into the classroom.


Steven Dow Steven Dow
Carnegie Mellon
Liz Gerber Liz Gerber
Julie Hui Julie Hui
Truc Nguyen Truc Nguyen
Carnegie Mellon
Contact Us


Under Development!
Activities are organized by four stages of the design process.


  • Consumer Review Needfinding
  • Facebook Q&A
  • Twitter User Analysis
  • Needfinding Surveys
  • Cultural Probes
  • List It
  • I Like, I Wish
  • Digital Competitive Analysis


  • Google Brainstorms
  • Crowd Moodboading
  • Madlib Personas
  • Crowd Affinity


  • Voting Surveys
  • A/B Testing
  • Think Aloud Crowd


  • You Now Presentations
  • Elevator Pitch