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How do crowdworkers learn

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These are the slides of my talk at international Labour Processes Conference (ILPC) on 4 April 2016 in Berlin, Germany.

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How do crowdworkers learn

  1. 1. Understanding crowdworkers’ learning practices Anoush Margaryan Caledonian Academy Glasgow Caledonian University, UK @anoush
  2. 2. Vakharia, D. & Lease, M. (2015)Beyond Mechanical Turk: An analysis of paid crowdwork platforms.
  3. 3. Types of crowdwork • Microwork (AMT, CrowdFlower): – microtasks (automated and routine) – short timeframe (seconds or minutes) – algorithm-governed – anonymous – small pay – lower barriers to entry • Online freelancing (Upwork – formerly oDesk, Freelancer): – simple or complex projects – longer timeframe (hours, days or months) – worker and employer identities more transparent – professional skills often required Kuek, S. C., et al. (2015). The global opportunity in online outsourcing. Washington, DC: World Bank.
  4. 4. Examples of crowdwork tasks • Data entry • Graphic design (logos, brochures, web products and mobile apps, drawing and illustration) • Video production • Transcription • Writing texts • Rating sentiment about a product • Screening and tagging images • Searching and extracting information from websites • Completing surveys
  5. 5. Microwork vs online freelancing TASKS Microwork Online freelancing High complexity Medium complexity Low complexity
  6. 6. Economic significance • Estimated gross revenue (in 2013) - $2 billion • Forecast for 2016 - $4.8 billion ($4.4 billion for online freelancing and $0.4 billion for microwork) • Estimated number of crowdworkers worldwide – 48 million Kuek, S. C., et al. (2015). The global opportunity in online outsourcing. Washington, DC: World Bank.
  7. 7. Demographics • 2/3 of crowdworkers come from: – USA – India – Philippines • Predominately male, below 35 y.o. • Education - university degree: – 75% of online freelancers – 33% of microworkers • Hours worked: majority work for fewer than 20 hrs/w • Motivation -income generation – For microworkers – supplementary income – For online freelancers – the only means of income Kuek, S. C., et al. (2015). The global opportunity in online outsourcing. Washington, DC: World Bank.
  8. 8. Why study crowdworker learning? • Worker self-organisation to learn when there is no access to traditional workplace learning support (eg training, access to experienced colleagues) • Social dimension of workplace learning in crowdwork • Learning-intensity of crowdwork • Enhancing the learning potential of crowdwork
  9. 9. Research design 1. Self-regulated Learning at Work Questionnaire, SRLWQ (Fontana et al, 2015): – Personal details (education, profession, employment status, country, experience level, etc) – SRL strategies: planning, performance and reflection – Workplace Learning Activities – Nature of work tasks (routinisation, decision-making, expertise & collaboration required, etc) 2. Interviews with crowdworkers (learning pathways, learning and work goals, motives, aspirations) 3. Interviews with platform providers and employers (to contextualise crowdworkers’ perspective) 4. Document analysis (training provisions, policies)
  10. 10. Hypotheses • There are qualitative and quantitative differences in learning practices within microwork and online freelancing • Learning-intensity of microwork is lower than that of online freelancing
  11. 11. SRLW Questionnaire Fontana, P., Milligan, C., Littlejohn, A., & Margaryan, A. (2015). Measuring self-regulated learning in the workplace. International Journal of Training and Development, 19(1), 32-52 Margaryan, A., Milligan, C., & Littlejohn, A. (2011). Validation of Davenport’s classification structure of knowledge-intensive processes. Journal of Knowledge Management, 15(4), 568-581. 1. Demographic questions – 10 items 2. Workplace learning activity – 14 items 3. Self-regulated learning – 33 items 4. Typology of work tasks – 10 items
  12. 12. Pilot survey response Microwork (CrowdFlower) –Total n=127 –Incomplete n=30 –Suspicious n=4 –Usable n=93 Online freelancing (Upwork): –Total n=30 –Incomplete n=8 –Suspicious n=2 –Usable n=20
  13. 13. Demographics Upwork (n=20) • Age range: 1949-1997 – 75% Millennials (1980+) – 20% Generation X (1965-79) – 5% Baby Boomers (1946-64) • Gender: – Male 40% – Female 60% • Countries: – 25% USA – 20% Philippines – 10% each India, Romania, Serbia – 5% each Bosnia, Canada, Pakistan, Thailand, UK CrowdFlower (n=93) • Age range: 1950-1996 – 61% Millennials (1980+) – 32% Generation X (1965-79) – 7% Baby Boomers (1946-64) • Gender: – Male 74% – Female 26% • Countries: – 10% each India, Serbia, Bosnia – Bulgaria, Venezuela, Greece, Indonesia, Macedonia, Russia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Canada, Italy, Romania, Ukraine, Croatia, Spain, Vietnam, Algeria, Brazil, Czech Republic, Estonia, Mexico, Portugal, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, USA
  14. 14. Education 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% 50% Secondary School Undergrad Masters Professional Qualifications Doctorate Upwork CrowdFlower
  15. 15. Employment status 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Freelancer FT Employee PT Employee Retired Diasbled Student Homemaker Upwork CrowdFlower
  16. 16. Professional background: Online freelancers
  17. 17. Professional background: microworkers
  18. 18. Experience on platform 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 1 yr or less 2-3 yrs 4-10 yrs 11+ yrs Upwork ClowdFlower
  19. 19. WLA: Online freelancers 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Acquiring new information Working alone Working with others Following new developments in your field Performing new tasks Asking others for advice Attending a F2F training course Attending free online courses/tutorials Using paid online tutorials Self-studying professional literature Replicating others’ strategies Trial and error Reflecting on your actions Receiving feedback on your work Never Sometimes Regularly
  20. 20. WLA: microworkers 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Acquiring new information Working alone Working with others Following new developments in your field Performing new tasks Asking others for advice Attending a F2F training course Attending free online courses/tutorials Using paid online tutorials Self-studying professional literature Replicating others’ strategies Trial and error Reflecting on your actions Receiving feedback on your work Never Sometimes Regularly
  21. 21. My work is/involves… 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% Mostly routine tasks Highly reliant on formal rules/procedures Limited/no freedom to decide what should be done Mostly systematically repeatable Reliant on formal processes/standards Dependent on integration across disciplinary boundaries Improvisational Highly reliant on my deep expertise/judgment Dependent on collaborating with others Highly reliant on my individual expertise/experience Upwork CrowdFlower
  22. 22. Conclusions • Considerable learning and professional development appears to occur in both microwork and online freelancing • Crowdwork is not lonely work - considerable amount of collaboration appears to take place • Some quantitative differences in learning activities within microwork and online freelancing • More analysis and data collection needed…
  23. 23. Next steps • Full study (2016-2018) – Survey with a larger sample and more comprehensive analyses – In-depth interviews with crowdworkers – Interviews with platform providers and employers – Study of platform documentation and policies • Compare results to data from previous survey samples in traditional occupations – Financial analysts (WLBK project, 2012-2013) – Researchers, scientists and consultants (SRL@W project, 2014-2015) – Medics and clinicians (Gates Foundation study, 2014- 2015)

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