Workplace learning in crowdwork: comparing microworkers’ and online freelancers’ practices

Margaryan, Anoush ORCID: (2019) Workplace learning in crowdwork: comparing microworkers’ and online freelancers’ practices. Journal of Workplace Learning, 31 (4). pp. 250-273. ISSN 1366-5626

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Purpose: This paper explores workplace learning practices within two types of crowdwork– microwork (MW) and online freelancing (OF). Specifically, the paper scopes and compares the use of workplace learning activities (WLAs) and self-regulatory learning strategies (SRL strategies) undertaken by these groups. We hypothesised that there may be quantitative differences in the use of WLAs and SRL strategies within these two types of crowdwork, because of the underpinning differences in the complexity of tasks and skill requirements.
Methodology: To test this hypothesis, a questionnaire survey was carried out among crowdworkers from two crowdwork platforms – Figure Eight (microwork) and Upwork (online freelancing). Chi-square test was used to compare WLAs and SRL strategies among online freelancers and microworkers.
Findings: Both groups use many WLAs and SRL strategies. Several significant differences were identified between the groups. In particular, moderate and moderately strong associations were uncovered, whereby OFs were more likely to report (i) undertaking free online courses/tutorials; and (ii) learning by receiving feedback. In addition, significant but weak or very weak associations were identified, namely OFs were more likely to learn by (i) collaborating with others; (ii) self-study of literature; and (iii) making notes when learning. In contrast, MWs were more likely to write reflective notes on learning after the completion of work tasks, although this association was very weak.

Originality/value: The paper contributes empirical evidence in an under-researched area – workplace learning practices in crowdwork. Crowdwork is increasingly taken up across developed and developing countries. Therefore, it is important to understand the learning potential of this form of work and where the gaps and issues might be. Better understanding of crowdworkers’ learning practices could help platform providers and policymakers to shape the design of crowdwork in ways that could be beneficial to all stakeholders.

Item Type: Article
Identifier: 10.1108/jwl-10-2018-0126
Additional Information: This research was funded by Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany, and partly hosted within the Department of Work Sociology at Goethe University Frankfurt. I am grateful to Alexandra Florea (Goethe University Frankfurt) for her assistance in refining and disseminating the survey.
Keywords: workplace learning; self-regulated learning; crowdwork; online freelancing; microwork; learning strategies; learning activities; learning practices
Subjects: Education
Depositing User: Anoush Margaryan
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2019 12:39
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:11


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