der” concept, which involves signifi-
cant building innovation and effort to
make practical. The remainder of this
article introduces the concept of a skill
ladder, then makes it concrete with a
skill ladder we have created to teach
real-time captioning, and finally ends
with a call for more systems builders
to get involved with creating a brighter
future for crowd work.
BUILDING LADDERS TO NEW SKILLS
Crowd-working platforms are often
characterized as being marketplaces
for “low skill” or “non-expert” work.
One issue is that while workers have all
kinds of expertise, that expertise is difficult to tap into. Another challenge is
crowd work on existing platforms does
not support workers who would like to
“skill up” (gain expertise that would
qualify them for “better” work) while
working. We use the term “better” to
mean a variety of things, but think of
it as a proxy for improved pay, enjoyment, etc.; the things people might
want to have in their work.
Many workers cannot simply take
time off from working to learn new
skills. Some workers rely on the in-
come from crowd work to get by. The
schedules of traditional education
may not fit their working schedule.
(One of the reasons why they might
have been attracted to the piecemeal
jobs on crowd platforms to begin
with!) As a result, it is important to
consider building opportunities for
improving one’s skills into the tasks
that workers are already doing.
We refer to this building-in of opportunities for improved work as a
“ladder.” A skill ladder is a path to
move up in the skill chain. Skill ladders are embodied in the socio-tech-