by Jason Falls
With an increasing number of people accessing the web for both content and interaction, eXtension is primed to capitalize and grow using social media and content marketing. Leading social media marketing author and consultant Jason Falls will explain why eXtension is in good position to use emerging mediums to grow our reach and impact, how we can leverage social networks and technologies to do so and how to measure it all to prove online efforts are worth the trouble.
The All about Blueberries Co-P was formed in 2009 with funding from USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative. Every aspect of blueberries from research, production, evaluation, to consumer education on the nutritional aspects of blueberries is represented. As a team we have developed, and continue to develop, focused, novel educational content that will serve the various groups on blueberry production and management, and the consumers. To generate interest in our website we have utilized social networking tools including a WordPress blog, Facebook fan page, and Twitter feed. The Co-P has been a success due to the diversity of contributors to the project. Collaboration among the team members has been via electronic mail, conference calls, and face to face meetings. Our website was launched with more than 300 pages of content on August 31, 2010. New websites posted on www.extension.org/blueberries are promoted through the social networking tools. Future plans are to expand the offerings on the website to include interactive maps for consumers and producers to find the information they need. We are leveraging existing relationships among departments, universities and sates, and forming new ones to reach a wider audience, and complimenting our existing work by collaboration and by seeking client feedback.
Ask an Expert Panel. Learn how to use Ask an Expert, how other institutional teams have implemented AaE at various levels, how participation has been evaluated, some of the barriers that have been discovered and how those barriers are overcome.
by Andy Crocker
Annual leadership funds from eXtension provide an essential resource to Communities of Practice (CoP). Maximizing the use of these funds may further the work of the CoP beyond salaries and travel. The Family Caregiving Community of Practice (FC CoP) continues to rely on colleagues who volunteer their time for content development. In addition to travel funds for face-to-face meetings, the FC CoP has hired its own copy-editor and, recently, a student worker to manage social media outreach and engagement. The FC CoP has also effectively utilized portions of leadership funds to provide mini-grants to transform existing content into virtual, interactive activities. For instance, a colleague recently requested and received funds to convert a print publication with VHS video to accompany into an on-line format with Flash activities and videos. What was once an in-person, instructor led program is now a self-paced learning lesson available through eXtension. The FC CoP acknowledges that its limited resources are not best used to develop new content but may be put to good use in “producing” existing content into a usable, interactive format. It also provides an opportunity for colleagues to contribute by breathing new life into their static print publications.
The Internet offers a universally accessible interactive hub of fast, consistent, cost-effective resources to connect with individuals working toward common goals. The groups derived from these connections are called virtual social networks. The content shared in these networks is called social media. Developing a virtual social network for your CoP is an important mechanism for generating and disseminating knowledge within your greater online community. But how do you develop a successful social media strategy to reach those interested in the content developed by your CoP? Join us for this interactive workshop and explore the success strategies we’ve used to (1) Develop a list of social media objectives; (2) Develop a list of social media sites (3) Assess your membership’s social media expertise and create successful social media teams; (3) Utilize eXtension’s online arsenal of contacts and content (4) Join the online conversation and develop strong online relationships with influencers in your field (5) Define social media activities; (6) Create a “call to action” that supports and motivates members. Bring your questions, concerns and real world experience and together with these strategies, developing your virtual social network is only a well-planned, social media strategy away.
by Betsy Greene
When Communities of Practice (CoPs) are newly formed there is a level of excitement that drives the team through all the hard work of planning, learning to function as a virtual team and launching on the public site. Strong leaders step up to steer, direct, and nurture individual and team development, collaboration and interaction. Maintenance and upkeep are key aspects during the “Middle Age” of CoPs, when much of the work consists of sustaining, updating, and marketing existing content material, while still trying to plan for new and innovative additions. During this time, CoPs often face the inevitable turnover of leaders, while shifting gears to focus on generating funds to keep financially hitting on all cylinders. Advanced diagnostics and content overhaul become the focal points while evaluation, revamping, refining, repackaging, and removal of content become the norm. eXtension CoPs have yet to arrive at the “Twilight Years”, but any effort to achieve immortality is a worthy topic of discussion. This session will be a facilitated discussion of tips, strategies and lessons’ learned for maintenance, upkeep, and polishing the CoP beyond the early years.
by Kevin Gamble
The Web is moving to a realtime environment where new content is exchanged in the flow of daily conversations. This social curation movement with social filtering is changing the very nature of how content is discovered and consumed online. This session will demonstrate some of the new tools being used to foster the social web (beyond Facebook and Twitter). Session participants will learn how to discover and monitor conversations in their interest areas, discover emerging and trending topics, track social sharing, and learn about new methods for coping with information overload.
Recruiting, Training and Retaining Experts for the Digital World of AaE
Michigan State University eXtension iTeam has successfully recruited and trained over 150 staff and master Gardener Volunteers to answer questions through Ask an Expert in the past year. Learn how their professional development training uses experiential learning and a practice widget to give participants an opportunity to practice asking and answering questions so that they can understand the system and will feel comfortable with it. Additionally MSUE has successfully added three widgets including land use, gas and oil leasing and gardening to their website and has trained both professional staff and volunteers to wrangle the questions coming through the widgets. Committed to transitioning to a digital environment the MSU iTeam developed two promotional flyers promoting Ask an Expert for both Educators and for counties to give out to clientele that walk into local offices. These will be offered to participants.
by Karen Waite
The eXtension HorseQuest (HQ) Community of Practice has actively sought and procured sponsorships, equine organizational partnerships, and grant funding from national organizations. Whenever HQ leaders seek opportunities with complementary entities, they examine each individual situation carefully. While the initial financial benefit or content contribution may appear enticing, it is important to evaluate the benefit to cost ratio for all parties involved. Sponsorships and partnerships will have greater chance of success when the expectations of all participants are clearly defined in transparent collaboration agreements. HorseQuest and My Horse University (MHU) began a partnership that has experienced exponential returns on investment for both since 2007. For example, HQ has contributed experts for MHU Webinars and evaluators and content for credit courses, while MHU provides access to content from online courses and over 40 archived webcasts, and creates and distributes a free monthly e-newsletter to over 4,500 users monthly. This and other collaborations have resulted in NIFA and AFRI competitive grants to develop an online youth equine safety curriculum, multiple learning lessons and webinars on equine genetic issues, as well as funding portions of faculty and staff salaries. Open communication has resulted in long term relationships with mutual benefit for all entities.
by Beth Raney
Cooperative Extension is all about learning… whether it’s professional development for ourselves, or helping others to learn. Finding opportunities to learn is one of the challenges! Whether you’re looking for new trends in social media, specific subject matter, or just tips for doing your job better, Learn.extension.org is the place. It is a site for sharing professional development that we’re providing as well as a place to look for professional development that is upcoming, or archives of events that were recently offered. “Learn” is your place to share, and to learn together in a social way. What is learn.extension.org? Who will it help? When can you add professional development activities to Learn? How does it work? Join us to learn the basics, and give your ideas of how it can be used to help all of us… all of cooperative extension!
The Consumer Horticulture Community of Practice, responsible for the Gardens, Lawns and Landscapes section of eXtension, has historically answered nearly 40% of the questions submitted to Ask an Expert. Question submission typically peaks in the spring and early summer. Extension Master Gardener volunteers (EMG) were initially recruited from several states to help answer questions. By 2008, EMG were answering over 50% of incoming questions. However, the number of questions answered in the category horticulture have increased dramatically from 2,618 in 2008; 5,619 in 2009; and 7,998 in 2010. The institutionalization of eXtension in land-grant universities has also resulted in more Extension personnel willing to answer questions across all categories. So who currently answers questions in the horticulture category and how locally are questions being answered? This talk will compare historic and recent trends in responder activity for the eXtension Ask an Expert category horticulture.
How do you interact and work with your community team members? How do you talk with your customers? We will explore ways to maximize reach with your community and tap into your greater network of experts and clientele using the most efficient and cost saving tools. In addition to maximizing effective online collaboration services, discover how eXtension’s Drupal can help you have productive conversations and establish a more cohesive community. Learn how to work virtually with your team in a more efficient and productive way by selecting the most appropriate tools for the purpose.
by Meridith Berry and Julie Middleton
In this interactive session, presenters will describe the strategies and action steps used by the University of Missouri Institutional Team to:
1. promote and market eXtension
2. engage faculty, staff and stakeholders in eXtenson, and
3. build capacity of faculty and staff to use eXtension
Presenters will share the Missouri Institutional Plan and engage participants in opportunities to share what works in their state.
eXtension Communities of Practice (CoPs) naturally engage in activities that are discipline oriented. Considerable effort is required to build inter-CoP networks, infrastructure, websites, and content and the eXtension system is structured to support inter-CoP development. We believe that opportunities for intra-CoP collaborations are endless and such efforts could raise eXtension to the next level of facilitation. The Wildlife Damage Management (WDM) CoP has collaborated with other CoPs (especially Dairy; Horses; and Gardens, Lawns and Landscapes) to develop several collaborative products, especially FAQs. We have identified mutual areas of interest with several other CoPs, especially in the Community, Family, and Farm Resource Areas. One of our objectives for the near future is to increase by ten-fold, the number of cross-collaborations we have with other CoPs. We encourage all CoPs to consider such an objective; some have already started down this path. We will address a process by which CoPs can efficiently communicate, identify common issues, and work together to develop content of mutual benefit. We encourage eXtension to develop a funding mechanism that supports intra-CoP programming. We hope that this effort will lead to the development of a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration in eXtension.
If I don’t see myself in the picture, I won’t put myself there. Can you envision yourself delivering programs in new and different ways that meet the needs of new audiences? Do you follow trends that are shaping our world, our customers and ourselves? The presenter will share how an invitation to prepare a presentation about trends in education delivery sparked an exploration of the ways that people learn, engage and access information. Do you understand the far-reaching impact of mobile devices? Can you identify open course ware that can enhance program delivery? Can tools and approaches used in higher education inform Extension program delivery? Is Facebook only for social networking or does it have program delivery applications? These and other questions will be explored and answered! If you don’t have time to explore on your own, the resources shared in this presentation will help you think differently about program delivery.
by Amy Hays
CoPs are looking for ways to ensure that their content is relevant and timely for public audiences. Both new and experienced CoPs struggle with keeping content fresh and usable. Some of the biggest questions are “What do we write now?” and “What do we need more of?”. Most CoPs use Google Analytics to get page counts and usage, but there is a myriad of additional ways you can use Google Analytics to build a road-map to content. Find out how you can slice and dice your way through GA to reveal some helpful clues on where to take your content. Google Analytics provides some powerful tools to help your CoP take a new look at how your content is being used. Find out how you can use Google Analytics to discover your audience needs and their use of your content. Google Analytics can help you strategically plan the development of new content and uncover the use of existing content and FAQs. This session will focus on taking advantage of Google Analytics to evaluate and build new and exciting content, and help you understand how to profile your users and their needs.
NIFA Program funds may be requested to enhance existing or develop new eXtension Communities of Practice (CoP) for the eXtension system that are consistent with specific NIFA program priorities. Most opportunities will be in NIFA integrated programs that support extension in combination with research and/or education. Discover how your community can maximize program delivery through grants and partnerships. All NIFA grant programs include and support communities through the inclusion of a required extension component. Learn how communities can form new partners to promote sustainability.
Have you ever looked at your CoP “”content home”" or “”community home”" and thought ‘how did our CoP become this disastrous laundry list?’ This is an organizational approach that creates an infrastructure that supports syndication and mobile interaction in both the eXtension “”content home”" and “”community home.”" This approach accommodates new CoP members, multiple landing pages, and is more conducive to CoP connectivity and engagement.
This showcase illustrates what your CoP content and community home can look like and how your community of practice may benefit from a more intuitive and efficient content management structure.
In July 2009 four faculty members from four different institutions created a blog to educate consumers about plant-related issues. Online resources were used to measure the number of times the blog was viewed and its impacts. The blog averages about 200 views per day, and 80% of those responding to a survey could name specific impacts which the blog had on their gardening and landscape practices. While there are numerous gardening blogs available, as far as we can tell this is the only such blog that is science based. Faculty bloggers present science in an engaging, accessible, and often humorous way, which encourages comments from readers. Furthermore, comments are used as a springboard for further discussion, thus retaining the audience as well as educating them.
by Beth Raney
Are you wondering about the Ask an Expert questions that come to you or your CoP? Do you want to know how to get involved with Ask an Expert? Have you heard of Question Wranglers but wonder what they are? Are you a Question Wrangler that would like to talk with others who wrangle questions? Come meet-up at this session and together we’ll share ideas and try to answer your questions! Learn about your role(s), the tools available to help make answering and wrangling easier, and share experiences and tips.Have specific topics or questions you’d like to have discussion around? Let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org) before the Meetup, or mention it then!
by Craig Wood
Content being developed by Communities needs to be fresh, non-duplicated, original, or originally presented. This session will focus on creating high-value content and methods you can use to deepen your expertise as a real-time expert. We will explore what it means to be a curator of content. How you can stay on the cutting edge of a subject matter. The idea is to keep focused on what’s new, useful and remarkable in whatever subject area you are interested in while sharing that information with others in the network.
Why Integrate? Why Extension? AFRI funding requires social benefits to result from science & Extension is the business of people. Extension specialists are uniquely positioned to offer a People First component to research plans that leverage existing relationships to seek out and nurture connections. Modern agriculture is assigned the blame for global warming, obesity, and ‘sick’ food. Producers struggle to make the connection between “food as income” and “food we eat” while the majority of consumers are three generations removed from the realities of farm life. Extension specialists are under continual pressure to do more with less without resources to deliver a full complement of programs through county-level networks. Historical extension roles clearly need redefined while modern rules appear nebulous and undefined. Successful extension specialists must establish individual credibility by crafting top-down, shelf-ready projects via proactive approaches and new technologies. In light of this objective and constraints, what does a dynamic eXtension team look like? The All About Blueberries Community of Practice team leaders offer insights related our individual and team experiences. Our team seeks audience input on crafting innovative analytics capable of measuring our societal impacts and, strategies for communicating our additions to the scientific body of knowledge.
The purpose of this project is to promote use of the eXtension public and internal sites among local specialists, agents, educators, and staff. A series of short videos have been developed along with supporting written materials and activities. The goal is to identify how eXtension can be a resource for their programming efforts, and how they can then contribute their expertise through content development, answering Ask an Expert questions or creating and/or reviewing Frequently Asked Questions. Our approach has been to explain the task, demonstrate how it works, and provide specific exercises that put the task into practice to reinforce the newly learned skills. Our intentions are to measure effectiveness of materials through a pre and post assessment survey. This project was funded in part by University of Vermont Extension and piloted with Vermont specialists, agents, educators, and staff. The purpose of this session is to demonstrate some of the materials that have been developed, and share any evaluation information that has been collected thus far. The final eXtension Tool Box product will released on a national level.
by Nick Broady
Content appraisals are necessary for both new and existing communities to ensure published online content remains relevant and is discoverable. We will discuss the eXtension content appraisal process starting with the positive attributes that make up good content followed by a look at the online system for managing the appraisal. Sample content will be illustrated with appropriate ratings to further assist communities in developing an understanding of the eXtension Content Apprasial process. Content appraisals will become a critical step in the development of eXtension content and communities will be expected to participate in this quality control measure.
eXtension’s best advocates continue to be the members of Institutional Teams throughout the country. This roundtable will bring together all Institutional Team members attending the National CoP Workshop for sharing and interacting. By exchanging ideas, challenges, and success stories, team members will be able to return to their home institutions with a fresh perspective on integrating eXtension into their work & campus life.
Social Network sites are excellent methods to use for engaging audiences.
The All About Blueberries CoP began using Social Network sites before their www.eXtension.org/blueberries site launched so that they could start generating an interest from the public. Now that the site has launched, the CoP is using Social Network sites to draw traffic to the website. Google Analytics reports show a large amount of traffic to the website is coming from Social Network sites.
The Family Caregiving CoP recently hired a student worker to post information on their Social Network sites. In addition to information on their website, the CoP is looking at national events that have a particular date/subject and coordinate what they have on their site with the observance. For instance, during February, National Heart Month, they posted information related to heart disease.
The Military Families CoP’s target audience includes military family service professionals who aren’t aware of who, or what the Cooperative Extension Service is. The CoP will use contracted services to determine how these people are searching for information and with whom they are connecting. Based on the findings, the CoP will advertise in some of the key places to provide educational information in these locations.
In this session, we will discuss how you can manage your own webinar needs using Adobe Connect. Host and facilitate your own meetings. How to tie a telephone line to a meeting room for phone audio and how to use VoIP. The technology is intended to be flexible and easy to use; right from your own computer desktop. Want to schedule your own meetings and more effectively use web conferencing for collaboration, engaging clientele and program delivery, then you should attend this session. Let’s make sure web conferencing can meet your needs.
Just like the classic World War I and II posters, the Military Families Learning Network is asking you to become involved in serving those who serve. The Military Families Learning Network was created to work with military family service professionals in the Cooperative Extension System and DoD and Branch Services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps). We will share with you how we are using social media, networking, collaboration, evaluation, and partnerships to engage and provide resources to those who serve our nation’s military families. This Learning Network has been creative in its community management style and how it has evolved and will grow. Currently, there is heavy cross collaboration with four other CoPs and we expect to expand this partnership further. We’ll share some of the successes and excitement with that process and how we had to overcome some barriers internal and external to the “system”. We will also share some valuable lessons learned as we have been working closely with two Federal agencies – the Department of Defense and USDA. The bottom line is that “We Do Want You!” Come and hear how you can become involved with the Military Families Learning Network.
How can you engage people around your resource area? Is a community different in today’s world of social media than it was in the zip codes you served ten years ago? What does an empowered community look like? Michele Payn-Knoper, CSP, will give you practical tips from her experience in building a virtual community and parallel social media use with her experience as an Extension volunteer. She serves as a resource to the agrifood business through Cause Matters Corp. and is the founder of #AgChat & #FoodChat on Twitter, a lively weekly moderated conversation that’s engaged over 10,000 people from 10 countries. She believes engagement is all about building community - whether you’re in person, on a webinar - or Twitter. This lively keynote will likely change your perspective on what community and conversation mean in 2011, so hold on for some action with MPK!
The Consumer Horticulture Community of Practice launched the Extension Master Gardener blog (http://blogs.extension.org/maste...) in May, 2010 to serve as a national focal and contact point for the Extension Master Gardener (EMG) program, engage EMGs in sharing knowledge across state and county lines, and to ultimately provide new opportunities to increase EMG program brand recognition.
Generating discovery, interest, and use of the newly launched EMG blog was quickly discovered to be dependent on the ability to engage the nation’s vast network of Extension professionals (largely EMG Coordinators), EMGs, and the general gardening public either as blog post contributors, or participants in the conversation.
Specific mention during this session will address questions, such as, how do I…
* Increase discovery and use of my blog?
* Use social media tools or networks to enhance engagement opportunities?
* Attract and engage contributors from across the Cooperative Extension network?
* Sustain a national collaborative blogging effort?
28th–30th June 2011