New Ask an Expert Question Widget

We have released a brand new version of the Ask an Expert Question widget, the question form which can be embedded on Cooperative Extension web pages or other third party sites. The new widget offers substantial improvements over the existing one including:

  • better design
  • multiple image uploads (3 vs. 1)
  • dynamic width and height resizing
  • and most importantly, it captures the URL of widget’s parent page

That last bullet is particularly significant because it will allow Questions Wranglers (or anyone answering the question) to get more context about questions that are submitted through widgets. The new widget code is available on your Ask an Expert group’s “Ask Form and Widget” preference page. The old widget will continue to work for now, but we recommend updating your code snippet to get the new features.

new-widget

old-widget

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Seeing a New World with Oculus Rift

At Ag Outlook

What is Oculus Rift?

The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset that gives users the sensation of being inside games, virtual worlds, simulations, and videos. The device achieves “virtual reality” at a level previously unavailable to individuals. It was invented by 19-year-old Palmer Luckey and is now owned by Facebook. The consumer version of the Oculus Rift is still in development and is expected to come to market in late 2015. Other companies such as Google, Sony, Samsung, Microsoft, and Razer have been developing their own versions of virtual reality head-mounted displays.

Who is using Virtual Reality?

The headset was originally conceived as a gaming accessory, but since the Facebook acquisition many other use cases have been imagined. The device works very well with 360° video, so Hollywood is producing virtual reality movies. Consumers will have opportunities to try homes, vehicles, and travel before buying. Streamed content will make it possible for users to experience live events, such as sports and concerts, with the best seats in the house. The prototype headset is already in use by trainers and health care professionals. And educators at all levels are anticipating use of VR in their classrooms.

How is Oculus Rift connected with Cooperative Extension?

As part of its focus on innovation, eXtension acquired use of an Oculus Rift developer kit to become familiar with the possibilities of true virtual reality as a teaching tool. Virtual reality is best imagined as a new kind of experiential learning. Consider the idea of city kids learning where their food comes from by exploring a virtual farm. Growers might walk through a crop field, orchard, or barn along with an Extension specialist, getting a virtual hands-on demonstration. Imagine the potential for food safety learning in all situations. How about tractor safety training? The ideas can go as far as your imagination.

Where can I learn more about Virtual Reality and Oculus Rift?

During eXtension’s recent demonstration of Oculus Rift at the USDA’s Ag Outlook Forum, the unanimous reaction of participants was “Wow, WOW!” To be informed about developments in virtual reality for education, become a member of eXtension’s Virtual 3D interest group. Join here https://people.extension.org/communities/1327. To arrange for an on-site demonstration of the Oculus Rift at your event, contact LuAnn Phillips, eXtension’s Virtual Reality specialist, luann.phillips@extension.org.

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Ag Outlook Forum, USDA-NIFA Venues for eXtension Showcase

eXtension featured six emphasis areas at both USDA-NIFA offices and at the USDA’s Ag Outlook Forum in February.

Victor Villegas demonstrates unmanned aerial vehicle.

Victor Villegas demonstrates unmanned aerial vehicle.

Unmanned aerial systems, big data, wearable technologies, virtual reality, and both the Network Literacy community of practice and the Educational Technology Learning Network gave hands on demonstrations or presentations to both national program leaders and administrators at USDA-NIFA as well as to nearly 2,000 attendees at the Ag Outlook Forum.

USDA's research, education, and economics under secretary Cathie Woteki tries out Google Glass.

USDA’s research, education, and economics under secretary Cathie Woteki tries out Google Glass.

“We had a unique opportunity this year at the Ag Outlook Forum,” said Elbert Dickey, eXtension Executive Director. “Our team of both eXtension staff and representatives from our premium members involved in these user communities really reached out to new and different people interested in technology, learning, and innovation.”

Paul Hill explains the educational technology learning network to USDA Radio.

Paul Hill explains the educational technology learning network to USDA Radio.

Paul Hill, Utah State University (Educational Technology Learning Network) Victor Villegas, Oregon State University (Unmanned aerial systems); Terrence Wolfork, Fort Valley State University (Network Literacy); Jerry Thomas, Ohio State University (Wearable technologies) joined LuAnn Phillips, Anne Adrian, Craig Wood, Beth Raney, Ashley Griffin, Terry Meisenbach, and Elbert Dickey, all with eXtension, at both the USDA-NIFA and Ag Outlook events.

Luis Tupas, NIFA's deputy director of the Institute of Bioenergy, Climate, and Environment tests out the Oculus Rift.

Luis Tupas, NIFA’s deputy director of the Institute of Bioenergy, Climate, and Environment tests out the Oculus Rift.

Participants were able to fly small unmanned aerial devises, test the Oculus Rift and Second Life, try on and use Google Glass, as well as learn more about big data and its applications.

“Our exhibit space at the Ag Outlook Forum was uniquely positioned outside the exhibit hall and along the main traffic area for the conference. We had hundreds of people stopping by to try things out, ask questions and inquire about what Cooperative Extension is doing in these innovative areas,” said Terry Meisenbach, eXtension Communications and Marketing Leader.

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Rich Phelps Joins eXtension as Project Manager

Rich Phelps

The eXtension Foundation is pleased to announce that Rich Phelps has joined our engineering team as a Project Manager.

Over the course of his career, Rich has cultivated expertise in streamlining business practices and refining web-based products effectively. Rich has over 17 years experience in technology management, project management, information technology and strategic planning.

“My values and professional goals align closely with those on the engineering team, and I am impressed not only with the body of work the engineering group has established, but the culture of collaboration, trust, and respect among the team,” said Phelps.

Anne Adrian, eXtension Associate Director says. “We are very happy to have Rich join the eXtension staff. Rich’s talents in project management will be very instrumental as eXtension focuses on innovative opportunities.”

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Learning Opportunities for March and more!

Join us in March for a Variety of Learning Opportunities!

2015 has begun with some very interesting and useful learning opportunities by Extension! Here I’ve included upcoming ones as well as recent learning events in February which have a recording available.

New events have recently been added to Learn.extension.org so check there as more related events are included. These learning events are open to all who are interested…check each event listing to see if there is registration needed before the event. Share with your colleagues, clientele, etc. since participation is online from a home, office, etc.

Popular Upcoming Learning Events
The Women in Ag Learning Network has a whole series of learning events listed in Learn. Go to Learn.extension.org and search on Women in Ag

More…
Go to Learn (learn.extension.org) to see more sessions in 2014 and 2015, and to add learning opportunities being offered by you or your institution so you may include more for participation and learning!

Questions and Comments? Contact Beth Raney at beth.raney@extension.org. If you have web-based events for which you would like more participation, please add them at Learn.extension.org for others to join in!

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eXtension Seeks Chief Executive Officer

eXtension LOGO

The eXtension Foundation Board of Directors is seeking an exceptional entrepreneurial leader from educational institutions, government agencies or business and industry to set the pace and structure for a thriving 21st century organization invested in ensuring the Cooperative Extension System has a broad range of engaged learners.
—————————————————————————
Position Description:

Position Title: Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Type: Full-time
Function: Executive leader and manager
Reports To: eXtension Foundation Board of Directors
Salary Range: Commensurate with experience

The eXtension Foundation is a member-based, non-profit 501(c) 3, designed to support Cooperative Extension and its strategic partners. The primary purpose of the eXtension Foundation is to generate value for its members and partners through the creation of innovative and effective Extension educational solutions. www.extension.org and about.extension.org provides more information on eXtension.

The eXtension Foundation is a virtual space where change is invigorating and people are enthusiastic about opportunities to create and contribute. The eXtension Foundation works with Cooperative Extension to support learning that fosters growth, leadership, competencies, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Cooperative Extension is a nationwide network available to all from land-grant universities and colleges across the U.S. and its territories.

Position Overview: The eXtension Foundation Board of Directors is seeking an exceptional entrepreneurial leader from educational institutions, government agencies or business and industry. The CEO will set the pace and structure for a thriving 21st century organization invested in ensuring the Cooperative Extension system has a broad range of engaged learners. Because the eXtension Foundation concentrates on innovation to enhance Extension Education, the CEO works closely with the Board of Directors to set a vision and align systems to accomplish its goals.

To be successful, the CEO must understand the Cooperative Extension System, how it functions within the land-grant system, and how it works with the US Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The candidate should have expertise in online learning, educational design, information technology and resource development.

As a hub for Extension innovation, the eXtension Foundation Board of Directors and the CEO implement strategies to achieve goals set by Cooperative Extension. The CEO will need to stay current on new and emerging technologies and professional development that are applicable to Extension education. The CEO will communicate to, set direction for, and motivate action among eXtension faculty and staff.

The CEO, Chief Operations Officer (COO), and the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) make up the eXtension Foundation Executive Team. The COO and CIO report to the CEO. The team operates with a unified purpose and meets ambitious performance goals. Skills of the Executive Team members will complement each other and at times be interchangeable. The CEO will establish decision making protocol and high quality work standards. The CEO will help select the CIO and COO who report to the CEO.

Qualifications:
–Minimum of a master’s degree or equivalent experience
–5+ years documented experience leading innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship, and/or generating profits and value
–5+ years demonstrated ability leading change and forward thinking entity
–Evidence of successfully implementing a new business model
–Proven ability to direct a financially sustainable organization having multiple funding streams
—-Start-up experiences a plus, but not required
–Evidence of client- or customer-driven results
–Knowledge and experience in management and administration
–History of integrity and behavior that develops people, builds teams, and facilitates collaborative enterprises
–Ability to influence and enable others while managing continuity, change, and growth

The CEO is responsible for:
–Creating understanding, participation, entrepreneurship, and execution of the vision for innovation among the Foundation members;
–Presenting a common vision of the eXtension Foundation and Extension’s innovations, successes, and opportunities;
–Attracting, recruiting and retaining member institutions and strategic partners;
–Providing effective leadership that rewards and reinforces behaviors that lead to innovation;
–Leading with a proactive and performance orientation for cultivating an environment where people are enthusiastic about the opportunities to contribute;
–Building interdependent (self-directed) teams and relationships across the Cooperative Extension System and with strategic partners to achieve a high level of cooperation.
–Enhancing resource development to help ensure long term financial stability.

Accountability
–Assure filing of all legal and regulatory documents and monitor compliance with relevant laws and regulations.
–Work closely with the Board of Directors to determine direction, monitor development and sustainability, communicate with members and partners, and establish priorities.
—Provide general oversight of eXtension Foundation activities and work closely with the Executive Team to keep pace with change and demands.
–With Executive Team, assure program quality and organizational stability is maintained through standards and controls, systems and procedures, and regular review.

Governance
–Assist the Board of Directors to articulate its role and areas of accountability.
–Strategize with the Board of Directors to identify, recruit, and engage partners.
–With the Board of Directors, develop an evaluation strategy that shows members the value of the eXtension Foundation.

Finances
–Advocate for programs and services that are produced in a cost-effective manner, employing economy while maintaining a high level of quality.
–Oversee fiscal activities and provide leadership in resource development.
–Assure effective revenue development that is aligned with existing and emerging needs.
–Reach out to people in academia and industry to create shared cost partnerships.
–Provide strategic oversight of community relations

Program Development
–Generate a high level of member engagement.
–Listen to members, partners and investors to identify and/or improve services.
–Along with the eXtension Board of Directors, serve as a spokesperson for the eXtension Foundation.
–Facilitate current and emerging program development priorities with the Board of Directors, Executive Team, members, partners and audiences.

Closing date for the position is 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, Monday, March 16, 2015 or until a suitable candidate is found.

To apply for this position, please submit the following information to Michelle Giddens, Assistant to the Director, at michellegiddens@extension.org.
–Cover Letter
–Curriculum Vitae or Resume, including salary history
–Three professional references, including email and phone number contact

Direct questions to Dennis Calvin, dcalvin@psu.edu Chair, eXtension Governing Committee and Elbert Dickey, edickey@extension.org Executive Director, eXtension Foundation.

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eXtension Seeks Innovative Project Proposals

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Request for Proposal: Innovation Projects
eXtension Foundation, Inc.
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Due Date for Applications: 5 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, Friday, April 17, 2015

The eXtension Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)3 not for profit foundation, is soliciting proposals for projects and programs from faculty at premium member institutions of eXtension that express innovation and creativity. These proposals should demonstrate futuristic thinking, ideation, and offer sparks of opportunity to multiply innovation for the Cooperative Extension System, the land-grant university system, and the citizens of the United States and ultimately the world.

Innovation is applied creativity: Using creativity and applying it to finding new ways to work and engage with clientele. This can include new uses of technology, new ways of organizing work, different ways of delivering program content, and experimenting with new tools and resources.

Examples include:
–Using wearable technologies
–Online teaching
–Online collaboration
–Maker projects (including 3D printing, electronics, etc.)
–Citizen science
–Big data uses and partnering
–Reaching millennial audiences
–Crowdsourcing/funding
–Internet of things (IoT) projects

We consider funding projects that:
–Propose new ways of working within Cooperative Extension
–Expand the scope of Extension
–Reach new audiences using creative, innovative engagement tools
–Identify and test new technology tools and their impact in Extension education
–Identify and create strategies for new engagement and working methods
–Create new sources of funding

We give priority to projects that:
–Are new, surprising, and radically useful
–Reflect innovation as broadly defined
–Promote multi-disciplinary, multi-state, and multi-institution collaboration
–Consider the international implications of innovation
–Serve as models for a land grant university system-wide application

The Grant Application Process

Request for Proposals

The eXtension Foundation invites proposals, under an annual competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) process, and awards grants to strengthen the capacity of the land grant university system.

Eligible Requests
We support projects directly benefiting the Cooperative Extension System.

Applicant organizations must meet the following criteria:
–Must be a premium member of eXtension
–Must demonstrate administrative support
–Identify strong leaders and collaborators
–Have a proven track record of multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, and multi-state engagement

The Proposal Review Process

Application Procedures
Submit an application containing all of the items specified below.

Application Contents
–Letter of support, signed by Director/Administrator
–Executive Summary (limit of 200 characters)
–Narrative (no more than five pages) that includes:
*Project Budget and Budget Narrative
*Statement of Work
–Brief statement of how this project will change or influence current and future CES programming
–Goals and objectives
–Target population
–Project activities
–Key staff
–Plan for measuring project impacts
–Plan for sustainability after the funding period

Appendices (Attachments)
–Key Personnel Curriculum Vitaes limited to two pages per person
–Consultant/subcontractor commitment letters (if applicable)
–Contract Information Sheet (attached)

Successful proposals will be required to:
–Provide quarterly and final reports, including financial report
–Work with the eXtension Foundation Evaluation Consultants
–Present progress and results at the NeXC2016 Conference
–Share methods, the model, and implementation broadly with the Cooperative Extension System.

Policy of the eXtension Foundation on F&A (Indirect Costs)
eXtension Foundation works to support the education goals and objectives of the Cooperative Extension System. Any funding it receives from outside providers may only be used to support the educational goals and objectives of the eXtension Foundation. Therefore, no portion of the funding the eXtension Foundation may award to member institutions and/or partners may be used to pay F&A (indirect costs). Approved by the eXtension Board of Directors, July 12, 2007.

Submit proposals electronically to: Michelle Giddens, michellegiddens@extension.org

Submit questions about the proposal to Terry Meisenbach, tmeisenbach@extension.org or Jerry Thomas, jthomas@extension.org

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eXtension Seeks Proposals for Web Conferencing System

eXtension LOGO

The eXtension Foundation is seeking a premium member to provide a comprehensive and complete, reliable, versatile, and flexible web conferencing platform, facilitation (hosting) with solutions and support for web meetings and video conferencing, mobile webinars and virtual meetings, with integration of social media. The eXtension Foundation will use the web conferencing system to conduct virtual meetings and programs. The institution that supports and hosts the web conferencing system will be referred to as the Web Conferencing Provider.

Required attributes of the web conferencing system:

–support multiple browsers requiring only a meeting URL to enter the conference.
–recording of the webinar and video files that can be easily streamed and/or uploaded to social media channels such as YouTube and Vimeo.
–public and private chat for participants and presenters within the web conference.
–screen and application sharing, allowing participants the ability to view documents, Web sites and tools that presenters have on their computers.
–ability for participants to speak to webinar presenters and participants.
–video integration so attendees can view each other and the presenter.
–file transfer/document sharing.
–multiple presenters (at different locations and connections).
–capacity for more than 500 participants in a webinar.

Web Conferencing Provider should be able to provide:

–Recordings and playback for archived recorded webinars.
–Self-Managed Accounts which can be managed by an eXtension staff member or partner who can create rooms, host meetings and provide first level support to participants. The Web Conferencing Provider will provide second level technical support to the account manager.
–Room ownership for frequent presenters or teams. A room owner can open the room, upload materials and prepare the room for the meeting. A room owner can assist presenters and others. Meetings that are managed by room owners will use (Voice over IP) VoIP. For most events, room owners will work with presenters and ensure presentations are uploaded and polls are created.
–Facilitated meetings using VoIP. The Web Conferencing Provider will ensure the presentation materials are available and assist presenters.
–Support to communities, teams, and members on initiating, facilitating, and managing their own rooms. This support includes training and online instructions and help desk support for the web conferencing system.
–Training and guidelines on how to conduct effective web conferencing.
–Work with the eXtension Foundation evaluation consultants.

Preferred attributes of web conferencing system
–Combination of VoIP and integrated phone conferencing.
–Polls and surveys available during conferencing to solicit engagement and feedback.
–Integrated services for live streaming and social media.
–Optional webinar registration.

Proposals should address/include
–Describe the system that meets the above attributes.
–Establish price model(s) for the proposed service(s). The price model may include tiered information. For instance, host accounts may be price per account or the price model may include per use costs.
–Describe responsibilities of the Web Conferencing Provider and eXtension Foundation.
–Describe limitations of the systems, such as limits on number of rooms, self-managed accounts, and participants.
–Describe the attributes of the system.
–Letters of referral from 3 departments or outside vendors with similar contracts.

Application Contents
Your application must have narrative that includes:
–Bid for service
–Descriptions of services and tiered costs
–Project Budget and Budget Narrative which includes optional costs

Proposals are due by 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time March 27, 2015. Submit proposals by email only to Michelle Giddens michellegiddens@extension.org as a PDF document.

eXtension Foundation
183 S. W. Davidson Drive
Suite A
Centreville, AL 35042
205-665-2187

Address questions to both eXtension Associate Directors–Anne Adrian, aadrian@extension.org and Craig Wood woodch@extension.org

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eXtension Membership Elects Board of Governors

eXtension LOGO

The 58 members of the eXtension Foundation recently completed the election of directors to represent them on the eXtension Board of Governors. The new directors and their institutions and regions are:

•1890s: Vernon Jones, Langston University
•North Central: Jason Henderson, Purdue University
•Northeast: Dennis Calvin, Penn State University
•Southern: Doug Steele, Texas AgriLife Extension
•Western: Fred Schlutt, University of Alaska-Fairbanks

The first face-to-face meeting of the Board of Governors will be March 5 & 6 in Washington, DC where the group will meet with the existing eXtension Governing Committee. Two members of the existing Governing Committee, Dennis Calvin and Fred Schlutt, have been elected to the Board of Governors.

The Board of Governors is currently working on the position description for the eXtension Chief Executive Officer. As the group meets in March, terms of office, officers, and other procedures will be decided.

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eXtension at USDA/NIFA and Ag Outlook Forum, February 18-20

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Big Data, Unmanned Aerial Systems, Wearable Technology, Network Literacy, the Educational Technology Learning Network, and Virtual Reality will all be featured by eXtension February 18-20 in Washington DC.

Wednesday, February 18, eXtension members and staff will present these topics at a workshop/demonstration at USDA/NIFA headquarters. National Program Leaders, program managers, and administration have been invited to see and discuss these interest areas.

On Thursday and Friday, February 19 & 20, eXtension will feature 6 exhibit spaces at the USDA Ag Outlook Forum in Crystal City, VA. The 2015 Forum Theme: Smart Agriculture in the 21st Century: A Discussion on Innovation, Biotechnology, and Big Data fits well with the direction eXtension is moving. These new user communities, learning networks, and communities of practice demonstrate Cooperative Extension’s movement into new areas.

If you’re at the Ag Outlook Forum please plan to visit the eXtension booths.

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