We Need YOU!!! Take the Wearable Tech Survey

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Are you using wearable technology? Do you want to? eXtension would like you to share your interests and uses by taking a short CES Wearable Technology Interest Survey and joining the Wearable Technology user group.

Wearable technology is becoming increasingly popular in today’s society and by 2018 global mobile data traffic from wearable devices is expected to increase nearly twelve fold from 15 to 175 petabytes per month according to statista and will be a 12.6 million dollar industry by then as well. Already Cooperative Extension educators are exploring wearables that track fitness & health, provide security, create efficiencies through smart watches and in-sight glassware and cameras. Researchers in our system are engineering devices for animal agriculture and looking for ways to connect to Cooperative Extension educators for testing and deployment.

To date, a small group of educators and engineers have started conversations around wearables, sharing their experiences and tests in the field. This Wearable Technology group has been established by eXtension and is striving to reach out to other educators and researchers who are interested in these topics. eXtension invites all individuals to join the Wearable Technology user group in People. The Wearable Technology group would like to know how you are using and experimenting with wearable technology by completely a short CES Wearable Technology Interest Survey.

Taking the survey and joining the user group in People will help connect you to others in the system to explore new possibilities, share ideas, resources and stimulate collaboration. Learn more by joining the Human Augmentation and Wearables Google+ Community Page too.

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OSU’s Villegas Certainly Not ‘Droning’ on About ‘Drones’

With more than 15,000 plus folks holding eXtension IDs and some fraction of those working hard in learning networks, user communities, and communities of practice there’s bound to be a star somewhere in the bunch. Whether he’s ready for American Idol or The Voice is up to him but Victor Villegas, Oregon State University Technology & Media Support Coordinator is turning people on to unmanned aerial systems with songs.

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Victor is one of the leaders of the eXtension Unmanned Aerial Systems user community. Unmanned Aerial Systems or UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are more commonly known as “drones”, a term used by the media and general public. Victor used to fly full size airplanes but now pilots drones with both feet on the ground…whether nano drones that fit in the palm of your hand, remote controlled planes and helicopters, or virtual vehicles that operate on screen more like a video game than a flight simulator.

And, to top it all off…Victor’s married his love of this unique technology with his own unique talent…singing and songwriting. And, he’s getting famous for it. NetworkWorld recently featured him in an article “Meet the Tech Dude Who Doubles as the Weird Al of Drone Songs”. The article highlights Villegas’ penchant for drones and creative song writing…”If You Get a Drone for Christmas” or his personal favorite “Dronie, Dronie”. Reggae, doo-wop, holiday carols, and even disco address this new technology with humor and creativity. But behind all of Victor’s music is his message…drone safety.

Details of Victor’s story can be found in the NetworkWorld article and a play list of his video and musical stylings can be found on YouTube or on SoundCloud.

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Coral Owen Joins MFLN; Coordinates Professional Development

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Coral Owen has joined the Military Families Learning Network as
the Professional Development Coordinator. She has an MS in Health
Education & Behavior from the University of Florida and is a Certified Health Education Specialist.

Prior to joining the MFLN, Coral managed the Department of Defense Military Banking Facility at Camp Darby in Pisa, Italy. Coral will be housed at The Chez Family Foundation Center For Wounded Veterans in Higher Education in the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Coral comes to the Military Families Learning Network with significant experience in professional development, financial literacy, and holistic health and holds a unique perspective as the spouse of an active-duty service member of the US Air Force.

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eXtension Foundation Board of Directors Elects Officers

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Dennis Calvin, (Northeast region/Penn State), will chair the Board and Vernon Jones (1890 region/Langston University) will serve as Vice Chair and Treasurer of the eXtension Foundation Board of Directors. Fred Schlutt (Western region/University of Alaska) is Secretary for the Board. Other Board members include Jason Henderson (North Central region/Purdue), and Doug Steele (Southern region/Texas Agri-Life Extension). Non-voting, ex officio members of the Board are Jane Clary Loveless, USDA-NIFA National Program Leader and Jane Schuchardt, ECOP Executive Director.

The Board is working to refine bylaws and operating documents, a membership handbook for both premium and basic eXtension members as well as working to hire personnel for the eXtension Foundation including the Chief Executive Officer.

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eXtension Launches Agriculture, Forestry, & Climate Science Learning Network

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The Agriculture, Forestry and Climate Science Learning Network (CS-LN) is one of the newest communities to be created under the new eXtension model adopted by the Cooperative Extension System. Two key features of this new model include focusing more directly on professional development and aggressively pursuing innovative opportunities. The CS-LN is a joint effort by the eXtension Foundation, the Southern Regional Extension Forestry Office, and the Office of the Chief Economist, USDA.

The CS-LN will work to enhance the outreach and impacts of the USDA Climate Hubs and Land Grant Universities through professional development and innovative opportunities using the Cooperative Extension System’s delivery infrastructure including:

• Interviewing USDA Regional Climate Hub Directors and authoring a white-paper of the results.
• Inventorying current climate change resources available through Cooperative Extension and its partner organizations. This inventory will be made available on eXtension.org.
• Developing a database of agriculture and forestry professionals for the Northeast and Southeast USDA Climate Hubs.
• Surveying these professionals to determine their climate perceptions and educational needs.
• Developing and delivering pilot educational modules for Southeast and Northeast Extension and Climate Hub clients. It is anticipated that this program will expand to include all the Regional Climate Hubs.

For more information on the Learning Network contact William Hubbard at whubbard@uga.edu.

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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.

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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! This issue of Learning Opportunities focuses on some webinar series around topics that may help a person learn more in-depth about that topic. Part of the series are upcoming, while some have recordings for recent segments.

In addition, many other topics and also new events have recently been added to Learn.extension.org so check there as well. 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.

Upcoming Learning Event Series
Several event series are planned around specific topics and/or clientele. To see what’s available for each, go to Learn.extension.org and search on the topic or tag.

The 2015 All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series has upcoming events: Mar 6 – Fire Ant Management Using Baits, Apr 3 – Common Termites of the Southern United States – Biology, Behavior, and Management, May 1 – Beneficial Garden Helpers, Jun 5 – Insect-borne Diseases Affecting People, and recently Pesticide Strategy – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The eOrganic community (organic production) has upcoming events: Mar 9 – Getting started with USDA organic certification, Mar 10 – Promoting Native Bee Pollinators in Organic Farming Systems, Mar 17 – Non-Antibiotic Control of Fire Blight: What Works As We Head Into a New Era, Mar 24 – Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture Webinar, Apr 7 – Innovative Approaches to Extension in Organic and Sustainable Agriculture, and recordings of recent events such as Blasting the Competition Away: Air-propelled Abrasive Grits for Weed Management in Organic Grain and Vegetable Crops, and Building Pest-Suppressive Organic Farms: Tools and Ecological Strategies Used by Five Long-Term Organic Farms to Suppress Insects.

Michigan State University Extension 2015 Beginning Farmer Webinar Series has been holding learning events since January and continues through April. Upcoming topics: Mar 11 – Getting started with hop production, Mar 16 – Getting started with season extension, Mar 18 – Getting started with marketing, Mar 23 – Getting started with small fruit production, Mar 25 – Getting started with beef cow-calf production, Mar 30 – Getting started with direct marketing, Apr 1 – Getting started with managing soil, irrigation and fertilization interactions, Apr 6 – Getting started with cover crops in field crop rotations, Apr 20 – Getting started with poultry production, Apr 27 – Getting started with small farm equipment, and Apr 29 – Getting started with beef feedlot management.

Michigan State University Extension Field Crops Webinar Series 2015 runs February through March. Upcoming events: Mar 9 – Nitrogen management in Michigan corn and wheat, Mar 16 – Dry bean insect and disease management in Michigan, Mar 19 – Michigan Corn Stover Harvest Research, and Mar 23 – 2015 Weed management challenges for Michigan field crops.

Military Families Learning Network is very active with learning opportunities on a variety of areas. Upcoming event topics include: Mar 12 – How to Help Military & Veteran Families: For Educators, Mar 17 – Investing With Small Dollar Amounts, Apr 2 – Wellness Strategies, Burnout Prevention, & Mindfulness-Part 1, Apr 9 – Understanding Narcotic Medications for Service Members, Apr 13 – How to Help Military & Veteran Families: For Mental Health Professionals, Apr 14 – Entrepreneurship Essentials for Service Members and Military Spouses, Apr 23 – Wellness Strategies, Burnout Prevention, & Mindfulness-Part 2, May 26 – The Ins and Outs of Target Date Funds and the New L Fund TSP Default Option, May 28 – Links between PTSD & Domestic Violence in Military Couples, Jun 2 – Motivating Clients to Develop Positive Financial Behaviors, Jun 3 – Financial Therapy Insights for Financial Counseling & Education, and Jun 4 – Step by Step Financial Coaching Techniques. Recent events with recordings are Part III Medicaid and Military Families: Adults with Special Needs, and Calculating What to Save for Retirement.

Small and Backyard Flocks community has upcoming learning events on these topics: Mar 3 – Health problems with the poultry skeletal system, Mar 11 – Managing egg laying flocks, Apr 1 – April 2015 meeting of the Small and Backyard flocks CoP membership, and Apr 7 – The avian immune system and vaccination programs for poultry. These recent topics have links to the recordings: Health concerns for egg layers, Housing for small poultry flocks, Biosecurity in backyard flocks, What’s New With Bird Flu?, Health problems with the respiratory system of poultry, and Avian influenza and backyard flocks.

Women in Ag Learning Network has these upcoming event topics: Mar 17 – Balancing Competing Commitments, Mar 25 – “What Social Media Platform is Right for You?”, Apr 8 – Twitter for Newbies Webinar, Apr 22 – Twitter- Tier Two Webinar, May 13 – Creating a Social Media Plan for Your Business, May 27 – Personal or Professional Branding on Social Media, Jun 10 – Linkedin,and Jun 24 – Social Media Privacy, as well as a recording for a recent session on Machinery Sharing: Scaling Up Production for Small Farm Growers.

More…
Go to Learn (learn.extension.org) to see more sessions in 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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