eXtension Leads Development of Farm Bill Evaluation Tool


eXtension, USDA’s Farm Services Administration (FSA), and the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) have developed an evaluation and reporting tool for the 2014 Title 1 Producer Education Program of the 2014 Farm Bill. eXtension, in cooperation with the ECOP office, created a way to manipulate the data gathered from completing two types of online meeting evaluation forms. Craig Wood, Ashley Griffin, and their eXtension colleagues have completed testing of a streamlined process to make it easier for cooperating institutions to meet a portion of the FSA reporting requirements.

As a reminder, all institutions receiving Title 1 funds must provide the name and email address of the person who will be responsible for reporting. Please submit here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/17b4C8ZHf7EKW8DLizT0o45GTkwcpbep6qGPrs5LwlX8/edit?usp=sharing. The person named will receive instructions on how to submit data using the online tool. Questions may be directed to Craig Wood at craig.wood@extension.org.


‘New’ eXtension Vote Due November 17


This week the voting members of the 75 institutional members of the Cooperative Extension Section will receive a ballot to determine the future of the ‘New’ eXtension. The deadline for voting is November 17, 2014.

The Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) through the eXtension Governing Committee, (Dennis Calvin, chair, Pennsylvania State University) engaged an eXtension Strategic Planning Committee in 2014. Chaired by Keith Smith, Ohio State University, and assisted by the Cascade Center for Community Governance, the committee was composed of representatives from all five Extension regions and representatives from USDA NIFA and was charged to present a plan for increasing eXtension’s value to Land-grant institutions and partners.

The final report was accepted at the October 15, 2014 ECOP meeting in Lexington, KY. ECOP unanimously voted to engage the Cooperative Extension Section to
1) Discontinue the current eXtension assessment for 2015; and
2) Move to a new membership, fee-driven model effective January 1, 2015. A “yes” vote on item 2 does not obligate the voting institution to membership.

An October 29 webinar presented by Keith Smith, Dennis Calvin and eXtension Director Elbert Dickey outlined a new vision for eXtension, making Cooperative Extension state and local electronic innovation and professional development the primary priorities. View the Webinar recording here.

The new funding model proposes a change from assessments to a fee-based approach. The webinar defines what you will get for each membership level, what each level will cost, and the process for electing new directors. (Adapted from the CES Monday Minute).


Women in Ag Learning Network Announces Future Webinars

Women in Ag

The Women in Agriculture Learning Network invites you to join them for their upcoming Women in Ag Fall 2014 Webinar Series. Three upcoming webinars will focus on women’s leadership roles, what the 2012 Census of Agriculture tells us about women, and why women’s unique roles in agriculture matter.

November 18: Leading the Way
How Women are Changing Board Rooms and Rural Landscapes

Presenter: Krysta Harden, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture

December 2: By the Numbers
What the Census of Ag Tells Us about Women Operators

Presenter: Virginia Harris, National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS)

December 16: Heart of the Farm
Why Women’s Unique Family and Farm Business Roles Matter

Presenter: Angela Carter, Iowa State University

Webinar Times: 12:00 p.m. ET, 11:00 a.m. CT, 10:00 a.m. MT, 9:00 a.m. PT

To join the webinars: Go to https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/womeninag about 10 minutes prior to the start time. Click on “Enter as a Guest” and type your name in the space provided, then click on “Enter Room.” For best results, we suggest you use Firefox or Internet Explorer as your web browser. Prior to participating in this Adobe Connect event, please go to the following URL to confirm ability to log on to the Connect server: www.extension.iastate.edu/testconnect.


What’s the Buzz around Unmanned Aerial Systems?


Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are being used in agriculture to monitor crop related issues, monitor orchards, create digital imagery of fields, mapping, remote sensing of waterways and lakes, monitoring of forest, and observation of pasture and rangelands.

Research on the performance characteristics of the vehicles themselves and the sensor arrays are being conducted by several Land Grant faculty across the country. Be a part of this exciting field by joining the eXtension Unmanned Aerial Systems user community. The UAS user community plans on meeting quarterly to share research being done, or planned, how UAS are evolving, and how they are being used in the Agriculture industry. The user community is currently building a communication and capacity strategy to move forward and has as a goal to have interaction with FAA on developing guidelines and regulation for use of UASs in Agriculture. We invite you to join and share your expertise.

For more information on the Unmanned Areal Systems contact Craig Wood [craig.wood@extension.org].


Wearable Technology: Experiment with Us and Share what You Learn


If you have a fitness wearable, smart watch, Google Glass or similar wearable device join our eXtension Wearable Technology user community or our Google Human Augmentation and Wearable community and share your experience with others experimenting with these devices.

Many of us in Cooperative Extension are exploring how wearable technology can be used in Extension Programming. eXtension has engaged many of you around this topic. We know there are more people experimenting with wearables. Join others and share your experiences and what you are learning through the user community. Many people are enjoying the benefits of Jawbone, Fitbit, Lift, and other fitness-related technology. eXtension would like to engage with you and hear your great ideas on how you are using these emerging technologies.

As part of the eXtension Wearable Technology Community, Ohio State University Extension will start loaning out three pairs of Google Glass to OSU Extension professionals in mid November. The goal is to document and evaluate the use of Glass for educational and personal productivity impacts. Both county educators and specialists will be invited to help with the testing. The results will be documented and shared with the Cooperative Extension System. This is part of a multi-state project involving Kentucky and Alabama.

Got a GoPro Camera or Google Glass? Let us know how you are using these amazing new technologies. Are they making you more efficient at your job? Are they making you more productive? Share with us your world by joining one of the user communities around wearable technologies.

For more information on the Wearable Technology contact Craig Wood [craig.wood@extension.org] or Jerry Thomas [jthomas@extension.org].


Ask an Expert Question Wrangler Improvements

We released a change to the “Hand off to a Question Wrangler” option to try to improve the quality of question assignments. When someone clicks that option, we now ask “Why?” and provide a couple of common reasons in the form of one-click prompts.

We’re not doing anything programmatically with this information (yet), but it should prove very valuable for Question Wranglers who are manually reassigning questions. The question history now contains the wrangling reason, so please check there when you need more information about the assignment history.




Ask an Expert Recent Improvements

Self-serve Widget Builder

We’ve released a new self-serve Ask an Expert widget builder tool which allows anyone to create a custom widget to display questions filtered by location, group or tags. You can play with this new feature at https://ask.extension.org/widgets


Include “not available” experts in the reassignment list

We’ve also released a change on the question reassignment page so that all experts, including ones that are currently unavailable, are returned in the search results. We know this was a point of frustration when people searched for a specific expert and didn’t get any interface feedback because that expert happened to be marked as away. The person was left wondering if they spelled the name wrong, or if something was broken. This change should eliminate that confusion and frustration.



Moodle Technology Extends CES’ Reach

Vet Science Course Banner
Since 1995 the Veterinary Assistant Handbook has been a popular tool for 4-H leaders, ag agents, ag science teachers, and home school groups to help students aspiring to a career in veterinary science.

In 2007 when eXtension first began offering MOODLE as a delivery platform for online courses, the facilitator of the Veterinary Assistant Handbook, Dr. Buddy Faries, began exploring how he might transform the handbook into an online course available via eXtension’s MOODLE site campus.extension.org.

Today the Veterinary Science Curriculum is available to educators in two formats. One format is as a curriculum resource where leaders can access the learning materials including handouts, quizzes, assignments, lecture slides or video lectures for their face to face programs. Another format is as an online course where educators can purchase their own instance of the course that includes 100 modules. Each module includes: a veterinary science lesson, prerecorded teacher-led video, printable note sheets, automated quiz, and assignments to be submitted online.
campus front page

One of the first schools to set up an online course was Roscoe Collegiate. The course has been one of the most active at campus.extension.org with some 112, 673 hits last year. This is one example of how we can use technology to extend our reach by repurposing educational resources that are used in the face-to-face educational environment and making it available in the online educational environment.

Extension professionals interested in developing a Moodle course should contact: campushelp@extension.org.


UPDATE: eXtensionAUS an Australian Pilot of eXtension

eXtensionAUS is a pilot of eXtension that began with two communities of practice in January 2014. The key objective is to test the applicability of the eXtension USA model for the Australian grains industry. This update should encourage any of our American colleagues to follow our progress and make contact if they see value.

The pilot is being run through a partnership between eXtension, the Australian Grains Research and Development Corporation and the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries, (DEPI).

Between the two communities 103 members from right around Australia and from a broad range of public and private research, development and extension organizations are enjoying learning to work in different ways using the eXtension model. One community is led by DEPI and one by the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.

Australia has very much appreciated working with our US counterparts and learning from the years of experience. We hope in turn you in the USA can learn from the way we have applied your processes in getting these communities up from scratch.

Both communities produce monthly newsletters and regular electronic round ups in their subject areas using templates and the online tools scoop.it and paper.li. These two tools have proved very useful and could be of value to American communities. You can see how we are applying them by visiting these two links: http://www.scoop.it/u/extensionaus-field-crop-diseases, https://paper.li/AuCropNutrition/1402463586.

Dan Cotton, Craig Wood, Ashley Griffin and Jill Heemstra from eXtension have all visited Australia at different times and have been instrumental in getting the projects up and running and the communities formed with our project teams. For anyone interested in the Australian approach these colleagues are great contacts. Likewise Anne Adrian and the eXtension IT team have been key to getting our IT processes up and running, we have really appreciated their input and enjoyed developing things together.

Our website has been live since late July and engagement with our communities of interest continues to grow. We have had around 1,500 unique visits for an average of around 3 minutes and 3 page views. Twitter has proved extremely popular, there are three accounts @eXtensionAUS (313 followers), @AusCropDiseases (410 followers) and @AuCropNutrition (376 followers) and our use of YouTube continues to grow.

The eXtensionAUS evaluation process continues to be implemented and there is to be a key face to face evaluation and professional development workshop for all community members in November. The project is due to finish in March 2015 and we look forward to continuing to share our learning’s with the US as we go.

Written by Gavin Beever, GRDC National Project Manager for eXtensionAUS


Virtual Reality User Group Invites New Members

Thynka Little uses Oculus Rift.

Thynka Little uses Oculus Rift.

The eXtension Virtual 3D user community is interested in virtual worlds, and virtual reality, as used for education and training, serious games, data visualization, and research. The group is open to educators and staff at land-grant institutions in the USA, their research partners, and Extension colleagues around the world.

The community intends to:
• Learn and explore together as this technology evolves toward mainstream use
• Raise awareness of the use of virtual reality environments for teaching and research in the land grant system and beyond.
• Collaborate to build a knowledge base that includes all VR technologies (Second Life, Open Sim, Unity, Oculus Rift, CAVE…)
• Offer professional development opportunities via eXtension’s learn.extension.org site.
• Mentor new users of virtual reality technology.
• Seek opportunities to develop partnerships, as appropriate, for future virtual reality projects.

This month the eXtension Virtual 3D user community has welcomed new members from Texas A&M, University of Idaho, and University of Arkansas. To join the group, go to https://people.extension.org/communities/1327.

For more information contact LuAnn Phillips at luann.phillips@extension.org .


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