4 New Things You Can Expect to See From eXtension

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We’ve been busy since last October re-inventing ourselves to better serve the Cooperative Extension System. Here is our update shared at the National Extension Directors and Administrators meeting this week in St. Louis.

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To: Cooperative Extension Directors and Administrators
From: eXtension Foundation Board of Directors, Dennis Calvin, Chair
Date: October 12, 2015
Subject: eXtension Transition Report

As your representatives on the eXtension Foundation Board of Directors, we want to share with you exciting news of the progress of eXtension since January 2015.

As you know, eXtension went through a “refresh” last year. The Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) and the former eXtension Governing Board accepted the recommendations of the eXtension Strategic Planning Committee to achieve three imperatives:

  1. expand professional development amongst Extension professionals;
  2. improve the ability of eXtension communities (formerly known as communities of practice) to co-create and disseminate programs and knowledge for their publics; and
  3. increase Extension-created innovation of new tools and new methods for achieving local impact.

The last eight months have been productive in moving toward these goals. In the beginning of 2015, under the transitional leadership of Dr. Elbert Dickey, the eXtension Foundation selected three eXtension Fellows who are focused on advancing projects on the Maker Movement, the Internet of Things, and Citizen Science. In March 2015, the Foundation solicited proposals for innovation projects. More than 49 proposals were received, and nine were selected for funding. Topics explored in these projects range from virtual reality to citizen science and adaptive learning. New communities were also formed on unmanned aerial systems, wearable technologies and climate science.

While that may seem like a lot to achieve in the first six months, we didn’t stop there.

On July 1, a new Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Christine Geith, assumed the leadership of eXtension, bringing to us her outstanding expertise and creativity, demonstrated while developing national online learning innovations at Michigan State University’s MSU Global.

Dr. Geith began her eXtension leadership with a “summer sprint,” engaging in numerous conversations with eXtension staff, directors and administrators, and eXtension stakeholders both within and outside Extension. Indeed, Chris met with many of you at national and regional meetings throughout the summer. And, she has taken to heart what, as one Extension leader suggested, eXtension needs to “be successful in launching faculty and staff across the land-grants into becoming far more effective educators through appropriate application of tomorrow’s technology for education, relationship building, connectivity with our audiences, and moving Extension away from being a “best kept secret!”

At our recent September Board of Directors meeting, Chris and her team presented an exciting new mission for eXtension:

Increase Extension professionals’ ability to deliver a visible and measureable impact, locally and system wide

eXtension will do this by supporting CES professionals (agents, educators, faculty, specialists) with an online constellation of people, resources and tools that will increase their effectiveness and heighten the impact of their work. To achieve this, the eXtension team will focus on three themes, called i-Three, the core of the NEW eXtension:

Issues . . . Innovation . . . Impact

Here’s what you can expect to see in the coming weeks:

  1. New services for your faculty and staff developed by piloting rapid solutions around two key issues that nearly every state touches in some way: climate and food systems. The first step will be eXtension’s recruiting of 200 Extension professionals from across the country who already work in these two areas to create the initial i-Three Issue Corps. These 200 will be part of a pilot that will allow Extension to explore new roles, tools and ways of working: innovations to achieve greater impact. For more information on this exciting initiative see https://extensionfoundation.fluidreview.com.
  2. Professional development opportunities for your faculty and staff.
  3. A new web site brings these new opportunities to you and presents the current work of eXtension communities including articles, webinars and courses.
  4. Continued support by USDA-NIFA through the recent award of the NTAE Cooperative Agreement to Michigan State University and the eXtension Foundation.

There is far more to eXtension’s new plans and possibilities than we can present here. We encourage each of you to re-engage your involvement and support of the NEW eXtension. We all have a stake in eXtension’s success and recognize its potential to create significant value for state and local Extension programming.

eXtension Foundation Board of Directors
Dennis Calvin, Pennsylvania State University, Chair
Jane Clary Loveless, ex-officio, non-voting, USDA-NIFA
Jason Henderson, Purdue University
Vernon Jones, Langston University, Vice Chair/Treasurer
Fred Schlutt, University of Alaska, Secretary
Jane Schuchardt, ex-officio, non-voting, ECOP
Doug Steele, Texas A&M University

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