Innovation

At eXtension, we define innovation as creativity applied to produce positive impacts. The purpose of eXtension and its projects, teams, and futuring research is to help Cooperative Extension professionals make visible and measurable impacts by identifying, incubating, lifting up and fostering innovation to accelerate the adoption of innovation.

The goal is to provide safe, structured venues for “experimenters” to create and test new ideas. eXtension provides a structure for them to share and to identify intersections among their efforts and ideas that suggest further opportunities. In short, we operate as a dynamic liquid network that facilitates both focus and agility for participating experimenters.

Fellowships and Innovation Grant Projects

eXtension funds fellowships and innovation grant projects as part of our effort to identify and incubate innovation in the Cooperative Extension System. Recent fellowships have included topics such as knowledge networks, large-scale qualitative data analysis, citizen science, the Maker movement and much more. Learn more about the 2015 Fellows and the 2016 Fellows.

Innovation grants have been awarded to develop programs around topics like story mapping, smart beehives, 4-H Maker festivals, Bio-band fitness trackers for youth, drones for small farms, and others. Learn more about the 2016 innovation projects and the 2017 innovation projects.

chasing a droneEach initiative operates with a contract that specifies the structure, timelines, goals, outputs, and intended impact. participants receive mentoring in defining the research, prototype development, adoption plans and other steps of the innovation process. Outputs might include presentations, demonstrations, reports, published papers, webinars, blog posts and other communications key to sharing ideas and advancing adoption.

Connecting Extension Professionals and Innovation

impact collaborative logoHelping Extension professionals work differently is one of the main goals of eXtension. The flagship program for this is the Impact Collaborative. This program seeks to help Extension professionals increase their visibility and measurable local impact. Learn more about the Impact Collaborative…

ed tech ln logoThe Ed Tech Learning Network is a vehicle for connecting innovation-minded Extension professionals and empowering them to put technology to use in their programs. The EdTechLN hosts regular tweetups and offers a weekly newsletter. The founders of the EdTechLN recently received the 2017 JCEP Award for Creative Excellence. To date, 267 people have joined the network and 315 follow on Facebook.

eXtension also sponsored the development of the New Media Consortium Horizon Report 2016-2021: Cooperative Extension Edition. The report was compiled by a 50-person expert panel. It will guide many of the future initiatives of eXtension with the goal of increasing the visible and measurable local impact of Extension professionals.

Innovate events have been held in Oregon, Utah, and Ohio in 2017 with another to be held in Delaware. These events bring together Extension faculty and staff to focus on the creative process and empower them to work differently. The innovate events were pilot programs from which the lessons learned and feedback are being used to shape the Impact Collaborative process.

Get Involved

Be sure to watch for the call for proposals for the next Impact Collaborative (expected September 2017). Anyone at an eXtension member institution is eligible to apply. The call will be distributed to eXtension ID holders via email. Future Fellows and innovation grant will be selected from Impact Collaborative alumni.

Join the EdTechLN to receive announcements about tweetups and the weekly newsletter.

For more information about any of these programs, contact Jamie Seger (jamieseger@extension.org) or Paul Hill (paul.hill@usu.edu).