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Growth of eXtension Communities

COMMUNITY GROWTH

eXtension continues to provide a national digital presence for Cooperative Extension with a variety of services and tools. We enable Communities of Practice and Learning Networks (both will be referred to as communities) to manage teams to engage with the public and provide professional development to Extension professionals. Communities can work with eXtension to publish content, answer public questions, offer online webinars, create for-free or for-fee online courses, gain access to large free webinar rooms, leverage social media and design new projects to increase local impact.

Supporting our focus on the Impact Collaborative, we are honing the work done in eXtension to address key issues important at one or more levels: county, area, state or nation and encourage innovation in methods of addressing these issues to garner more visible and more measurable impact of programming efforts. In doing so, new opportunities are becoming available to communities.

Existing communities have a unique opportunity to build upon their established resources, keep what is working, retire low-impact activity, and experiment with chosen outcomes to create processes to achieve elevated impact. These experiments will yield shareable stories and processes that will build stronger, more impactful initiatives in the future.

New Communities can take advantage of more than ten years of community experience and immediately engage in Impact Collaborative activities while, if desired, creating an online presence using extension tools and services.

GETTING STARTED

As always, eXtension welcomes new communities and is eager to talk to new forming teams to explore how eXtension capabilities can help you make an even stronger impact. We understand there is no cookie cutter formula for these efforts so it is important that we listen to your individualized needs to best serve and provide the support desired.

In doing so we have the opportunity to retool the depth and breadth of Communities in a way that best complements the purpose of helping Cooperative Extension professionals make a visible and measurable impact on local issues. To accomplish these goals, communities may find that smaller teams within the larger community can be successful as well as any CES professional has the opportunity to start even a small cohort to accomplish the desired impact by leveraging eXtension benefits.

In working with communities and the Impact Collaborative, we are realizing the potential benefit from:

  • Identification of Key Issues or Projects. Narrow the focus for obtaining meaningful and measurable impact.
  • Innovation. Applying creative ideas and solutions to make a difference for people we serve. Thinking and working differently to overcome barriers and engage new partners and audiences.
  • Design-a-Thon Events. Carving out time to focus on projects you are passionate about. leverage key informants and resources to create a robust plan using design thinking.
  • Professional Development: Participating in virtual events to grow skills and knowledge and connect with other extension professionals.
  • Competency-Based Frameworks (CBF): opportunity to establish validated skill sets necessary for learners to achieve competency in specific areas which guide program development, curation of resources, and a stronger case for program impact.

For more information contact: Ashley S. Griffin, ashley.griffin@extension.org or 859-608-2726

eXtension BENEFITS

eXtension continues to support the basic infrastructure of tools and services historically utilized by communities, along with new resources that facilitate innovative solutions to create local impact.  

The capabilities available vary based on the institutional affiliation of the community’s primary leader. Communities must be led by individual(s) from eXtension Premium or Basic member institutions to realize the majority of available benefits. Primary Investigators (PIs) from nonmember institutions can lead CoPs/LNs but will not realize the full benefits of eXtension Premium or Basic members. There are a variety of eXtension benefits available to eXtension ID holders from both member and non-member institutions.

Campus (Moodle; campus.extension.org) has been enhanced with a learner analytics module and remains a robust deployment of online courses and lessons offered by Communities and individual eXtension members where course badges and certificates are awarded to learners of for-free and for-fee courses. Read more about how Campus can be used for Extension education. Campus is available to eXtension Premium members.

eXtension’s new Catalog (catalog.extension.org) serves as a storefront or central listing of courses available through Campus (campus.extension.org) as well as other courses, webinars, workshops, or ebooks that might be available throughout the Cooperative Extension System. While it can easily point people to free online products that Extension might offer, Catalog accommodates specialized pricing options for fee-based events or resources as well as the ability to create a custom landing-page or portal of branded offerings and related resources to eXtension Premium members. Learn more about how you can use Catalog.

We continue to provide ways to manage a team member list and add new members to Communities using People (people.extension.org) and gain access to our Create tool (Drupal) to compose and publish content to articles.extension.org. Managing and co-creation of materials can also occur within eXtension’s Google Apps as an alternative location for collaboration.  Ask an Expert (ask.extension.org) connects Communities with their users when fielding incoming questions and allows for the use of an Ask an Expert submission point on any website of choice using the Community’s Ask Widget.

eXtension communities do much more than just publishing articles and answering questions. We encourage offering professional development and public webinars that can be marketed and managed by Learn (learn.extension.org). Communities can maximize Learn’s functionality for their webinar offerings. Discover more about Learn with our Quick Reference Sheet.

Having a webinar room available that is large enough to host up to 500 attendees can be difficult to obtain, therefore eXtension is now offering a Zoom room that can be scheduled and utilized for CES professional development and public webinars. Discover how you might maximize the use of this Zoom service as an eXtension Premium or Basic member.

For more information contact: Ashley S. Griffin, ashley.griffin@extension.org