October 16, 2008

UMConnecting

While I have participated in a number of UMConnect meetings, I just set one up for the Brazil Study Tour participants. We have a need to finalize some of the details and make sure that everryone is on the same page. One of the opportunities that we have is the Flight to Miami - connecting to Brazil - leaves at 6:00 AM. That means we need to be there by 4:30 AM accordsing to TSA. As I have yet to get confirmation on boarding passes - electronic or hard copy - I am concerned about everyone being there. Maybe I need to make one of those nice little signs that I can mount on a lath and hold up in the air to make sure everyone can see it so we can get organized that morning. Once we are all on the flight i will feel better. So I have this meeting set up and we will see how many can attend. Most people said that day would work for them. Now all I have to do is get the Brazil Blog set up and figure out how to do the rest of the on-line reporting from down under.

SNL (Social Networking Live) and Twittering

After hearing some horror stoies about My Space and Face Boo, it is nce to read about some positive ways that this can be used. I was also very intriguesd by the MAYO site. I could see something like this used for some teams as they work. It would be a way to find others that have similar interst and to promote programs. I am not sure how I would go about using FaceBook for a team, but is definitely something that I will ruminate over. I could see some possible development of and Extension or EFANS site on Face Book. a way to get our staff out in public view and to discuss what we do, how we do it, results and impacts. It could also be used to gather input, ideas and comments around projects, research, and programs. As an INTJ I need to think about this some more.

IM and Twitter are intriguing to me. I guess I have yet to secumb to the rapture of IM. I don't text, I barely know how to get the messages off mt phone and I most certainly don't understand most of the abbreviations. Yet I see some possibilities for better communicationsand more efficient work by using these technologies. I can see some possibilities for IM and even twittering on projects and for teams. Again, I need to try this and see if I can figure out how best to use this for the work in which I am involved.

Catching up

I have been trying to catch up on the homework and assignments as I have been away from the office and home for what seems like weeks. At any rate, I did go out and listen to a couple of podcasts. I found a couple listed under small farms, but they wre not active anymore. I did add one of the Ag podcasts that i found, but I am not sure that I will keep it. I will keep looking and see what I can find. I think this will be interesting to use for the Brazil trip. We can make some of these while we are traveling or even while we are making visits to some of the sites. I need to check out more how we can tag these onto a Blog. I do thisnk that this has some promise for reporting on what we do, see and learn.

As far as wikis go, I think that there could be an unlimited use of these within extension and available to the outside world. I could see using a wiki for a topic like Season Extension and being able to have research results, videos, podcasts, blogs and courses all tied this one site. I could even see having a section of this that would be editable by anyone and become a platform for sharing information. Through this method I could see us being able to teach people how to conduct research and evaluate results of things they try at home. One of the biggest hurdles that we encounter is this question of how to interpret results and judge results and methodology. This could be a fantastic way of moving applied research forward, particularly around some of the Small Farms issues that I have been working on lately.

As far as the on-line tools go, I see some real potential for using Google docs. This soulds like a great tool to be able to cooperate with others. Looking at some of the examples that people talked about I could see teams using this to develop publications, powerpoints, conduct project budgeting and planning for projects. Many of these applications can be started today by teams. I also liked Doodle and Slideshare. I can see using Doodle for scheduling committee meetings or any group meeting. I intend to try this out soon. I can't wait to get started using some of these tools.

Feed Me

OK, so I set up the Bloglines account with a couple of feeds. I did notice that you need to be on the right page of websites to be able to set this up, so there may be sites that you need to click through a menu to get at what you really want. At any rate it is done. I also had one site that was easily set up in Explorer under the favorites section - happened automatically. I need to play around with this a little more but it seems pretty easy.

On the Brazil note - things are progressing well. We have a great agenda which I will try to share when it is finalized. We will be traveling through Sao Paulo and Parana States. We have some visits to machinery manufacturing plants, an orange grove and processing facility, Several visits with Universities, research stations and Embrapa, along with farm visits and some free time for touristy stuff. Should be a great experience and learning opportunity. I will post the itinerary when we have it finalized.

September 16, 2008

I hope we get to Brazil!!!

Wow! As we get deeper into this whole logistical nightmare of lining up Visas and making sure we have everything lined up to get there, I get more anxious about this whole trip. Who knew that getting into Brazil would be so difficult and demanding.

We just spent a week collecting Visa applications from everyone going and find out that we cannot use these forms. We now need to have everyone apply online and print the application. So my task for tonight is put together instructions for this, and have everyone get this done soon and into the mail. We will need to hire a company to help sheperd these applications through or make two trips to Chicago to get this done. At any rate, the cost is going up everytime I ask a question.

As far as the actual tour, it is shaping up nicely. I think we have a good itinerary and so now I need to fit in some last pieces into this and we will have this finalized. At this point, it looks like we will be visiting farms, some industry sites and manufacturing places in Sao Paulo state and in Parana state. As these become finalized, I will share more information.

Right now, we need to get the logistics completed so that we can get the visa applications in. Did I mention that married men going to Brazil without their spouses need to have a letter from their employer stating that they are on vacation and not there on business? What is this all about???

August 11, 2008

First Post

So far this hasn't been too hard. My kids would be proud! Since I crossed to the "Dark Side" four years ago, I have not done much public writing, so this almost seems foreign to me. Any way here goes...

There is a group of 21 faculty and staff from EFANS that will be going to Brazil in November. I have asked them all to participate in this course as a part of the Study Tour pre-event training. We had planned to have everybody participate in blogging before, during and after this study tour as a way of sharing what we were doing, what we were learning and some of the culture of Brazil. So this course fits nicely and we may also be able to use some of the other technologies about which we will be learning.

On a personal level, I am hoping to learn more about these technologies so that I can communicate more easily with my kids. Having two somewhat techno geek children, often makes me feel like a deer in the headlights when they are talking about some of these topics. I get tired of saying I don't know or Huh? So maybe I will learn enough to hold a two minute conversation before I am lost in the dust again. At least I can ask them what platform they use for blogging!