October 14, 2008

Week 4

I did an animoto thing w/plant pictures - very cool! I am also heavily using flickr
http://www.flickr.com/photos/extensionhorticulture/ - promoting its use for our Consumer Horticulture CoP.

Wrap Up - Week 11

In response to the Wrap Up questions:

My favorite exercise was webcasting, week 10. It was the tool I was least familiar with. I was a bit intimidated and was reluctant to try it because I figured it would take along time to look at it, but I found it to be much easier and less cumbersome than I expected. I will now have a better idea of what is involved and how much prep time I will need to devote to using this type of tool.

This program has affected my everyday work by making me more aware of all the different ways people are using these applications/technologies. When you are trying to develop materials to reach the public, it is all too often that you rely on familiar delivery methods (such as print/factsheets etc), when you could actually reach more people, more effectively with just more common knowledge of how to BEST present your materials, whether it be YouTube, Flickr, a Blog, Facebook. I feel less intimidated to try these ways of communication because I now know some of the outcomes through examples in this course.

I don't think I was surprised because I wasn't sure what to expect. Wait. I take that back. I was surprised at how well it was done. It was straight to the point, offered different levels of challenge, and very effective at communicating its goals. Most importantly, I was able to keep up with the course w/every thing else going on.

I'm not sure how you could improve, because I was very happy with the way the course was run. Maybe next time instead of a blog, people could enter information in a social networking interface like ning where it would be easier to communicate and share w/each other. I could have browsed on the different blogs a bit more, but didn't because I would have had to dive a bit further. Maybe something like ning would let people share their work more easily?

I would definitely sign up for another enrichment course. While this involved a minor time commitment, it will save me a lot of time in the future as I develop more content for eXtension.

One more suggestion. I see many colleagues struggle with the plethora of emails from listserves. I think people could use some concentrated (meaning through a 10 week enrichment course like this) instruction how to get off listserves and use feed aggregators, bookmarks, tagging features, etc... (this includes me - how can I do this efficiently?) This may potentially help people to manage their communications more effectively.

Thanks for a great class.

Webcasting (Week 10)

I have been in on many adobe connect meetings through eXtension, but never on the inside. I was quite amazed at how easy it was to make a conference. I tried out a few of the features. The downloading the powerpoint file took awhile, so I would definitely want to do this ahead of time or put it online elsewhere and share my window with the powerpoint file rather than the whole screen w/the powerpoint file.

I think this will be an extremely useful tool for capturing presentations; particularly for teaching Master Gardeners to use the eXtension FAQ system as experts, for showing Master Gardeners how to use different resources on the web, as well as other training options. Perhaps the best feature is the recordings, so these can be included in a Manual that people can access anytime.

I'm very excited about having access to this tool. We can do so much more w/training than we did 10 years ago. It's really encouraging as an educator.

My webcast, while clumsy, and not one bit entertaining is found at: https://umconnect.umn.edu/karenj/

I'm looking forward to trying this again!


October 9, 2008

Communicating w/Web 2.0 (Week 9)

I've been communicating via Twitter with some colleagues for the past couple months from eXtension. What I like about Twitter is that it I get a better idea of people's lives that I work with. I am mostly following IT and content designers/developers from eXtension. Twitter is great because I don't have to respond instantaneously and I get a feel for the little details in people's lives that help me relate to them better in other areas of work.

IM is not my favorite. I can't handle any more distraction, and I think IM would put be over the top. Although I have led chat rooms for Master Gardeners in WebCt. It was nice and you could record the sessions, but it is not my most favorite communication tool. A lot of it has to do with how fast people can type...waiting for a response can sometimes take away the asynchronous feeling.

The other week I tried using Jott. That was interesting to use Jott to convert voice to text. I think you can use Jott to instant message, which might be better than typing....I still have to try that application out a bit more to get the hang of everything it does.

Social Networking (Week 8)

I'm at the International Master Gardener Coordinators Conference this week talking to the Consumer Horticulture CoP about eXtension and using social networking to engage users, members, and promote our materials. (Which is why I've been inactive the past several weeks - I've been preparing materials to present social media ideas!!) Some of the ideas I suggested included developing county and state MG pages, using Flickr photo, and YouTube, just to name a few ways MGs could use social networking.

One of the concerns brought up at the conference by some of the county and state Master Gardener coordinators about using Facebook for Master Gardeners is some of the safety and privacy issues, then also, some MG coordinators have the concerns that people may use Facebook in a way that might not be considered constructive. However, rather than throw these options out, we have discovered we need to use something different than the all too dreaded out-of-date listserve. We are going to dinner tonight to think about this. .....what would be a good tool for Master Gardeners - something that would be a bit more secure than facebook, but still allow community engagement? Wetpaint? Drupal? We really need just a secure forum, I think, but we will definitely need to go out to dinner tonight and brainstorm. Look for some kind of pilot Minnesota MG program on a social network near you soon.

September 22, 2008

Productivity Software

I started using Google Docs this fall. I have had some trouble allowing others to see the published works. I can't quite tell if anyone is allowed to see my published works or just those with Google accounts. My guess is that I haven't quite tweaked the settings right to let everyone see the published works.

I have briefly looked at Zoho and hope I can figure out how to use this in more detail. I have thought of putting a plant database on Zoho, then linking to pictures in Flickr. Thought this might be a useful tool, but I need more time to investigate if this would be the best way to go.

It is great that there is so much free productivity software out there. I almost wonder if the next computer I get if I will need to purchase Microsoft Office. I agree that the online tools are easier to use. Most of the advanced features I rarely use in Office, so it's nice not to get bogged down with some of the "smart" features that rearrange formatting for you in Office and actually make things more frustrating.

September 2, 2008

Wikis

I've been using eXtension's cop (community of practice) wiki for a year and a half now. Though they are to be used in a collaborative nature, I find that myself and many other communities of practice find it hard to get other people to collaborate using wikis for content development. I think people may feel somewhat intimidated by a new piece of technology. Others just don't have any extra time to devote to new projects or learning a new technology. For those that are intimidated by new technology, I predict if people just tried the wiki, just once, the intimidation factor to using the wiki would probably go away since there really is not much of a learning curve involved.

I like the wiki because you can go back to prior edits and retrieve information you may have deleted. I get frustrated by the wiki because it fails to open a new window when you link to another source. However, I'm told that research indicates that opening a new window is not as crucial as one might think.

Dr. Michael Wesch of Kansas State University talks about collaborating through wikis for his students at Kansas State, see A Portal to a New Media Literacy. This is a long video, but nonetheless a great model for thinking about how to use collaborative media in higher education.

Today I've observed in humor as I watched, Anne Adrian, Auburn University, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, use twitter to communicate the following: aafromaa sneaky me: I sent out instructions to 200 people to add their names to a list. I never told them they're editing a wiki. Working beautifully

I think wikis are a neat tool. A great way to collaborate. It seems that we just need sneaky ways to get reluctant people to use them more!

Podcast Blog Entry

Download Karen's Podcast file

Podcasts and Audio

I am familiar with iTunes as I finally made the move to purchasing an Ishuffle this year. However, I really haven't subscribed to any podcasts, so I tried it out. I found some extension podcasts on sustainable gardening which I will find useful for a Sustainable unit I will be working on shortly. The podnova, I found interesting, too. I'll use that to help search for podcasts, since iTunes seems like the search engine is not as powerful at times.

Now, I'm going to try and do a podcast in a new entry. Something I've been looking to do for awhile...Thanks for encouraging me to finally do it!


August 12, 2008

RSS

I added a craigslist search entry to my google reader page. I hope to go to bloglines this week, too. I have never tried a non web-based aggregator, but I might try this week to see what it's like.

August 5, 2008

extension 2.0 first blog entry

I was hired by Dr. Mary Meyer of the University of Minnesota Horticulture Dept. to develop basic content for the Consumer Horticulture community of practice (CoP) , now seen as eXtension's: Gardens, Lawns, and Landscapes

Although I was hired to put together content for this website, I didn't think I had much time for blogging or all this social networking "stuff" until I attended the National eXtension Initiative professional development conference this year. Dr. Michael Wesch, whose work we just recently saw in week 1, The Machine is Us/ing Us (Final Version)," presented on several topics which opened my eyes to the uses of social networking tools such as blogs, twitter, feed readers, YouTube etc.. and how effectively they can reach certain audiences. I now think that these tools are necessary for Extension to reach the public. It has become clear to me that we can no longer ignore technology and pretend it does not exist, but embrace it and use it wisely in hopes that we will educate the public with reliable, researched based information, while also offering them opportunities to engage in communities and interact in ways that encourage critical thinking.

I'm looking forward to understanding how to use these tools better through this training. Since the National eXtension Initiative professional development conference, I now have a presence on twitter, have included more RSS feeds on my igoogle page, and followed just about everything Dr. Wesch has produced in hopes I'll continue to gain more insight into these social networking tools and how to use them. During this session I would like to further decipher when to use which tool for what purposes and see what others are thinking and doing within Extension to reach the public.

-Karen Jeannette
Horticulture Content Specialist
University of Minnesota
eXtension.org