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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.