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July 1, 2013

Give voice to the public value experts

Occasionally I become aware that some of the participants in a BEPV workshop have had prior experience with the workshop. Some may have participated in a full workshop or completed the train-the-trainer course, others may have been introduced to the BEPV content in a speech or webinar. 397080364_0b8225f5b6.jpgI am often uncertain about how to address the range of experience in the audience. If I teach primarily to the inexperienced, I run the risk of disengaging those familiar with the content. If I teach to those with experience, I may frustrate the newbies. Because I usually do the former, I am willing to bet that more than a few participants have emerged from one of my workshops mumbling, "Well, that was nothing new."

Last week at a training session for the LEAD21 leadership development program, a trainer used an approach that I think can be effective with a mixed-level-of-experience group. The trainer first asked group members who had been through a similar training to identify themselves. S/he then named these people as the group's experts on the topic, and said that s/he would call on them to enrich the training by sharing their own experiences. Instead of expressing unease that some people in the group were already familiar with the content (which I'm sure I have done), the trainer showed gratitude that the room was rich with peer expertise.

Here are some ways I can see using this approach in a BEPV workshop:

==Ask people with prior experience to not only identify themselves, but describe briefly the kind of experience they have had (e.g., prior workshop, writing public value messages).
==If time allows--and if the experts are few in number--ask them to explain why they have chosen to attend the training again. I might use that information to more effectively prioritize the program content.
==Arrange participants so that the experts are distributed among the work groups.
==Before setting groups to work on an activity, ask the experts what they recall as the pitfalls for that activity, For example, I can imagine someone saying, "I remember that it takes a while to get all the way through the stakeholder exercise. Make sure you quickly choose a program to work on and move ahead to the exercise."
==During the next steps module, ask the experts what steps they have taken since their original training, and what obstacles and successes they have experienced.

I am grateful to the LEAD21 trainers for the reminder to draw "expert" participants into the conversation and to encourage them to share their knowledge with their peers.

(Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik on FlickR.)

April 29, 2013

Do people's eyes glaze over when you talk about your Extension program?

bored.bmpA couple of posts ago I highlighted the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine's (CIRM's) elevator pitch challenge for its fund recipients. I linked to CIRM's #sciencepitch web page that contains links to the grantees' videos. But I failed to draw your attention to the video on the front page that depicts CIRM's Director of Public Communications, Kevin McCormack, introducing the challenge. He asks, "Do people's eyes glaze over when talk about your research?" and "Do reporters hang up on you when you talk about your work?" Check out the video for amusing scenes of researchers struggling to hold a co-worker's or a reporter's attention. Do Extension advocates ever struggle in the same way? ;-)

In the video, McCormack offers tips for constructing an effective pitch: make the pitch "short, simple, clear, articulate, informative, engaging, even entertaining." All of those adjectives could apply to an effective public value message for an Extension program, with a few more suggestions shown in the slide below

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April 3, 2012

Program design impacts public value

Elements of a program's design can influence how much public value the program can create. Module 9 of the Building Extension's Public Value Presenter's Guide lists a number of those elements:

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When I was at the 2012 Women in Agriculture Educators National Conference last week, I was reminded of the risk management education program for farm and ranch women known as Annie's Project. It is an example of a program that achieves its impact by targeting a carefully selected audience: women who are motivated to be involved in a farm or ranch business. Not knowing much more about the project than that, I wondered how the Annie's Project curriculum is tailored to its target audience. After all, if the program could achieve its objectives using all the same approaches as a traditional risk management education program--which historically were targeted to men--then it wouldn't be necessary to have a separate program for women.

I have learned, partly from this 2010 Journal of Agricultural Education article by Lynn Hambleton Heins, Jeff Beaulieu, and Ira Altman, some of the ways that Annie's Project is designed to be particularly effective with farm women learners. For example, the curriculum recognizes that women typically play different roles in the farm business and have different motivations for being involved in the business than men do.

I have also read and heard elsewhere--not in the Heins, Beaulieu, Altman paper--that the Annie's Project uses educational approaches that address the specific learning needs of women, who learn better in supportive environments with other women. I haven't found an article that describes these specific educational approaches or presents evidence that they are more effective with women learners than approaches used in traditional risk management classes. If any readers know of such a source, please let me know. With that evidence, I think Annie's Project can be a fine example of a program that maximizes its public value through careful program design.

Source: Hambleton Heins, Lynn, Jeff Beaulieu, and Ira Altman. "The Effectiveness of Women's Agricultural Education Programs; a Survey from Annie's Project." Journal of Agricultural Education 51,4 (2010):1-9.

March 22, 2012

Are we disoriented about Extension's assets?

Module 7 of the Building Extension's Public Value workshop leads participants to answer the question "Why Extension?"--that is, why should Cooperative Extension, and not some other public or private entity, develop and deliver outreach education programs? We answer the question by listing the people and organizations that are perceived to deliver programs that are similar to what Extension does, and naming Extension's strengths relative to those alternative providers. The result is a type of asset inventory: a list of the qualities that make Extension a preferred source for programming or the assets that we bring to the table when we engage in partnerships. The inventory usually includes Extension's trained educators, research-based curricula, local knowledge, statewide and national networks, and connection to the land-grant university.

disorient.JPGIt can be affirming for Extension professionals to assemble this asset inventory and see the organization's strengths. However, the exercise also gives us an opportunity for transformative learning through a disorienting dilemma, an idea from Jack Mezirow that I learned from Nancy Franz and wrote about in these blog entries.

The fact is, we can only use our list of Extension's strengths to make our case for Extension funding if the items on the list are true. In the "Why Extension?" exercise, I challenge participants to think about whether their organization really does ensure that educators are using the best teaching methods, curricula are based on current research and local knowledge, and connections to the university and to key networks are maintained. Inevitably, I hear participants share that for their organization, there is frankly room for improvement in at least some of these areas.

I think this challenge can create a disorienting dilemma for some participants: they have been asked to switch from admiring their organization's strengths to recognizing some of its weaknesses. I suggest that the way out of the dilemma is to see the asset inventory as a list of possible investments that Extension administrators can make to shore up Extension's strengths. Investing in our strengths can help us make Extension's best case.

I thought about this opportunity for disorientation and transformative learning on Tuesday of this week when I lead the "Why Extension?" exercise for Virginia Cooperative Extension professionals. Were you at the VCE workshop? What did you think of the exercise? Have you taught this module? What approaches work for you?

August 13, 2010

Teaching public value to all types of learners

Last week I spoke at a workshop for grantees of the North Central Risk Management Education Center (NCRMEC). At the workshop, Karl Duley of University of Wisconsin Extension gave a presentation on meeting the needs of learners with different personality types, using the Myers-Briggs taxonomy. I wondered how well the "Building Extension's Public Value" (BEPV) curriculum can be adapted for different kinds of learners. ncrme.bmp Below are a few of my own observations about how well the BEPV workshop--as I teach it--matches some of the learning preferences Karl described.


  • Extroverts (E-types) prefer thinking out loud, working with other people, and group activities. The BEPV curriculum includes many small group activities, so I think we may do a good job of reaching E-types.

  • Introverts (I-types) prefer quiet reflection and keeping their thoughts to themselves until they are comfortable. Karl demonstrated teaching to this preference by having us write down our answers to some of his questions, only sharing them later in the small group. In the BEPV workshop, when I introduce the different criteria for public sector action, I ask participants to think about the ways those criteria apply to their own programs. I can easily augment this by, after explaining each criterion, asking participants to write down the ways their program satisfies the criterion. This would give I-types a chance to reflect before speaking up, and would give everyone a list of ideas to refer to during the small group exercise.

  • Sensing learners (S-types) prefer a practical approach to new material, providing skills and facts they can currently use. I think the worksheets, exercises, and examples in the BEPV workbook should serve this kind of learner well.

  • Intuitive learners (N-types) prefer seeing the big picture before details. Spending adequate time on the introductory BEPV material (the workshop learning objectives, what is public value?, what is the purpose of the public value approach?) and periodic reminders of that material throughout the workshop can help I-type learners to keep track of the big picture.

  • Thinking learners (T-types) focus on objective truths, free from emotional distractions. Basing the public value approach on the (somewhat clinical) principles of public economics should be satisfying to these learners.

  • Feeling learners (F-types) feel comfortable taking into account people's motives and personal values. One key objective of the BEPV workshop is to help learners see the value of their own program from the perspective of someone who is not a participant in that program. I ask them to "put themselves in the shoes of" that non-participant stakeholder and imagine what matters to that person. This exercise should be a cinch for the F-types!

  • Judging learners (J-types) want clear structure in the learning situation from the beginning. The BEPV workshop is carefully organized into modules, each with learning objectives and exercises. I think J-types will feel comfortable the degree of organization in the curriculum.

  • Perceiving learners (P-types) prefer open exploration with limited structure. Hmm. Being a clear J-type myself, I may have designed a curriculum that doesn't serve this type of learner very well. I need to think of ways to insert--into a highly structured workshop!--some unstructured time to allow for a more creative flow of ideas.


Have you ever tried to modify a curriculum to meet different learning styles? Did you use the Myers-Briggs taxonomy, or do you find a different approach more useful? Do you have suggestions for how to make the BEPV curriculum more learner-friendly?


June 4, 2010

Revising the public value curriculum

This summer I will be updating the curriculum materials for the "Building Extension's Public Value (BEPV)" and "Public Value of Programs (PVofPP)" workshops. For each workshop, we are updating the slideset, the participant's workbook, and the presenter's guide.
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If you have taken the BEPV train-the-trainer course and are using the curriculum materials to teach your own BEPV workshops, or if you are a UM Extension Educator who teaches PVofPP, I would love to hear your suggestions for revising the materials. Have you noticed typos in the printed materials? Have you thought of ways the workshop activities can be improved? Can you suggest updated examples for presenters to use? Are there images or graphics that you think would improve the materials' look? Please share any ideas at all in the comments here or in an email to me.

Thank you for your suggestions. I look forward to sharing the revised materials later in the year.

April 29, 2010

Should sponsors benefit from Extension programs?

Many Extension programs receive sponsorships from third parties: individuals, businesses, or organizations that wish to ensure that a program takes place. The program's sustainability sometimes hinges on the sponsor's financial support, and sponsors have an interest in the program's outcomes. University of Minnesota Extension's Farm Transfer and Estate Planning program is an example. According to Agricultural Business Management Extension Educator Gary Hachfeld, sponsors for the program include attorneys, accountants, and bankers who support the program so that their clients (and others) may attend.

When assembling a public value message, we consider the private benefits to the program participants and the public value that accrues to the greater community. But, is it legitimate for a program to also create benefits for the third-party sponsors? In my view, when the sponsor's financial support is crucial to the program, and the program persists in creating substantial public value, creating benefits for the sponsor is warranted.

Consider the schematic below, based on the diagram we typically use to illustrate the elements of a public value message:
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Note that the program's outcomes may result in private benefits, public value, and sponsor benefits. Moreover, the sponsor's interests may overlap with those of the program participant (private benefits) and the greater community (public value). In the case of the farm transfer program, a sponsoring attorney may value improved business outcomes for her clients, as well as an increase in demand for her own estate planning services. Being a member of the same community as her clients, she may also value the economic vitality and social capital improvements that arise from the program.

So, generally, where the interests of a third-party sponsor coincide with--or at least do not compete with--a program's public value, a sponsorship can create a win-win-win-win for Extension, program participants, the sponsor, and the community.

March 30, 2010

Efficient, benevolent, and honorable...government?

Yesterday I taught a short version of the "Public Value of Public Programs (PVPP)" workshop for a Public Affairs class at the University of Minnesota. The PVPP workshop content is similar to that of the BEPV workshop, and the objectives are the same: to help people who develop, teach, evaluate, and advocate for publicly funded outreach programs to make a case for that public funding. The difference is that PVPP is not directed at Extension professionals, but at program providers in the government and nonprofit sectors.

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I presented the slide below to introduce the idea that under conditions of market failure, collective action(for example, by the public or nonprofit sector) can improve the outcome for a community.

A student asked whether I was assuming that government or nonprofits would act efficiently and in the best interests of the people. In some developing countries, he noted, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are sometimes inefficient and corrupt. Their action, even in the presence of market failures, can make a community worse off than if the market failures had persisted.

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Indeed, the PVPP program addresses the role of the public and nonprofit sectors when private enterprises ("the market") fail, but is silent on the possibility of government or nonprofit failures. A shortcoming, indeed.

So, yes, to make a strong case for public funding of a program, it is necessary not only to explain how a public or nonprofit organization can in theory address issues that the private sector cannot (market failure), but to provide evidence that your organization will in practice act efficiently, benevolently, and honorably for the public good.

In Extension's case, we can safely assume that our organizations always act efficiently, benevolently and honorably, right? Right?

March 24, 2010

Public value on the range

mt209057a.jpgEarlier this month I gave a short talk on the public value of Extension and outreach programs for the Western Rangelands Partnership. The organization's website, Rangelands West, is source of research and educational resources for rangeland managers, landowners, and residents of western states.

I drafted an example of a public value message for a hypothetical rangeland outreach program. In my example, the target stakeholder is a state resident who is not directly involved in the outreach program--or rangeland management--and who may have little awareness of the business and recreation uses of rangeland. Nevertheless, the resident is concerned about threats to the state's water resources.

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Do you have some experience and/or expertise with outreach programs targeted at rangeland managers? Have you done public value work for such programs? Feel free to critique my example or share your own in the comments.

(Photo credit: Beef Cows and Calves at the Matador Cattle Co's Beaverhead Ranch by Edwin Remsberg USDA/CSREES)


March 16, 2010

Reminder: March train-the-trainer registration open

* To register for the March 2010 "Building Extension's Public Value" train-the-trainer course, go here. The registration fee is $100 per participant. To encourage institutions to send teams of staff to the training, the maximum total registration fee for any institution is $500.

* The training will be conducted online, via UMConnect, and will consist of two, two-hour sessions, with all participants attending both sessions. The training sessions will be Monday, March 29, and Wednesday, March 31, 2010, at 2:00-4:00 Eastern; 1:00-3:00 Central; 12:00-2:00 Mountain; 11:00-1:00 Pacific; 9:00-11:00 Hawaii.

* Prior to the beginning of the sessions, participants will receive an email notifying them of how to participate in the two online sessions and how to download the training materials, including the Building Extension's Public Value Presenter's Guide, the Building Extension's Public Value Workbook, and accompanying Powerpoint™ presentation.

* Questions about registration? Contact our help desk at shopext@umn.edu or 800-876-8636.

* Questions about program content and relevance to your work? Contact Laura Kalambokidis at kalam002@umn.edu.

* Other questions? Contact Diane McAfee at dmcafee@umn.edu.


January 25, 2010

What the doctor ordered

What should an Extension program team have on hand to draft a public value message that secures a skeptical stakeholder's support? Here's my prescription: prescription.jpgWhat's yours?

January 20, 2010

Announcing March 2010 train-the-trainer course

You know how your Extension programs benefit your participants, but your programs also create public value when they benefit the rest of the community. Nationwide, participants in "Building Extension's Public Value"? workshops have learned how their programs create public value and how to communicate this value to stakeholders whose support is crucial to Extension.

Now, you have an opportunity to learn how to conduct these workshops for Extension scholars at your own institution by participating in an online train-the-trainer program for "Building Extension's Public Value."?

With your registration fee, you get:

• Four hours of instruction in how to conduct "Building Extension's Public Value"? workshops from the creator of the workshops, Dr. Laura Kalambokidis, Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota.
• Access to the Building Extension's Public Value Presenter's Guide, the Building Extension's Public Value Workbook, and accompanying Powerpoint™ presentation to download and print for your use in conducting workshops for University and Extension scholars at your institution.

* To register, go here. The registration fee is $100 per participant. To encourage institutions to send teams of staff to the training, the maximum total registration fee for any institution is $500.

* The training will be conducted online, via UMConnect, and will consist of two, two-hour sessions, with all participants attending both sessions. The training sessions will be Monday, March 29, and Wednesday, March 31, 2010, at 2:00-4:00 Eastern; 1:00-3:00 Central; 12:00-2:00 Mountain; 11:00-1:00 Pacific; 9:00-11:00 Hawaii.

* Prior to the beginning of the sessions, participants will receive an email notifying them of how to participate in the two online sessions and how to download the training materials, including the Building Extension's Public Value Presenter's Guide, the Building Extension's Public Value Workbook, and accompanying Powerpoint™ presentation.

* Questions about registration? Contact our help desk at shopext@umn.edu or 800-876-8636.

* Questions about program content and relevance to your work? Contact Laura Kalambokidis at kalam002@umn.edu.

* Other questions? Contact Diane McAfee at dmcafee@umn.edu.


December 28, 2009

This I believe to be true today

Substantiating the claims that we make about Extension programs' public value is crucial to Extension's credibility. However, we don't always have enough time in a "Building Extension's Public Value" workshop to assemble the documentation (journal articles, program evaluation reports, etc.) to support the claims embedded in a newly drafted public value message. The purpose of the "Research Agenda" workshop module is to list those claims and create a plan for assembling the supporting documents, or even for conducting new program evaluations or research.
research agenda.JPG
Sometimes, a workshop group is torn between wanting to draft a public value message that is persuasive--but, maybe a bit aspirational--and one that contains only claims for which the team has strong supporting evidence. I usually encourage groups to be creative and persuasive during the workshop and worry about the documentation later, but not to publicly use a public value message until they are sure it is defensible. Understandably, this guidance occasionally leads to draft public value messages that include some pretty far-fetched claims.

Cynthia Crawford, Family Financial Education Specialist and County Program Director for University of Missouri Extension in Saline County, MO, has a suggestion for helping workshop groups stay creative while not veering too far off into "aspirational" territory. Cynthia suggests telling teams drafting public value statements that they don't have to have the documentation to substantiate their claims today (during the workshop), but they do have to believe the statements are true today. Cynthia reports that this bit of direction has lead to remarkably strong--and credible--draft public value messages in short amounts of work time.

I will definitely adopt Cynthia's "you have to believe it today" guidance the next time I teach a BEPV workshop. Do you have any other suggestions for helping teams "think big" while staying grounded?

December 22, 2009

Reporting by topic, not by table

In the Building Extension's Public Value Presenter's Guide, a small-group activity follows the presentation of the various ways a program creates public value. It is a brainstorming exercise, during which groups record as many ways as they can that their program satisfies any of the public value criteria, listed below.
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How I handle reporting back at the end of this activity depends on time constraints. If I have plenty of time, I ask groups to report back any number of the ways their program meets any of the criteria. When time is tight, I ask them only to share their reactions to the activity, itself (what worked, what didn't, what questions came up), noting that they will use all of their notes from the exercise later in the workshop.

I tried something different last week when I taught the workshop for LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge, LA. Instead of asking each table to report, one by one, I went down the list of criteria. First, any group was welcome to share ways their program satisfied the information criterion, next any group could report how their program addressed fairness, etc. This approach takes a bit of time, but I think it might help to break up the workshop structure a little bit.

What do you think? Have you taught the BEPV workshop? Have you tried different ways of having groups report back? Were you at the LSU workshop? How do you think it worked there, aside from the fact that I gave confusing directions to start :-) ?

December 21, 2009

Extension, Show me the money! Or not.

While the objective of the "Building Extension's Public Value" workshop is to draft a qualitative message about a program's public value, many of our stakeholders are concerned about programs' financial impacts. For example, county commissioners and state legislators want to know how much a program will cost, and whether it's impacts will reduce strain on the county or state budget. A lot of us, therefore, are eager to quantify the impacts of Extension programs and, wherever possible, convert those impacts into dollars and cents.
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Some exciting work is being done on monetizing Extension program impacts. These economic impact briefs from Texas AgriLife Extension are a strong example, and I know there are many more studies.

In future blog entries, I'll write more about ways researchers and program evaluators are quantifying and monetizing Extension program impacts. However, as persuasive as a dollars-and-cents case can be with some stakeholders, I can think of two reasons to proceed with caution as we pursue more financial and fiscal impact studies.

First, Cooperative Extension does not yet have all the resources and tools necessary to estimate the financial and fiscal benefits of all of our programs. To do a credible job, applied economists, program evaluators and others would need to devote many more hours to this effort than are currently available. Data must be collected and analyzed, models built and tested, reports written and vetted. The likely result of pressuring program teams to estimate financial impacts while providing them with inadequate resources is a collection of poor quality analyses that erode Extension's credibility.

Second, some programs' public value lends itself more readily to monetization than others. For example, a program that helps reduce a county's cost of managing its waste can make a strong, straightforward, dollars-and-cents case. On the other hand, methodologies for estimating the fiscal impact of social capital improvements are less well-developed.

Because so many of Extension's stakeholders are concerned about monetary value, I am concerned that those programs whose public value is more easily monetized will rise to the top of the priority list--not because they contribute more public value, but because their value is easier to translate into currency.

The objective of the BEPV workshop is to make strong qualitative cases for all Extension programs that create public value. I hope we can keep doing this, even while we seek the resources necessary to estimate the financial and fiscal impacts of those programs for which that is possible.

December 17, 2009

Using cultural diversity to narrow an information gap

One of the ways Extension and other outreach programs can build public value is by providing information that allows consumers and business owners to make better choices. In other words, Extension programs help to close the "information gap" that prevents people from doing the best they can for themselves and their businesses.

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In the "Building Extension's Public Value" workshop, I caution participants about over-using the information gap as an argument for Extension program funding. All of our programs provide information, but if we try to use a single argument to justify all of our programs, we are unlikely to be successful. I suggest that we reserve the information gap argument for cases where it is likely to be strongest. Which cases are those? I think that when you can answer "yes" to at least some of the following questions, you can make a strong case with the information gap.

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Take a look at the fifth question on the list, providing information to people who would not otherwise have access. The variety of ways that Extension programs address access includes providing information at low or no cost, bring programs to geographically isolated areas, giving people materials written in their native language, and delivering information in ways other than through written materials.

At a recent BEPV workshop for the University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service, a participant suggested that cultural norms could also create a barrier to accessing and using Extension's information. For example, traditional gender or generational roles might prevent some members of a community from participating in a program. When we identify and address such barriers--indeed, when we allow cultural differences to inform and enrich our programs--we can be more successful in closing the information gap and building public value.

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Incidentally, it is not at all surprising that the suggestion to consider cultural norms arose at the Hawaii workshop. Culture is deeply valued by the residents of the 50th state, which has the highest ethnic minority population in the nation. Mahalo, Hawaii, for reminding us to consider both cultural barriers and cultural contributions to Extension programs.

November 5, 2009

Closing the loop between research and Extension

When I ask Extension professionals to name Extension's strengths relative to other providers of outreach education, the connection between Extension programs and university research inevitably is the the first item on the list. We build on that key strength when we deliver programs that are based on the best research, and the community's needs inform the research agenda: that is, when we close the loop between research and Extension. I focused on this relationship--substituting "engagement" for "Extension"--at the Purdue Scholarship of Engagement Workshop last week.

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Here's how I think an Extension team can close that loop: They (or someone else) conduct research that leads to a discovery (knowledge creation) that could help address a condition of concern in a community (middle left box in the diagram). The team designs their Extension or engagement program with a curriculum that is based on the new knowledge, as well as existing best practices regarding program design and delivery (middle box). If the team is truly "engage" with their community partner, then the partner's needs and strengths will also inform the design of the program. The team conducts their program (middle right box) while also collecting data and observations that can be used to inform the research agenda (top box). This way, what is observed and learned "in the field" makes its way back to the lab to influence the direction of future research. The team also implements their program evaluation plan, which helps them evaluate the impact of the Extension or engagement program (lower right box). The results of the evaluation helps them improve the program design (lower middle box), so greater impact will result next time.

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Where does public value come into this scheme? I can think of at least two places: First, in the design phase, the team will plan how they expect the program to create public value. What are the expected impacts and outcomes, and how do they create benefits for sstakeholders who are not the program's direct beneficiaries? Second, in the evaluation phase, team members will assess whether those expected outcomes were generated: whether public value was created.

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I can think of a few ways a team can increase their success at closing the loop:

*Form a team that includes researchers, Extension educators, and program evaluators.
*Embed the program evaluation plan into program design.
*Develop and implement a plan for collecting observations and data arising from the Extension or engagement program.
*Keep up to date on relevant research developments.
*Plan for steps to take once the program ends (e.g., analyzing data and revisiting the program design).

Do you think closing the loop between research and engagement is crucial? Can you suggest ways to make it happen more systematically in Extension?

May 1, 2009

Revise and rewrite

During a typical public value workshop, participants draft a public value message for an Extension program and the presenter and other participants provide feedback. Most groups will need to revise the messages post-workshop before they can be used in publications, websites, or grant proposals.

To help with the revising step, I cobbled together a list of criteria for evaluating messages. Some of the criteria came from University of Minnesota Extension's Aimee Viniard-Weideman, and I thought up some myself. Recently, I have incorporated the checklist into workshops for Texas, Nebraska, and Missouri Extension. With University of Missouri Extension, we went a step further and developed an exercise using the checklist. Workgroups started with a message they had drafted earlier and critiqued and revised it according to the criteria on the list--and any other criteria they thought were important. Each group received some feedback from a colleague from a different program area, and they revised the messages a second time. Some really strong messages emerged!

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The checklist--and the accompanying revise-and-rewrite exercise--are not yet part of the public value curriculum, but I am thinking about including them in the next revision. Do you think your organization would find the exercise useful? If so, how would you change or add to the list? What other criteria do you think drafters should consider when they are writing messages for use in their work?

To get the ball rolling, here are some thoughts I've had about the criteria::

==This is not an exhaustive list: Workgroups may have other criteria that are important for a particular program, stakeholder, or delivery method. For example, some messages will be very effective in print, but should be differently composed for legislative testimony.
==Revising a message will involve balancing these criteria; some will be more important than others in a particular case. For example, there is a natural tension between the objectives of brevity and credibility, and a group might opt for a slightly longer message in order to present some evidence in support of their case. Additionally, there will be some instances where negative framing will make a better case than positive framing.
==The first three items--all about focusing on the stakeholder--could be combined.

Other ideas? Or can you suggest a completely different direction?

March 2, 2009

Learn first, then do

The behavior changes that we seek from Extension's interventions only arise once program participants learn something new: through our programs they gain knowledge, skills or awareness. For example, the Alaska Extension client below is learning how to plant a community garden. (Photo by Edwin Remsberg USDA/CSREES.)

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The diagram that I usually use to illustrate a public value message leaves out this "learning" step. In two recent public value workshops--for Texas Agrilife Extension and for Missouri Extension--I presented the public value message diagram slightly differently than I have done before.

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Many of us document the learning step in our logic models. End-of-workshop evaluations and follow-up evaluations often measure the increases in knowledge, skills, and awareness. And for program evaluation, that step will continue to be crucial. For a public value statement, however, I tend to de-emphasize the learning step. Because I think that stakeholders are more interested in what happened, as a result of the learning, I like to move quickly to the behavior changes, outcomes, and public value a program generates. Learning is part of the mechanism that gets us to public value, but it is not the end in itself.

What do you think? Should a public value message keep the learning step implicit, or should it receive more emphasis when we communicate with stakeholders? Do you think the (not very dramatically) altered public value message diagram is a helpful tool or an unnecessary distraction?

October 2, 2008

Announcing March 2009 train-the-trainer course for BEPV

You know how your Extension programs benefit your participants, but your programs also create public value when they benefit the rest of the community. Nationwide, participants in "Building Extension's Public Value�? workshops have learned how their programs create public value and how to communicate this value to stakeholders whose support is crucial to Extension.

Now, you have an opportunity to learn how to conduct these workshops for Extension scholars at your own institution by participating in an online train-the-trainer program for "Building Extension's Public Value.�?

With your registration fee, you get:

• Four hours of instruction in how to conduct "Building Extension's Public Value�? workshops from the creator of the workshops, Dr. Laura Kalambokidis, Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota.
• Access to the Building Extension's Public Value Presenter's Guide, the Building Extension's Public Value Workbook, and accompanying Powerpoint™ presentation to download and print for your use in conducting workshops for University and Extension scholars at your institution.

* To register, go here. The registration fee is $100 per participant. To encourage institutions to send teams of staff to the training, the maximum total registration fee for any institution is $500.

* The training will be conducted online, via UMConnect, and will consist of two, two-hour sessions, with all participants attending both sessions. The training sessions will be Tuesday, March 3, and Thursday, March 5, 2009, at 11:00-1:00 Eastern; 10:00-12:00 Central; 9:00-11:00 Mountain; 8:00-10:00 Pacific.

* Prior to the beginning of the sessions, participants will receive an email notifying them of how to participate in the two online sessions and how to download the training materials, including the Building Extension's Public Value Presenter's Guide, the Building Extension's Public Value Workbook, and accompanying Powerpoint™ presentation.

* Questions about registration? Contact our help desk at shopext@umn.edu or 800-876-8636.

* Questions about program content and relevance to your work? Contact Laura Kalambokidis at kalam002@umn.edu.

* Other questions? Contact Diane McAfee at dmcafee@umn.edu.


September 19, 2008

Sharing public value documents

For the Extension 2.0 web course, I explored some of the options available for sharing documents, calendars, and to-do lists on the web. The advantage of web-based documents is that they are accessible any time you are on the internet and can be shared with whomever you choose. One application for the "Building Extension's Public Value" program would be to make available curriculum documents and updates, to ensure that everyone who is teaching public value workshops nation-wide is using the most up-to-date curriculum.

August 18, 2008

What does building public value look like?

This week for the Extension 2.0 course, we were asked to explore images and videos for our blogs. I would love to include in the blog and the workshop curriculum some photos that illustrate "Building Extension's Public Value." However, "public value" is not an easy concept to capture in a picture.

Here is the definition of public value from the workshop curriculum: "In Cooperative Extension, we understand the value of our programs to participants. But 'public value' is the value of a program to those who do not directly benefit from the program." (Kalambokidis and Bipes, 2007). So, for an image to illustrate that concept, it would need to show people doing something (action shot!) as part of an Extension program that will benefit the greater community.

I searched on various tags in the online photo-sharing site, Flickr, including "Master Gardener," "4-H," "Cooperative Extension," and "Sea Grant." (As an aside, searching on "Extension" in Flickr yields great images for those interested in hair extensions or camera lenses, but little that serves my purpose.) I saw a lot of lovely photos of forests, crops, livestock, shellfish, and gardens. I also saw fun shots of people enjoying themselves, or getting hands-on training, without a clear connection to the public benefits they are generating.

Here is a nice photo of industrious Master Gardeners that I think conveys "public value." While it's not immediately obvious from the single photo, the rest of the photo set makes clear that they are working at a public garden, thus benefiting everyone who uses and values the space.

What do you think? Do you have any images that you think tell a story about Extension's public value?

August 13, 2008

Mini Public Value workshop at 2008 Galaxy III conference

Are you attending the Galaxy III conference, September 15-19, 2008, in Indianapolis, IN? I will present a short version of the "Building Extension's Public Value" workshop as a "Skill Building Session" at the conference. Join me Tuesday, September 16, 3:30-5:00. If you've never attended a public value workshop, this will be a good introduction to the program. If you have attended one in the past, it can be a refresher course and a chance to see and use the new program curriculum.

Also, in the spring of 2009 I will offer the third online training for Extension professionals interested in learning how to use the "Building Extension's Public Value�? curriculum to conduct workshops in their own states. Participants in the Galaxy III session will have enough information to decide whether they would like to attend the upcoming online training.