October 13, 2008

Extension 2.0 and public value

Wrapping up the Extension 2.0 web course, here are my main take-home points:

1. Starting and maintaining a bare-bones blog is easy and rewarding. I'm glad I started this one, and I plan to keep it going.

2. Adding multimedia elements to the blog (audio, video, and even photos) is a bit intimidating for a beginning blogger. Check back here to see what I am able to with the blog as I learn more.

October 2, 2008

Teaching with web conferencing

I have taught BEPV workshops and the BEPV train-the-trainer course with web conferencing programs, such as UMConnect and Breeze. Here are a few quick thoughts about teaching this way:

*With 50-200 participants in the train-the-trainer course, it is not feasible to allow two-way audio. We have employed one-way audio (participants hear my voice), and have participants type their questions and comments into the comment box on the screen. It can be hard for me to keep up my end of the presentation while also tracking the comments, so I usually dedicate a few spots in the presentation as question periods, and I read and respond to the questions then.

*I appreciate having the assistance of a second presenter who can siphon off participants' technical questions (problems with audio, problems with downloading documents, etc.). He/she will answer those questions and send the content-related questions to me within the presenter chat, which only the presenters can see. That way, I can ignore the ongoing technical "chatter" in the general chat, and focus on the content-related questions passed on to me in the presenter chat.

*The BEPV workshops include a lot of small group work, which is hard to accomplish in an online training. I will encourage groups of people from the same Extension Service and the same program area to "attend" the training together--even viewing the presentation together in a conference room. That way, they can discuss the material among themselves during the Q&A periods. Also, I try to spread the training over two or more days and give participants an "assignment" to work on between sessions. Teams who attend the training together can do their small group work during that time.

*We record the presentations (audio, slideshow, and chat) and post them on a permanent web page for participants to access after the training. People completing the train-the-trainer course can then consult the recording, if they wish, when they prepare to teach their own BEPV workshops.

* I post the documents participants will need on the UMConnect web page, and we open the page ahead of the meeting time so the documents can be downloaded.

*I do not yet have a web camera in my office, so I haven't yet taught with a live shot of myself on the UMConnect page. I wonder how important it is to participants to see me as I talk. What do you think?

*I wish UMConnect had a mechanism for participants to download pictures of themselves to the meeting space. I can see the names of participants, and I can ask them to list their affiliations, but it would be nice to put faces with names. It's fun to run into people at conferences or meetings who have taken one of my trainings, but it would be nice to be able to recognize them by sight!

Have you ever taken a training with UMConnect? Have you taken one that I have taught? What works well? What should I do differently?

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 or 800-876-8636.

* Questions about program content and relevance to your work? Contact Laura Kalambokidis at

* Other questions? Contact Diane McAfee at

Building Extension's Public Value with Tweets?

This week for the Extension 2.0 web course we are exploring web-based instant communication, such as IMs, chats, and Twitter. At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon (again!), I am having trouble seeing the importance of instant communication for the BEPV program. One idea that appears in this article is to Twitter a conference (follow all Twitters related to a conference). I could see this being helpful to remind people when and where a workshop is being held, encourage attendance, and receive feedback.

I have an overarching question about all of the photo-sharing, social networking, and communication tools: How does one employ these tools for professional purposes and still separate one's work and personal lives? From my observations of Twitter, for instance, a lot of people do not maintain that separation: their Tweets are equally about their work and personal activities. But what if I think that my mother doesn't need to know when I've updated my curriculum, and my colleagues don't care what I had for lunch? If you use Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr, for example, to keep up with friends and family, do you create separate accounts for work-related communication? I can see myself either getting overwhelmed trying to update too many sites, or trying to keep things simple and "oversharing" with my professional colleagues.

A curmudgeon

September 19, 2008

Does "Building Extension's Public Value" need a presence on Facebook?

For Extension 2.0, I am looking (for the first time, I admit!) at social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace. I know that these sites are being used for much more than catching up with friends, and they are no longer simply the domain of students. Nevertheless, to the extent that a presence on MySpace and Facebook is beneficial for Extension programs, my guess is that the greatest benefit will go to programs that reach out to youth. The benefit of a Facebook page for "Building Extension's Public Value," a program directed at Extension professionals, is not obvious to me. What do you think?

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.

September 4, 2008


From the Extension 2.0 course website: "[Wikis] are web pages written collaboratively online by contributors, who are often their readers." The most famous, of course, is Wkipedia. I can certainly see the benefit of building a "Publicvaluewiki" to archive best practices in adopting the public value approach for Extension programs. I am eager to collect ideas and learnings from Extension colleagues across the country. But, I would like to have a single source for that collected knowledge--preferably this blog. If we have the blog and a Wiki separate locations, I doubt we will be able to draw people's attention to both resources. Is it possible to embed a wiki in a blog?

August 29, 2008

What does building public value sound like?

This week, the Extension 2.0 web course is focusing on adding audio to our blogs by embedding podcasts. I searched through iTunes for podcasts that might be relevant for the "Building Extension's Public Value" blog, and I didn't find much. I did find podcasts for hearings held by committees in the MN House of Representatives, and I imagine some hearings that are related to Extension would be interesting to link to here.

I do think it could be helpful to include in the blog some recordings from public value workshops. People who have taken my online train-the-trainer course, but who have not had a chance to present a public value workshop themselves, might benefit from hearing some of the workshop modules presented by an experienced trainer. Perhaps, too, a recording of workshop participants delivering their own draft public value messages would be helpful here.

What other audio files would make this blog more useful?

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

RSS Feeds

For the UM Extension course, Extension 2.0, I signed up for the bloglines rss feed reader. I read many blogs, but I had never used a feed reader before. We'll see if it makes my life easier...

Do you think would be helpful to you to subscribe to this blog's RSS feed?

August 5, 2008


Welcome to the "Building Extension's Public Value" blog, which is all about the workshop of the same name. I hope the blog will be a resource for people who are interested in or have taken the workshop, or for those who have taken the train-the-trainer course. I plan to share tips and ideas, and I hope others will do the same. Look for notices of upcoming workshops, new publications, and curriculum updates. Let's share our ideas for building Extension's public value in Minnesota and across the country!