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October 13, 2008

Harnessing the Contribution Revolution for Extension

According to Harvard Business Review author, Scott Cook" "Every day, millions of people make all kinds of voluntary contributions to companies--from informed opinions to compution resources--that create tremendous value for those firms' customers and, consequently, for their shareholders." He explains: "The users can be customers, employees, sales prospects--or even people with no previous connection to the company. Their contributions can be active (work, expertise, or information) or passive and even unknowing (behavioral data that is gathered automatically during a transaction or an activity)."

Cook dubs this customer engagement as The Contribution Revolution - supporting volunteers in building your business. Highlighting success stories from gruops like Goggle, eBay and Hyatt, he explores where contributions can help companies grow and why people contribute to these companies.

We in Extension may not consider ourselves companies or in-business. However, I am conviced that our emerging and successful programs will benefit from this Web 2.0 revolution. In fact, I keep asking why we should embrace social technologies in Extension. This article provides one fairly convincing answer. Check it out.

October 6, 2008

Off to Web 2.0!!


So we are off and running within the web 2.0!! A few responses to the final questions follow:

What were your favorite discoveries or exercises? I really enjoyed the push to explore technologies that otherwise sit, dust collecting, on my to-do shelf. The little gems of web-info that I uncovered in-text (e.g., fodey.com) were great.

How has this program assisted or affected your everyday work? Of course, I am trying new things here and there. More important, I am thinking more holistically about our use of the internet for Extension programming. For example, I discovered (and have since thouroughly enjoyed) Animoto somewhere in this course. That week, I posted a family mash-up. But, I later tried a quick Extension program promo...thinking how great to have something like this running on our site or at the beginning of class as folks pile-in, or a mash-up of pictures of their class emailed afterward? (See the result below.) Then, I introduced Chery Day to Animoto...and she began trying it out.....

Were there any unexpected outcomes or take-aways that surprised you? I am pretty surprised at my lingering inability to get what Twitter is all about.... But mostly, I am consistently surprised with how easy the insightful developers are making use of really advanced and cool technology.

What could we do differently to improve this program? Overall, I think there should be integrated incentive to visit others' blogs...interact with them. Admittedly, I have barely surfed the things others are gathering/doing with this course.

Although it would add something to the workload, it might also be useful to ask participants to apply lessons learned to their Extension Programs - a sort of real-world project experience.

If another enrichment course of this nature were offered in the future, would you try to participate? Sure...especially if I can get something like an MP3 player again!

October 3, 2008

Understanding Digital Natives

If anyone out there is reading this (last week, I noticed that the blog surfaced on the second page of a UMN search for IT), you might enjoy "Understanding Students Who Were ‘Born Digital’" from the Inside Higher Ed News. This is a compelling review of a new book that describes the role of education technology for a nation of youth immersed from birth in the suff of microchips.... From the article:

"Technology is never a panacea. And technology on its own can do nothing; it’s just a tool for teachers and students to put to work in support of how they want to teach and to learn. A realistic expectation is that technology may be able to help support your pedagogical goals, but it’s not going to (nor should it) do anything on its own."

The bigger question here: Will Nate start using this blog beyond the scope of his Extension course? Not sure...but it is looking more and more useful.

October 1, 2008

Not Enough UM Connecting


I went the advanced (slightly) route - set up a practice meeting and played with the display settings. I am a fan of the whiteboard.

The few times I have been involved in UMConnect meetings, I have surmised that one of the first questions we in Extension should regularly ask ourselves is "Do we need to travel for an in-person meeting?" UMConnect and similar technologies enable so much of the same work to happen without the requisite road-time and gas guzzle. In some cases, I would even venture the hunch that tools available in UMConnect can make the work more visible, focused...efficient. (Not that in-person meetings are bad....)

Like Moodle and the Google Suite, I suspect UMConnect will significantly change the way we do our work as disperse teams. I also embrace the potential to host webinars that feed into asynchronous Breeze Presenter presentations.... Some of my NRE colleagues are already pros at hosting workshops simultaneously in three or four locations via UMConnect. COOL Stuff. But most of my colleagues and participants still do not use it regularly - Connect-Shy, I guess.

And we ain't seen nothing yet! For all the uber techies in this mix, I suggest you peruse the UMN Digital Media Center for new tools that periodically come online. Today, I found an online mind-mapping tool http://dmc.umn.edu/objects/mindmap/. A few weeks ago, I encountered therein a UMN tool for creating virtual worlds - something like SecondLife. Imagine meeting Extension work team member avatars in a virtual environment? I admit this one is still beyond me....