FAQs on Short-Course Options


1. What are the options for the short-course?

You can participate in three different ways in the short-course: "Exploring Specialization and Regionalization in Extension."  These are:


 #1: Basic Online Option:  Up to five state teams can participate.

#2: Customized Online Option: Includes only individuals from one state,

#3: Customized Onsite Option: Includes only individuals from one state.


2. Do all three options have the same goals?

Yes.  Although the curriculum is idential for all three options, the mode of delivery of the course differs.  

While participants in all three options will learn about the features of four states which have adopted regional models, those selecting the basic option will also hear from their colleagues in other states as they evaluate the pros and cons of alternative models. 


3.  Why would any state prefer the Customized Options?

Some states will prefer the customized option for three reasons: 

1) the agenda can be customized to fit the needs of an individual state;

2) larger numbers of individuals from a state can participate at one time;  and

3) it is possible to guarantee confidentially for these discussions while it is not possible to guarantee confidentially in sessions that have people from other states. 


4. How does this course "Exploring Specialization and Regional Delivery in Extension" compare with the previous course called " Creating Your Own Regional Extension System?"

This course is essential the same course with two major modifications.  First, a fouth session was added, reflecting the need for more discussion about specialization prior to doing the force field analysis.  Second, the fee was increased from $150 per team, with additional fees of $50 per person up to five to $460 for a team of up to five, or $11.50 per participant per contact hour.  While originally I was not planning to offer this course this spring due to a number of other projects, I was convinced to offer it at this fee.


5. How have prior participants rated the course?

Ninety-four percent of those evaluating the course said they would recommend it to their peers (with 83% saying "yes, definitely" and 11% saying "yes" when asked if they would).  However, they did not know about the price increase when doing the survey - and neither did I.

Here is the evaluation survey from the first and second offering of the pilot course.


Feedback Survey:  First and Second Offering

 "Creating Your Own Regional Extension System"


George Morse

Professor Emeritus, Applied Economics

University of Minnesota




Course Description:


The goal of the course is to share information on options being used to encourage regionalization and specialization of Extension educators. Participants are then given an opportunity to use force field analysis to develop a unique plan for their state.  The course is outlined in greater detail on my blog: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/morse001/gwmspecial/


Course Participants and Confidentiality:


This feedback covers two offerings of the short course in the winter of 2010-2011. Teams of three to five participated from four states, with 15 participants. Two-thirds of the participants were from Extension administration (Associate Dean and Director (2), Assistant Directors (2), Program Leaders (3), Regional Director (2), County Director (1)). One state also included on its team Regional Educators (3) and a state Specialist.


My course policy prohibits sharing the names of the participants and states that have participated in this course.  However, the four states which have completed it spanned the nation from coast to coast


The three two-hour webinar sessions were completed over a six-week period to allow the state teams to discuss issues between the meetings. Roughly, 40% of the first session was group discussion, 80% in the second session, and 95% in the third session. Attendance was 93 percent.  


Feedback Results:


Ten of the 15 participants completed the formal feedback survey, one completed an hour-long telephone interview, and another sent a note of appreciation before the feedback survey was sent out. In summary, feedback was provided by 80 percent of the participants with 67 percent completing the questions listed below.


1)      If you were asked by a peer in another state, would you recommend this short-course?


Table 1:  Would You Recommend Short-Course to Peers?

Feature Mentioned

 Percent of Respondents

Yes, definitely


Yes, probably


No, each state need to find its own way


No, not worth the time


·         N = 9 of 15 in course because the original survey omitted this question and the first response came in before it was added.  One participant split the vote between "yes, definitely" and "No, not worth the time" so half of this vote was allocated to each one. See second comment below.


·         Yes, definitely... I would describe the context in which I participated and the outcomes.

·         As a learning process, yes definitely. As a change process, no because it did not give the time or stakeholder engagement necessary for real change. 


2)      To date, I have invited only a limited number of people to the course. In the future, who should be invited to join (along with one or two others)?   


Table 2:  Who Should Be Invited to Short-Course?

Feature Mentioned

 Percent of Respondents

a.       Extension Directors


b.      Program Leaders & Regional Directors


c.       Educators


d.      County Commissioners or Councils


e.       Other Stakeholders


·         One respondent marked this one and then indicated "maybe" so counted as ½ a vote.


·         My first inclination is to not include county commissioners but then - - - on the other hand - why not? They could be essential in the proactive approach we must take in order to stay on their radar as essential resources. Who to invite might also depend on what point in the process a state is currently.

·          Definitely all of the above. But in particular, our educators need to hear about successful transitions and that what we are in fact moving towards has been tried and proven. We constantly get the attitude that we're setting up something ridiculous that could never ever work, so hearing about Minnesota by ALL of them would be great.

·         I see the above B and C as the greatest beneficiaries of the course. As other aspects link into administration, relationships etc, A and D would also be good to engage with.  

·         I think there are valuable benefits to working through this course. Involving all stakeholders could be quite powerful!

·          All of the above should be represented, possibly through segmented course offerings designed to reach each audience. 

·         Program Leaders, Regional Directors (Area Administrators), and possibly county directors seem to be the best audience for this course

·          I think a, b, and c should definitely be included as for d & e, I think it might be worth a try to include them on a test session to see if they help or just muddy the waters.

·         Who is invited depends on what you are trying to accomplish. I thought this was a course on processes that could be used to reinvent the way we do our work. Instead, it was the actual act of reinventing our work. For the latter purpose, all extension stakeholders should be involved. 


3)      What did you like best about the short-course?


Table 1: Liked Best about Short-Course

Feature Mentioned

 Percent of Respondents

Individual state project


Having another state participate


Reflection on options with other members of our state team


Learning about other states



·         It was enormously useful to learn what the situation is in other states and to reflect with the other 2 folks from my state on what might be viable here. We definitely used all this as a jumping off point to what we came up with conceptually. Once you do some thinking on the options (still hoping they won't come to pass) it is less threatening to head off into uncharted territory.

·         The chance to talk through (and be challenged) about staffing options. This enabled coming up with the best possible plans . The opportunity to work with you on developing our plan 

·         Liked the fact that there were just two or three other states participating, making the conversations fairly easy. Also thought the assignment of a project for each state was a good activity. It helped us to apply what we learned.

·         Hearing how other states were reorganizing. Especially learning from states ahead of us, like Minnesota, that has successfully marched down the road we are just starting.

·         The opportunity to have an open discussion with colleagues in other states about effective change in Extension systems. It opened my eyes about what works and what does not, which changes from one state to the next.

·         I enjoyed the interaction with you as a guru to transforming systems and infrastructures of ES. I also enjoyed the offline conversation, the FFA exercise and learning from other universities and groups.  

·         It was a chance to work with friends and colleagues from my institution and other land grant universities. It gave our team the opportunity to creatively think about our future. 

·         The one-on-one interaction, customizing individual State plans, follow-up, and assistance during State planning were the highlights.

·         The program delivered via audio/video-conference was very convenient. The three-part approach enabled me to get necessary instruction, apply the knowledge with colleagues in my state, and validate what was learned in a follow up session.

·         Thought it was pretty good. I read (most of) the book and thought it helped in going through the web based process. The book helped to provide additional details on what Minnesota and other states are doing. The program helped us put together a proposal for a pilot program in our state


4)      How could I improve it? What was missing that you expected? What did I overdo?


All of the suggestions, except one, were unique so the full response is shown. While unique, there are some excellent suggestions, which are being incorporated into the course.   The one item mentioned by five (55%) of the respondents were the technology glitches. The "GoToMeeting.com" system was used for the webinars. In six of the seven sessions, the system worked well, with only a couple of  minor audio problems by a couple of people. In the final session of the first offering, the audio was completely lost for many of the participants, including myself, during the last 20 minutes.    


·         Did not overdo anything from my vantage point. Giving us guidance about which particular sections of the book to read or re-read was good. The relevance was important. The workbook format one person talked about would be a great addition so that is one thing you might decide to tackle.

·         Many of us just didn't have time to read the book - so a little more description about the content, as it pertained to the course would have been helpful.

·         I especially enjoyed our one-on-one time with you. It helped us speak directly about the other state, and get your insight and answers to questions that continually come up among our faculty. Otherwise, I valued the course as presented. I think the structure of bringing us all together, then individually and back together again worked very well.

·         I thought the process itself was valuable and provided a best case for effective change. The technologies had glitches, though, which distracted form the process and from the final product.

·         It is hard to do at times because we all assume technology is fail proof, but if technology could be improved or if we could cross our fingers that we can stay connected, that would be an improvement. If depth of content can be increased in such a short course or additional commitment of homework assignments on the part of participants, that too would also be good.


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by gw published on October 6, 2010 10:58 AM.

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Instructor for Short-Course: George Morse is the next entry in this blog.

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