October 13, 2008

That's All, Folks!

This course has me so jazzed I can't stand it! I just wish I had more time to play with all of the different technologies. One of the biggest surprises was with a technology I had experience with -- Facebook. At the 2008 International Master Gardener Coordinators Conference in Washington DC, it was discussed using Facebook as a place to create a social network for Master Gardener volunteers. They could share their projects there, as well as getting to know other MGs. I'm tempted to create a special group for our MG interns and mentors this year. We'll see what happens. I think the one technology I'm just not sure of and am trying to get used to is Twitter. LIke verything else, use it or lose it, so am going to see what I can think of using this stuff. Just hope I can get some friends to join me on that journey.

I belong to the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA.) I'm hosting something that's called a MAVA Connections -- basically a group of leaders of volunteers getting together to discuss a topic. I titled mine "using today's technology with volunteers" and we're going to discuss some of the technology presented during this course. I think folks will be as surprised as I was at the great applications out there.

I cannot thing of any ways to improve this course. I really enjoyed it and thank Ms. Baker for doing it! AMY BAKER ROCKS!

Creative Conferencing

Oh, I love this technology! However, as expected, don't have the rights to download onto my laptop. I will try and get some assistance from our county administrative staff. I think there's a lot that can be done with the technology, epsecially with Master Gardener volunteers. Should gas prices continue to rise, one alternative for delivering horticulture education to the masses could be via this new technology. Also, this would be very easy to use with Master Gardener volunteers who can't get to the office for one reason or another. A very fun way to connect with people who's schedule doesn't work with others. I'm also thinking of using this for virtual meetings without a training component. Just need to get that software loaded! I have used the technology to deliver a training module to volunteer coordinators -- used some other technology. It went fine, but can be a challenge when one can't see the faces those you're communicating with. However, truly a great resource!

October 11, 2008

Twitterings

I agree with the gentleman who wrote the article re. this new technology, it kinda freaked me out at first. However, I can see uses for this in my own profession (just like everything else we've done!) I think the most obvious would be that for those with cell phones, it would be great to have so you could broadcast messages should there be an event cancellation, especially at the last minute, say, in the case of a snow storm or something. Some of the other uses were mentioned in the academic article -- I like the idea of tracking a word -- could help with invasives -- like keeping track of the use of "emerald ash borer" or something. I know I’ll have to play with it to get more ideas, but I think it could be real useful.

I have used IM with my county colleagues as we're able to do this using Lotus notes. I'm not sure if I'll be able to load the U of M's system onto my county computer due to their restrictions, but I'll try. I have liked the use with my county folks as you can track when someone's logged into the system and therefore might be able to catch them at their desk.

October 10, 2008

Social Networking

The idea of using social networking at work had never occurred to me until just recently. I'm typing this from the International Master Gardener Conference in Washington DC! Yesterday we had a discussion about using social networking for our volunteers. I can see two really good applications -- one to create a social network amongst our volunteers. In Hennepin County we have about 300 volunteers. I often hear that they feel the group is "too big" despite us offering ways at meetings for them to interact more. I think a Facebook Page would help them get to know each other better. We've also discussed using this technology on a statewide basis, trying to have folks communicate differently than via a Listserve. I think the greatest challenge is that most of our volunteers are older; many 50+. I do think this generation has a reluctance to use the Internet in general, and the idea of social networking could send them over the edge. Not that all in this group wouldn't enjoy the technology, but there has been resistance to have our older volunteers to enter their hours on-line -- they LOVE paper! However, I think with a little education, this could change . . . we'll see.

September 22, 2008

Productivity!

Just when you think you can't get any more productive, Web 2.0 comes along and shows you just how long you've been living in the dark ages! I'm very excited about these applications, both as a personal application and for use with volunteers. I've already started a "to do" list on Ta-da. Doodle will be great for scheduling meetings -- really helpful in the volunteer situation as everyone has different calendar systems. I loaded one of our slide presentations into Google. We've been looking for a way for a group of volunteers to edit presentations together, but not have to attend a lot of meetings. This technology will hopefully do that for us! Slideshare is cool, but I don't think more than one person can edit presentations there. Finally, checked out Piknik and loaded a photo for editing. This site will come in very handy for editing photos -- I do have some software to do this, but Piknik has more bells and whistles than most.

Wiki Wonderful

After checking out the wonderful world of Wikis, not to be confused with Wookies, I'm thinking there could be many applications for use with volunteers. One area I'd like to explore with Master Gardeners is updating our presentation materials. If we could use a Wiki format where folks could all see the same presentation and suggest changes to it, it would cut down on face-to-face meeting time. However, I don't think the technology is there yet as we'd need to interface with PowerPoint. Still, it's intriguing.

September 3, 2008

Podcasts

Just attempted the fun and exciting world of Podcasts. While I didn't find a lot of applications for the world of Master Gardening, I did find some interesting ones on a personal level. The best horticultural site found was the BarnCast by "two geeks" living in rural Indiana. They're logging their lives on the farm -- and was pretty interesting. However, the RSS link wasn't working so unable to subscribe. But will check them out in the future. I do think it would be fun to do a weekly or monthly podcast to volunteers describing program accomplishments and thus recognizing volunteers. However, I don't have the equipment necessary. Some day!

September 2, 2008

Photos & the Web

I continue to be totally amazed at what one can do on the web. I have used Facebook for photos, but this makes a lot more sense, especially for the use of photos and volunteers. A very easy way for us to post photos of events, without putting tons of photos on our website. Also like the video option. I created a Flickr account, starting out with a picture of my dog [http://flickr.com/photos/30217406@N08/.] We’ll see where this leads!

August 27, 2008

RSS

This is so darn cool! Who knew you could keep track of things on the web this easily?!? I can think of many ways Master Gardener volunteers could use this technology -- subscribing to University of Minnesota Extension sites that are updated regularly like the "Yard and Garden News" and the state Master Gardener website are obvious. There are a lot of great gardening/horticulture websites out there with researched based information -- but who has the time to check it all? This is a welcome tool -- my parents are avid birders and participate in a birding page with photos and stories about the birds they photograph [the Henderson Feathers-- http://www.hendersonmn.com/birding/index.php.] Now I can keep track of them a bit easier!

August 6, 2008

First Entry

How darn exciting it is to finally have a blog of one's own! I contributed to my community garden blog during the summer of 2007, but haven't done anything more than that.

I'm very interested how this and other web-based technology can be used throughout Extension, especially with Master Gardener volunteers. Training is one obvious application. However, with 300 volunteers throughout a large county, I think there are many other uses such as on-line meetings, discussion/work groups and blogs. I look forward to learning more and trying out new things on the web!