One of the core principles of our Michigan State University Extension redesign process has been the need to embrace technology as a tool in extending the reach of our programs and expanding the information we make available. Not surprisingly, other organizations we work with are trying to learn how to use technology as well and some have asked to learn from our experience. A good example is the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC), which has asked for advice as they seek to use webinars and Web conferences to connect county commissioners across the state. One of the best ways to learn the use of technology is to use it, and this week some of our colleagues in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute provided a webinar on programs in the institute for the Agriculture and Tourism Subcommittee of MAC (chaired by retired Kalamazoo County Extension director Ann Nieuwenhuis).
The webinar achieved much more than helping MAC members to learn how to participate in a webinar. It also provided a great overview of current projects and priorities within the institute. Wendy Powers, AABI director, served as the facilitator, and then Beth Stuever, Bruce MacKellar, Beth Franz, Jerry May, Marilyn Thelen, Brenda Reau, Nancy Thelen, Phil Tocco and Rebecca Finneran provided details on programs and resources in the institute. It’s a great overview of what our colleagues in AABI have accomplished and what they are working on. To view a recording of the two-hour presentation, go to http://breeze.msu.edu/p3c604jf1e9/. Beth Bishop prepared a separate recording on the Enviroweather program as an additional resource and it is available at http://breeze.msu.edu/p55e0jzhue2/. Thanks to all for putting together such a great illustration of what’s new at MSUE in agriculture.
The single nationwide Web presence for Cooperative Extension, eXtension, is another way U.S. land-grant universities provide objective and research-based information and learning opportunities that help people improve their lives.
Since the time our Michigan State University Extension eXtension Institutional Team (I-Team) was formed in Oct. 2009, we’ve made a lot of progress in the increased use and adoption of this Internet-based educational network by MSU Extension staff members and faculty. I’ve reported on that progress and even awards the I-Team has won for outstanding work with eXtension. Educators, specialists and faculty are answering questions on Ask An Expert, leading and participating in Communities of Practice (CoPs) and offering many professional webinars nationally through eXtension.
Recently, eXtension gained additional resources to further strengthen the interactive learning environment as our national “front door.” The eXtension Foundation, which exists to support the work of the national eXtension Initiative, has been selected to participate in the Google for Nonprofits program. Participating in the program gives eXtension access to a free or discounted version of Google Apps (applications). Through the Google grants program, eXtension will get free Adwords advertising and appear as an advertiser on Google search results pages, and have premium branding and increased uploads on YouTube as well as access to other applications. These products and resources will allow us to reach more potential donors or partners, raise awareness and improve business operations. Read about it here.
The initial CoPs involved in the Google grants program will be DAIReXNET; Families, Food and Fitness; and Just in Time Parenting. Other CoPs will be included as knowledge and experience in participating in the nonprofits program is gained.
Read more about the Google for Nonprofits Program: http://www.google.com/nonprofits/.