FEC10 now in progress

As I write this, our Michigan State University Extension first-ever virtual fall conference is still in progress. We have another full day of concurrent sessions waiting for us today. I have received some great feedback about the online format, most of it positive, and all of it constructive. We’ve had record-breaking attendance. We’ve also had some technological glitches, which certainly are frustrating, but also come with the pledge to “learn by doing.” I’ve been overwhelmed by the examples I’ve seen of colleagues simply adapting and moving on with their presentations, just as they would if they were using a slide projector and the bulb blew out during their presentation. We have some pretty cool performers among us!

 Some people have been able to attend who have never before experienced our Fall Extension Conference because they were not able to travel to the conference site.

 There is a wealth of information being shared. I wish I could attend all of the sessions – and fortunately we can attend them “after the fact” by viewing the recorded session. Remember if you watch a recording that you can’t raise your hand or enter a question on the chat. Believe me, I’ve tried.

 District Day gave us a chance to meet and network in person. And the institute directors did a fantastic job yesterday guiding their institute members through some really important discussions about our logic models and their implementation. And don’t forget the fun activities offered up by the Inspiration Committee. Have you shared photos on the Facebook page, looked for Sparty on the Fall Extension Conference site, joined in discussion in the virtual lounge or taken part in the scavenger hunt? I’m still seeking a Twitter coach who specializes in introverts.

 I’m looking forward to Friday when we can view posters and find out who won the fun diversions. Associate director Steve Lovejoy will provide a wrap-up to the week – be prepared to share your reactions during that session AND in the survey that you’ll receive in the days ahead to help us learn what we can improve on as we apply this immersion experience to program planning for stakeholders and for fellow Extension professionals.

 Thanks to the many people who worked behind the scenes to make this virtual conference a success. Earlier this week, Associate director Michelle Rodgers observed that a year ago and even six months ago, we couldn’t have done this. We wouldn’t have had the Information Technology infrastructure nor the skills for so many of our staff to present programs on-line or to participate in on-line sessions. Many have contributed to our preparations, and particularly the FEC10 planning committee, our organizational development team (whom you met in the lead-in to Monday afternoon’s awards session), and particularly our ANR Information Technology staff, led by Erica Ciupak, and represented especially by Luke Reese and our ANR Communications staff, led by Ruth Borger, and represented especially by Megghan Honke, and our professional development staff, Kathy Foerster and Lela Vandenberg. We don’t have our IT infrastructure fully implemented yet, but based on what we’ve experienced so far, I’m really looking forward to what ANR IT has in the plans for us. Thanks to so many for helping to get us ready for this!

 As I said in my opening comments on Monday, borrowing from Jim Collins (Good to Great), we’re not looking for these technological skills and assets to create the changes that we need to implement, but we certainly hope that they can accelerate the changes that we are putting into place!

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