Tag Archives: webinar

ANR Tech Services gets kudos for helping at the local level

I received an email last week from Joanne Davidhizar, Extension educator in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, that really made my day. Joanne sent her note on behalf of her colleagues in the MSUE Berrien County Office. She took the opportunity to sing praises for the work of the ANR Tech Services team in helping to convert their entire office over to be part of the ANR IT network. Previously the office had been served by Berrien County with IT support, and through the new MoA we have with Berrien County, it made more sense to switch over to the MSU system. Brian Hoort, acting as point person for ANR Tech Services, helped by first determining the services and functionality needed in the office. He then engaged colleagues Suporn Teng and Mike Walters in developing a plan, and then helped the Berrien County staff to purchase the right equipment and get it set up with the ANR system. Brian and the team helped with the conversion to the new network arrangement and continued to provide support through the Help Desk.

Joanne reports that they’ve been operating in the new system for seven months and “couldn’t be happier. At every opportunity, I urge educators from other counties to consider setting up as Berrien MSUE has done starting with a conversation with ANR Tech.”

Some additional comments from Deb Barrett help to explain the functionality they’ve achieved: “Webinar access is a piece of cake and I rarely have trouble with accessibility. Our previous system was so blocked that it prevented staff and our clientele from accessing and utilizing many online tools and resources that we can now easily access – thank you!

“The scanner, faxing and file share capabilities have been easy to use and work well. I appreciate and am relieved to know that files are backed up at MSU. The leap to wireless has allowed me to be more mobile and work from various locations with colleagues across the state while still accessing some of the information that I need. Now that I have had the opportunity to use SharePoint regularly, I appreciate its purpose and have found it quite handy for working with work group documents where our work group members stretch from corner to corner of the state, including the U.P.”

Those are the kinds of testimonials we like to hear! Thanks to Joanne, Deb and their colleagues for sharing their thoughts, and thanks especially to Brian and his colleagues in ANR Tech Services for making the system work. Remember to call upon them through the Help Desk or by calling 517-355-3776 if you need tech support.

Erica Ciupak, director of ANR Tech Services, joined me on the biweekly MSUE Update webinar this Monday, Sept. 17, with information on hardware purchases and service agreements. She also mentioned how to access support from her staff. You may want to review that portion of the webinar if you weren’t able to log in to the live session.

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Learn to structure webinar content

As you know, we’ve talked a great deal about “embracing” technology as a means of expanding our programs’ reach and impacts, and we’ve made tremendous strides. But sometimes we can get so wrapped up in the technology that our attention is consumed by the software and the real purpose of the program becomes an afterthought. I often need to remind myself that technology is the method we use to get our message across, not the message itself. And whether the meeting is online or face-to-face, it’s important to be organized with a prepared agenda to follow.

 Molly Frendo, Michigan State University Extension associate program leader in the Children and Youth Institute, will lead a face-to-face three-hour workshop session to help participants to create effective and engaging webinars. Rather than focus on the ins and outs of the technology, this learning experience will zero in on structuring the content of a webinar to facilitate online learning opportunities that are interesting and keep participants’ attention.

 Capacity will be limited to 10 people so that attendees can work on actual webinar content and receive feedback and support. “Creating Engaging Webinars” takes place March 19 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the MSU campus, 95 Agriculture Hall. The cost is $15. Register by March 12 at the MSU Extension Professional Development Registration System by clicking on the session title. And if we find demand far surpasses supply, we’ll work to find a way to broaden the reach of this program – face-to-face or online!

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Charging for one-on-one programming

During our September 26 Redesign webinar, we shared information about the draft policy that is being developed on cost recovery for programs in our new structure (you can advance to this section of the September 26 webinar by moving to the 31:50 time mark in the webinar). During the webinar and afterwards, colleagues have shared questions and concerns that are quite welcome and helpful as we think through this policy and design it well. One of my greatest concerns is that we apply this policy consistently throughout the organization. As with any policy, we ultimately must rely on the judgment and integrity of everyone in Michigan State University Extension to apply the policy consistently and yet remain consistent with our other values and policies as well. We are still refining the policy and communications about the policy, but I thought it might be helpful to share a perspective that I didn’t share during the webinar.

 Some see the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and some see MSUE as the stewards or safeguards of the land-grant mission at MSU. My personal opinion is that President Simon holds that responsibility, and having listened carefully to her speeches and having read her communications over the past six years, I am convinced as ever that she is not only committed to our land-grant mission, but she is its chief advocate and proponent. Still, some see changes such as our move to apply fees for repeated education and visits with individuals – whether farms, businesses, families or communities – as an erosion or even abandonment of the land-grant mission. I would argue that this policy is not about the mission. We are stewards of public investments to have access to the resources, experts, research and extension programs, that equip us to translate research into practice. This remains at the core of what we’re doing in our programs – whether we are delivering to one individual or to a group of hundreds through online programs. The issue is about applying those public investments fairly and judiciously to public needs and then applying private investments to the application of these publicly funded resources to private interest needs.

 Reflecting back a few decades, the education mission of MSU was highly subsidized by public funds. In the 1960s, the state of Michigan appropriations covered 65 percent of the cost of MSU’s academic programs. Private funds – tuition and fees – covered the other 35 percent. As public investments have weakened in the past four decades, the burden of that funding has shifted more and more to the private interest that benefits from education – the individual students. Today, tuition and fees cover 65 percent of the cost of MSU’s academic programs and public funds cover the remainder. That has been achieved through a series of increases in tuition and fees. If the Board of Trustees had not increased tuition over that time, the ability of MSU to fulfill its education mission and to deliver the quality of education expected from the state’s land-grant university would have been undermined. From the perspective of someone who paid tuition in 1965, the university seems to have moved away from its principle of remaining accessible to the children of all of Michigan’s mothers and fathers. From the perspective of someone paying tuition in 2011, the university seems to be operating like other universities, trying to balance accessibility to all with the need to ensure the integrity of the university with funds need to operate a 21st century university. And as tuition and fees have increased, MSU has become more aggressive about increasing the amount of financial aid available for those who are qualified to study at MSU, but whose resources otherwise limit them from attending.

 MSUE has faced reductions in public investments over the same period. We do not charge tuition, and we do not benefit from the university’s collection of tuition. As we look ahead, it’s not likely that we’ll see a return to higher funding levels for MSUE in the near future. Yet the costs of delivering on the Extension leg of the land-grant mission continue to increase. As stewards of the Extension mission for MSU, we have a responsibility to ensure that we are developing other funding sources so that we can fulfill our mission. There are multiple sources of funding we need to pursue, including contracts and grants from state, federal and non-government sources, gifts from donors (individuals, companies and foundations), and fees for services that serve a specific individual need. So while charging for repeated visits with a farmer or a community or a family may seem out of line with our past practices, it is not out of line with our mission. As long as we are balancing the public investment to serve public needs and expecting private investments for serving private needs, I think we are not only consistent with our mission, but we are acting responsibly to ensure the ongoing availability of our education and applied research services.

 As part of our commitment to serve all residents, we must acknowledge that there may be some individuals who do not have the resources to pay for what clearly serves a private need. In that case, we need to develop a companion policy and set of resources – perhaps resulting from gifts from donors or sponsors – to subsidize the needs of those who lack the ability to pay. Your thoughts on how to develop and implement an explicit “financial aid” policy would be welcome.

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Webinar trains food entrepreneurs in following Cottage Food Law

Michigan’s Cottage Food Law, enacted in 2010, allows individuals to manufacture and store certain types of foods in an unlicensed home kitchen. It’s intended to support farmers markets by allowing certain value-added products to be sold without the expense and trouble of preparing them in a licensed commercial kitchen.

 The Michigan State University Extension Food Safety Team made a teaching webinar in order to meet the needs of Michigan residents in relationship to food safety pertaining to the Cottage Food Law. The webinar was the most efficient and consistent way of providing educational information to this audience. Led by food safety co-chairs and Extension educators Jeannie Nichols and Jan Seitz, the Food Safety team members include Jennifer Berkey, Robin Danto, Diana Fair, Eileen Haraminac, Jane Hart, Linda Huyck, Pat Joyce, Joyce McGarry, Laurie Messing, Lucia Patritto, Janet Rathke, Christy Rivette, Phil Tocco, Lisa Treiber, Chris Venema and Beth Waitrovich.

 Jeannie stated, “For us as educators, it meant learning about developing a professional, interactive and interesting site.”

 The team developed “MI Cottage Food Law Food Safety Training/Webinar” with support from Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications team members Laura Probyn, Steve Evans and Kraig Ehm. Laura edited and revised the initial script. Laura and Kraig voiced the project, and Steve edited the PowerPoint that was the basis for the webinar and built quiz and evaluation modules for the project.

 According to Jeannie, the quiz at the end of the webinar evaluates the knowledge that participants gain as well as their intent to use the information from the webinar. Once a participant completes the quiz with 70 percent accuracy, he or she can purchase a certificate to display at a farmers market booth. Farmers markets customers would then see that the vendor had taken the initiative to take some extra food safety training in relation to cottage foods.

 Food Safety Team members conducted face-to-face presentations throughout the state using the curriculum to validate its content and usefulness before it was made available online. To help with this project, the team applied for and received a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) grant that allowed the production of this webinar including marketing materials.

 You can view the webinar here: http://vimeo.com/24282676

 Plans are underway to add the webinar to the governor’s weekly video feature rotation and to be placed on the MDARD’s YouTube channel.

 This is a great illustration of what the new MSUE is all about and how we’re embracing technology to achieve our mission. And it shows the interlinkage among work teams and institutes. Some of the greatest demand for the webinar is likely to come from individuals and businesses who sell homemade products at farmers markets, which are among the assets that we try to support through the community food systems group in the Greening Michigan Institute.

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MSU Extension lends expertise to eXtension webinars

Michigan State University Extension is now able to offer professional development webinars nationally through their eXtension “Learn” system. These are open to Extension colleagues from all states, and are recorded and archived on their Learn site: http://www.extension.org/learn. Land-grant university content providers exchange objective, research-based knowledge to solve real challenges in real time in eXtension, an Internet-based collaborative environment.

Jeannie Nichols, health and nutrition educator, and the MSU Extension Food Safety Team in the Health and Nutrition Institute will present a webinar on May 27 at 11:00 a.m. EST, explaining their new “MI Cottage Food Law: Food Safety” online training for those interested in selling cottage foods. This webinar is an overview of the training for Extension professionals from all states and those from Michigan who may want to encourage their clients to take it. The site for the 30-minute webinar is http://breeze.msu.edu/cottagefoodlaw/.

 Another MSUE staff member, Brian Wibby, children and youth educator, will present the eXtension webinar, “PowerPoint – Friend or Foe?” on July 20 at 2 p.m. EST.

 To view past webinars, go to eXtension Learn at http://www.extension.org/learn. Two previously offered by MSUE are included there: “Radon, Something You Can Live Without” by Jeannie Nichols and “Innovating with Social Media to Connect Communities: Learning from Disasters, Aiming for Resilience” by Theresa Bernardo, associate professor of veterinary medicine.

 If YOU want to offer a professional development webinar to a national audience, contact Lela Vandenberg, senior Extension specialist, at vanden34@msu.edu.

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Creating Entrepreneurial Communities

The Creating Entrepreneurial Communities program is recruiting communities for its next cohort, and its purpose is to coach community teams in the development of entrepreneurial support systems. Please help us promote this to communities (5,000-50,000 population), and to learn more, participate in a webinar on June 8 at 2:00. The URL for the webinar is http://breeze.msu.edu/msuecec/. For more information, and an application package, contact Dr. Barb Fails at the Land Policy Institute at fails@msu.edu.

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