Using Digital Technology in Extension Education

Using Digital Technology in Extension Education

Rose Hayden-Smith, Editor Photo: Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

ATTRIBUTION

Using Digital Technology in Extension Education

Copyright © Hayden-Smith, R. 2020, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Published by Extension Foundation. ISBN: 978-1-7340417-7-4

Publish Date: 9/18/2020

Citations for this publication may be made using the following: Hayden-Smith, R. (2020). Using Digital Technology in Extension Education (1 st ed., 2 nd rev). Kansas City: Extension Foundation. ISBN: 978-1-7340417-7-4

Producer: Ashley S. Griffin

Peer Review Coordinator: Heather Martin

Technical Implementer: Ashley Griffin and Rose Hayden-Smith

Welcome to the Using Digital Technology in Extension Education, a resource created for the Cooperative Extension Service and published by the Extension Foundation.

This work is supported by New Technologies for Agriculture Extension grant no. 2019-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For more information please contact:

Extension Foundation c/o Bryan Cave LLP One Kansas City Place

1200 Main Street, Suite 3800 Kansas City, MO 64105-2122 https://impact.Extension.org/

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Attribution .............................................................................................................................................. 2 Table of Contents..................................................................................................................................... 3 Meet The Authors.................................................................................................................................... 5 Acknowledgments ................................................................................................................................. 10 Executive Summary ............................................................................................................................... 10 Purpose of the Guide. ............................................................................................................................................... 10 TECHNOLOGY FUTURING WORK AND RATIONALE................................................................................... 11 Publication Overview............................................................................................................................. 12 What’s Here ...................................................................................................................................................................... 12 How to Use Connect Extension ........................................................................................................................................ 13 Part One: Perspectives ................................................................................................................. 14 Introduction .......................................................................................................................................... 14 Linking Communication and Information Technology to Agricultural Knowledge Networks ..................... 16 Introduction ...................................................................................................................................................................... 16 Background ....................................................................................................................................................................... 16 The Future of ICT and Agriculture Networks .................................................................................................................... 17 Transforming Cooperative Extension’s Digital Ecosystem ........................................................................ 19 What’s Different ............................................................................................................................................................... 20 Things to Consider ............................................................................................................................................................ 20 When Circumstances Call for Innovation, the Status Quo May be the Biggest Risk........................................................ 20 Extension as a Service (EaaS).................................................................................................................. 23 Introduction ...................................................................................................................................................................... 23 What Innovation is Not..................................................................................................................................................... 23 Are We Asking the Right Questions? Setting the Right Goals? ........................................................................................ 23 How Do We Proceed with Transformation?..................................................................................................................... 24 Examples of Note .............................................................................................................................................................. 25 Part Two: Featured Technologies.................................................................................................. 26 Introduction .......................................................................................................................................... 26 Social Media ...................................................................................................................................................................... 26 COVID-19 Affirms Our Choice ........................................................................................................................................... 27 Building a Peer-to-Peer National Network: Connect Extension ................................................................ 28 Introduction ...................................................................................................................................................................... 28 Learning from Success and Failure ................................................................................................................................... 28 The Technology................................................................................................................................................................. 29 Enlisting Individuals Willing to Make It Successful ........................................................................................................... 30 Instagram: Platform Basics, Case Studies and Resources ......................................................................... 32 Platform Overview ............................................................................................................................................................ 32 Case Study: A Photo is Worth a Thousand Words: Using Instagram for Extension Education .................... 35 Introduction ...................................................................................................................................................................... 35

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Instagram Basics ............................................................................................................................................................... 35 How I Used the Platform .................................................................................................................................................. 36 Expanding Your Audience ................................................................................................................................................. 36 Using Instagram as a Science Communication Tool ......................................................................................................... 36 IGTV – A New Tool for Longer Format Videos .................................................................................................................. 37 Measuring Impact ............................................................................................................................................................. 37 Conclusion......................................................................................................................................................................... 38 The Benefits of Building Virtual Community .................................................................................................................... 38 Q&A: Using Instagram Stories for Science Communication ...................................................................... 39 Resources for Staying Current In Social Media ........................................................................................ 42 Research and Bibliography ..................................................................................................................... 43 Books................................................................................................................................................................................. 43 Articles .............................................................................................................................................................................. 43 Websites ........................................................................................................................................................................... 44 Part Three: Content Strategy ........................................................................................................ 45 Elevate Your Program With A Content Strategy ...................................................................................... 46 What is “content”? What is “content strategy”? ............................................................................................................. 46 Where to share content.................................................................................................................................................... 46 Why Do I Need a Content Strategy or Communications Plan for My Work?................................................................... 47 Want to create a content strategy or communications plan? Here’s a template. .......................................................... 47 Words that Matter................................................................................................................................. 49 Introduction ...................................................................................................................................................................... 49 What is “alt text”? ............................................................................................................................................................ 49 Social Media ...................................................................................................................................................................... 50 Taking a Deeper Dive into Search Engine optimization ............................................................................ 51 What is search engine optimization (SEO)?...................................................................................................................... 51 Want to dive deeper into search engine optimization? Here are some good resources. ............................................... 51 Other Resources – SEO, Google Search, and Content............................................................................... 53 The Joy of Search .............................................................................................................................................................. 53 Google Skillshop and Online Academies .......................................................................................................................... 53 Web Accessibility Resources............................................................................................................................................. 53 Bibliography and Research ............................................................................................................................................... 54 Maximize the Value of What You Create: How to Use Your Blog Post Effectively Across Social Platforms . 56 Part Four: Reports ........................................................................................................................ 57 Part Five: News and Updates........................................................................................................ 59 Managing Multiple Instagram Accounts; Blogging & Writing Tips................................................................................... 59 Resources for Free Stock Photos, Plus: Wonderful Tutorials on Multimedia Production ............................................... 60 Livestreaming Resources .................................................................................................................................................. 60 Zoom Resources: Security Info & Livestream Tips ........................................................................................................... 61 Resources for Video Editing: Using Your Laptop, iPhone, or iPad.................................................................................... 61 YouTube Hacks and Instagram Stories Tutorial ................................................................................................................ 61 Part Six: Resources ....................................................................................................................... 62

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MEET THE AUTHORS

Rose Hayden-Smith, MA Ed, MA, PhD

Curator/Editor

Rose is the Extension Foundation’s 2020 Fellow for Technology in Extension Education. An emeritus Cooperative Extension Advisor with the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), Rose was a 4-H and Master Gardener advisor, and the first female director for Cooperative Extension in Ventura County. She led UC ANR’s sta tewide strategic initiative in Sustainable Food Systems. A practicing U.S. historian, she is nationally known for her research on victory gardens, food policy, and the American homefront in wartime.

Rose is the founding editor/curator of the UC Food Observer blog, launched in 2015 as part of the University of California’s Global Food Initiative. She spent the last portion of her Cooperative Extension career serving as an academic advisor in digital communications and Cooperative Extension education, helping her colleagues capitalize on the potential of social technologies. She is a former W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Policy Fellow, where her work focused on using digital technologies to promote school, home and community gardening. She currently works for the Extension Foundation as part of its publishing team in support of NTAE projects.

Greg Aronoff

Contributor

Greg is the Marketing Manager for the PACE program at Oregon State University. Learning about copywriting, personas, and human motivation, Greg graduated with degrees in advertising and psychology, and has spent the last fourteen years doing marketing and multimedia for the University of Colorado and Oregon State University.

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John Buzzard

Contributor

John is the Assistant Director, Enrollment and Marketing, for the PACE Program at Oregon State University. John coordinates closely with OSU Extension and Engagement division leadership on the development and marketing of innovative non-credit programming. This work has included a vast expansion of online programs developed by Extension and college faculty, and implementation and oversight of a sophisticated digital ecosystem that integrates digital marketing, content management, customer relationship management, and enrollment management. John served previously in marketing communication/technology leadership roles at the University of Kentucky, as well as in the private sector.

David J. Krause

Contributor

Dave is the R&D Digital Program Manager for Driscoll’s Berries. He works managing their digital transformation. Prior to joining Driscoll’s, Dave helped develop the digital footprint at the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, specializing in content management, program and project management, application programming, and strategic planning.

Mark Lubell, PhD

Contributor

Mark is a Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at UC Davis. He studies the cooperation problems related to environmental and agricultural issues, using social science theory and methods. Current projects include agricultural decision making, water governance, climate adaptation, and biosecurity.

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Lindsey Shirley, PhD

Contributor

Lindsey is the Associate Provost, Associate Director of Extension and Engagement at Oregon State University. She has shared innovations in teaching and learning that have been implemented into secondary, post-secondary and Extension learning environments around the world. Prior to working at Oregon State University, Lindsey was an associate professor and Extension Specialist at Utah State University.

Dan Macon, MA

Contributor

Dan is a Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor at the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Prior to becoming a Cooperative Extension Advisor, Dan was an Associate Specialist in rangeland science at UC Davis. He is also a partner in Flying Mule Sheep Company, a small-scale commercial sheep operation. He currently serves as the president of the California Woolgrowers Association.

Aaron Weibe, MA

Contributor

Aaron is the Communications and Engagement Manager for the Extension Foundation. Aaron has more than 10 years of experience in communication in public and international relations. His previous work includes 10 years of active duty service in the United States Air Force as part of the Air Force Public Affairs team throughout the US, Middle East, and Japan. He also served as a lead guitarist for the US Air Force Regional Bands. Aaron earned an MA in Digital Communication and Public and Media Relations from Johns Hopkins University, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Communications.

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ChaNae Bradley, MPA

Contributor

ChaNae is a Senior Communications Specialist at Fort Valley State University, in the College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology. As a creative communications professional, ChaNae strategically plans and manages the production of three publications annually, highlighting impacts in Extension, research and education. In addition, she provides content for social media sites Facebook and Twitter and works in media relations. In 2018, she was elected director of member services for the Association of Communication Excellence (ACE) in Agriculture, Life and Human Sciences. She is currently pursuing a doctorate from the University of Georgia.

Cynthia Kintigh

Contributor

Cynthia is the Marketing Director for the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. With over thirty years of experience in higher education and nonprofit administration and marketing, Cynthia brings a perspective on marketing programs and services gained at organizations as diverse as Ohio State University, Texas A&M, the Gould Voice Research Center, and Capital Public Radio.

Liz Sizensky

Contributor

Liz is a Social Media Strategist at the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.

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Victor Villegas

Contributor

Victor is the Technology and Media Support Coordinator for the Oregon State University Extension Service. He coordinates and provides technical support and training for Cooperative Extension faculty and staff located at 38 county Cooperative Extension offices and eight Regional Agricultural Experiment Stations across Oregon. Victor is also active in STEAM outreach and engagement with K-12 students and teachers.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Many thanks to the individuals who provided original content for this publication. They are experts in their fields and their contributions are deeply appreciated.

Others contributed to this publication in critical ways, including Ashley Griffin, project manager; Heather Martin; and Dr. Dan Russell of Google, who provided content suggestions for the SEO section. I am also grateful for the work of the peer-reviewers who improved this publication in important ways.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Purpose of the Guide. This publication originally appeared as a website. The emergence of COVID-19 has required Cooperative Extension professionals to respond quickly to quickly changing needs. Many of us are working out of our homes and working hard to find ways to use technology to serve our communities. We are facing unprecedented challenges and we are learning. This publication provides timely content that we hope will help Cooperative Extension professionals consider the role of digital communications in our work, and perhaps increase our adoption of technology. The information in the publication provides both food for thought and p ractical information that will enable you to apply what you’ve learned and to take action. This publication is also closely connected to visioning work underway at the Extension Foundation. To help determine developing technologies that may impact Cooperative Extension through 2025, the Extension Foundation developed a futuring panel to explore future options. The panel was led by Ohio State University's Leadership Center's Extension Futuring Team. Additional information about that work appears later in this publication.

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TECHNOLOGY FUTURING WORK AND RATIONALE

Dr. Jerold Thomas, Ohio State University Rose Hayden-Smith, PhD, Extension Foundation Education Technology Fellow

We are delighted to bring you Digital Technology in Extension Education. This publication originally appeared as a website. We are delighted to make it available in a flipping book forma. Extension Foundation publications provide a platform for aggregating content, tools, and engagement, and are available to all professionals in Cooperative Extension. The emergence of COVID-19 has required Cooperative Extension professionals to respond quickly to quickly changing needs. Many of us are working out of our homes and working hard to find ways to use technology to serve our communities. We are facing unprecedented challenges and we are learning. This publication provides timely content that we hope will help Cooperative Extension professionals consider the role of technology in our work, and perhaps increase our adoption of technology. The information in the publication provides both food for thought and practical information that will enable you to apply what you’ve learned and t o take action. This publication is closely connected to visioning work underway at the Extension Foundation. To help determine developing technologies that may impact Cooperative Extension through 2025, the Extension Foundation developed a futuring panel to explore future options. The panel was led by Ohio State University's Leadership Center's Extension Futuring Team. The project's goals were to:

 Identify key emerging technologies that may impact Cooperative Extension;  Provide a context about how they may impact Cooperative Extension; and  Recommend policy and professional development options for Cooperative Extension.

The panel produced a report - the “ Extension Foundation Report on Emerging Technologies Impacting the Cooperative Extension System” - which was released in July 2021. The work was supported by funding from the New Technologies for Agricultural Extension (NTAE) project.

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PUBLICATION OVERVIEW

Rose Hayden-Smith, PhD, 2020 Extension Foundation Education Technology Fellow

What’s Here This publication is the first in an anticipated series of curated resources focusing on technology use in Cooperative Extension education and program activities. There is a universe of technologies being used by Cooperative Extension organizations across the nation, in exciting and innovative ways. It was impossible to explore all of them in this first edition, but we hope that additional technologies will be covered in future publications.

This publication includes:

 A series of perspective essays that explore the nature of technology in Cooperative Extension work and what the future may hold;  An exploration of two featured technologies with case studies, including a newly created social intranet/audience engagement platform designed for Cooperative Extension, and a popular social media platform (Instagram);  A section on leveraging the digital information - content - we already produce using technology, including resources about search engine optimization; and  Suggested resources that will support your work. We struggled when selecting which featured technologies to explore. There are others we could have included, but we chose to discuss the ones we felt would be most compelling to Cooperative Extension professionals in this moment. Future publications may curate content for different technologies. Technologies we’d like to see explored in future publications include virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and additional social technologies.

Some of the content we curated was driven in response to a survey we conducted. Three hundred twenty- eight individuals responded in total.

Social media emerged as both an opportunity and a challenge; our survey question on this topic elicited many comments. Two hundred sixty-two respondents indicated that they have encountered challenges and barriers to using social media, including:

 The time required to learn about the technology (37%);  The time required to use the technology effectively (70%);  Training (30%);  Unclear institutional policies re: social media use (45%);  Not enough examples of how the technology can be used in Extension (26%);  Unclear how social media fits into advancements for academics (29%); and  Other (24%).

Included among the “Other” responses were:

 Evaluating the impacts and effectiveness of social media use;  Broadband access and accessibility issues;  Target audience not using social media;  Privacy and security;  Staff capacity; and  Administrative support, policies and logistical issues.

The information we received confirmed our inclination to devote a section of the eFieldbook to one particular social media platform (Instagram). In response to COVID-19, the Extension Foundation hosted a series of six Social Cafes in 2020. The Social Cafe we hosted about using Instagram for science communication was

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one of the most popular. The positive response to these Social Cafes in general - and what we learned from participants via in-webinar polling - also confirmed that social technologies are of great interest to those working in Cooperative Extension, but that training, resources, examples, and guidance are needed. We hope that future publications will contain sections exploring other social media platforms. Another question in the survey asked respondents what kind of content they’d like to see in publications. Many respondents indicated that they’d like practical information, including how -to guides and case studies. Others indicated they’d like to see video content. Some said they’d like to read Q&As. We have done our best to include all of these things.

Technology is evolving and changing quickly, as are the needs of Cooperative Extension. COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of technology in Cooperative Extension education and programming. Cooperative Extension organizations have risen in marvelous ways to this new virtual environment we find ourselves in. But there is much more to do and we can learn from one another.

There are clearly gaps in what we’v e curated. Any errors, omissions, or failings are opportunities for new information in future versions of this kind of publication. This is a starting place - not an ending point.

How to Use Connect Extension As part of this project, we used the Extension Foundation’s Connect Extension social intranet platform as a way to gather, curate, and share information. In addition, we present the platform as a case study later in this publication. You may want to learn about using a specific technology in a program that you are starting or implementing. Or you may want to know how others in Cooperative Extension are incorporating technology in their work. Maybe you’re thinking about what the future may hold and what technological approaches may be needed. You have come to the right place! This site is designed to give you quick access to information, experts, training, and resources that can help you in your work. We encourage you to set up an account on Connect Extension (if you don ’ t already have one). It ’ s easy to do, and having an account provides access to resources, virtual events, a national peer network, and more. Among the resources are the Technology in Extension Education (TEE) subgroup, a place where you can find many resources about digital technologies. Connect Extension also has a video resource library with tutorials and webinars about digital technologies.

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Part One: Perspectives

INTRODUCTION

Rose Hayden-Smith, PhD, 2020 Extension Foundation Education Technology Fellow

Work had just begun on this publication when we found ourselves in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the world, the crisis created conditions that forced individuals and organizations to adopt technologies quickly. This was the case in Cooperative Extension as well.

What are we learning from this experience?

Many of us are learning that technology is essential to doing our work during this time. Most of us are accelerating our adoption of technology, particularly social media. Another obvious example is the increased use of video conferencing platforms, like Zoom and WebEx in our work. The COVID-19 crisis has also encouraged us t o consider new ways to use tools we’re already familiar with (ex: Zoom rooms for virtual conferences; Facebook groups and the units feature as a means of delivering an educational program or activity for 4-H, etc.) We’re also linking technologies. Consider the increased interest in livestreaming on multiple platforms, using Zoom to broadcast on Facebook and YouTube. We’re becoming expert users, quickly. There is a sense of urgency around our work. I’ve had Cooperative Extension colleagues recently share with me that they are viewing the creation and curation of content on digital platforms as a critical part of their work as Cooperative Extension educators. Many of us are struggling with the “digital divide,” which has traditio nally been understood as broadband access (connectivity). The term has come to encompass much more, including access to electronic devices (ex: mobile technologies) and internet subscriptions (which can add to the value of access). A recent ThoughtCo artic le defined the “digital divide” this way:

...the gap between those who have easy access to computers and the internet and those who do not due to various demographic factors. Longley, 2019

The “digital divide” may also be framed in terms of “digital inclusion.” In summary, Cooperative Extension professionals and our clientele have varying degrees of access to broadband access, electronic devices, training, and support.

But we’re adapting.

We’re also wondering what the future might hold. COVID -19 may be creating divergent ideas about what technologies Cooperative Extension should adopt. With pandemic disruptions likely to continue for some time, it is clear that we will need to move more into virtual environments, at least for the near future. The possibility of a hybrid environment for Cooperative Extension work - one that incorporates both virtual environments and face-to-face work - seems much more likely.

We find some insights into these and other issues from three important perspective pieces included in this publication.

Our colleagues from Oregon State University share a compelling story about how creating a “digital ecosystem” has enhanced their Cooperative Extension work.

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A UC Davis researcher picks up part of that “digital ecosystem” concept by sharing a case study that leads him to conclude that Cooperative Extension professionals ought to strive for a “portfolio” approach in their use of technology. He also notes a critical role for Cooperative Extension in information curation, sharing that “ ... the job of the Cooperative Extension professional is not just to broadcast knowledge, but also coordinating and assembling the knowledge that is available throughout the network.” And a former Cooperative Extension IT professional writes about approaches we might consider for the digital transformation of our organizations, including this: “...your digital transformation is not about technology…”

It is our hope that these perspectives will inspire your thinking.

Reflection Questions:

 Has COVID-19 changed your use of technology in your Cooperative Extension work?  Do you think these changes will be lasting?

References:

Gallardo, R. (2020). Digital Divide Index. Purdue Center for Regional Development. http://pcrd.purdue.edu/ddi

Longley, R. (2019, May 14). What Is America's digital divide and who's still in it? https://www.thoughtco.com/the-digital-divide-introduction-4151809

Pew Research Center. (2019, June 12). Internet/Broadband Fact Sheet: 2000-2019. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/internet-broadband/

Schumacher, A., & Kent, N. (2020, April 2). 8 charts on internet use around the world as countries grapple with COVID-19. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/04/02/8-charts-on-internet-use-around-the- world-as-countries-grapple-with-covid-19/

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LINKING COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY TO AGRICULTURAL KNOWLEDGE NETWORKS

Mark Lubell, PhD, University of California, Davis

Introduction Cooperative Extension professionals are increasingly using information and communication technology (ICT) to communicate knowledge to their clientele. ICT includes websites, blogs, social media, and mobile decision-support applications. Cooperative Extension clientele are also using ICT: more and more farmers are using computers every year, and many of them have social media accounts. There is even some anecdotal evidence of an “ Extension gap,” 1 where Cooperative Extension clientele like farmers are using computers and social media at higher rates than Cooperative Extension professionals. Given this increasing usage, Extension professionals should think about how ICT functions in the context of the agricultural knowledge networks in which they work, and how to most effectively use ICT for outreach and education. This essay discusses how ICT can be used to accelerate the spread of knowledge through agricultural systems, and support innovation. Cooperative Extension professionals are crucial nodes in agricultural knowledge networks. What are agricultural knowledge networks are composed of the set of organizations and individuals (nodes) involved with agriculture and natural resources within some particular community context, for example a county. These nodes are connected by relationships such as information sharing, communication, or collaboration-- these are the “edges” in the network. The overall network consists of the nodes, plus the number and distribution of edges. Agricultural knowledge networks operate at multiple levels of geographic scale (e.g.; county-level, versus state-level) with potential cross-level relationships. Agricultural knowledge networks may also be identified for different types of communities of practice, for example around “tomato production” or “social med ia in Extension and outreach.” Background Modern agricultural knowledge networks look much different than those that existed in the early 1900s during the establishment of land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension systems. During the early history of Cooperative Extension, university researchers and county Cooperative Extension agents were often the most central nodes distribution expertise to farmers and agricultural organizations, many of which were just starting to learn about agriculture and associated technology. But modern agricultural networks are far more diversified, including universities, Cooperative Extension professionals, non-governmental agencies, governmental agencies at multiple levels, consultants, special districts, producer groups, and others. The networks are diverse even within some farm operations, where management is a function of decisions made by farm owners, professional managers, labor managers, pest control advisors, irrigation specialists, and other specialized positions. Agricultural knowledge and data of different types is distributed throughout these networks. Cooperative Extension professionals remain important sources of expertise in most of these networks, but they do not have a monopoly on knowledge. As a result, the job of the Cooperative Extension professional is not just to broadcast knowledge, but also coordinating and assembling the knowledge that is available throughout the network. If knowledge networks are like orchestras, Extension professionals are not just the first violin, but must also play the role of conductor to help all the actors work together and share knowledge. Cooperative Extension professionals need to be aware of how farmers and other actors learn and make decisions in the context of agricultural knowledge networks. Our previous work has outlined (see Figure 1 below) a theoretical framework for agricultural knowledge networks, which identifies three learning pathways: experiential, technical, and social. 2 Experiential is what farmers have always done: manage their farm with a particular set of strategies, observe the outcome, adjust for next year. Technical is what traditional Cooperative Extension programs are built on--set up some type of programs that teach farmers about new technology and knowledge, deliver it

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in meetings, publications, and more recently websites. Social learning is learning from other people, and has always been part of agricultural decision-making when farmers talk to their neighbors over the fence, or meet in the apocryphal local coffee shop. But modern agricultural networks have really diversified social learning, because there are so many more and different kinds of organizations and actors in the networks.

The Future of ICT and Agriculture Networks We can now think more directly and creatively about the role of ICT in the context of knowledge networks. ICT provides a set of tools that help build relationships between the nodes of the network, and in fact can identify and recruit new organizations and individuals to participate in the network. ICT - like social media - can reach new and more diverse sets of actors, often much more quickly than more traditional program-based meetings or personal communication. ICT may enable some actors to connect to real-time data that informs daily decision-making about irrigation, pesticide use, harvesting, or other agricultural decisions. Hence, there is great potential for ICT to help construct and build relationships in agricultural knowledge networks, and mobilize data and information in ways that enhance learning and decision- making. ICT are especially important for social learning, but can also be used to enhance technical learning (e.g.; creative websites), and experiential learning (e.g.; real-time decision support). Capitalizing on the benefits of ICT requires Cooperative Extension professionals to strategically manage their use, including avoiding the potential pitfalls. In the context of social media and other ICT, their use in

agricultural knowledge networks should follow some of the more general media strategies for attracting attention and spreading knowledge. There are many practical guides and books available regarding how to effectively market and build a reputation on social media. For example, it is important to update online materials and post on social media on a regular basis.

It may also make sense to use a portfolio of social media tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, because each tool reaches different (but overlapping) audiences, and delivers information in different ways.

The PEW report “Social Media Use in 2018” estimates that the median American uses three social media platforms, but user demographics vary across platforms, for example younger people are more likely to use Snapchat and Instagram. 3 Curating content to focus and develop a reputation for a particular type of expertise can help increase visibility, perhaps sprinkled with a few personal posts and ideas to connect to the common human narrative. Such use of ICT should be considered a complement, but not a substitute, for more traditional in-person meetings or other methods of delivery. Personal relationships provide another way of learning and communicating, and can also enhance the value of the ICT tools (e.g., hey, you should check out my website, or “like” my Facebook page, or “follow” me on Twitter). At the same time, Cooperative Extension professionals need to be aware of common pitfalls, such as “trolls” that cause conflict for conflict’s sake, and the potential for misinf ormation being spread around the network, either purposefully or mistakenly, because individual users cannot adequately sort fact from fiction. Cooperative Extension professionals can carefully manage their audiences and content to avoid “poking” the trolls, and also serve as gatekeepers for vetting potentially incorrect information. Like with all ICT, these pitfalls do exist for agricultural Extension and practitioners need to be aware and mitigate. But they should not be used as a justification for avoiding the use of ICT completely--global society is now linked by digital technology, and agricultural knowledge networks are evolving in the same direction. ICT are therefore a crucial tool in the learning arsenal for Extension professionals.

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Figure One: Theoretical Framework for Agricultural Knowledge Systems

Reflection Question:

 How do you curate information in your Cooperative Extension work?

Footnotes: 1 Farm Computer Usage and Ownership (August 2019)3. USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Todays_Reports/reports/fmpc0819.pdf. Accessed 05/24/20. 2 Lubell, M, Niles, M., & Hoffman, M. (2014). Extension 3.0: Managing agricultural knowledge systems in the network age. Society & Natural Resources 27, (10), 1089-1103. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08941920.2014.933496?casa_token=R2cqtk6- pC0AAAAA%3A0LRenyDFNuDvGyCqxfRx52VHneW0wvuC7Nxu4fAJowOSu-z- 88Mo1_G3Th37ImavG9Zx3ViLY00_Hg

3 Pew Research Center. (2018, March). Social media use in 2018.https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/wp- content/uploads/sites/9/2018/02/PI_2018.03.01_Social-Media_FINAL.pdf

References:

USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. (2019, August). Farm computer usage and ownership. https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Todays_Reports/reports/fmpc0819.pdf.

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TRANSFORMING COOPERATIVE EXTENSION ’S DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM

Greg Aronoff, Oregon State University; John Buzzard, Oregon State University; Lindsey Shirley, Oregon State University

At a time when our communities are struggling in the midst of the coronavirus public health emergency, there is a growing need for increased and improved access to educational resources — specifically in rural and small-town America. By most accounts, the current crisis will accelerate trends – ranging from growing income inequality to small business/farm viability – that already challenge our rural communities. Cooperative Extension must provide agile solutions designed to not only keep pace, but also pave the way for the future. Fortunately, the Cooperative Extension System is well suited for this challenge. We see in the current environment both daunting challenges and opportunities to leverage our place-based infrastructure and relationships to strengthen Cooperative Extension ’s “digital ecosystem.” An expanded digital ecosystems model centers on data-informed and responsive online platforms that address education-related gaps and needs at the local, regional, and national level. Given Cooperative Extension ’s immense diversity of non -credit programming and services, our move to online delivery may have more in common with the technology industry’s iterative design approach than with higher education’s sudden embrace of digital classrooms. By seizing this opportunity to set the standard

for online non-credit programming, Cooperative Extension may take a lead role in bringing restorative – and even transformative – impact to audiences of all ages and stages in life. By elevating the Cooperative Extension System as a platform to support community and family resilience, this model offers high quality, direct-to-learner, customizable learning experiences that are accessible, engaging, relevant, and responsive. Powering these experiences are our Cooperative Extension faculty, whose impact and reach we will dramatically expand through world-class digital engagement strategies.

“ You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before. ” - Rahm Emanuel, former White House Chief of Staff

The current crisis has spurred growing interest in online programming – with online searches, for example, rising sharply for topics ranging from public health information and legislative initiatives to career development, gardening, and more. With regard to these and other topics, we believe Cooperative Extension occupies a unique position of trust among the respective communities we serve. While there may be an argument for trying to maintain some version of the status quo – with an ad hoc approach to online outreach and programming – we believe now is the time for a more robust approach. Most Cooperative Extension leaders would agree that the current circumstance presents a potential inflection point for our organizations. This is not entirely new. Over the decades, we have often worked alongside communities to help our states navigate periods of economic upheaval and natural disaster.

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What’s Different What may be new in this case is the Cooperative Extension Service’s uniquely relevant role as a trusted provider of expertise and solutions that spans a full spectrum of social need. Diverse families and communities rely upon us for accurate health information related to COVID-19. With school closures, parents and teachers count on Extension programming to provide educational continuity. Businesses and non-profit organizations are contacting us for guidance on state and federal relief legislation, as well as workforce development. Displaced workers with sudden time on their hands look to Cooperative Extension for everything from gardening tips to professional skill development. As Cooperative Extension leaders, we must ask ourselves how to best serve our communities – in the face of these burgeoning needs and with the likely, ongoing reality of limited institutional resources. Among other advantages, our experience in Oregon suggests that a digital ecosystems approach offers the benefits of scale. Simply put, this means we can extend the reach and impact of Cooperative Extension faculty through well-designed online engagements (courses, multimedia, video and more – with content offered in both live and on-demand formats.) Over time, this enables us to reach significantly more learners by taking a more creative approach to faculty program development. In these cases, one course, lesson, or lecture finds new life and new relevance for growing and diverse audiences as it takes new (or renewed forms) over time – from academic articles to YouTube videos to Facebook posts and more. Though we did not develop this approach with a public health crisis in mind, this ability to connect online is proving to be more essential with every passing day.

Things to Consider

 Data-informed decision making. Our experience suggests that data should be incorporated in multiple ways. Online search data helps refine our digital/program content strategy (to ensure our offerings align to the greatest extent possible with what community members are actually seeking). Opt- in data from our web properties offers further perspective on visitors’ areas of interest. Registration data for events and programs yields additional insight that we then use to refine ongoing content and program development.   Accessible, world-class learning platforms and content. Even in the midst of crisis, it is reasonable to suggest that learners should have high expectations for Cooperative Extension online engagements. Meeting these expectations begins with the acknowledgement that learners will access these experiences in different ways – mobile or desktop, for example, with varying degrees of internet speed based on many factors. Even with these considerations, we have seen success in providing engaging, high-quality, and media-rich content. Our university is fortunate to provide these services at a time when increasing statewide access to high- speed internet is also translating to greater access to effective educational experiences for learners. In other words, we have demonstrated that Cooperative Extension can reach learners (and organizations) where they are – delivering the right content to the right people at the right time. When Circumstances Call for Innovation, the Status Quo May be the Biggest Risk Based on our own experience and that of others, we know the Cooperative Extension System can expand programs and offerings that offer career advancement for individual learners, address the learning continuum for students of all ages, and provide timely workforce development that addresses industry needs.

“ The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo. ” - Bob Iger, former CEO of The Walt Disney Company

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