Part 1: Introduction
In this part , we’ll explore the project’s history , goals, and rationale.
Innovating Extension Curr iculum
The primary goal of our project was to restructure an existing Extension curriculum for teaching land managers to use the geographic information system (GIS) Google Earth Pro (GEP) to create land management plans. We wanted to create a technologically innovative, non-credit course that could reach a broad and diverse audience. We also wanted to create a course that we could deliver online, in person, or in a format that combines virtual and F2F learning. Our project had several needs and challenges: a natural resource need, a technology opportunity (for online instruction), the potential to reach a wider audience than a traditional delivery method might allow, the constraints of the COVID- 19 global pandemic, and the public’s desire for information that is trustworthy and easy to understand.
The COVID-19 pandemic created challenges but also provided opportunities for Extension professionals to develop new strategies by using new tools to adapt existing F2F curriculum.
In March 2020, many public institutions adopted a remote work policy that halted traditional, F2F Extension programming. These bastions of science-based information were tasked with modeling precaution and mitigating a public health crisis. No one could have predicted how long the distancing policies would last. Over the last year, Extension professionals have had countless opportunities to learn about alternatives to traditional F2F programming. Many of them became proficient at using videoconferencing platforms, such as WebEx and Zoom. Some universities adopted integrated communication platforms, such as Microsoft Teams to enable university personnel to collaborate and communicate with ease. Professional associations and non- profit entities, such as the Extension Foundation, purposefully provided opportunities to help Extension personnel gain the vision, skills, and momentum to innovatively adapt F2F Extension curriculum.
Our account is only one of countless stories across the Extension Service that demonstrates our commitment to serve the public with high-quality, science-based instruction.
In this ePublication, we review how our multi-state team used technology to adapt existing curriculum for online delivery. We augmented previously available content by using 360-degree images, with high-quality video and audio, moving from PowerPoints to predominantly narrated presentations featuring dynamic images and videos. We learned many things, including that collaborating with a fun, interdisciplinary group of committed colleagues through the New Technologies in Agricultural Extension Fellowship produced a unique experience and maximized impact for broader Extension programming. We hope that others can learn from our experience.
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