Last week at USU Extension's Annual Conference I had the opportunity to give a presentation entitled, "Fixing Extension by Utilizing Innovative Technology," with two other colleagues whom I look up to and respect a great deal. While we focused on positive solutions to the relevancy gap Extension faces and how we can close it using various mobile and web apps...I still managed to offend a few colleagues. On the anonymous evaluation sheets I got back, my favorite quote was:
Can you imagine writing a blog when you worked for Nike or Coke & saying the company "is broken?" You would be fired.
In response, "Yes, I can certainly imagine doing something like this." If something is broken, I'm going to say it...and I'm going to give my input on how to fix it. I might even try to rally support. I just can't accept the status quo. I just can't let the Emperor parade on by without exclaiming, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!" Nevertheless I appreciate the feedback, no matter how much I disagree, my intention is to be completely respectful to everyone.
During the presentation I rattled off a list of some of the tools I use to be an effective 21st Century Extension Professional. Did I provide a handout, no. If it's important to you, write it down. I'd rather save a tree than print off a useless handout that will never get used. I did promise to provide a the list, so here it is:
Google+ Hangouts - Great for video conferencing with colleagues and volunteers far away...or even nearby
Google+ - I use this network to reach groups of people with shared interests that overlap with 4-H and Extension i.e. Maker Movement
Google Author - Do you publish? Better set this up if you want to be legit
Google Scholar - Again, do you publish? Make it easy on yourself
Remind101.com - Safely remind clients about Extension events or make announcements. You have to get them to subscribe to you first
iMovie - Anyone can make their own videos. The easiest video editing software you can use to make marketing and instructional videos about your Extension programs
Instagram - engage with your younger clients by storytelling via photos and 15sec videos. This is where the teens are, a great platform to market 4-H
Facebook - You get no link on this. If you don't have a FB by now you are a laggard. If you have held out this long, don't bother. Nevertheless, still a useful platform for engaging with clients via storytelling, photos, flyers, videos, and contests. The teens are not checking in as much, but their parents are
LinkedIn - Your living breathing CV. Ask for recommendations from clients and colleagues. You need a professional reputation - get there, finish your profile and add a picture. Also great for volunteer recruitment, professional development opportunities, and marketing towards an older, more educated demographic
YouTube - No link here either, you should have it bookmarked already. Create your videos, slideshows, infomercials, instructions, and stories in iMovie and post them on YouTube. Then share them on your social networks
Twitter - This is my PLN (Personal Learning Network). I follow people I can learn from. I use twitter.com/search to listen and engage with people I share similar interests with. Facebook is where you lie to your friends, Twitter is where you're honest with complete strangers
Eventbrite - This is where you do your event registration. Apps for check in are smooth too
Mailchimp - Spam your clients with elegant emails that they won't read. Sure, marketers have ruined email, but I still send a monthly newsletter and currently have a 64% open rate
Blogging (Weebly, Wordpress) - You're an expert without a website, yeah that's real professional. These are cheap and easy. There are tons of others out there. I just like these a lot
Google Voice - Despise listening to voice mail as much as I do? Get text transcripts and manage your voicemail like gmail
Basecamp - The absolute best team collaboration tool. Not free, but I would pay more for it than I am right now
eXtension - I go here for professional development webinars and to answer questions in the Ask the Expert system
Amazon.com - "Dude, that's awesome and it got here so fast." Ever heard of Amazon Prime? So worth it
CodeAcademy.com - Modules I use to teach and learn computer science languages
Code.org - Fun computer science curriculum and a perfectly designed movement. So simple, Extension could learn a lot from this nonprofit
Scratch - A simple introductory computer science language developed at MIT. So basic and simple for beginners
MIT OpenCourseWare - FREE online course materials for subjects from computer science to environmental earth science
Doodle - The easiest way to schedule a meeting with multiple people
Paper.li - I use this tool to curate and share the articles I read and write with followers on Twitter. Anyone can use it for free when trying to curate and share content.
I use more but this is all I got for now. I apologize if you already use most, or all, of these tools. Believe it or not some people have never heard of any of them. If you've got some tools that I have not listed please leave a comment. I want to know what you're using.
Paul Hill, Ph.D.
I design, plan, and evaluate economic development programs for Utah State University.
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