Custom Google Map example

I can be a bit of a St. Paul Campus evangelist. I refer to it as The Main Campus of the U of M. I created a secret handshake for St. Paulites to use. So when a group of IT professionals were meeting here for two days and asked for some tips on things to do, I knew I wanted to give them a custom Google Map highlighting all the best St. Paul has to offer!

Here it is!

Does making a super sweet custom Google Map sound like something that might be useful to know? It's easy! Although it took me a bit to figure out where you do it.

Step 1: While logged into your Google account, go to Click inside the search box and a roll-down should appear that says "My maps."

google map screenshot

Step 2: Select "Create" in the My Maps menu.

google map screenshot

Step 3: Title your new map, write a description, and begin adding points. You can add points by selecting the point button,

google map screenshot

or by searching for a location and selecting "Add to map."

google map screenshot

Step 4: To share your map, select "Share" and set the sharing permissions how you would like. Use the link to share with collaborators or the world.

Step 5: To print your map (if desired), select the three vertical dots near Share. Here's an example of what that looks like.

Google map screenshot

Have fun creating custom Google maps! I'd love to see what you create!

It’s all about WebEx these days, at least for me. Between the impromptu meetings to help people get started and the 1-Hour WebEx Orientation workshops, I’ve been WebEx-ing a lot. Thought I’d share a few useful tips about WebEx Meeting Center. I have more tips but this blog post would be way too long if I shared them all in such detail. No worries, I will share more soon.

1. Using your meeting room URL more than once (aka recurring meetings).  

For those of us who used UMConnect, it was regular practice to use the same meeting room again and again. The advantage was that all your content stayed there for the next meeting. In WebEx, meeting room content goes away when the meeting ends. Period. But not only your content goes away, the default is that your meeting room\URL will delete automatically when your meeting ends. It makes sense because who needs to have a bunch of old empty meeting rooms laying around. 

So why use the same room more than once? When you want to use the same URL for several meetings. You can set your meeting up as a recurring meeting which is great for meetings that are on a regular schedule (e.g. daily, weekly, monthly). You can change individual meeting times as needed. Use the Advanced Scheduler to set up recurring meetings.

  1. Log into Click Meeting Center > Schedule a meeting
  2. Click to use the Advanced Scheduler
  3. Recurring meetings is in step 2 (date and time)
2. Set your meetings to NOT delete. 
If you want to use the same meeting room\URL again and again and your meetings do not follow a regular schedule, the recurring meetings option may not work well for you. For example, my 1-Hour WebEx Orientation webinars are recurring but not on a regular schedule. I set my meeting room to NOT delete which allows me to use the same meeting URL - I just update the date & time. Here's how:
  1. Log into Click Meeting Center > Schedule a meeting
  2. Click to use the Advanced Scheduler
  3. Click to un-check the Delete from My Meetings when completed option

One last note about this. You can change your default setting so none of your meetings are deleted automatically. If you choose this option, you should delete them yourself when you no longer need them. The default setting can be changed under My WebEx > Preferences > Scheduling Options.

3. Recording a meeting? 
A quick observation from the University's Video Support team - when starting a WebEx recording they have seen a 1-3 minute delay for WebEx service to actually start recording.  Tip: start your recording 3-5 minutes before a meeting to guarantee you captured the entire event.  You can trim\edit your recording when the recording is completed to remove “dead air” time. Here are a few how-to’s on WebEx Trimming – 
Find your recordings: WebEx recordings can be found by logging into Click Meeting Center > My Recorded Meetings 

4. Want to see who attended your meeting? 
After your meeting, you can view or save a report about your participants. The report will provide names, email addresses, when they joined\left the meeting, etc. Reports are available after your meeting – be patient, it takes some time for the report to be available. You will notice different types of reports for Event Center and Training Center also. Find reports here:
  1. Log into
  2. Under My WebEx click My Reports
  3. Under All Services, select Usage Reports
  4. Enter the date or date range of your meeting
  5. Click on your meeting for the details. Options: choose Printer friendly format or export your report data.

5. Need an alternate host? 
Every meeting must have a host present at all times. If the host leaves the meeting, the meeting will end for everyone. What if you set up a meeting and for whatever reason can no longer attend or are going to be late? You can add an alternate host for your meeting:
  1. In the quick meeting or advanced scheduler under the Attendees box, click Use Address Book

  2. Search for the UMN person (by name or email), select their name and click Alternate Host to add them. 

Last minute host change during a meeting: If a meeting host has to leave a meeting early, they can pass the host code to another person in the meeting. The host code is provided when a meeting is created and it will be listed under the Meeting Info tab in the meeting (only the host sees it).

To pass the code, the person taking the host role can click Reclaim Host Role from the Participant menu and enter the host code.

So there are your 5 WebEx Meeting Center tips for today. We love when people share their tips. Do you have any to share?

Happy WebEx-ing!

Do you remember our Video Kit to End All Video Kits? It's really just an iPad mini on a tripod. And it has been tremendously popular here in Extension! This simple way to shoot videos has really met a need with educators. It has also led to our educators requesting equally easy ways to do video editing. In fact, in a survey of Extension last September, video creation was the #1 topic people would like to learn more about. 

So Karen and I have put together a 3-hour hands-on Video Editing Workshop curriculum. Three hours! Hands on! I know! You will leave this workshop knowing how to edit video, trust me.

We based our workshop on Movie Maker, a free PC software that is easily accessible to all of our participants, but Camtasia Studio or iMovie would be other options. 

The purpose of this post is to share the curriculum and see what ideas are out there for how to make it better!

Here's the document with the general format of the workshop (page 1) and detailed handout (pages 2-4): 

 We tried it out for the first time last week with a group of about 25 Extension Educators. 

Plus there was a kangaroo.

See, just a typical Extension meeting. With a baby kangaroo.

I know what you're thinking. And yes I was totally confused by the baby kangaroo hopping around the room. Like, SO CONFUSED. And I was the only one. Everyone else is like, OF COURSE THERE'S A KANGAROO! 

Well ok then, I am nothing if not adaptable. On with the show!

First we outline our purpose to the large group. In this workshop, participants will:
  • Import video files to computer from device
  • Use Windows Movie Maker to edit video
  • Upload to YouTube (understanding the different channel options)
  • Learn where to backup large video files

Then we break into small groups and get everybody rocking and rolling with equipment--either with a Video Kit or with some accessories to add to their smart phone (like a tripod or mic). We knew we would run out of equipment, but we tried to spread it out so every group got to try something new to them.

This group below had a great setup--with the iPad mini, tripod, and the shotgun mic. Their video turned out great.

Here's a group using the little iPhone flexible tripod thingee clamped to a chair. They're also using the foam marker boards that we brought for quick and easy visual aids. Their video also turned out great!

We give people a good long while to shoot some video. Everybody gets a chance in front of and behind the camera. Then we have them come back into the large room where we have set up laptops pre-installed with Movie Maker. 

My favorite part is when I'm fretting over forgetting to pack extension cords. So Tim announces, "We need extension cords!" and half the room gets up and goes out to their car and BOOM we have 12 extension cords. Gotta love Extension Educators!

We convene as a big group and do a demo of importing from a device, and some basic Movie Maker tasks. We also show how to add the Extension branding graphics to videos. Then we have about an hour of editing time. Karen and I walk around and make sure everyone is getting a turn to try it--don't just have the experienced person in the group do all of it!

After editing time, Karen and I were prepared to do a little wrap up and answer any lingering questions. But what surprises us is: groups want to show their videos! So we start swapping out laptops with the projector and showing the sometimes finished, sometimes still-in-progress videos. SO FUN! It ended the day on such a positive and encouraging note--everyone clapping and laughing over each other's hard work.

Here's IT Goldy enjoying the show and tell!

What do you think? Anything we can add or change into this workshop to make it better? Any Extension teams interested in trying it out with us? Any ideas on how this could be offered at a distance? 

I love technology. And I love checklists. More specifically, I love CHECKING THINGS OFF checklists.

Have you ever wished there was a checklist, "Things you should know how to do with technology?" You could use it to see what you need to work on. It could be both useful for affirmation (DONE-CHECK!) and motivation (LEARN IT!). Would this not be the greatest check list ever?!

We here in Extension Technology worked with our advisory committee to come up with a checklist like this! Exciting! This version is still under construction--we welcome feedback on it.

Best checklist ever: Core Technology Skills for University of Minnesota Extension Personnel

This list of core technology skills includes measurable skills and knowledge. Whenever possible, we tried to include a link to "Learn it!" next to a skill. Because if you don't know it, that's ok! You are probably just a tiny bit of training away from nailing it.

The goal of this list is to provide directions for new areas of learning and growth, assist personnel and supervisors to identify any knowledge gaps, and identify areas where training is necessary. The Extension Tech team will also use this list to guide the organizational tech training plan and offerings. I told you this checklist was magical.

In the long term, we plan to review and revise this list every October to keep it fresh and relevant. So be sure to give us feedback!

Start Checking Stuff Off!

If you can check off every thing in your position's section of the Core Technology Skills checklist, Extension Technology will issue you the following super cool digital badge, Tech Skills:

(I was going to do Tech Skillz with a 'z' but then I thought better of it.)

Don't think you need to check everything off right away! The point of the list is to help find areas to focus your learning on. I know I certainly have some areas to work on!

What are you going to work on checking off?

As part of our initiative to connect technology more closely will the field work of Extension throughout Minnesota, representatives from our team are visiting Extension offices and events throughout the state. Please join us on our adventures!

In February, we visited the Marshall Regional Office! A long-awaited visit!!

Destination: Marshall Regional Office

Miles Traveled: 364 mi, round-trip

Time on road: 6 hours 55 minutes, round-trip (SNOW.)
Tech Team Members: Amy Baker, Danny Sussman, and IT Goldy
Vehicle: Dodge Caravan Minivan, a.k.a. The "SussBus" from Fleet Services
Number of bags of novelty potato chips we ate in the car: 2. Bacon mac and cheese, Mango Salsa.

OK first of all, that right there, that route on the map above, that is a terrible route. Do not take that route. I think it had gravel roads. And zero Caribou Coffees. ZERO. (Thank you Pat Persoon for showing us the correct route to go home!)

We got there just in time for Crockpotapalooza, which yes, is totally as amazing as you're thinking it sounds. A pot luck in our honor? Best office ever!

We settle into the conference room for our huge gut busting lunch.

We notice the conference room computer is repairing and restarting and making incessant beeping noises. Is this normal? we ask. No! they say, This is not normal at all! We investigate. Danny moves the Tostitos so we can see the situation better. Hey! Problem solved! The Tostitos were pressing a key on the keyboard.

Is this normal? we ask. No! they say, This is not normal at all!

I give my intro on Extension Technology's mission, and we deliver a training/demo on WebEx.

Then we get an office tour from our lovely tour guide, Karla Engels! One of my favorite parts of that was seeing the super sweet setup in Neil Linscheid's office--he has a great quality mic on a floor stand (for webinars) and he looks like a total rock star when he uses it.

Thank you Marshall, for such a wonderful day eating and laughing and seeing your very nice offices filled with amazing, friendly people!!


Have you heard the University of Minnesota now has access to WebEx, a new web conferencing tool that will replace Adobe Connect? A new tool is so super exciting! I have had so much fun learning WebEx, and am still learning something new every day. I can't wait to hear what creative things our Extension personnel do with it.


Because. Web Conferencing is where it's at! Yeah!
And also because the University's self-hosted instance of Adobe Connect ("UMConnect") was not meeting the U's basic web conferencing needs anymore. Did you know Extension was the leading user of UMConnect?

How to

WebEx is one of those tools that is VERY EASY to learn, but probably takes a lifetime to master! I have been WebExing almost every day since last October and I am still learning many things!!

First of all, there are actually THREE tools in our WebEx package.

WebEx Meeting Center: Use for collaborative meetings (internal & external), presentations, demonstrations with up to 500 people (or 1000 with no video). Anyone can share in these. This has some overlap with Google Hangouts use, but is awesome-r because, hello!, 500 people instead of 15, and also your participants don't need a Google account.

WebEx Event Center: Use for large-scale online events up to 1000 people. This tool is sort of equivalent to Livestream. I've only ever been a participant (not a host) in Event Center so I look forward to learning more.

WebEx Training Center: Use for training, workshops, cohort groups (includes breakout rooms) up to 1000 people. There are distinct presenters and not everyone can share content (like in Meeting Center). Because of the breakout rooms, I suspect this will be a popular tool in Extension.

View a comparison of supported web conferencing tools by function and features. 

So are you excited yet?? Let's get learning WebEx!

Here is our suggested path for learning WebEx:

  1. Continue using Adobe Connect while you are learning WebEx. UMConnect is not going away until August 31, 2015, so you have 8 whole months to ease into WebEx! Nobody panic.
  2. Attend a one-hour WebEx preview, held online (over WebEx of course!) and led by Extension Technology trainer, Karen Matthes. These are fun, informal introductions to WebEx. Come see what WebEx looks like and bring your questions--you can play 'Stump the Trainer,' always a fun game.
  3. Look over the basic WebEx Meeting Center "Learning Map" (it's like a choose your own adventure in training!)
  4. Begin exploring and using WebEx with coworkers or friends. This means, first use it with people who love you and won't think less of you if you can't get your mic to work. Can you hear me now?
  5. Attend a more detailed WebEx training hands-on (TC campus) or InterCall Live Online and Self-Paced Training. I have not taken on-campus hands-on training yet (it hasn't been offered yet!) but I have taken the Intercall online trainings and they are great!
  6. Begin using WebEx for some low-risk meetings--internal committees, teamwork--then move on to using it as your standard tool for webinars!

Share it

Spread the word about WebEx with colleagues at the U of M, and add your questions below! Let's share how to effectively use this tool!


phishing: the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

Have you noticed the gobs of phishing emails that have been going around lately? And it only gets worse with holiday and charity phishing scams.


Phishing emails cost people time and are a big security threat. Think about the damage someone with malicious intent can do with your University internet ID and password. They can send email as you, log in to University systems, even change your direct deposit!!

So let's be phish-proof! It's easy!

How to

Here are the four easy steps to becoming completely phish-proof!

  1. Check the Grammar. A lot of phishing emails are written to try to sound professional and official, but make sloppy grammatical mistakes. A real email from your University tech professionals would be clear and proof-read.
  2. Check the Sender. Modern phishing emails are often from someone you know (because that person responded to a phishing email with their ID and password). But is it someone you know would email you about your inbox quota or password expiring (etc)? Usually not!
    Also remember, scammers can cut and paste Regents' copyright, wordmarks, etc, just as easy as anyone!
  3. Hover over the link. The phishing email will undoubtedly give you a link to use to reset your password, login to check your storage quota, etc. If you hover your mouse (don't click!) over any link in your email, you should see (usually at the bottom of the window) where the link is going to take you. A sure sign of phishing is for this link to NOT end in UMN.EDU.
  4. Report it. Always forward U of MN phishing emails to This address is closely monitored and security personnel can immediately stop traffic to the malicious link from the University network as damage control. If in doubt about a possible phishing email, always contact an IT professional!