Over the past year, I’ve heard from a variety of people across the organization that they’d love to hear how others are using technology in their Extension education work. So we’ve created a space to do just that!

Extension T.E.C.C., Technology in Education Coffee with Colleagues, is a new, informal network of U of MN Extension professionals working in technology-enhanced education, online learning, and hybrid/blended teaching. The goal is to build cross-center connections that allow for the sharing of information and ideas. It’s a safe place to share your interests and frustrations. Get inspired, or offer a suggestion.

Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy an informal check-in with your colleagues exploring Ed Tech opportunities during our six gatherings a year beginning August 1, 2016. Volunteer to share about your work (the successes AND challenges) and suggest topics you’re interested in learning more about. Attend in-person when you’re on campus or remotely when you’re not. Between meetings, post an update or question in the Google+ community. Learn more at z.umn.edu/exttecc.
Podcast Episode 3. Weber Kettles are Really Big

Quick Bytes Live! Podcast

Episode 3: Weber Kettles are Really Big

(recorded July 15, 2016)
Amy and Alison talk about the new Extension Guide to Podcasting, Two-factor authentication, and do a quick App Roundup of good roadtripping apps.

Links from this episode:

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graphic: How to podcast a guide for Extension

As you may have read in a previous post, I love podcasts. But getting started can be a bit confusing!

That's why we wrote the How to Podcast Guide for Extension with very detailed, step-by-step instructions and tips, including pictures!

Click for how to guide google doc

Call to Action: Podcasting for Extension

If Extension wants to be heard among social learning networks, we need to breathe life into our content delivery.
 This may all seem a bit complicated (five pages of instructions!), so why should you bother?

Podcasts are a unique and special opportunity to connect us, content creators, with our audiences. Podcasts add a human voice and authenticity to our education that is absolutely essential in today’s content marketplace. A white paper, publication, or even blog post cannot compete with many of the ways audiences are receiving information in today’s connected world. If Extension wants to be heard among the social network learning that is preferred by today’s content consumers, we need to breathe life into our content delivery.

Additionally, podcasting reaches our audiences during times when they are interested and open to being educated, entertained, and connected with. Podcasts connect for longer and more often than almost any other delivery format, including videos, online courses, newsletters, and Twitter.

For these reasons, podcasting should be a critical component of any Extension program’s outreach strategy. The setup described here may seem lengthy due to its detail, but the recurring task of recording, editing, and uploading can be as minimal as you’d like to make it. Twenty-one percent of Americans are inviting you to have a conversation with them by listening to podcasts. We need to be ready to join that conversation!

What do you think, is podcasting for you? Or could it be in the future?

Have you ever walked into a conference room, only to find out that someone else's meeting is already happening? You look at them. They look at you. Everybody is surprised, and a little uncomfortable. "What are you doing here?!"

You would think online meetings would mean the end of those awkward moments. And you would be wrong. As more and more people are using Google Video Calls (also known as Hangouts) it is happening in video calls too. The first time it happened to me, two Extension meetings collided, nobody knew what was going on, but we figured out a way forward. The second time it happened to me, I interrupted a meeting elsewhere on campus. Based on the look on the faces of the people whose meeting I walked in on, I was clearly an unexpected and unwelcome guest. But I knew what was happening, why it happened, and what to do about it. And now I'm blogging so you know what to do if it happens to you.

Creating a video call is a lot like reserving a conference room, except there is nothing that prevents someone else from also reserving your room, and there is no lock on the door. Which means that if you and I both pick the same name for our video call, we may unwittingly end up in the same room. 

That is what happened to me. Twice. Because I created my video calls in my calendar, and let Google pick the name for me. (I could have changed it. I didn't know why I might want to.) What name it picks goes like this:
  • If there is one person invited to the event: The user ID of the person in the meeting (generally the person creating the meeting)
  • If there are two people invited to the event: The user IDs of both people, separated by a hyphen
  • If there are three or more people invited to the event: As many whole words as it can grab with the first 15 characters of the meeting subject

Let's say I named a meeting "Extension Technology Meeting," you name yours "Extension Program Discussion," and a colleague names a meeting "Extension Facilitation." Google would name all of our calls "extension." If our events are at the same time, we will all end up on the same video call. But at least we know each other and have a good laugh. I wasn't so lucky with the video call named "SalesForce." I'm pretty sure I interrupted an important marketing discussion. 

So, what should you do?
  • Look at the name of your video calls. If it is something like "program" or "extension" change it to something else to avoid conflicts.
  • If you're having a large or high profile video call, pick a unique name. 
  • If you find yourself interrupting someone else's video call, leave their call and change the name of your video call. You can edit the name in your event, and send an update to all attendees.
  • If someone interrupts your call, explain this phenomenon to them, and suggest they rename their call. You were there first!
Why does this problem even exist? Because there's more to video calls than calendar events. While most video calls are created and joined by clicking on the call's name in an event, you can also create or join video calls by going to https://hangouts.google.com/ and by using the Hangouts App on your mobile device - both let you enter the name of the call you'd like to create or join. There's no way to know whether someone was invited. I very well may be using my iPhone to join the video call you linked to from your event. Because I'm a nerd like that.

Quick Bytes Live! Podcast

Episode 2: Beware the Hangout Hit-and-Run

(recorded June 27, 2016)
Karen, Amy, Alison, and Danny talk about new WebEx Audio options and a very important tip to avoid strangers in your Google Hangouts.

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How do you keep track of the things you need to do? Paper? Memory? Calendar? App? Whatever system you are using, Google Keep is worth exploring. Even if you use a robust app like Evernote or OneNote you may decide Google Keep has a place in your workflow.

Google Keep has been around for awhile but I didn’t take a close look at it until Google Reminders were enabled for our UMN accounts. The two work well together and having the Google Keep app on my phone is what really makes the difference for me. Let me highlight some features of Google Keep and you can decide for yourself.

Install the Google Keep Chrome add-on

Without the Google Keep Chrome add-on, you can always go to the Google Keep website to manage your notes. But by adding the Chrome add-on, you can save a URL, an image, or selected text to Google Keep without having to open Google Keep itself. To install the add-on to your Chrome toolbar:
  1. Open Chrome
  2. Go to the Google Keep Chrome Extension page
  3. Click on the ADD TO CHROME button
  4. When prompted, click Add app
  5. Allow the installation to complete
Tips for creating notes from Chrome:
  • If you are on a website and you want to add a URL to Google Keep, click the Keep icon and enter a note
  • To save an image to Keep, right click on an image and choose Save Image to Keep
  • To save a block of text, highlight the text, right click and choose Save selection to Keep

Create lists, single tasks, include photos or add notes with your voice (mobile)

To create a note, open Google Keep.   

  • Add a Single Note: type in the box to add a note and more options will appear 
  • Create a List: click on List to format your note with checkboxes 
  • Add an Image: click Image to add a photo from your computer
  • Use your Voice (mobile): select the microphone icon to add a note by voice

Add a Reminder or Recurring Reminder

When you add a reminder to your note, it will appear on your Google Calendar. Reminders stay on your Google Calendar until you mark them as done.


You can share your notes with others. This is great for sharing a to-do list and check them off as you go!

Organize your notes with color, labels, archive and delete

Color is a great way to visually organize your notes. Click the Change Color button on any note:

Labels can be used to organize and view your notes. The default labels are Inspiration, Personal and Work but of course you can add more or change the labels. Click the More button to add a Label. Tip: You will find Delete and Copy here too.

To manage your Labels in Google Keep, click Edit:

Archive allows you to save notes that you no longer want displayed on your screen but you don't want to delete. Click Archive to save a note:

I've been using Google Keep for about two months and the more I use it the more I really like it. I have since stopped using Google Tasks and I've transferred everything from my Notes app on my iPhone to Google Keep. I am still working on the best way to organize my notes and also exploring creative ways to use Google Keep. Give it a try and add a comment to share what you think about Keep!

To our UMN Colleagues:

We want you to be aware of a change that went into effect last weekend for University WebEx.

Starting June 11, 2016,  WebEx meetings now allow participants to join via phone. Yay! 

What does this mean for you?

When you enable it for a meeting, "WebEx Audio" offers attendees joining your WebEx the choice to use their computer microphone or the telephone.

Here is what it looks like to a participant in WebEx Meeting Center:

It looks slightly different in WebEx Training Center, but the options are the same:


WebEx Audio is funded by the University of Minnesota and your department will not be charged for telephone calls using WebEx Audio. This is a change from the previous billing method of per-minute.
Note: Due to cost control efforts, WebEx Audio is intended for meetings under 25 attendees. If you have meetings where you expect more than 25, please use computer microphone options (“VoIP”) only, or contact UMN Video Services for additional options.

How to select WebEx Audio 

Your WebEx account already has the WebEx Audio option available as of June 11. No additional account setup is required.
When scheduling a WebEx Meeting, Training or Event, the default audio option is VoIP (meaning users can ONLY call-in using their computer microphone). If you need to offer participants a telephone connection option (and your meeting is less than 25 attendees, see above), select WebEx Audio when setting up your meeting, located in a dropdown under Audio Options.

*InterCall (previously used for this functionality) will remain the University's preferred option for conference calls outside of WebEx.

Participant Information

Your participants will be prompted to join via phone or computer, if you have allowed for the WebEx Audio option. See the screenshots above for a participant view.

Questions or Comments?

For questions or comments, please contact the University Video Services Team, or Karen Matthes or Amy Baker.

Happy WebExing!