Looking back this past month, we have reflected on what a big year our team had in 2015. 

We changed how our staff receive desktop support, upgraded all (all!) of our servers, survived and supported a massive upgrade of University enterprise systems, and hired a new academic technologist--all while keeping our usual services like registration and tech training in flight. As is our tradition on our team, we summarized our most quantifiable metrics into an infographic using Piktochart


Looking forward, Extension Technology has lots of plans for 2016. 

Some of our bigger ideas are these:

  • More engagement with Extension’s educational program teams
  • Further implementation of the UMN's non-credit registration system in Extension
  • Develop an implementation plan for Salesforce in Extension
  • Increased options for standardized hardware 
  • Increase awareness and quantity of training opportunities for all Extension staff, especially focused on newly implemented tools
  • Deliver shippable development products in a more timely and agile process
  • Improve conference room ease-of-use across Extension
  • Work to articulate and promote the value of our team 
What ideas or efforts do you think we should be prioritizing? We'd love to hear your perspective.


Our Academic Tech projects aren't just products we create and hand over -- we look for opportunities to grow the skills of educators and program staff along the way.  The online Great Lakes Turf School is a great example.  The project created a multimedia online program integrating collaboration and interaction to enrich and advance the work of Extension Educators.  It also prepared and empowered them to continue moving forward.

Online Program: Great Lakes Turf School

What started off as a pilot program for Extension’s turf team grew to something much, much bigger, with infrastructure and tools from the University. There are 85 turf professionals from the region enrolled in this 10 week certificate-based program. The sessions are delivered via Google Hangout on Air embedded into a Moodle course, which is used for enrollment, organization, and communication purposes. Ten internationally renowned turfgrass faculty from across the region deliver content and participate in panels via Hangouts on Air each week, live from 6-8pm. The Extension Educators organizing and facilitating this course had no experience with Moodle or Google Hangouts on Air, and in fact did not know what tools to utilize after their small “pilot” idea, intended for 10-15 participants, took off. They have since been given the support and training to grow on their own.

2014-03-25_1426.png


This project was selected through the Extension e-Learning Proposal Process. We work with Extension Educators, Program Staff, and Faculty who offer training or education, like the Turf and Ground Field Day, Equine Demonstrations, the Local Foods College, the Serve it Up Safely Course, and the Master Gardener Core Course. They are ready to expand their reach, make education more accessible, and/or collaborate with colleagues and community members at a distance. If this is you and you’re ready for help, contact us for a consultation or propose a project!
Moodle logo

I've heard there may be a growing interest in the "lesson" resource in Moodle, but there seems to be an air of mystery around it.
I want to clear that up and help you get started!
If you'd like to provide an individualized learning experience for your online learners based on their regional location, experience levels, or checks for understanding, you may soon like Moodle’s lesson activity as much as I do! It allows for branching so you can set differentiated learning paths, strategically sequencing content and activities throughout a series of web pages. 

I’ve made a short video to explain more about its benefits, show you how to get started, and let you see how it works. 


How might you use Moodle lessons?

Read more about the options available when building a lesson with this Moodle.org tutorial.
This article includes Google calendar tips that will help you configure your calendar for Extension’s new mileage reimbursement policy. Tips for how to share your calendar, make individual meetings private and adding travel time to meetings are all included.

Sharing your U of MN Google calendar 

Default calendar view
By default, anyone at the U of MN (TC Campus) can view your University Google calendar. Note: Extension employee Google accounts are set to TC campus for this purpose.  What can people see on your calendar? Meetings on your calendar will display to others as “busy” but it does not show the details of your meetings. To comply with Extension policy, you should allow some people to see the details of your meetings by sharing your calendar with specific people (e.g. your supervisor, support staff, work team).

Sharing with specific people:

  1. Open your Google Calendar
  2. On the left, under My Calendars, find your calendar and click the arrow next to it
  3. Select Share this Calendar
  4. Under Share with specific people, add the email address of the person you want to share with
  5. For Permission Settings, choose an option in the drop-down menu. Learn more about permissions below.
  6. Click Add person, if they aren't already added
  7. Click Save. Once you click Save, the person you shared your calendar with will get an email invitation to view your calendar. If they click the link in the email, your calendar will be added to their "Other calendars" list.
Permission Settings – control what others can see
When you share your calendar with someone, you can decide how they see your events and whether they can also make changes like adding or editing events. Here's what people can do with each sharing option:

Make changes AND manage sharing
  • Change sharing settings
  • Add and edit events
  • See details for all events, including private ones
  • See the time zone setting for the calendar
  • Restore or permanently delete events from the calendar's Trash
Make changes to events
  • Add and edit events
  • See details for all events, including private ones
  • See the time zone setting for the calendar
  • Restore or permanently delete events from the calendar's Trash
See all event details
  • See details for all events except those marked as private
  • See the time zone setting for the calendar
See free/busy information (no details)
  • See when your calendar is booked and when it has free time, but not the names or other details of your events.

Making individual meetings private

Items marked as "private"
Some things on your calendar should be set as private such as doctor appointments, unless you don't mind if people see them. If you have given someone permission to view details on your calendar, the items marked as private will display as "busy".
  1. Open the meeting you want to mark private
  2. At the bottom of the page, find the Visibility section
  3. Select Private
  4. At the top of the page, click Save

Adding travel time to meetings 

Adding your travel time to and from meetings is an important part of managing your calendar. This will prevent people from scheduling meetings at a time you are traveling. Create a separate “travel time” meeting before and after your meeting. Here’s an example:



Extras:

Take a moment to explore some other Google calendar settings. Under your Calendar Settings General tab, you can change:

Default event duration: when you click in your calendar to create a meeting, the default time is 30 minutes. You can change this setting to different amounts of time.
Working hours: give people a warning if they try to schedule meetings outside of your regular working hours.
Change how you view your calendar: dim past/future events, show weekends, customize your default view.

Under your Calendar Settings Labs tab, explore some calendar add-ons. The add-on that I have enabled is "Who's my one-on-one with?" If someone has scheduled a meeting with me, it will display their name on my calendar next to the event.

As always, we welcome comments, tips and feedback on the QuickBytes blog.

Happy New Year everyone!






Recently the University of Minnesota built a "1:Button Studio" on West Bank Campus for use by anyone who needs a quick and easy space for recording. But how quick and easy is it? I had to see for myself!
So the Quick Bytes crew went for a little field trip. Oh Yeah!
Enjoy this video and then I'll get into the details below!



I didn't know Jack McTigue very well before this, and I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm completely nuts after this.

Regardless. The facility is there for nuts and non-nuts alike. Equal nut-protunity. Here's how it works.

Step 1.

Reserve the Studio space. For now while the studio is new, you email video@umn.edu to get on the calendar and get a quick orientation. Going forward, you should just be able to request it via Google Calendar. Pick up a studio key at a Tech Stop on campus, or follow the instructions that you have been given for access. Show up looking gorgeous at the Studio.

Step 2. 

In the studio, turn on the light switch to power it all up. Plug in your laptop. Then enter your email and press the giant green "Start Recording" button on the studio's iPad.

.....ACTION!

Step 3.

Press button again to stop recording.
The recording of the CAMERA, COMPUTER SCREEN, and a COMPOSITE OF THE TWO (3 separate video files) will be emailed to you within about a day. (examples of these are in the video above). They are available for you to download for about 2 weeks so save them down to your computer or Google Drive.

Step 5.

IF you need to edit your video (optional!), you will need to convert it to work in Windows (since it came from an iPad....). Luckily for us, this is ridiculously easy with the U's Media Hub. Like 2 clicks easy. After it's converted, you can edit in Windows Movie Maker (Quick Byte on Movie Maker here) or whatever software you like.

Step 6.

Upload to the video site of your choice (I recommend YouTube).

They are building two more of these 1:Button Studios on East Bank, opening next semester: Diehl Hall and Walter Library. They are also experimenting with adding (optional) platforms for short people, and the Diehl Hall one will be a seated/accessible configuration.

The space is open to anyone at the U and is getting used by students especially frequently, and they are loving it. They record presentations and TED style talks for their classes.

What could you imagine using it for? 

Would one in St. Paul get used by Extension? I'd love to hear your ideas!
I first learned about the Local Foods College last year while working for a short time with the Statewide Health Improvement Program in Mille Lacs County.  Through that work, I met Barb Eller up at the Farm Market Cafe in Onamia, MN -- one of the six public viewing sites across the state.  I love the community-centered approach they took while keeping the "doors" open for individual access and convenience.  Read on to learn more about how Extension Technology worked with the a program team and educators to make it happen.

From face to face to online, while still meeting social objectives

The Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Program and Extension educators in the Northwest region have worked to provide a rich webinar series on local foods, with topics ranging from soil fertility to backyard poultry, basic business planning and beyond. Past series have connected local foods enthusiasts from across the state with the support of both iTV and UMConnect technology. The team worked with Extension Technology to conduct an audience analysis of past participants’ experiences with the Local Foods College, and to identify new avenues for serving participants. Participants surveyed were enthusiastic about the ability to engage on local foods issues in a flexible format they can access from home. Feedback also showed, however, that participants valued the Local Foods College as an opportunity to network and gain valuable contacts. To meet these dual goals of flexibility and community-building, the Local Foods College decided to expand their outreach to support more group discussion and interaction online. Extension Technology supported the production of a Moodle site with space for online discussions, video posts, and engagement with presenters and peers on local foods issues.

Image of Local Foods College website.


This project was selected through the Extension e-Learning Proposal Process. We work with Extension Educators, Program Staff, and Faculty who offer training or education, like the Turf and Ground Field Day, Equine Demonstrations, the Local Foods College, the Serve it Up Safely Course, and the Master Gardener Core Course. They are ready to expand their reach, make education more accessible, and/or collaborate with colleagues and community members at a distance. If this is you and you’re ready for help, contact us for a consultation or propose a project!


Screencast videos are short video recordings of your computer screen with audio narration. You could also call them narrated presentations or video modules. I’m sure you’ve watched dozens of screencast videos but I’m including some of our own examples just in case (Noodling Moodle Intro, County Websites Workbench, Movie Maker Cutaway Shot).

Creating a screencast video is one of the easiest things you can do on your computer. All you need is a microphone (webcam is optional) and some software/web tool. While there are lots of applications available to create screencast videos, one of the best tools I’ve used is Screencast-o-matic. And it’s free! Your videos can be saved to your computer as an mp4 or you can upload them directly to YouTube.




The free version allows you to record up to 15 minutes and it puts a small “Screencast-O-Matic” watermark in the lower left corner of the final published video. The Pro version ($15/year) gives you video editing, drawing tools, longer recordings and removes the watermark.

Tips:

  • Press ALT P to pause while you are recording 
  • Keep videos short!!! Research shows that the optimal video length is 6 minutes or shorter. The average engagement time of any video maxes out at 6 minutes, regardless of its length. 
  • Don't read a script! Be natural and be yourself -- even if you aren't recording your webcam, your personality comes through in your voice. If you are recording your webcam - smile. 
  • It doesn't have to be perfect. If you say "um" or stumble on a few words, no worries! 
  • Google Drive is a great way to share and store mp4 files before publishing them to YouTube. 
So, next time you find yourself typing out instructions, explaining how to find something online or wanting to record your presentation -- consider using screencast-o-matic. When you are ready to give it a try, just go to screencastomatic.com, watch their 2 minute tutorial and then start recording!

Feel free to share your comments about screencasting!