The Extension technology project process provides a viable pipeline for a broad range of elearning and technology proposals to be prioritized by leadership and supported by Extension Technology

Get by with a little help from your IT friends

When you design technology-enhanced learning, you want it to be effective, efficient, supportable, and have longevity. So we created a document that's intended to help you and your team achieve these goals. This document, Development Guidelines for Extension e-Learning Projects, provides guidelines for some common e-learning use cases within Extension. Please keep it in your back pocket when creating a...
  • Moodle course, 
  • video, 
  • lecture capture, or 
  • other online learning activities. 
You are especially encouraged to use this document as a resource when planning a project and collaborating with project teams both inside and outside of the University.

Apply for Extension Technology project support

Extension Technology will select projects to receive a package of services that includes hands-on experience and a variety of resources to design and develop effective technology-enhanced Extension educational tools and curriculum. Project teams will find inspiration, education, practice and collaboration with proposed tech tools, including videos, lecture captures, podcasts, Moodle modules, apps, e-books and more. The next deadline for proposals is Sept. 1, 2015. Read more about proposal requirements here.  Also check out the new blog post series we started featuring past projects to inspire you and recognize the efforts of innovative Extension teams.

What technology projects are you working on?

Earlier this year, WebEx was introduced as the University's new web conferencing tool, replacing UMConnect.  After September 25, 2015, the Adobe Connect ("UMConnect") server will be no longer available to use for hosting/creating meetings.  

Your Existing Meeting Recordings: 

You will still have access to your existing UMConnect recordings after September 25. The URL's to your recordings will not change.

Adobe Presenter Recordings

Adobe Presenter presentations that are currently published on the UMConnect server will still be available and the URLs will not change. You can also continue to publish new Adobe Presenter 10 presentations to the UMConnect server. 

More information about Adobe Presenter can be found on the Adobe website. Adobe Presenter can be purchased through the University software purchasing site.

Graphic: Ext Technology Toolkit

It is easy to get overwhelmed with tech tools

It seems like every day there is a new tool someone is talking about! But who has the time to investigate the usefulness and appropriateness of these tools? Not most of us!

But luckily, some of us do! And we have prepared a clean, concise list of Academic Technology Tools Suggested by University of Minnesota Extension Technology for Extension education (open google doc).

We've included our handy "Learn it" links next to each tool, so you can learn it on your own, either through or a similar resource. Or you can always contact Extension Technology to give you a hand trying something out!

As always, we welcome your feedback. This list is just a start.

What cool tools are you using that we should consider adding?

This blog is full of tips, tech resources and updates, and behind the scenes peeks at our work and adventures, but until now we’ve only shared a showcase of the project work we do several "clicks" into Extension's Intranet. We like to post tutorials and new tech tools, but every once in a while we want to show you what we’ve been creating, and how we’ve helped educators, program staff, and faculty expand and deepen their reach through technology.

I’m so excited to tell you about some past academic tech projects to get you thinking about the tech-supported opportunities you can dig into too! We’ll share about a different project about every six weeks -- but check back EVERY week for a new post, whether it’s a field report, tutorial, or news.

First up: Turf & Grounds Virtual Field Day

For over a decade, the University of Minnesota turf and ground educators have hosted a Field Day on the St. Paul Campus to educate the industry and the public on the numerous turf and grounds research projects being conducted at the University. When time and travel constraints made attendance start to drop in recent years, the group was able to switch to a virtual format featuring online videos, tips, and resources explaining University research. The turf and grounds team also worked with Extension Technology to expand and brand their virtual field day site to support an approachable format for the industry and members of the public. Participant feedback has shown a strong preference for the virtual format as a convenient way of accessing and promoting the research being conducted at the U of M.

Image of the Virtual Field Day 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!
Moodle Logo

Why do many online courses fall flat? How can I motivate and engage online learners in my program area?

If you’ve been asking yourself these questions, I hope you’ll check out our new online course Noodling Moodle: Motivating and Engaging Extension’s Online Learners. This isn’t a ground-up basics of Moodle course -- you can get that from central IT. Instead, this is a course that aims to show you how to plan a quality online course for non-credit learners that will get and keep your audience motivated and engaged.

Our learning objectives for the online Noodling Moodle course are to provide an opportunity for you to:
  • Understand backward design and how to implement it for student clarity and intuitive course structure
  • Recognize assessment strategies designed to evaluate learner progress and provide opportunities for hands-on learning
  • Become exposed to diverse modes of content sharing for sufficiently comprehensive and engaging delivery
  • Learn accessibility and usability basics and where to find more detailed information and support
  • Experience various forms of interaction designed to motivate learners and increase learning
Be a part of the special preview run of our online Noodling Moodle course before Program Conference (August 10 through September 20) to provide valuable feedback for the online course as well as what you’d like to see covered when we host a session by the same name at Program Conference. At the conference, we’ll have 60 minutes to dig into:
  • Where to start when designing an online course
  • How to provide opportunities for hands-on, active, and interactive learning
  • Exciting methods of content sharing
  • Awesome ideas for interaction designed to motivate learners and increase learning
You’ll also come away from our Program Conference session with a user-friendly checklist for great course design and peer review.

Better yet, we’re hoping to grow an online community (via a Google Group) of Noodling Moodlers who have completed the course and want to share successes, challenges, and insights -- as well as offer rubric-supported peer reviews for friendly feedback on in-development courses.

 Happy Moodling!

ADA 25 Logo

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will turn twenty-five on July 26, 2015.

We're celebrating by sharing a guide to making e-learning materials accessible to all learners.  

If you're anything like me, you want to get it "right."  But that can make you freeze in your tracks.  I'm using the #ADA25 celebration as a reason to create a deadline for myself -- a reason to hit publish and share a guide that will hopefully help you make your education and outreach materials more accessible.

Is it perfect?  Probably not.  But is it helping anyone if I don't share it?  No.

I hope you'll use this guide the next time you create e-learning materials -- but I also hope the fear of not getting it "right" doesn't stop you from trying one or two things to make your materials more accessible and sharing your work.

There are a lot of things to think of, so we've simplified it a bit with a checklist:
  1. Choose a document format
  2. Choose fonts wisely
  3. Consider colors
  4. Use structured headings
  5. Add alt-text for images
  6. Check reading level
  7. Check overall accessibility

Learn more: Readability and Accessibility: A guide to making e-learning materials accessible to all learners

How will you celebrate #ADA25?

We are making some changes around here. You may have read the announcement of these changes in the Dean's Column announcement on June 4, 2015.

We are deliberately and thoughtfully transitioning computer support to OIT's 1-HELP team. 

Why are we doing this?

Transferring computer support to the Office of Information Technology (OIT) will allow Extension Technology to focus on building up what the organization needs: increased academic technologies, app creation, advanced training, and instructional design support. Our technology team will be able to provide more resources toward advancing Extension’s mission-focused technology projects, such as: Moodle course design, educational video production, online registration, and engagement and collaboration through WebEx and Google tools.

These changes align Extension with how most other colleges are currently receiving computer support, and increase efficiency as a University while keeping our level of service to all staff & faculty. Extension did not take this decision lightly, and I spent over a year researching operations and job shadowing in OIT computer support. I am confident that service standards will not drop with this change. OIT's computer support service is very different than it was just five years ago. It is now 24/7, with so many resources at their fingertips that over 90% of their calls are solved before the caller even hangs up! Plus, this service is common good, meaning Extension is already paying for it through required University budgeting.

Campus Support

Did you know there are 7 OIT support professionals assigned to St. Paul campus? They office in the St. Paul Student Center and provide faculty and staff with support of all devices and most software. They already support every other non-AHC staff and faculty on St. Paul campus.

After Extension's transition, these IT support professionals will provide at-your-desk, as well as walk-in, support for all of Extension. I spent a lot of time job shadowing these guys, and I can assure you they are extremely experienced and courteous!

Off-Campus Support

The most frequent question we are asked by Extension staff is about computer support in regional offices. I am confident that OIT will support off-campus office staff with the same quality and level of service as our on-campus offices: OIT has all the same tools and access that our current team has, with greater human resources. CFANS has transferred their ROCs' computer support to OIT, as has CBS with their field stations. We are not blazing this trail!

Contact Information

After Extension's transition this fall, Extension's Service Desk phone line and email will forward to OIT's 1-HELP number. 1-HELP has many contact points for computer support, including online chat, email, phone, text, and three walk-in locations. As always, you will be welcome to contact any member of your Extension Tech team directly when you need specialized service!

Extension Technology Team

Extension Technology is still here to serve! The Extension Technology team is not moving en masse to OIT, only computer support responsibilities are moving. The remaining ten members of our team are very excited to raise up more projects and services that innovate and serve Extension. Our team offers Extension 27 technology services, from e-learning production to app development. See our full service catalog here.

Stay Tuned

There are still details to be worked out before our full transition in the fall, and we will continue to let you know what is changing, why, and how it will impact you. Your feedback is always welcome.

Please be sure to contact me or any member of your tech team with any specific concerns, questions, or feedback!