A small group of 4-H Coordinators recognized that many 4-H clubs and project teams struggle to communicate with one another which creates challenges for fostering active participants. They also noticed that clubs and project teams who have been early technology adopters demonstrate effective communication strategies and outcomes. So this project focused on finding ways to bring those in the early majority adopter range up to that level.

Tech skills for program staff

We worked collaboratively with the 4-H Coordinators who brought the project forward, as well as the Center for Youth Development’s Leadership and Communications and Technology staff to ensure our work supported their policies and practices to keep youth safe, while also helping the 4-H Coordinators, youth, and adult volunteers increase their technology skills to support inclusive, active participation in clubs and projects.

The 4-H Coordinators learned to create screen capture videos and edit them with voiceover narration, and integrating branded PowerPoint slides, images, and music. They also learned to upload their videos to YouTube and edit the captions. These are all skills they will certainly use again in their Extension work. 

Tech skills for 4-Hers and volunteers

Now that the videos are complete and being promoted with a communications planning guide (also created by these ambitious 4-H Coordinators), the technology skills of 4-Hers and volunteers will also increase as they learn to effectively utilize Facebook Groups and 4-H Online to enhance club and project communication and engagement. It’s a win-win-win!

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 AIS Detector 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!
banner: Quick Bytes Live episode 12

Quick Bytes Live! Podcast

Episode 12: Tips for staying up to date with technology

(recorded January 20, 2017)
Tom, Amy, Karen, and Alison talk through how they recommend staying up to date in tech--including Karen's training opportunities and setting aside time for Lynda.com. We also share a few great tools in the Tech Tips segment, including Trello, WeVideo, and Boomerang.
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Earlier this month, we shared our checklist of core technology skills in Extension e-news. This list is sorted by role and includes a link to learning resources for each topic. It’s a great way to get up to speed with some of the core technologies we use every day.

For many of the other applications and technologies that we use, Extension technology can provide training by appointment or group training on request. We can help determine the best format for for your group.

Check out our list of workshop offerings. Many of these workshops are available online anytime and others can be delivered on request. If you don’t see what you need on the list and want to request something else, please let us know. Additional information can be found on the Extension Technology Intranet. You can request training by contacting Karen Matthes, klm@umn.edu.

More resources to help you stay up to speed

  • Extension Quick Bytes is a way for us to share technology news, tips, tutorials and examples of technology projects. Be sure to subscribe if you want to be notified when we post something new.
  • Extension Conferences - watch for technology workshops offered at staff or program conference.
  • Lynda.umn.edu is a great resource for nearly 2,000 courses for all skill levels in technology, software and business. This is available for free to University students, faculty and staff.
  • Self-help Guides are available for a number of technologies.
Please let us know the tech training needs you have!

Did you know that you can set an expiration date to your shared Google files and folders? This feature is great when your team is working on a project and you need to give people an access which expires automatically after a specific date, or when you share files with external partners.

The expiration dates can be set for users with Comment or View access only. Expiration dates can not be set for users with Edit access or for file owners. Setting an expiration date will automatically change the user access to Can Comment.

How to set an expiration date?

  1. Right-click on a file or folder, click Share and enter the email address of the person you want to share the file with.
  2. Click Advanced
  3. Click Send to send invitation to the person
  4. After the file or folder is shared, click the clock icon and set an expiration date under Access expires. Use a preset or custom date.
  5. Click Save changes
If the person tries to access a file after expiration, they will be denied access.

Set Expiration Date.gif
Demo: set expiration date to Google files

Extension's video kits have been wildly popular. After three years, they are still checked out frequently. Because of this constant use, they were in need of some TLC!

We put a lot of thought and research into updating our kits. We talked to frequent users in Extension and video experts at the University. Here is what we came up with!



We stuck with the iPad Mini as the "camera" since that has been so easily usable by anyone who borrows the kit. Also, by not having to replace this we saved money to use on other new items!

We bought a new tripod mount for the iPad. It is magnetic and very sturdy. For ease of use, we just leave the tripod foot screwed onto it all the time.

We kept the Sony bluetooth microphones, but made some changes to make them easier to use. We are leaving the (necessary) adapter dongle attached to the receiver, rather than putting it in separately. This is to avoid confusion on forgetting to use it. We are also putting the transmitter inside the "caterpillar" windshield all of the time, to make it more obvious that it is the one you clip on the subject. (The transmitter and receiver look identical except for the label).

 We are using rechargeable batteries, necessary for the bluetooth mic.

The wired mic is a Rode lavalier "smartphone" mic with the 20' extension cord attached. This mic requires no batteries or adapter. It will probably work the better of the two mics if you are able to be tethered to the iPad with a 20' leash!

We included headphones in the kit, to allow for easy checking of your footage's audio. You'll need to unplug the mic and plug these in to check, but it is worth it to be confident your audio is working!

We packed up the new video kit in a camera backpack, with a side loop for the new fluid head tripod.

The backpack is labeled inside each compartment what should be where, to allow for quick and easy packing up and checking in/out!

We also boiled down the "Quick Start Guide" to a small, laminated card. This might be too simple, but we'll see. I don't think anyone read the 2-page one before anyway!


A completely new kit like this will cost approximately $793. See the google doc for the full spec sheet and prices. We already had some of the components (the iPad and Sony bluetooth mic) so were able to refresh our existing kits for less than $300 each.


So far the new video kit is receiving positive reviews. If you have any feedback on things we could improve or add to it, please leave us a comment!