The Rural Digital Divide: A WDinExt Podcast

Dr. Roberto Gallardo is working to close the rural digital divide. He’s the leader of Mississippi State University Extension Intelligent Community Institute and the author of Responsive Countryside: The Digital Age and Rural Communities.

In the latest Working Differently in Extension podcast we talked about Roberto’s TEDxJackson Talk, the rural digital divide and Cooperative Extension’s role in closing it.

Youth-led Web Conferencing: A WDinExt Podcast

After a long hiatus, the Working Differently in Extension podcast returns with a conversation with Kelsey Romney, Utah State University 4-H.

Kelsey has organized 4-H leadership summits that are led by youth leaders using the web-conferencing tool Zoom. Kelsey talked about all the ways they tried to make the summits engaging and interactive, including playing games using Kahoot.

Kelsey talked about how web-conferencing increased access to the summits, especially for those kids who may not have been able to afford traveling to a face-to-face meeting. Beyond that, what really resonated with me was the fact that the summits were youth-led. I believe Cooperative Extension needs to find more places where we can step off the stage and provide the support and expertise necessary to let the people we serve talk to each other.

I also talked with Kelsey about some great training videos she created.

Polarization of Agriculture: A WDinExt Podcast

Like many parts of our society, attitudes about agriculture have become more polarized, which presents a challenge for Extension educators.

Michael Martin, Colorado State University, wrote a great commentary in the Journal of Extension about this polarization and how educators work within it. I think this is a critical issue for Extension, so I was excited to talk to Michael about his thoughts.

I hope you enjoy the conversation. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Extension and Refugees: A WDinExt Podcast

When I read about Anindita Das, refugee coordinator for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, I was interested in the idea of an Extension professional focused on the refugee community. I have not heard of another Extension organization with a full-time position dedicated to serving the refugee community.

While we did discuss how and  why Extension should be reaching out to the refugee community, I was surprised by how much of our conversation connected to Extension’s potential to work within collective action networks.

Anindita’s works with a coalition of organizations many of which have served the refugee community for years. Anindita is working to connect these organizations, help them coordinate and help them show the impact of their collective work. Her work reminded me of my conversation with Jame Bain, Noelle Harden and Stephanie Heim, in which we talked about the ways Extension could contribute to existing networks.

When Anindita talked about how the refugee organizations could help connect Extension with the refugee community, I though of my recent conversation with Jessica Beckendorf and Sandy Liang. Jessica and Sandy got connected with the veterans by working with their county veterans service officer.

Anindita had only been on the job for 6 weeks when we spoke. I really appreciate her willingness to talk about her work, when she was still figuring it out.

I hope you enjoy the conversation.

Extension Innovation: A WDinExt Podcast

Jerry Thomas last appeared on the Working Differently in Extension podcast in fall of 2013. Jerry’s long been one of my go-to contacts for information on innovation and leadership. We recorded the podcast below just after the 2016 InnovateOSU event at the Ohio State University.

I was invited to Columbus by Jamie Seger and Danae Wolf, Ohio State Extension’s Ed Tech team. Bradd Anderson, Jami Dellifield, Kevin Gamble, Alice Henneman, Hunter McBrayer, Terry Meisenbach, Brian Raison, Daphne Richards, Michelle Walfred and I were asked to serve as creative coaches for teams attending their inaugural InnovateOSUE event, which was held the day after the InnovateOSU event mentioned above.

Both events were outstanding experiences, but I was especially happy to find time to record a podcast with Jerry. Jerry is the leader of Innovation and Change at Ohio State and the leader of the eXtension Innovation Lab. We had a chance to talk about eXtension’s innovation efforts, the ECOP Innovation Task Force and what Cooperative Extension can do to be more innovative.

Extension 2050: The Postliterate Age

This is the fourth in a series of posts on Extension in the year 2050. The posts discuss themes that emerged in a conversation about the future of Extension. So far, I’ve written about contextualized information, the trend toward open and working within networks.

I’ve been struggling with this post for a couple of months. Post-literacy emerged as a theme in the conversation referenced above, but I’m still trying to make sense of it. Is it purely hypothetical as it is described on Wikipedia?

“A postliterate society is a hypothetical society in which multimedia technology has advanced to the point where literacy, the ability to read or write, is no longer necessary or common” -Wikipedia

Is post-literacy old news? Are we already living in a post-literate society as Marshal McLuhan described it almost 40 years ago?

What’s the relationship between print literacy, media literacy and digital literacy? Is post-literacy emergent or, as mentioned in the conversation below, has reading in America been dead for 90 years?

I’ll continue making sense of post-literacy because I believe it is an important theme in the future of Extension. As part of academia, much of Cooperative Extension’s information delivery and virtually all of it’s library is alphabet-based. What happens if the majority of people become incapable or, at least, uninterested in consuming information through reading? Academia can exist (does exist?) talking only to each other, but Extension, by definition, must converse with “the public,” and “the public” has largely devalued alphabet-based information.

13 minutes before the start of the 2016 NFL Draft, a video was released of offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil smoking marijuana through a gas mask. The morning after, several analysts talked about how the fact that there was video of the incident influenced the public perception. They noted, correctly in my opinion, that had this incident been detailed in an alphabet-based medium, without the video, the public would have largely dismissed it.

This is more than “seeing is believing.” It’s more like “seeing is caring.”

If so much of Extension continues to alphabet-based, can we remain (become?) relevant? Is there any hope of moving away from alphabet-based information if Extension remains part of academia?

Building Capacity to Serve Veterans: A WDinExt Podcast

Over the past year, I’ve had the good fortune to get to know Jessica Beckendorf. Jessica approaches her work with great energy, empathy and sense of community.

I was excited to find a post on the Military Families Learning Network blog in which Jessica and her University of Wisconsin Extension colleague Sandy Liang, describe their work with the County Veterans Service Officer in their community to build capacity to address PTSD and Criminal Justice Response to Veterans in Crisis.

Here’s a follow-up blog post from Jessica and Sandy.

I’ve written before about how important I think networks are to the future of Extension. The work Jessica and Sandy are doing, work that builds the capacity of a community to deal with complex issues, is a great example of Extension working in a networked way. Their willingness to play a supporting role, to connect people and organizations, and to encourage community ownership of the project are all indicative of a network mindset.

I was anxious to talk with Jessica and Sandy about their work. I hope you enjoy the conversation.

Extension and Mental Health First Aid: A WDinExt Podcast

Jami Dellifield and Amanda Raines from Ohio State University Extension – Hardin County are spreading the word about the positive impact Cooperative Extension professionals could have just by being aware of how to interact with someone dealing with a mental health issue. They are encouraging Extension educators and agents to attend Mental Health First Aid training.

In the conversation below, Amanda and Jami make a compelling case. When you hear about their experiences and think of the difference you can make just by being able to recognize when someone might be dealing with a mental health issue, it’s difficult to disagree. What do you think? Have you had an experience like the ones Jami and Amanda described? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Victor Villegas, DroneSinger: A WDinExt Podcast

One of the most common questions I get about social media and working out loud is, “How do I keep my personal and professional life separate online?” I have to admit that, while I understand the question, I’ve never been able to relate to the feeling behind it. I’ve always seen my work life and personal life as intertwined. I held my newborn daughter in my arms while hosting a classical music program on public radio (she was our first and very quiet, something I can’t say for the two boys that followed). I’ve tried to bring my passions to my work and to make my work personal.

Victor Villegas has found ways to bring his interests in technology and aeronautics to his work with Oregon State University Extension. He has even combined his passion for music with his interest in drones as the DroneSinger.

Victor and I talked about bringing our personal interests to our work in the most recent Working Differently in Extension podcast. We also talked about his drone parody songs, his involvement in unmanned aerial systems in agriculture, drone regulation and more. Enjoy!

Resource Links

Paul Hill and Jamie Seger, #edtechln: A WDinExt Podcast

Here’s the last of our conversations recorded at the National eXtension Conference in San Antonio. Jamie Seger, Ohio State University Extension, and Paul Hill, Utah State University Extension, are two of the leaders of the eXtension Educational Technology Learning Network (edtechln). They have done great work in providing spaces for Cooperative Extension professional to discuss new tools and in bringing new tools and technologies to Cooperative Extension.

Jamie, Paul and the edtechln have also been very supportive of the Working Differently in Extension podcast. I’m glad we had the opportunity to record this conversation about tools and trends in Cooperative Extension. I hope you enjoy it at least half as much as I did.