Thursday, October 29, 2009

eXtension 2.0-- Interaction, Participation and Community

A key part of our success in the online world is to take the lessons from our experiences as extension educators and create similar tools online. Extension work has never been solely about delivering research-based information to the public; it has always been about creating communities of people engaged in learning together and encouraging people to teach each other. This is the foundation of 4-H clubs, women's extension organizations, farmer groups, and so forth. The central processes of successful extension work have been creating active learning situations that engaged people, fostering participation in teaching and learning and creating community. This presentation explores the tools and methods for creating these processes online.

A Model for Successful Web Services

Fogg and Eckles (2007) outline a model that they identified as common for successful web services. They note that there are three phases—discovery, superficial involvement, and true commitment. Within each of these phases they note that web designers have created multiple processes that facilitate specific target behaviors. By engaging web visitors in these behaviors, they move people from discovery to commitment.

Active and Interactive Learning

Although the first level of interaction with material on a website may be to read the information, it is possible to do a lot more. To engage people in thinking about ideas and trying out new practices, it is often useful to create opportunities for them to interact with the material. For example, you can have people test their knowledge about a topic by taking a simple quiz. Newspapers and magazines are filled with quiz games that you have to flip to the back to find the answers. Surveys or polls are another easy way to get people to interact with information. This gives people an opportunity to see how others think about the same issue. With the use of audio and video it is possible to develop a wide range of interactive experiences including games, simulations, illustrations, demonstrations, analysis tools, stories, puzzles, explorations, and more. Mayo and Steinberg (2007) propose a bold scheme for the United Kingdom in which the government would develop a platform for using government-generated data about all types of activities (e.g., health data, economic data, crime information, etc.) so that citizens and companies can use the data to create their own new analyses, guides, and so forth. Translating this idea for land-grant universities would mean providing not just the results of research, but the data themselves.


"I think that participation is the saving of the human race. Participate in games, puzzles, fun, storytelling and when you're grown up participate in education….. It's the key to the future of the human race-- participation. " Pete Seeger, 2008.

eXtension should engage people to participate with others around the topics and issues. This could mean using blogs and wikis for forums in which to address current topics and controversial ideas. One way to address myths and misconceptions is to actively engage in thoughtful dialogue about these ideas. Our web presence should be a place in which the public can rely on thoughtful analysis and critical thinking about topics. We should invite the public into helping to develop ideas, thinking, and new solutions. This should not be a one-way broadcast.

Nielsen (2006) offered the following suggestions for increasing user participation: make it easy to contribute, make contributing a side activity, allow users to edit templates or material rather than create from scratch, highlight quality contributions and contributors.


One of the hallmarks of successful extension work has been the creation of learning communities that persisted over time. Whether through 4-H clubs, women's organizations and farmer cooperatives, effective extension work has brought people together to learn. The most robust and effective learning has always taken place within groups of people who learned from one another. Success in the online world will require a similar attention to the creation of communities. Creating communities online requires that we attend to issues of community building. This is not a teaching or information process, it is a social process. Success in community building either F2F or online requires attention to issues of creating a welcoming environment where people are treated with respect and people are encouraged to share ideas and information. Studies of successful online communities indicate that people participate for social reasons-- to meet and get to know people, to have fun, to be appreciated for their ideas and contributions, and to gain visibility (Butler, et al., 2008). Long-term success in creating sustainable online communities will require much attention to community building.

In short, the development of eXtension should continue to develop richer interactive learning opportunities, more avenues of participation and more community building efforts.


Butler, B., Sproll, L., Kiesler, S., Kraut, R. (2008). Community effort in online groups: Who does the work and why. (pp. 171- 193). In S. Weisband (Ed.). Leadership at a distance: Research in technologically-supported work. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum. Available online:

Fogg, B. J., & Eckles, D. (2007). The behavior chain for online participation: How successful web services structure persuasion. In Y. de Kort et al., (Eds.), Persuasive Technology (pp. 199-209). Heidelberg: Springer Berlin.

Mayo, E., & Steinberg, T. (2007). The Power of Information. Retrieved from on June 19, 2008.

Nielsen, J. (2006). Participation inequality: Encouraging more users to participate. Retrieved from on June 19, 2008.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What will New Media Look like in the future?

Get There Early: Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present

Bob Johansen, Institute for the Future

Embracing the Chaos (& other scary tales from the social web)

Tara Hunt, Author, The Whuffie Factor Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Citizen Agency

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Media-- Promotion and Tenure Guidelines

My presentation about New Media Promotion and Tenure Guidelines which was given at the National eXtension conference was recorded and is available to watch:

I have compiled additional reference material, slides for the talk and keep track of various conversations via Delicious tags.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Experience Economy

Clark Quinn in a recent article in eLearn titled, Publish or Perish, presents some very interesting ideas that fit the "fun, interesting and delightful" theme that dominated the National eXtesnion conference presentations last week.

Quinn is discussing books and publishing and his term is "experience," but he seems to be again capturing this idea that people need more than information, more than content. He writes,

"The opportunity is clear. The old cliché "it's not about books, it's about content" doesn't go far enough. What's needed is to make a compelling online experience, based on the content, tapping into the additional capabilities of the digital environment while not abandoning the value add.

For educational publishers, there's an additional consideration, and a market-differentiating opportunity. Pine and Gilmore suggest that the level beyond the experience is the transformative experience, where you pay for experiences that change you in desired ways. This is the core of education, when done right, and the ability to turn expert knowledge into a meaningful learning experience is a captivating premise."

He goes on to define "experience design noting, this

"is a new area, involving information architecture and design, engagement, and diverse media skills. Critically, it's having someone own the ultimate vision of the experience, and coordinating the elements to create the necessary engagement.

For educational publishers, an extra layer is learning experience design. To truly execute against this vision of an engaging experience and an effective learning experience, you have to understand not only learning, but also the alignment with engagement.

Learning experience design capability needs to be placed as a core competency, and one that is not in most publishers today"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Transperancy as a Scientist/Teacher

This week I was reminded again about the converging worlds of the personal and professional. One of the conference speakers, Tara Hunt, suggested that the personal and professional should all be one. (See didn't mention her own fame in which she lived out her personal relationship online and its demise in an article titled, So Open It Hurts.)

So even if we skip the idea of my telling you about my personal life. What should I tell you about my professional life beyond the usual stuff that shows up in my vita? What should students know?

What are my potential conflicts of interest that might bias my perspective on what I study and what I teach? If I teach martial relationships does my marital status matter? If I claim to have some expertise about divorce, do you you need to know if I am divorced? If I write about parenting, do you want to know if I am a parent?

What interests should I tell you about? How will this affect how you read my material?

The scientific journals I read? What books I read? My areas of interest beyond my science? The books and magazines I read for pleasure. (Of course, I read scientific journals for pleasure.)

The new cultural world invites us to be more transparent? How much is enough?

Free Online Higher Education Courses?

Despite all the "opencourseware" activities in higher education, the business model for delivering these courses remain in question. In a review of this work in the Chronicle of Higher Education, many of these issues are summarized.

There are many problems with this article and the whole discussion, for example:

"A freshman at Podunk U. can study with the world's top professors on YouTube."

Sentences like this are misleading. The idea that simply viewing lectures or having the homework is the equivalent of "taking" a course is very troubling. One of the essential features of "taking" a course is getting feedback and clarification of your ideas and your understanding of the material. Watching the video is not "studying with" a professor it is merely "listening to a lecture." This may be informative and you may learn something, but you have not studied with anyone.

"Social life we'll just forget about because there's Facebook," Mr. [David] Wiley says. "Nobody believes that people have to go to university to have a social life anymore."

Wrong. Surely there is no one left who really thinks that "Facebook" replaces social experiences at college or anywhere else. Scholars who have studied this work have shown repeatedly that online and real life social life is completely intertwined and some online social activity is with people that one knows already.

There was at least one sensible note in this article that is a significant reminder of the limits of much of this talk about our current round of open courseware.

"There's a pretty significant fraction of the population that learns better with instructor-led kinds of activities than purely self-paced activities," says John R. Bourne, executive director of the Sloan Consortium, a group that supports online learning. "Can you have a group of students who know nothing about quantum mechanics and have them work in a group and discuss it and learn a lot? I think it's going to be difficult."

National Extension Conference 2009

All the conference presentations at the National eXtension conference 2009 held in St. Louis, MO, Oct 21-23, 2009 are stored here:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ten Leadership Skills-- Bob Johansen, Institute for the Future

I am not a great fan of "leadership" and futurists, but Bob Johansen presented some interesting and compelling ideas at the eXtension National Conference. See Leaders Make the Future.

Here are some of his ten skills that I thought captured ideas that seem essential in my work:

1. Immersive Learning Ability-- Ability to dive into different-for-you physical and online worlds, to learn from them in a first-person way.

2. Quiet transparency-- Ability to be open and authentic about what matters to you-- without advertising yourself.

3. Rapid prototyping-- Ability to create early versions of new information, with the expectation that later success will require early failures.

4. Smart mob organizing-- Ability to bring together, engage with, and nurture purposeful business and social change networks through intelligent use of electronic and other media.

5. Commons creating-- Ability to stimulate, grow and nurture shared assets that can benefit other players-- and allow competition at a higher level.

Entertaining Education-- A good idea?

"Stop being important and start being interesting."
Michael Hirshorn as quoted by Tara Hunt in Embracing the Chaos.

"Whatever you do, make it fun." Bob Johansen, Institute for the Future

"Focus on customer delight." Russ Roberts, Northwestern University

One of the major themes at the 2009 eXtension National Conference was the idea that our educational work needs to fun, interesting and delightful. At first glance this seems out of place and antithetical to education, but is it?

Aren't most of us today here because some teacher made some topic fun, interesting, compelling and engaging? Don't we all remember a favorite lecturer who managed to make the most boring topics exciting? Hasn't effective education always been fun, interesting, and delightful?

Tara Hunt-- -- the future of the social web

Tara Hunt suggests a new of ideas about the future of the social web. From the perspective of an educator the most troubling, compelling idea is that "expertise" is less important or maybe not important at all. Is this true? Or is it that "expertise" is important, but the ways in which is is conferred has changed or is it that expertise is established in new ways? Slides 45-50 have a good set of bullet points that provide some important ideas.

Here are some quotes within her presentation that I found interesting:

"Stop being important and be interesting." Michael Hirshorn, The Atlantic

"you should be so lucky to have your work remixed. If it is not remixed you should worry about your relevance." Tara Hunt

"the more fun the mashup, the more likely you will get some press for it." Tara Hunt

"Put your audiences success at the core of every decision your make." Tara Hunt

Embrace the Chaos (and other scary tales of the social web)
View more documents from Tara Hunt.

New Media Promotion & Tenure--2009

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Promotion & Tenure Presentation on Slideshare

My presentation about a model of promotion and tenure using new media in outreach and engagement work within universities has been uploaded to Slide Share:

Promotion and Tenure Metrics for New Media-- 2009


Despite the transformation in information technologies, few universities have revised performance expectations and promotion criteria. These changes have had a profound impact on outreach and extension staff. The purpose of this session is to outline expectations for extension professionals (county, regional and state) and to define the metrics to assess these activities.

The basic expectation is that personnel will create unique information technology-based instructional material that address issues confronting individuals, organizations and/or society using knowledge based on scientific research. Generally, staff will be expected to develop instructional material for both the general public and professionals. Two broad types of information technology instructional strategies are expected to be developed—a broadcast strategy (one to many) and an engagement strategy (many to many). Broadcast strategies are designed to reach a broad group of people and might include such tools as an email newsletter, instructional video, or podcast. Engagement strategies are designed to foster extended learning communities and might include technology tools such as blogs, games, online courses, etc.

A standard set of metrics will be used to assess the quantity and quality of the information technology- based broadcast and engagement activities. Three general types of outcomes will be assessed—levels of participation, client satisfaction and participant change. For example, to measure the quantity of participation, page views and unique visitors will be recorded. Measuring the quality of broadcast strategies would include links and citations. Metrics for assessing participation within engagement strategies would include the number of people involved, the length of time people are engaged, and/or participant contributions.

Standard tools and indices will be used to routinely assess satisfaction, although quantitative measures such as repeat users, depth and length of time on a website, blog, or game can serve as a proxy for “satisfaction.” Metrics and strategies for assessing outcomes will have to be tailored to the types of changes sought in regard to the programs, but general procedures will be outlined that can be incorporated into broadcast and engagement approaches.

other reference material:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Scholarly Publication-- Michael Jensen

Jensen has been consistently at the forefront of thinking about how the publication of scientific information and scholarship can take advantage of new technologies. In a recent speech, he makes the following points:

"In a world of an ever-growing surfeit of content and distraction, when the clamor of voices for simplistic solutions to systemic problems, we must:

Promote our value to society, to justify our continued existence.

Further, we must:

Brand ourselves as becoming part of the CO2 solution, to our administrators and institutions, as part of *their* external messaging campaigns

Brand ourselves with the public as a key part of a civilized world trying to save itself

Brand ourselves as rethinking our relationship to scholarly communication

Brand ourselves as quality in a sea of content, by being openly accessible digitally

Brand ourselves as promoters of intellectual rigor and quality, online"
These last two points are worth repeating over and over. This is the difference that university faculty can make in regards to participating in the online world. It should also serve as a reminder that the point of new media is not to be "cool," but to produce high quality work.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Guidelines for New Media P & T

(presented at the National Extension Conference, St. Louis, MO, Oct 22, 2009).

References & Other Materials-- this is a list of useful resources and materials related to this presentation. You can find other materials tagged in Delicious.

Other posts on this topic:

Should Faculty be required to Publish on the Web for Promotion?

Can Faculty Post Stuff on the Web and get Tenure?
Online Science, Teaching and Outreach with Tenure
Measuring Scientific Contributions on the Web

Evaluating Performance

Here are some sources for understanding and developing metrics for client participation, satisfaction and impact.

Google. (n.d.). Google analytics tour.

Many of the metrics that are essential to reporting on blogs, websites and other new media platforms are available by recording media activities using Google Analytics.
Hughes, Jr., R. (1995). Are a lot of satisfied participants enough? Human Development and Family Life Bulletin,1(3).
Hughes describes a brief example of how satisfaction can be used to monitor program processes.
Lambur, M. (n.d.). Communities of practice evaluation guide.
Lambur provides some useful advice, tools and metrics for evaluating eXtension materials and other new media.
Larsen, D. L., Attkisson, W. A., Hargreaves, W. A., & Nguyen, T. D. (1979). Assessment of client/patient satisfaction: Development of a general scale. Evaluation and Program Planning, 2, 197-207.
The 8-item general scale described in this article can easily be adapted to measure satisfaction of a variety of programs and services.

Criteria for Promotion and Tenure

Anderson, D. L. (2004). (Ed.), Digital scholarship in the tenure, promotion and review process.
Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.
This edited volume is one of the few examinations of digital scholarship and the ways in which it can be handled in promotion and tenure. Much of this work focuses on issues that are more central to the humanities, but there are still some useful insights about the overall issues. Anderson in the introductory chapter makes the following point: "it is not that they [scholars] use technology...but that they use technology so well that it transforms their field and the kind of work that is possible in it" (p. 9).
APA Style Guide.
When reporting the creation of information technology-based products it is useful to report these using a standardized format like APA for citing electronic contributions on your vita or annual report.
Extension Metrics Working Group. (Feb. 6, 2009). eXtension scholarship metrics.
Some good ideas of ways to capture contributions to eXtension efforts. These ideas could be applied to other new media activities.
Ippolito, J., Blais, J., Smith, O.F., Evans, S., & Stormer, N. (2009). New criteria for new media. Leonardo, 42, 71-75.
These authors provide one of the most complete descriptions of how new media can be handled in promotion and tenure. They write, "few new-media academics are going to bother with these innovations if their departments' criteria for promotion and tenure recognize only dead-tree journals" (p. 71).
Jensen, M. (2007). The new metrics of scholarly authority. The Chronicle Review, 53.