Research Question 3: Key Trends Accelerating Technology Adoption in the Cooperative Extension

What trends do you expect to have a significant impact on the ways in which cooperative extension programs approach their core mission of serving the public?

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar.

NOTE: The Key Trends are sorted into three categories: short-term, mid-term, and long-term.

Short-Term Trends
These are trends that are driving edtech adoption now, but will likely remain important for only next one to two years. Virtual Worlds was an example of a fast trend that swept up attention in 2007-8.

Mid-Term Trends
These trends will be important in decision-making for a longer term, and will likely continue to be a factor in decision-making for the next three to five years.

Long-Term Trends
These are trends that will continue to have impact on our decisions for a very long time. Many of them have been important for years, and continue to be so. These are the trends -- like mobile or social media -- that continue to develop in capability year over year.

As you review what others have written, please add your thoughts and comments as well.

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Sam Sam Apr 21, 2016


Compose your entries like this:

Trend Name
Add your ideas here with a few of sentences description including full URLs for references (e.g. http://horizon.nmc.org). And do not forget to sign your contribution with 4 ~ (tilde) characters!


Increasing Value of the User Experience
User experience (UX) refers to the quality of a person’s interactions with a company’s services and products. The term is commonly applied to assess computer-based exchanges with mobile devices, operating systems, and websites. Superior user experience has been largely attributed to the success of companies. Easy navigation, digestible content, and practical features — among other components — are encompassed in effective website and database designs. The interface itself, however, is just one dimension of UX. Companies such as Amazon and Google are identifying patterns in users’ online behaviors to better tailor search results at the individual level, and direct feedback from users in the form of ratings on websites including NetFlix and TripAdvisor help companies customize content and adjust user interface design. The result is a more efficient and personal experience for users. For institutions, which serve up countless online environments and e-publications, user experience is a relatively new area. In the post-Information Age, there has been so much focus on data management that only recently have education professionals shifted their attention to designing a high-quality experience with the aim of helping researchers and students navigate massive amounts of data. - Sam Sam Jun 6, 2016
Mobile and Voice Search: Search engine algorithms change rapidly. Mobile search has been important for years. Using long tail keywords/voice search is how younger audiences search for their information online. 55% of teenagers are using voice search daily through their mobile devices. How many of us dictate texts into our phones instead of typing them in? It's faster and more efficient in many cases.
Making sure that Extension websites include keywords AND are responsive are the first few steps. However making sure we are crafting content to be delivered to the right person at the right time is key. Personalized content is what people are looking for. Typically if they want to know about a local resource they do not want to wade through generic results until they MIGHT find your webpage with localized and specific information.
Cortana on Windows 10 brings the voice search to desktop as well. You can also do a voice command search using Google on your desktop so re-writing content is important to ensure desktop and device users find Extension resources quickly.
People are also on the go more now than ever and they use their phones to navigate to websites or use apps to find what resources they need. Re-writing some of our sometimes 'stuffy' fact sheets into more natural or conversational language on our websites will be a big way that people will find Extension content (and be more willing to share it with others). Transitioning our content to answer the '5 Ws: Who, What, When, Where, Why (and how)' will help our content be found by Google and other search engines.
https://searchenginewatch.com/sew/study/2440758/what-do-you-need-to-know-about-voice-search
- accole accole May 16, 2016
I agree with accole, we need our content more accessible with the latest technologies and accessible to our audiences. At a recent talk to some of our educators by a local radio station farm personality, she scolded us for "trying to put 10lbs in a 5lb bag with all our over academic look how smart I am" approach to a lot of our content. This should be short-term trend
As we think through conversations in technology I would agree with the "one size fits all" doesn't work. We must keep in mind that the same information may need to be delivered in a multitude of ways. Some parts in our state do no not have access to high-speed internet so a shift to rich multimedia may not be supported in their area, but since one of our tenants of operation is access how do we insure that we don't harm groups without access to the newest and shiniest technologies? I had an opportunity to learn about educational opportunities happening in rural parts of India. They are not delivering information in the newest learning management system or with a robust responsive website, but are sending texts with real time localized emojies representing weather patterns to break down language barriers. - michael.macklin michael.macklin Jun 5, 2016

Advancing Cultures of Change and Innovation
Many thought leaders have long believed that education can play a major role in the growth of national economies. In order to breed innovation and adapt to economic needs, programs must be structured in ways that allow for flexibility, and spur creativity and entrepreneurial thinking. There is a growing consensus among many thought leaders that learning program leadership and curricula could benefit from agile startup models. Educators are working to develop new approaches and programs based on these models that stimulate top-down change and can be implemented across a broad range of settings. In the business realm, the Lean Startup movement uses technology as a catalyst for promoting a culture of innovation in a more widespread, cost-effective manner, and provides compelling models for leaders to consider.
Change and Innovation are hallmarks of Cooperative Extension, at no time has this been more important than now. The internet has given the traditional clients of Extension new tools for information and answers. Extension's new role is to make sure that this information is accurate and science based. This will only be accomplished if Extension uses innovation and change to shape how we deliver our services and ensure our traditional client base is getting accurate information from a reliable source. Without innovation our mission may be replaced by the inaccuracies of the internet. - dgeller dgeller May 3, 2016 - Stan Stan May 31, 2016
I completely agree with @dgeller and @Stan - in addition to finding a way to be the go to source of science based, accurate information how do we allow for a collaborative environment where we respond to community needs in a tri-sector approach. The intersection of government, private sector, and education? This has also been referred to the triple helix that drives an innovation ecosystem. This model is easily created in proximity to a University campus, but how can we structure a similar innovation ecosystem throughout our states using Extension personnel? - michael.macklin michael.macklin Jun 5, 2016
It will be necessary to determine new ways of evaluating Extension Educators as in the process of innovation, it may be necessary to "fail to succeed." - ahenneman ahenneman May 8, 2016 Yes, Extension needs to encourage failure as a way to foster success - oneill oneill May 24, 2016 - Stan Stan May 31, 2016
While there are many different versions of Steve Blank and Alex Osterwalder's approach to a lean startup or business model canvas (one included here:
http://3daystartup.org/lean/), I think Cooperative Extension can use this canvas approach to adapt to this culture of change and innovation. By looking at their individual communities and viewing community members as their "customers" and then identifying the "key problems" in the community, they can then modify their educational opportunities and create the value proposition for their community to ensure Extension remains a relevant and trusted source of information. This can be a short term change in behavior that is adopted for the long term.- amy.dronberger amy.dronberger Jun 1, 2016 - Stan Stan Jun 2, 2016 We have used the business model canvas as a tool to identify opportunities for collaboration between Extension and the Division of Continuing Education - a great tool! - michael.macklin michael.macklin Jun 5, 2016

Communities of Learning
It would seem that education has remained largely unchanged over the years. Classrooms have evolved to include more technology, or even become virtual; however, the function of education has remained largely formal and requires a content expert (faculty, teacher, Extension professional) decimating credible information to those interested or required to access the information. With developments in technology I would challenge Extension and LGU's to think about re-framing the conversation of education to focus on informal communities of learning leading to a multitude of pathways towards learner wants and needs. How can we use technology to provide learning in every day activities? How can reading a recipe for tonight's dinner lead to a better understanding of nutrition and food safety? How can setting up your family wi-fi lead to an exploration of computer networks and security? How can a family trip to the local sporting goods store provide STEM learning while parents are shopping? Learning opportunities surround us, how can we structure ways to capitalize on this learning through technology? - michael.macklin michael.macklin Jun 5, 2016 [Editor's Note: Added here from RQ2.]

Growing Focus on Measuring Learning
The growing focus on measuring learning describes a renewed interest in assessment and the wide variety of methods and tools that educators use to evaluate, measure, and document the academic readiness, learning progress, skill acquisition, or educational needs of students. As societal and economic factors redefine what skills are necessary in today’s workforce, educational institutions must rethink how to define, measure, and demonstrate mastery of subjects, skills, and competencies. The proliferation of data mining software and developments within online learning, mobile learning, and learning management systems are coalescing toward learning environments that leverage analytics and visualization software to portray learning data in a multidimensional and portable manner. In online and blended courses, data can reveal how student actions contribute to progress and learning gains.
Measuring learning is extremely important for Extension educators. Behavior changes and adoption of new practices are moving beyond traditional paper surveys, and as we move to electronic education, the potential for data mining is rich. - brittany.coop brittany.coop May 27, 2016

Growth of Biohacking
(Bradd) - andersonb andersonb Jun 4, 2016(I'm honestly not sure where this topic goes. Please feel free to move it to RQ3, but I think it merits a place in our discussions. It has overlaps with wearable technology and IoT, and innovations like OpenBCI (http://eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2015/05/brain-computer-interfaces.cfm). However, it differs from these other existing topics in that it's development is increasingly community-based (vs. things like wearables, whose development is influenced by ISV's), non-sanctioned by society (people bypass the medical professionals, who do not get involved with this), and in line with much of what we know about our next generation of clients (Generation Z, whose behaviors are influenced by coming of age in a world of invisible tech and constant war, with the sum total of human knowledge at their fingertips).)
Description
Biohackers use existing technologies and service sector resources to enhance their ability to: (1) navigate obstacles (from passwords to the locks on their homes), (2) compensate for physical disabilities (such as degenerative vision/hearing), (3) orient oneself in an increasingly complicated world of invisible technology, and/or (4) engage in a process of self-discovery. Biohacking has become an established community-based movement that has been slowly moving inward from the fringe in the last decade. It benefits from crowdsourced funding and non-traditional parts of the service industry (particularly tattoo parlors) to bypass legal and mainstream cultural barriers.
Notes
- I feel strongly that this is an area of innovation that Extension needs to take notice of in the next few years, not because the entire world will become biohackers but because it is a symptom of larger issues (both positive and not) that can truly inform the work we do in ways that position Extension professionals for the future. These issues include direct impact on family dynamics, the social fabric of our society, and ever-larger issues of access and equity.
- My article contributions came at the end of the last period, so it's likely that most of this group has not seen or read them.
Thoughts
A parent tells their teen to put the iPhone away during dinner...what if you cant actually see if it's there or not?
How do non-augmented individuals compete and win in a technological world that others are practically hardwired into?
Will we ultimately become a world of "human media" (with wearables and other external tools used by non-enhanced individuals) or more of a "Matrix" style world (made possible by the development/adaptation of things like OpenBCI) that relies heavily on Borg-like enhancements, IoT-controlled robotics, etc.?
[Editor's Note: Added here from RQ2.]

Increasing Cross-Institution Collaboration
Collective action among institutions and programs is growing in importance for the future of learning. More and more, institutions are joining consortia — associations of two or more organizations — to combine resources or to align themselves strategically with learning innovation. Today’s global environment is allowing institutions to unite across international borders and work toward common goals concerning technology, research, or shared values. Support behind technology-enabled learning has reinforced the trend toward open communities and consortia, as leaders recognize collective action as a sustainable method of supporting upgrades in technological infrastructure and IT services.
Interest in cross-Institution Collaboration is growing in all three missions of the Land Grant Universities (Education, Research and Public Service). Many LGUs are integrating collaboration into their core missions. This is apparent in the increased necessity of collaboration between Institutions when pursuing federal funding for projects. Extension can leverage these relationships to expand services, provide better information and increase visibility of the system on a National level. - dgeller dgeller May 3, 2016 Great points. - Sam Sam May 27, 2016
I like this addition! I believe cross-state collaboration will be key to Extension's survival and increased effectiveness as we look to the future. - seger.23 seger.23 Jun 1, 2016
I also like this addition and agree- jreich jreich Jun 3, 2016
Like many others, I completely agree. I also think we should challenge the traditional model of "collaboration" which seems to often take form in information sharing, and best practice generation. What if we took that collaboration one step further and looked at true partnership? Joint programs offered by many institutions. For example, a National Community Resilience Responder program that has courses, and content modules from multiple institutions nationwide? Utilize the experts in topics and use those assets to built the most robust program possible. - michael.macklin michael.macklin Jun 5, 2016 - alex alex Jun 5, 2016

Increasing Focus on Participatory Experiences
Expectations for civic and social engagement are profoundly changing organizations' scope, reach, and relationships. More and more, they are integrating emerging technologies and approaches such as social media, open content, and crowdsourcing as a means of engaging their communities both internally and externally on a continuum of participation. Cooperative Extension professionals are embracing innovations that include mobile and network technology, which enable more immersive opportunities that integrate their knowledge into projects and work. Participatory experiences are becoming more valuable, on-site and online, and organizations are increasingly seeking out ways to incorporate community contributions.
Participatory learning is not only important for Extension personnel, it also provides a conduit for Extension to collaborate with the Educational mission of LGUs. The work of Agents can provide students with an excellent participatory learning experience which will feedback to provide the Agent with education. Agents working with students in other fields will not only provide education to the student but the Agent will learn from the expertise of the undergraduate. - dgeller dgeller May 3, 2016
I really like this addition as well and agree! Extension work must step away from the expert model to truly engage with our clientele. - seger.23 seger.23 Jun 1, 2016
I also agree with this - jreich jreich Jun 3, 2016
Virtual Reality can be a piece oof the participatory experience. - joeyp joeyp Jun 5, 2016
I agree with this as well. - heyboerg heyboerg Jun 6, 2016

Increasing Use of Hybrid/Blended Learning Designs
Over the past several years, perceptions of online learning have been shifting in its favor as more learners and educators see it as a viable alternative to some forms of face-to-face learning. Drawing from best practices in online and face-to-face methods, blended learning is on the rise. The affordances of blended learning offers are now well understood, and its flexibility, ease of access, and the integration of sophisticated multimedia and technologies are high among the list of appeals. While growing steadily, the recent focus in many education circles on the rapid rise and burnout of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has led to the view that these sorts of offerings may be fad-like. However, progress in learning analytics; adaptive learning; and a combination of cutting-edge asynchronous and synchronous tools will continue to advance the state of online learning and keep it compelling, though many of these methods are still the subjects of experiments and research by online learning providers and educational programs.
Use of hybrid and blended learning designs is certainly on the rise within extension. We need to be careful not to become one-dimensional in our use of the platform. To do this we will need to consider online engagement during the program design phase. Extension is no longer the "expert" but a convener of experts. It will take additional training and capacity to steward online learning communities, build a trusted relationship with non-traditional participants and to use the online/hybrid experience as a starting point to a deeper relationship with cooperative extension. - ken.lavalley ken.lavalley May 23, 2016 - alex alex Jun 5, 2016
Great idea @ken.lavalley! In Colorado this is currently one of our explorations. We are looking to offer online programming for the 'book work' or 'course work' components of a course, but then allow an opportunity for learners to go into their local offices to complete practical labs based on the coursework. - michael.macklin michael.macklin Jun 5, 2016
Great ideas- heyboerg heyboerg Jun 6, 2016
Online/Blended Learning: I think we will continue to see a rise in the use of online, blended and technology support for face-to-face programming long term. I think it is important that we continue to review feedback from our audiences to know what tools/approach will work best for our outcomes. If I were to choose one of these methods that I think may see a rise in the next few years (mid-term) it would be the blended or hybrid approach. - heyboerg heyboerg Jun 6, 2016

Proliferation of Open Educational Resources
Defined by the Hewlett Foundation in 2002, open educational resources (OER) are “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.” Momentum behind OER began early on, getting a major boost when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology founded the MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative in 2001, making MIT instruction materials for over 2,200 of its courses available online, free of charge. Soon after, prestigious universities including Carnegie Mellon University and Harvard University, among others, pushed forward their own open learning initiatives. Understanding that the term “open” is a multifaceted concept is essential to following this trend; often mistaken to simply mean “free of charge,” advocates of openness have worked towards a common vision that defines it more broadly — not just free in economic terms, but also in terms of ownership and usage rights.
There is increased interest in both secondary and higher education on the use of open educational resources. Extension can be a prime contributor of OER content that could be liberally used in curricula. Much of the content Extension already has it public available, it would simply need to be licensed under a Creative Common license. - Stan Stan May 31, 2016 - alex alex Jun 5, 2016
I agree that this is an important concept that many within Cooperative Extension do not know about - but could be a powerful resource to all. - heyboerg heyboerg Jun 6, 2016

Redesigning Learning Spaces
Some thought leaders believe that new forms of teaching and learning require new spaces for teaching and learning. More universities are helping to facilitate these emerging models of education, such as the flipped classroom, by rearranging learning environments to accommodate more active learning. Educational settings are increasingly designed to facilitate project-based interactions with attention to mobility, flexibility, and multiple device usage. Wireless bandwidth is being upgraded in institutions to create “smart rooms” that support web conferencing and other methods of remote, collaborative communication. Large displays and screens are being installed to enable collaboration on digital projects and informal presentations. As education continues to move away from traditional lecture-based programming and to more hands-on scenarios, learning spaces will start to resemble real-world work and social environments that facilitate organic interactions and cross-disciplinary problem solving.
This scenario is more relevant to traditional universities and not Cooperative Extension educational settings. What is applicable is that there is learning for Extension educators related to moving towards flipped and blended approaches that are applicable.- greg.johll greg.johll May 23, 2016 - Stan Stan May 31, 2016
The potential for learning spaces is amazing when you consider the resources and skillset Extension professionals have to impact their communities in this way. Makerspaces as a gathering and learning space for 4-Hers, youth, and adults are just the tip of the iceberg. - seger.23 seger.23 Jun 1, 2016

Rise of New Forms of Interdisciplinary Studies
According to the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, multidisciplinary research refers to concurrent exploration and activities in seemingly disparate fields. Digital humanities and computational social science research approaches are opening up pioneering areas of multidisciplinary research and innovative forms of scholarship and publication. Researchers, along with academic technologists and developers, are breaking new ground with data structures, visualization, geospatial applications, and innovative uses of open-source tools. At the same time, they are pioneering new forms of scholarly publication that combine traditional static print style scholarship with dynamic and interactive tools, which enables real-time manipulation of research data. Applying quantitative methods to traditionally qualitative disciplines has led to new research categories such as Distant Reading and Macroanalysis — the study of large corpuses of texts as opposed to close reading of a few texts. These emerging areas could lead to exciting new developments in education, but effective organizational structures will need to be in place to support this collaboration.
I see cross-disciplinary and field faculty and campus faculty working together as an important key to the future of Extension.- joeyp joeyp Jun 5, 2016

Rise of Private Companies
Approaches to education have changed with the tide of technology, aligning with the digital paradigms that are continuously shaping cooperative extension operations. While many programs have enjoyed increased capacity and streamlined processes as a result of this shift, there is much discussion about how to leverage these developments to strengthen educational engagement. In recent years, a number of companies and startups have been working directly with or alongside learning-focused organizations on education-centric goals. Attitudes vary about how third-party involvement can help accomplish the mission; some professionals believe that private companies can improve organizations by holding up a mirror to their institutions, illuminating areas for improvement. Whatever the case, a range of enterprises and outside efforts from the private sector are increasingly shaping the future of learning.
To remain relevant and show the fulfilled need of the community, I think program evaluation is going to grow as an industry. In the age of tremendous budget cuts, program evaluation is a double-edged sword of the cost to utilize an evaluator but can pay dividends if unmet needs are identified and program successes are outlined. Using an independent, third party company to complete these evaluations will be imperative to gain unbiased results.- amy.dronberger amy.dronberger Jun 1, 2016

Rise of STEAM Learning
In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on developing stronger science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum and programs, as these disciplines are widely viewed as the means to boost innovation and bolster national economies. As a response to the focus on STEM learning at institutions, some education leaders believe there is the need for a more balanced curriculum that integrates disciplines such as the arts, design, and humanities into the sciences. This notion has fostered the STEAM learning movement, in which the A stands for “art+.” The company STEAM Education expands this definition to a fundamental philosophy that all disciplines can and should relate to each other to provide learners with the big picture of how a wide variety of knowledge and skill sets tie into each other in the real world. In other words, technology use does not exclusively relate to advancing science and engineering; STEAM education is about engaging learners in a multi and interdisciplinary learning context that values the humanities and artistic activities, while breaking down barriers that have traditionally existed between different subjects.

Shift from Learners as Consumers to Learners as Creators
A shift is taking place in the focus of pedagogical practice all over the world as students in across a wide variety of disciplines are learning by making and creating rather than from the simple consumption of content. Creativity, as illustrated by the growth of user-generated videos, maker communities, and crowdfunded projects in the past couple years, is increasingly the means for active, hands-on learning.
I think this will become increasingly important ... Extension staff will need training on the "how-to" and best practices. - ahenneman ahenneman May 8, 2016 - Stan Stan May 31, 2016
Stack exchange offers the ability for anyone to answer and ask a question and vote and edit answers. This could provide the public with better answers, or not? It's possible inaccurate information could be voted to the top.- hbrader hbrader May 9, 2016 - greg.johll greg.johll May 23, 2016 I think we need to be aware of contextual learning where the "answer" can be created and information that does not change based on context. We know what vegetables grow well (or don't) in different zones. What combination of those vegetables works best in my garden is contextual and I would be learner created.
Definitely agree with this. Generation Z (and to a large extent, the Millennials) thrives with customizable experiences. Engaging learners as creators values our clientele, strengthens their engagement, and opens the doors to new partnerships. All of this increases the impact of our work. - andersonb andersonb Jun 5, 2016
I agree with these comments- joeyp joeyp Jun 5, 2016
The Increase in DIY Learners
There is an opportunity for Extension to capitalize on multiple generations of learners embracing the DIY mentality. I would argue that this is the evolution of the fact-sheet. Taking that same scientific and research based information and delivering it to the "YouTube learner." 4-H has curriculum relevant to those not engaged in the formal program and even adults. Instead of looking of a quick video of how to replace an electrical socket, could we provide an online video/interactive fact sheet using 4-H curriculum to teach the science of circuits and electrical processes. If interested a learner could expand their knowledge by diving deeper into the subject and perhaps work as an electrician in retirement. - michael.macklin michael.macklin Jun 5, 2016 [Editor's Note: Added here from RQ2.]

Shift to Deep Learning Approaches
There is a growing emphasis on deeper learning approaches, defined by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation as the mastery of content that engages learners in critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and self-directed learning. In order to remain motivated, learners need to be able to make clear connections the real world, and how the new knowledge and skills will impact them. Project-based learning, challenge-based learning, inquiry-based learning, and similar methods foster more active learning experiences. As the enabling role of technologies learning crystalizes, educators are leveraging these tools to connect the curriculum with real life applications. These approaches are decidedly more learner-centered, allowing learners to take control of how they engage with a subject, even brainstorming solutions to pressing global problems and beginning to implement them in their communities. - michael.macklin michael.macklin Jun 5, 2016

Entrance of New Audiences
I can see technology assisting Extension educators to work with diverse audiences. Some of the current technologies have the ability to provide real-time translations, when an educator doesn't speak a language, nor have a translator on hand. Producing these technologies for the masses can help educate audiences educators may not have reached effectively due to language barriers. This might be a long term trend as America still represents a melting pot.
In addition to language barriers I would argue that wee need to also look at New Audiences for Extension in general. Located in the urban corridor in Colorado I find myself talking to people daily who do not know what Extension is, and what it provides. When looking at program development I often reference finding the non-consumer - those who have not or do not traditionally engage in Extension programs. We must find ways to deliver relevant programming to these audiences to lift the profile of Extension outside of our traditional audiences. - michael.macklin michael.macklin Jun 5, 2016

Understanding the Identities of Emerging Clientele

It's important to note the differences between the Millennials - a term often used to refer to young people -- and Generation Z. The first wave of Gen Z is now out of college and into the workforce, competing with the Millennials who aren't living in their parent's basement. I have already had one GenZ young adult serve on her County Extension Council, and many more will follow. Gen Z is more entrepreneurial, engaged with social issues, more likely to live in a household with elderly family members (more inter-generational appreciation), and keenly aware that they are about to inherit the worst environmental/geopolitical disasters in history. They are also even better multi-taskers, compared to their Millennial counterparts. They will make excellent partners, collaborators, employees, and resources. [andersonb]


Sharing Economy
We are living in a so-called "sharing economy" where people freely share goods, services, and information in mostly informal peer-to-peer activities. A PEW Research report described this trend in detail: http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/05/19/the-new-digital-economy/. Also see
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/05/23/qa-the-impact-and-evolution-of-the-sharing-economy/.
Extension (both the organization itself and its employees) needs to be a greater part of the sharing economy. We can do this by effectively curating and disseminating information in small "bites;" engaging with learners informally (e.g. Twitter chats) instead of typically more formal educational roles; and providing value-added services to learners at teachable moments (i.e., helping them filter "information overload" and make decisions). Also, in the future, Extension might benefit from hiring more of its workers in "on demand" ways like the private sector increasingly does in the sharing economy. Instead of having many long-serving career employees with pensions and/or tenure and defined skill sets, like the baby boomer Extension workers who are now retiring, Extension might seek future talent to work project to project. Of course, this new model has trade-offs: loyalty and stability vs. nimbleness - oneill oneill May 24, 2016

Network Revolution
Driving and potentially facilitating nearly all of the above is what some refer to as the "network revolution", representing a radical and often underappreciated but required shift in how we operate, moving away from org/institution-centric practices, programs and even identities, toward "network-centric" orientations.
From the Wharton School, Network Revolution: Creating Value Through Platforms, People and Technology: Digital networks, technology platforms and network-based business models are affecting all industries (including education). Of the four business models identified, the most successful (with clear and dramatic differences), were "Network orchestrators [who] deliver value through relationships (network capital). These companies create a platform that participants use to interact or transact with the many other members of the network... Digital networks are the key differentiator, which tie together these spheres in a way that enables new forms of sharing, distributed intelligence and value creation."
And from a very different but in some ways similar sounding perspective, Bill Traynor, former Executive Director of Lawrence CommunityWorks writes in Building Community in Place: Limitations and Promise, about the need for (in an era when people are increasingly time stressed, and less interested in long term commitments/membership requirements): A “Network-centric” approach [which] offers an alternative logic model for understanding placed based community building based on relationships of trust and mutual benefit, facilitating the cumulative capacities for collective decision-making, problem solving, mutual support, collective action, information sharing, and the creation and exchange of value [e.g. time, goods, services, and knowledge].
Smart networks, and distributed or collective intelligence (as opposed to smart people or institutions) are increasingly more important, where as David Weinberger says, knowledge about any particular topic is becoming Too Big to Know, requiring us to rethink knowledge now that "the smartest person in the room is the room".
John Gerber, from UMass, has suggested that "The next phase in the development of the public university will be a community-focused learning network…a communiversity… Those able to re-engage with the larger community, taking advantage of communications and societal networking technologies will thrive."
Adapting to and effectively leveraging networks will require many adjustments, including new network weaving, boundary spanning and knowledge brokering skills. - jeff.piestrak jeff.piestrak Jun 4, 2016 - Stan Stan Jun 4, 2016


Added/Combined with RQ4


Competition from Other Models
Other groups (e.g. private industries, for-profit organizations, public education institutions who don't have a land-grant mission but do outreach/service learning) are already providing more and more "Extension" type of services. In some cases they do "our" job better than we do because they don't have the same organizational constraints or funding limitations. While this may necessitate we scale back or stop services that are provided more efficiently/effectively by someone else; it also creates an opportunity for us to partner and program in exciting new ways. Rather than trying to compete, or keep up, with groups that have deeper pockets, less red-tape, and access to better technology, we need to think about partnering with these groups in a way that is a win-win. For example, they get access to our content and in return our content gets extended in new ways through their channels, resources, technology, etc. They get access to our faculty to help them on projects that matter to the outside group, and in return our faculty get access to their staff, technology, resources to help with questions that matter to the faculty. - brian.h brian.h Jun 2, 2016 - Stan Stan Jun 2, 2016 [Editor's Note: This reads more like a challenge and is being moved to RQ4 Challenges.]

Combined with Existing RQ1 Technologies


Mobile Learning
I think using phones and tablets for learning and receiving communication is something that we need to to continuously address long term. This is important in sectors from Agriculture to health and nutrition. I've heard it many times from people that work in our health and nutrition institute that many of their low-income clients may not have continuous access to Internet - but they do have a smart phone. - heyboerg heyboerg [Editor's Note: Great point. Added to existing RQ1 topic Mobile Learning.]

Other Important Points

Random Thoughts from the Financial Security for All CoP

Participants: Vivian Anderson (MO); Erik Anderson (ID); Maria Pippidis (DE); Scott Matteson (MI); Andrew Zumwalt (MO); Karen Poff (VA); Elizabeth Kiss (KS);

¨ The influx of millennials. We see them using the newest technology and various aps and we want to be a part of it. Technology is so different and is changing daily.
¨ Social media is changing the ways that people obtain news and information online
¨ Demographic changes (both external and internal to Cooperative Extension):
  • o External – different media usage habits of millennials and upcoming generations
  • o Internal – younger Extension professionals are coming onboard and many of them are more up-to-date with technology than the Baby Boomer generation that is now retiring
¨ Hiring younger staff who are interested in using it in their program efforts and adoption of technology by universities/extension system
¨ Face to face online interaction is one of the key trends in extension today. The issue I see is keeping programs interactive and interesting for registrants. I currently use Zoom to teach online classes and have included Poll Everywhere slides to raise interactivity but still feel this isn’t enough. I believe breakout rooms add a certain amount of interest to online classes but you have to have enough attendees to make breakout sessions work.
¨ Cost of alternatives. Travel costs are slowly becoming prohibitive, so the technology to sidestep the costs becomes more attractive. People are integrating tech in their lives. Extension professionals who try something new and like it have a larger platform to share successes without having to wait for a conference or journal article to share.
¨ Public needing and wanting to get their information through technology rather than in-person.
¨ Inability to count the contacts! In Virginia, we can only count a webinar as a contact if we are using web-cams. If the program is real-time, two-way educational interaction, it should count, even if we don’t see each other’s faces. Even though my numbers in traditional classes are dropping, I’m hesitant to move more to webinars because my “contacts” numbers will drop even more.
¨ Shrinking travel budgets spur technology adoption for meetings
¨ We need to stay current, if not ahead of, our "competition" as well as our learners and stakeholders
¨ Being able to use technology appropriately is an expected component of an Extension professional's toolkit
¨ Technology can be fun! -- many Extension professionals enjoy being on the leading edge of technological change and because we work for universities we often have access to new technologies - oneill oneill Jun 3, 2016 - Stan Stan Jun 4, 2016
Identity
Clientele have the option to get info from many places. How do we protect our identity in extension as providers of relevant education in this era of open-source resources? - cstamper cstamper Jun 3, 2016 - Stan Stan Jun 4, 2016