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Using Collaboration Tools to Plan and Deliver Extension Programs

This page supports Bob Rubinyi's and Eli Sagor's 2008 University of Minnesota Extension Fall Conference presentation.
Feel free to add or edit content by clicking on the "Edit" tab at upper right.

Key Elements When Selecting Collaborative Technologies

  • Technologies should be selected on the basis of how well they match your program objectives
  • Collaboration tools have different characteristics including: cost, ease of learning and use, live vs. archived delivery, speed/bandwidth, interactivity, user equipment availability, etc. that need to be considered in the selection process
  • You will probably want to use a variety of tools in your program

Collaboration Tools

(bulleted items in bold indicate U of M supported tools)

Audio conferencing: Uses the telephone and a phone bridge to meet with others at multiple locations. Audio-conferencing works well for "short notice" situations where information is timely and needs to be delivered immediately, or when participants are geographically dispersed. It is used for meetings, information sharing, teaching and brainstorming ideas. Audio-conferencing is also used in conjunction with UMConnect Meeting, a web-conferencing tool available for faculty and staff. $ , E

Blog: A web-based publication consisting primarily of periodic articles by a limited number of authors, usually in reverse chronological order, and often with reader responses. Applications include dissemination of educational program information and promotion of Extension program offerings. Blogs permit a more personalized, timely distribution of content to targeted audiences. They are like electronic newspaper columns, authored by Extension educators and specialists, that also include a "letters to the editor" function. Blogs can be set-up quickly and be maintained by people who have little or no technical expertise. $ , E - EE

Calendaring: Collaborative calendaring permits project and team members on the same system to see each other's schedules and more rapidly plan meetings with large groups of people. $ , E - EE

Meeting Scheduling: Scheduling a meeting among University and non-University team members can be easily accomplished. You easily create a poll of potential dates and times for a proposed meeting, distribute the link, and everyone can log their availability. $ , E

Collaboration Sites: Password protected web sites that can be fairly quickly created for group interaction. Enables groups to easily build web pages, use discussion boards, take polls, produce web-based forms, create and share group calendars, utilize document storage for key materials, edit documents with versioning, and more. $ , E - EE

File Sharing: Permits users to securely share files with other individuals and groups. $ , E - EE

Email Lists (Listserv): Electronic mailing lists that permit educational program teams to rapidly communicate with internal or external audiences via email. Easy to use but can result in large amounts of irrelevant emails without context or accessible archive. $ , E - EE

Instant Messaging: Enables exchange of messages on the Internet in real time - more immediate than email, less disruptive than a phone call. Sample uses include: setting up meetings, getting immediate answers to simple questions from colleagues, collaborating with colleagues on projects, interacting with resources on your computer while communicating. Shows presence (whether someone is available). Can work well for work teams that need close communication and rapid response to questions. $ , E - EE

Photo Sharing: Back up your photos and access them from any web-connected computer. Easily control who sees your photos and license them for different uses (e.g. commercial, educational, etc). Tag photos for later retrieval. Create slideshows, badges, and other tools to display your photos on other sites. $ , E

Social Bookmarking: Save your bookmarks online. Access them from any web-connected computer, not just the one you used to save the bookmark. Add annotations and (optionally) share bookmarks with colleagues or others. This is also an easy way to create an RSS feed to display on other sites (e.g. you find a news story, give it your unique tag, and it then appears on a customized news feed). $ , E

Social Networking: Build "online communities" around a team, group, or shared interest. Core elements involve building a profile, forming groups and selectively agreeing to permit others to interact with you (be "friends") and become a member of your group. Supported tools also often include email, polling, providing short, frequent updates on current activities, etc. $ , E - EE

Video Conferencing (H.323 video): Use video networks to provide high quality, real time interactive video meetings and presentations. Videoconferencing is great for situations where a face-to-face experience is desirable, such as administrative meetings , interviews, and guest presenters. It can also be very effective for training when travel to a destination is impossible. $ - $$$ , E - EEE

Web Conferencing: A web communication system that lets you present, meet, collaborate, and deliver educational programs or training online. Virtual meeting rooms permit you to share files and presentations, show web sites, conduct polls, brainstorm and draw on electronic whiteboards. Sessions can also be recorded for later access. $ , E - EE

Wiki: A web site designed for dynamic content collaboration. Useful for colleagues or students to create shared bodies of knowledge (e.g. Wikipedia), and/or supplement other educational delivery tools. Good for collaborative writing projects and the creation of documentation or reference materials. It is important to plan enough time to get participants comfortable with editing and formatting. $ , EE

Key:

$ - $$$ Cost E - EEE Effort

Developed by Eli Sagor and Bob Rubinyi, University of Minnesota Extension. Based on an earlier work by Karen Matthes. 9-13-08.

Additional Resources:

Wikis

Overview
Common Craft: Wikis in plain English (video)

Internal tools
UMWiki home: Help, info, and links about the University's UMWiki platform.
How to format text on UMWiki

External tools
PB Wiki
Wetpaint
Wikispaces

Extension examples
2008 National Extension Technology Conference program
Eli's Woodland Owner Networks internal wiki

wiki vs email

Image (source)


Blogs

Overview
Common Craft: Blogs in plain English (video)

Internal tools
UThink blog home: Help, info, and links about the University's UThink blog platform.

External tools
Wordpress
Blogger (Google)

Extension examples
Building Extension's Public Value: Our own Laura Kalambokidis' relatively new blog (UThink platform)
Woodland Owner Networks blog (Wordpress)
Anne's Spot: Anne Adrian's (Auburn) excellent blog about Extension blogging (Google's Blogger platform)
Master Your Garden: Home horticulture information in the mountains of North Carolina (Blogger)
Chicago Urban Gardening: The day to day experiences of a University of Illinois Extension Urban Horticulture Educator in Chicago (UIUC blogging platform)
Shepherd's Notebook: The Maryland sheep & goat industry (Blogger)


UMConnect

UMConnect support at the University of Minnesota
See sample narrated slideshows available on the MyMinnesotaWoods.org Maps & Airphotos page
Post other/better examples that you know of!

Other miscellaneous resources:

University of Minnesota data privacy info and policies
University Technology Training Center short course: Collaborating with web-based tools. Dec. 3, 2008, Minneapolis Campus.
eXtension Social Media in Extension wiki. Includes content on blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, photo sharing, and more.


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