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Extension Foundation Communications Technology Assistant

The eXtension Foundation is seeking a tech-savvy, high energy, individual with great problem solving skills to assist our Communications and Engagement Manager with projects, developing creative solutions, communications, analysis and marketing for eXtension Foundation. This contract will assume approximately .3 to .5 fte and will include support for creating and developing communication and marketing pieces, but also in the management of databases and technology platforms to actively engage with eXtension Foundation audiences.  The Communications and Engagement Manager will work closely with the Assistant to advise and lead the work. This position reports to the Communications and Engagement Manager with additional accountability to the Chief Operating Officer of the eXtension Foundation. 

Desired Qualifications:

  • Associates Degree in Business, Communications, or Related Field
  • Proactive in identifying and adapting new technology tools to solve problems and achieve organizational and system-wide objectives. 
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Proficient with Hubspot CRM, email marketing platforms, and social media account management. 
  • Working knowledge with Adobe Creative Suite including Adobe Photoshop, Premiere, InDesign, and Illustrator. 
  • Ability to work in collaboration with multidisciplinary stakeholders and teams. 

Statement of Work for the Contract Effort

The work of the eXtension Communications Assistant will focus on the support of the Communications and Engagement Manager which will focus on the messaging and connections required to lead and manage multiple constituencies.  Support for technical writing as well as database management and some analysis will be critical for this role.  Position expectations include:

  • Taking responsibility for assigned communications tasks, such as regular email marketing updates that originate from the Marketing and Communications department. 
  • Supporting and assisting in the overall management of Connect Extension including the creation of new content aligned with eXtension Foundation initiatives, services, and offerings. 
  • Assist with the transition and management of data, contacts, and membership tracking in the Hubspot CRM system
  • Assist and support newly developed databases as they come online to manage the Communication and Marketing functions of eXtension.
  • Work with Communications and Engagement Manager to support webinars, blog posts, Zoom and professional development of the eXtension Team.
  • This position will work remotely.  Knowledge and experience with virtual work and computer skills are needed for this position.  
  • Successful candidates are expected to have their own computer equipment and internet access.

Contract conditions and terms:

This will be a fixed term contract or a land grant university contract/buyout.

Contract Timeline – 1 year – April 1, 2021-March 31, 2022.

The projected timeline for this position is  April 1, 2021 through March 30, 2022: (dependent upon project funding)

February 19, 2021 until filled: Accept letters of interest and resumes

April 1, 2021: Start date for eXtension Communications Technology Assistant

Interested persons should apply here:

The application deadline is April 1, 2021.  Your letter of interest should describe why you are interested to help in this important work as well as your experience or academic background in the communications and marketing arena.  


Mining the Land-grant Knowledge Network

Woman thinking about a networkWho in Cooperative Extension is working on the Zika virus? Who is working on water quality or drought mitigation? Who is solving problems of food deserts? What resources are used to support these Extension programs? What can educators and researchers learn from others who are working in similar areas? How is research intertwined in these programs?

Cooperative Extension professionals and Extension’s federal partners ask similar questions – and it’s not always easy or swift to answer these questions beyond state and regional boundaries. Having access to other programs, resources, and the people who are successful in creating and conducting Extension programs could hasten Extension’s national progress by sparking and accelerating the spread of innovation within the system.

Currently, we are working on a Knowledge Network to link Land-Grant University researchers and Cooperative Extension educators, their work, and their resources. The network directory will assist USDA, Extension and Land-Grant professionals, educators, and researchers to discover and connect with each other, resources, and programs. It will highlight and link to key Extension system assets (e.g. people, white papers, journal articles, courses, presentations, posters, data, toolkits, and decision making tools).

A goal is a more connected Cooperative Extension workforce that is able to constructively participate in and facilitate in online and offline conversations that lead to personal and professional learning and to better local programming. There is no need for a central unit to host the work of the system but rather a system that enables discovery of Extension work by smartly linking to the work through an easy-to-use mobile interface. Our first pilot will include an e-book interface.

We are collaborating with Matthew Lange of IC3-FOODS of the University of California to develop an ontology(ies) creating a common language so topics can be sorted and discovered much like the way libraries use keywords to describe books and journal articles. Potentially, for any given program, a national presence can be built and Extension educators and others can generatively build their programs.

Jeff Piestrak investigative fellowship provided a vision of a land grant knowledge network to serve as a useful national resource. The development of a knowledge network is also informed by Christian Schmieder’s and Justin Smith’s eXtension Fellowships. Christian demonstrated ways to analyze large quantities of Extension impact data. Justin is testing and demonstrating protocols, making eXtension and Extension information more open, accessible and linked to open research and data.

Our goal is to have a proof of concept of this knowledge network before the end of 2017.  We will demonstrate the possibilities of connecting a varied and distributed body of data and information resources and expertise, including presentations, formal and informal articles and online dialogues, and resource articles. Our first demonstration project will support the Food Systems Impact Collaborative.

Please comment on this article or send your comments and ideas to

Graphic is taken from Pixabay (public domain)

Extension Fellowships Impact Software Technology Working Differently

Building Evaluation Capacity Through Data Jams, Part 3: Readying Extension for the Systematic Analysis of Large Qualitative Datasets

In this third blog post on the University of Wisconsin-Extension Data Jam Initiative, I will focus on four institutional outcomes of this Evaluation Capacity Building Framework.

Screenshot from the University of Wisconsin-Extension Civil Rights Legacy Datasets in MAXQDA.
Screenshot from the University of Wisconsin-Extension Civil Rights Legacy Datasets in MAXQDA.

INSTITUTIONAL OUTCOME 1: Continuous use of Institutionally Collected Data

The Data Jam Initiative provides colleagues with the tools, skills, support and community they need to engage in the analysis of large, often fragmented and hard-to-analyze textual datasets. We are currently conducting a longitudinal study measuring the initiative’s impact on analytic self-confidence and proficiency. At this early stage we observe heightened empowerment in Extension professionals, and we see a steep increase of evaluation, research and internal development projects that utilize the data from our central data collection system.

INSTITUTIONAL OUTCOME 2: Improvement of Institutional Data Quality

An essential element of the Data Jam Initiative is to communicate to colleagues and leadership how data are being used. Institutionally, this validates colleagues’ efforts regarding reporting, and it supports leadership in adjusting data collection foci based on ongoing, interdisciplinary data analysis. This, in turn, helps keeping institutional research, evaluation and communication efforts in alignment with ongoing data collection and storage.

INSTITUTIONAL OUTCOME 3: Building Interdisciplinary Capacity to Quickly Respond to Emerging Analytic Needs

All-Program area Evaluator Data Jam at the University of Wisconsin-Extension, March 2017.
All-Program area Evaluator Data Jam at the University of Wisconsin-Extension, March 2017.

Over time we create a baseline of shared techniques for analysis, and distributed proficiency in utilizing Qualitative Data Analysis software. Consequently, colleagues can tap into shared analytic frameworks when they collaborate on projects. On a larger scale, the institution can quickly and flexibly pull together analysis teams from across the state, knowing that a number of colleagues already share fundamental analytic and technical skills, even if they have never directly worked together. This allows an institution to respond quickly and efficiently to time-sensitive inquiries, and  to analyze more data more quickly, while bringing more perspectives into the process through work in larger ad-hoc analysis teams.

INSTITUTIONAL OUTCOME 4: Retaining Analytic Work through Legacy Datasets

Qualitative Data Analysis Software is designed to allow for detailed procedural documentation during analysis. This allows us to retain the analytic work of our colleagues, and to merge it into a single file. For example, we created a “Civil Rights Legacy Dataset” – a Qualitative Data Analysis Software file that contains all programming narratives containing information on expanding access to underserved or nontraditional audiences, currently from 2014 to 2016. This surmounts to approximately 1000 records, or 4000 pages of textual data. The file is available to anyone in the institution interested in learning about best practices, barriers and programmatic gaps regarding our work with nontraditional and underserved audiences.

The analyses that currently conducted on this dataset by various teams are being merged back into the “Legacy File”. Future analysts can view the work benches of prior analysts and projects, thus allowing them to use prior insights and processes as stepping stones. This enables the institution to conduct meta-analyses, maintain analytic continuity, and to more easily and reliably distribute analytic tasks over time or across multiple analysts. You can find more information on the use of Legacy Datasets in Extension in an upcoming book chapter, published in Silver & Woolf’s textbook on utilizing Qualitative Data Analysis Software.)

Beyond Qualitative Data: A Pathway for Building Digital Learning and Adaptation Skills

The outcomes above are immediate institutional effects the Data Jam Initiative was designed for. But maybe more importantly, we’re creating a base line of proficiency in negotiating between a technical tool and a workflow. Our tools change. Our methodological approaches differ from project to project. Each new project, and each new digital tool requires that we engage in this negotiation process. Every time, we need to figure out how we can best use a tool to facilitate our workflows; this skill is a fundamental asset in institutional professional development, and it transcends the topical area of evaluation.

This means that the Data Jam initiative, as an approach focused on mentorship and making by imbuing a technical tool with concrete, relevant processes, is not limited to qualitative data – it can be a framework for many contexts in which Extension professionals use software to do or build things: Be it visualization tools, digital design and web design, app development, statistics and quantitative research, or big data tools.

The development of the Data Jam Initiative Tool Kit has been supported by an eXtension Fellowship. To access the curriculum, examples, videos and training materials, please visit the UW-Extension Data Jam website:

Extension Fellowships Impact Software Technology Working Differently

Building Evaluation Capacity Through Data Jams, Part 2: Software as a Teaching Tool for Data Analysis

 In this second blog post on the University of Wisconsin-Extension Data Jam Initiative, I will focus on the role of software in Data Jams,  and on the skills that colleagues are building in this Evaluation Capacity Building Framework.
Screenshot from the Qualitative Data Analysis Software MAXQDA.
Screenshot from the Qualitative Data Analysis Software MAXQDA.


What is Qualitative Data Analysis Software?

The technical backbone of the Data Jam Initiative is Qualitative Data Analysis Software – often abbreviated as QDAS, or CAQDAS (Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software). This type of research and evaluation software is designed to support the analysis of large amounts of textual information. It allows for efficient data management and the distributed analysis of large datasets in large teams. While Qualitative Data Analysis Software (such as MAXQDA, NVIVO, Atlas.TI or Dedoose) cannot do qualitative analysis by itself, modern packages typically do offer a wide array of options for coding, documentation, teamwork, qualitative data visualization and mapping.

Focusing on Analytic Collaboration, not on where to Click

Data Jam at the University of Wisconsin-Extension, August 2016
Data Jam at the University of Wisconsin-Extension, August 2016.

In a Data Jam, groups of colleagues analyze data together while using the same analytic software tool, and similar analytic techniques. This creates a common experience of bringing a tool (the software) and a process (the analytic techniques) together. We’re not teaching how to click through menus; we’re not teaching theoretical workflows. We analyze, we make things – with a real tool, a real question, real data and concrete techniques. These concrete analytic techniques emphasize writing and documentation throughout the process, and they focus on utilizing analysis groups to drive the analysis. In a Data Jam, colleagues practice how to stay focused on their research question, and how to work as an analysis group to produce a write-up at the end of the day.

Qualitative Data Analysis Software empowers colleagues to quickly explore our large datasets, and to dive into the data in an engaging way – as such, this software is a powerful tool to illustrate and practice methodological workflows and techniques. We’re not only building individual capacity – we are building a community of practice around data analysis in our institution. I will focus on this aspect in the third blog post, but I will briefly describe outcomes on the individual level here.

Individual Capacity Building & Improved Perception of Institutional Data Collection

On the individual level, we are seeing two outcomes in our ongoing evaluation of the initiative: Firstly, we build analytic capacity and evaluation capacity. Colleagues learn how to analyze textual data using state-of-the-art analytic tools, and they learn how to integrate these tools into their evaluation and research work flows. View the 3-minute video below to view some impressions and learning outcomes from a 4-day Data Jam for Extension research teams.

Secondly, colleagues gain a better understanding regarding how (and that!) the data that they enter in the central data collection system are being used. Our evaluations show that colleagues leave our Data Jams with an increased understanding as to why we collect data as an institution, and as to why it is important to enter quality data. Experiencing the role of the analyst seems to have a positive effect on colleagues’ perceptions of our central data collection effort, and leaves them excited to communicate how the data are being used to their colleagues.

Not every colleague will use the software or engage in research in the future; our goal is not to make everyone an analyst. But we establish a basic level of data literacy across the institution – i.e. a common understanding of the procedures, products, pitfalls and potentials of qualitative data analysis. This type of data literacy is a crucial core skill as we are undergoing the Data Revolution.

The development of the Data Jam Initiative Tool Kit has been supported by an eXtension Fellowship. To access the curriculum, examples, videos and training materials, please visit the UW-Extension Data Jam website:

Extension Fellowships Impact Software Technology Working Differently

Building Evaluation Capacity Through Data Jams, Part 1: A Response to the Data Challenge

Collecting large amounts of textual data is easier than ever – but analyzing those growing amounts of data remains a challenge. The University of Wisconsin – Extension responds to this challenge with the “Data Jam Initiative”, an Evaluation Capacity Building model that focuses on the collaborative, making-centered use of Qualitative Data Analysis Software.  In this first of three blog posts I will provide a brief overview over the Initiative, the tools we’re using, and the products we’re making in Data Jams.

Data Jam at the University of Wisconsin Extension, August 2016
Data Jam at the University of Wisconsin Extension, August 2016

Extension’s Data Challenge

Extensions collect large amounts of textual data, for example in the form of programming narratives, impact statements, faculty activity reports and research reports, and they continue to develop digital systems to collect and store these data. Collecting large amounts of textual data is easier than ever. Analyzing those growing amounts of data remains a challenge. Extensions and other complex organizations are expected to use data when they develop their programs and services; they are also expected to ground their communications and reports to stakeholders in rigorous data analysis.

Collaborative, Software-Supported Analysis as a Response

Data Jam at the University of Wisconsin - Extension, August 2016
Data Jam at the University of Wisconsin – Extension, August 2016

The University of Wisconsin-Extension responds to this expectation with the Data Jam Initiative, an Evaluation Capacity Framework that utilizes Qualitative Data Analysis Software. In monthly full-day Data Jams and multi-day analysis sessions, colleagues meet to explore and analyze data together. Data Jams are inspired by the concept of Game Jams. In Game Jams, game developers meet for a short amount of time in order to produce quick prototypes of games.

Asking Real Questions, Analyzing Real Data

The most important feature of Data Jams is that we work with data and questions that are relevant to our colleagues; in fact, most topics in Data Jams are brought up by specialists and educators from across the state.  By collaboratively analyzing programming narratives and impact statements from our central data collection system, we start answering questions like:

  • How are equity principles enacted in our Community Food Systems-related work?
  • How do our colleagues state-wide frame their work around ‘poverty’?
  • How does state-wide programming in Agriculture and Natural Resources address Quality Assurance?
  • How are youth applying what they’ve learned in terms of life skills in our state-wide 4-H and Youth Development programming?
  • How does FoodWIse (our state-wide nutrition education program) partner with other organizations, both internally and externally?
Data Jam products are shared with colleagues across the institution.
Data Jam products are shared with colleagues across the institution via our internal Data Jam blog.

Using Qualitative Data Analysis Software, Data Jammers produce concrete write-ups, models, initial theories and visualizations; these products are subsequently shared with colleagues, partners and relevant stakeholders.

Building Institutional Capacity to Analyze Large Datasets

Data Jam at the University of Wisconsin-Extension, February 2017
Data Jam at the University of Wisconsin-Extension, February 2017

Through the Data Jam Initiative, we build institution-wide capacity in effectively analyzing large amounts of textual data. We connect teams, researchers, evaluators and educators to develop commonly shared organizational concepts and analytic skills. These shared skills and concepts in turn enable us to distribute the analysis of large data sets across content and evaluation experts within our institution. The overall goal of the initiative is to enable our institution to systematically utilize large textual datasets.

Since early 2016, we use the Data Jam model in monthly one-day Data Jams across Wisconsin, in regular internal consulting and retreat sessions for project and program area teams, and in graduate methods education on the UW-Madison campus. We have hosted external Data Jams on the University of Washington Pullman campus and at the United Nation’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).

The development of the Data Jam Initiative Tool Kit has been supported by an eXtension Fellowship. To access the curriculum, examples, videos and training materials, please visit the UW-Extension Data Jam website:

Announcements i-Three Corps Newsroom Technology Webinars

Two Reminders of eXtension Opportunities: Dates, Times and Topics

eXtension Quarterly Webinar:

Wednesday July 27 at 2:00 EDT. Join eXtension CEO Chris Geith and staff leaders to learn the latest news on developments and opportunities for Extension Professionals. Topics will include:

  • Summary of the eXtension Member Benefits
  • Five example stories from the Issue Corps
  • iThree Corps 2017
  • eXtension Fellows Update
  • Horizon Report Call for Examples
  • Innovation Teams – update on state-level initiatives
  • Community Opportunities
  • Working Out Loud Opportunities for Premium Members
  • ISPI Opportunities for Premium Members
  • Adobe Connect status
  • Upcoming Webinars

NMC Technology Outlook for Cooperative Extension 2016-2021:

Submit your cutting-edge projects. Deadline August 1.  Your project stories are sought for possible publication as examples of current work on the  topics selected for focus in the Cooperative Extension Horizon Report. Topics include:

I. Key Trends Accelerating Technology Adoption in Cooperative Extension Programs

Long-Term Trends: Driving technology adoption in cooperative extension programs for five or more years

  • Advancing Cultures of Change and Innovation
  • Emergence of New Audiences
  • Shift from Learners as Consumers to Learners as Creators

Mid-Term Trends: Driving technology adoption in cooperative extension programs over the next three to five years

  • Growing Focus on Measuring Learning
  • Increasing Focus on Participatory Experiences
  • Proliferation of Open Educational Resources

Short-Term Trends: Driving technology adoption in cooperative extension programs over the next one to two years

  • Communities of Learning
  • Increasing Cross-Institution Collaboration
  • Increasing Value of the User Experience

II. Significant Challenges Impeding Technology Adoption in Cooperative Extension Programs

Solvable Challenges: Those which we both understand and know how to solve

  • Blending Formal and Informal Learning
  • Embracing Change as a Constant
  • Promoting Extension Programs

Difficult Challenges: Those we understand but for which solutions are elusive

  • Measuring the Impact of New Technologies
  • Staff Turnover and Training
  • Under-resourced Organizational Infrastructure

Wicked Challenges: Those that are complex to even define, much less address

  • Managing Knowledge Obsolescence
  • Scaling Innovations
  • Teaching Complex Thinking

III. Important Developments in Educational Technology for Cooperative Extension

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less

  • Makerspaces
  • Mobile Learning
  • Online Learning
  • Social Networks

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years

  • 3D Printing
  • Big Data
  • Drones
  • GIS/Location Intelligence

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years

  • Networked Objects
  • Robotics
  • Telepresence
  • Wearable Technology
Campus Information Technology Learn Metrics Newsroom Tools and Services

New Moodle Analytics Service Provides Multiple Views of Course Effectiveness

New Learner and Course Analytics Service

IntelliboardScreeneXtension is glad to announce that it has implemented a new service for its premium members that provides detailed course and learner analytics for any courses delivered through Moodle. This service is being provided by Intelliboard, a company specializing in online learning analytics. Through Intelliboard, course teachers can view the performance and progress of those enrolled in their respective courses as well as analyze what elements of their courses appear to be most popular, or with which elements the participants are having most difficulty. Organizational representatives can view the participation in various courses by their employees and monitor their progress in accomplishing their learning objectives. Other interested parties can view overall site-wide metrics as well as drill down to individual course or learner statistics.

IntelliboardReportsIn all, Intelliboard comes to us with 43 different reports, each of which can be scheduled and delivered via email to interested persons. Descriptions of those reports are available at Even with this existing inventory of reports, though, there is always need for more or different ways to analyze courses and learners. Intelliboard recognizes this, and actively invites its customers to request other reports it might provide to its users. eXtension fully intends to accept that invitation as we hear from our users, and has already identified one it will submit.

Although we currently have this service connected to, our subscription allows us to connect to as many as 100 different Moodle sites. So, if any of our premium member institutions has another Moodle instance from which it would like to draw similar analytics, we can accommodate that need and provide access to those reports.

Anyone wishing to use Intelliboard, or even just to give it a trial run, can get started by dropping an email to, and we will set you up.

Information Information Technology Innovation International Professional Development Technology

AR: A new way to learn!

Google Translate App image source: Google
Google Translate App
image source: Google

In the previous blogs we have discussed the what and why of AR (Augmented Reality). Now it’s time to think of applicable ways to use it in Extension. Here are some ideas of how AR is currently being used:

3D model using Augment image source courtesy of
3D model using Augment
image source courtesy of
  • Enhanced interactive print experience- (brochures, flyers, posters, worksheets)
  • Museum interactivity- think about what a field trip might look like during an Ag safety day
  • AR browsers in the destination- virtual information in the real world to locate places and points of interest
  • Responsive experiences through gaming- participants can experience different historic and future events
  • Re-living historic life and events- visit a historic town the way it used to look like and see its virtual likeness as a 3D model



  • AR translation- Google Translate formerly Word Lens is a smartphone app that translates over 27 languages on the spot. Here’s a fun way it was used.



    The final blog will highlight AR apps that look at interactive print and creating your own AR experiences.

Information Technology Innovation Innovation Partners Professional Development Technology

AR (Augmented Reality) – What the Research Says

Although there is no single technology that is a one size fits all, AR (Augmented Reality) can help provide the basis for a strong cooperative learning environment. The environment can also grow outside the formal classroom because of the nature of the tool itself. The technology used should depend on the pedagogical objectives and needs of the educational application and context to the target audience (Kaufmann, 2011).

AR can provide many positive benefits as an educational tool and merits more to discover and think about.  Researchers suggest that AR should complement traditional curriculum materials and not compete against or replace them. They also conclude that AR is more effective in demonstrating spatial and temporal concepts as well as offering new forms of shared learning experiences through remote collaboration experiences (Billinghurst & Duenser, 2012).

AR for contextual learning

Donald Norman’s meaning of affordances in educational technology refers to the “perceived affordances – that until an affordance is perceived it is of no utility to the potential user” (Bower & Sturman, 2015, p. 345). Two literature reviews analyzed a total of 58 studies within the context of augmented reality in education. The researchers found the following positive benefits (Radu, 2014; Bacca et al., 2014):  Man demonstrating augmented reality machine part

  • Increased understanding of content
  • Learning spatial structure and function
  • Long-term memory retention
  • Increased student motivation
  • Student engagement
  • Improved collaboration


There are many ways we can use AR in Extension to promote education for different audiences. Some of these include interactive posters and fact sheets, augmented tours and 3D models. In the next series of blog posts we will discuss these and review some AR apps that can help us get the job done.

Image: By Eawentling (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

i-Three Lab Information Technology Innovation Partners Professional Development Technology Working Differently

What is AR? (Augmented Reality)

Anatomy $D App Screenshot
Anatomy 4D Screenshot

The best way to describe what augmented reality looks and feels like is to imagine being a student at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books. The hallways are lined with painted portraits from floor to ceiling. As a student walking through the halls the paintings start talking, conversing and singing. They are alive and interactive. This is what augmented reality looks like. The first time someone experiences augmented reality it can be unbelievable.  As “cool” as augmented reality is, many educators consider it a novelty and don’t understand the benefits it can bring to meaningful learning in formal and informal settings.

Augmented reality (AR) is creating layers of digital information on top of the physical world that is viewed through an Android or iOS device. Virtual reality is different in that it is a computer simulated environment that replicates the physical world.

A glimpse at AR: What the future looks like

There are many AR apps available such as Elements 4D where students manipulate and combine elements like mercury rather than just reading or watching videos. Another app, Anatomy 4D, allows users to explore a human body and isolate various body systems. The British Museum’s AR app, A Gift for Athena, allows kids to go on a museum scavenger hunt to find different pieces of history in a story-based gamification experience. Apps like Aurasma and Layar let people create their own AR learning experiences.

In this blog post series we will discuss why using AR is important in education and how to use it effectively. Additional posts will discuss different AR apps that are applicable to Extension professionals.