By Dave King, Associate Provost, University Outreach & Engagement
The face of Extension in Oregon is destined to change. We are developing a plan to deploy the national eXtension Ask an Expert capability on all our Web sites.
Ask an Expert is a place on a Web site where anyone can submit a question that will be automatically sent to an appropriate Extension faculty member who will offer an answer or information, hopefully within in a day.
The first questions that probably come to mind are why and how?
Why has two parts. The first has to do with how our Extension Service will maintain the “service” part of our organization. We continue to transform to a leaner organization expected to do more with fewer traditional resources. We will need to emphasize the development of educational programs while finding new ways to maintain our traditional responsibilities for service. Spreading the responsibility to respond electronically to our clients’ questions among the organization as a whole will allow us to maintain the service side of our efforts in a cost effective and customer responsive manner.
The second part of the answer to the question why is more simple. A nationwide analysis of the users of the Ask an Expert system shows that 56 percent of the people asking questions are first-time Extension clients. It is critical to the future viability of Extension that we engage a larger number of our potential users. Ask an Expert is one way to do that.
How we will deploy Ask an Expert is still in the planning stages.
Our Oregon eXtension pilot team (see list below) is working on a plan for
statewide deployment that we hope to begin implementing by July 1 and possibly complete by September 15.
To start, the eXtension pilot team and selected county-based staff chairs will sit in on an online demonstration conducted by John McQueen, who helps lead the Ask an Expert effort for the national e-Organic community of practice centered here in Oregon. North Carolina Extension has already deployed Ask an Expert statewide, so we are scheduling a video conference with some of their faculty and staff to discuss what worked and what didn’t.
For those of you who are just becoming aware of the Ask an Expert deployment effort, here is some background information that may help:
North Carolina Presentation on their deployment (45 minutes)
National eXtension Ask and Expert Site
Behind the scene look at the incoming questions
For those who have yet to get an eXtension ID, please go to http://about.extension.org/ and click in the right corner on “how to
get an ID.”
Below is a list of those who are being asked to work with us in deployment planning and testing process. If you have any questions, feel free to contact any of us. As the planning process takes form, more details will follow.
Oregon’s eXtension Team:
Program Leaders (also members of the OSU eXtension Team):
Selected County Staff Chairs: