A Beef Specialists Favorite Apps

Jared E. Decker is Assistant Professor and State Beef Extension Specialist at the University of Missouri. His Extension program, A Steak in Genomics™, works to explain best selection practices and new genomic technologies to beef cattle farmers and ranchers to improve the profitably of their herds. Learn more at steakgenomics.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @pop_gen_JED.

My three favorite apps. Where do I even start? While I use a lot of apps, these are the three that have the largest impact on my work.

1. Google Analytics
For those practicing digital scholarship or online extension, it is vital to show impact. Further, you can’t report what you don’t measure. Using Google Analytics, I am able to track the number of times a post has been viewed and on average how long people viewed it. Using these measures, I’m able to report how much time stakeholders invested in my blog and compare this with the amount of time invested in field days and other in person meetings. While the upfront set up can be challenging, the data recorded is definitely worth it.

2. Google Forms
Inspired by a post on Next Generation Extension, I began including feedback forms with my blog posts. Rather than using Qualtrics or SurveyMonkey, the app I found easiest to use and most flexible was Google Forms. Based on these instructions, when I finish writing a blog post, I open up Google Drive, create a new Google Form for that post, click “Send form” and embed the form in the post as HTML code. Typically, I use many of the same questions in my forms. While people are very hesitant to leave a comment on the blog, they will respond to the feedback form. This has been a great way to receive reactions to my blog posts.

3. Box.com
Box Cloud Storage is an enterprise document sharing service approved by my university. It allows me to easily store files on the web (especially for the public to download) and collaborate on projects. For example, whenever I use a PowerPoint, I put the file on Box for Extension specialists and producers to download.

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