Have you ever had one of those dreams where you run and run and run but cannot catch whatever you are chasing? Or have you ever seen a game show where someone is placed into a wind tunnel with dollar bills and charged with catching as many as they can in 1 minute? Sometimes Extension feels like those things. The world moves fast and we can only catch so much. We are overwhelmed at times, no doubt about it. But, developing visionary skills is what we need more of – so we can take the short cut and catch our prey or take a big net into the wind tunnel to catch more money (I don’t know if that works or not, but it seems like it would).
Problem: The digital world moves fast and not everyone in Extension can keep up with it.
Solution: Extension is in need of mentors for using digital technologies. However, there are not enough practitioners internally at each university to act in this capacity. Thus, Extension must look outward and use the expertise of the private sector. I know this means the outlay of $$$, which is often frowned upon. But, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Extension is all about learning and we, as employees of Extension, should be learning as well. The current mission of eXtension (and this Learning Network) is also attempting to address this issue, but it is still in its infancy. If Extension is to survive, we must devise a plan to incorporate digital technology into every Extension employee’s daily job activities. The expectation may be as small as using Facebook and Twitter to developing and curating an in-depth blog or teaching coding or education on the use of drones – the opportunities are endless, but we in academia need to recognize that they do exist.
Overall, the good news is that digital works will eventually be recognized as scholarly by our peers. The bad news is that it will not come without significant growing pains. Progress has been made already, and the Educational Technology Learning Network is committed to addressing these issues. One of our goals should be to come up with a recommended plan of action for universities to deal with recognition of digital scholarship. In order to do with we need input from everyone – and that means you too.