eXtension Launches FIRST Community of Practice–HORSEQUEST

eXtension is pleased to announce the launch of its first Community of Practice web site: HorseQuest. Available at http://www.extension.org/horses, this is the first of many communities of practice to go public in 2006 and throughout 2007.

“We are very excited to launch HorseQuest today and to demonstrate the capacity that eXtension brings to America’s Cooperative Extension System,” said Dan Cotton, eXtension Director.

HorseQuest provides Internet visitors with reliable and up-to-date horse information through a knowledge base of commonly asked questions that have science-based, peer-reviewed answers. In addition, online lessons use self-paced learning objects to help users learn more about specialized areas of equine science. The newest lesson being introduced is a module for new and prospective horse owners.

“eXtension has provided an exciting new method of delivering scientific data to horse owners. Its 24/7/365 availability and interactive capability puts the horseman in direct contact with experts,” said Clint Depew, chair of the HorseQuest team and Louisiana State University extension horse specialist.

HorseQuest also features experts who work one on one with online users through live online chats. These one-hour chats feature three expert specialists covering various relevant topics.

“HorseQuest brings the strengths and backgrounds of many equine experts into one on-line tool. And, the accessibility of solid, research-based information is now available on a national (and international) platform, said Betsy Greene, University of Vermont extension horse specialist and vice-chair of the HorseQuest team.

“The 37-member HorseQuest Community of Practice has brought greater expertise to each area of interest and reduced the workload on individual experts at the same time. The collaborative relationships with other experts is minimizing duplication of effort and maximizing utilization of good materials. The spin offs into other projects is phenomenal,” noted Depew.

HorseQuest was developed through eXtension’s innovative collaborative tools including a unique “wiki” environment where community of practice members create, enhance, edit, and publish the various components featured on the public web site.

“Since my work with the HorseQuest Community of Practice, I now have expert resources at the click of a mouse. I have already utilized some of our collaborative ‘wiki-work’ when consulting with my clientele,” noted Greene. “The eXtension HorseQuest project has brought together the resources and opportunities for collaboration that no single state could afford.”

HorseQuest is the first eXtension “Community of Practice” to come online. Eight more communities with topics ranging from financial security, fire ants, disaster response, parenting, rural entrepreneurship, horticulture, and wildlife damage management are set to come online in the next several months. All will feature similar attributes of Frequently Asked Questions, Ask the Experts, news, events, and learning modules.