UPDATE: eXtensionAUS an Australian Pilot of eXtension

eXtensionAUS is a pilot of eXtension that began with two communities of practice in January 2014. The key objective is to test the applicability of the eXtension USA model for the Australian grains industry. This update should encourage any of our American colleagues to follow our progress and make contact if they see value.

The pilot is being run through a partnership between eXtension, the Australian Grains Research and Development Corporation and the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries, (DEPI).

Between the two communities 103 members from right around Australia and from a broad range of public and private research, development and extension organizations are enjoying learning to work in different ways using the eXtension model. One community is led by DEPI and one by the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.

Australia has very much appreciated working with our US counterparts and learning from the years of experience. We hope in turn you in the USA can learn from the way we have applied your processes in getting these communities up from scratch.

Both communities produce monthly newsletters and regular electronic round ups in their subject areas using templates and the online tools scoop.it and paper.li. These two tools have proved very useful and could be of value to American communities. You can see how we are applying them by visiting these two links: http://www.scoop.it/u/extensionaus-field-crop-diseases, https://paper.li/AuCropNutrition/1402463586.

Dan Cotton, Craig Wood, Ashley Griffin and Jill Heemstra from eXtension have all visited Australia at different times and have been instrumental in getting the projects up and running and the communities formed with our project teams. For anyone interested in the Australian approach these colleagues are great contacts. Likewise Anne Adrian and the eXtension IT team have been key to getting our IT processes up and running, we have really appreciated their input and enjoyed developing things together.

Our website has been live since late July and engagement with our communities of interest continues to grow. We have had around 1,500 unique visits for an average of around 3 minutes and 3 page views. Twitter has proved extremely popular, there are three accounts @eXtensionAUS (313 followers), @AusCropDiseases (410 followers) and @AuCropNutrition (376 followers) and our use of YouTube continues to grow.

The eXtensionAUS evaluation process continues to be implemented and there is to be a key face to face evaluation and professional development workshop for all community members in November. The project is due to finish in March 2015 and we look forward to continuing to share our learning’s with the US as we go.

Written by Gavin Beever, GRDC National Project Manager for eXtensionAUS