Over the past few years, the eXtension Foundation has been migrating its custom technology platforms to commercial tools. This has resulted in providing Cooperative Extension professionals with better technology solutions that are consistent with industry standards and provides greater flexibility, usability, and marketability. To date, the Articles publishing platform (articles.extension.org) and its companion content-authoring platform Create (create.extension.org) where former eXtension Communities of Practice created content for the public, was migrated to individual WordPress sites. A listing of those sites is available here.
Learn (learn.extension.org) was a tool used for listing and advertising digital events such as webinars across Cooperative Extension and to the public, and provided an archive of thousands of past events and recordings. As part of the New Technologies for Agricultural Extension (NTAE) Cooperative Agreement with USDA-NIFA, the eXtension Foundation has two primary objectives with Learn.
- Replace Learn with a commercially available product.
- Increase usage by 20% per year.
After consulting Learn users across the system, the eXtension Foundation wanted to ensure that a replacement platform met the needs of the system and provided all the features they have enjoyed using.
In March 2020, the eXtension Foundation launched Connect Extension (connect.extension.org). This third-party tool is powered by CrowdStack. One feature of Connect Extension is the ability to host a national calendar for Cooperative Extension to share events system-wide and for the public. The features and functions of the calendar tool in Connect Extension are nearly identical to the Learn platform at learn.extension.org, with some added features, making it a suitable replacement.
The Learn calendar is now part of Connect Extension. In the last 60 days, Cooperative Extension professionals have shared nearly 100 events to that calendar and several users are reporting significant results in participation at virtual events. Since inception on March 23rd, 2020, the new Learn calendar in Connect Extension has received nearly 250K page views. By comparison, the former Learn system at learn.extension.org received an average of 35K page views per month.
All content that was on the old Learn system at learn.extension.org prior to the March 2020 launch of Connect Extension, including all the tags, has been successfully migrated to Connect Extension. This includes nearly 4000 past events, many of which include recordings, that are now easily accessible to Cooperative Extension and the public.
All Cooperative Extension professionals can access the archive of past Learn events by visiting the Learn calendar on Connect Extension. To register your free Connect Extension account, please go to connect.extension.org and click Join. For a complete search of the archive, Connect Extension has an Advanced Search tool where individuals can search through the Learn calendar by any keyword including titles, tags, names, organizations, topic, to find all related content. To use the search feature, once you have logged into Connect Extension – please click on the magnifying glass in the navigation and click on Advanced Search. A direct link is available here.
With this migration complete, the old Learn platform at learn.extension.org will be deactivated on July 1st, 2020. The new Learn calendar can be found in Connect Extension at connect.extension.org.
The eXtension Foundation would like to thank the many Cooperative Extension professionals from past and present for their engagement with the Learn platform that has made it a unique collection of invaluable resources over the past decade. Their active support has continued to strengthen all the ways eXtension is able to serve Cooperative Extension. As a result of their support, engagement, and input – eXtension has been able to deliver an improved experience that helps expand the reach of critical expertise that Cooperative Extension brings to the public.