We define innovation as “the process of improving, adapting, developing, or creating a new product, system, service, or process, large or small, to deliver better results, create value for people, or move an organization forward.”

The purpose of eXtension and its projects, teams, and futuring research is to help Cooperative Extension professionals make visible and measurable impacts by identifying, incubating, lifting up and fostering “thinking and working differently” to accelerate the adoption of innovation.

The goal is to provide safe, structured venues for “experimenters” to create and test new ideas. eXtension provides a structure for them to share and to identify intersections among their efforts and ideas that suggest further opportunities. In short, we operate as a dynamic liquid network that facilitates both focus and agility for participating experimenters.

ECOP Technology and Innovation Ad Hoc Committee

The Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) convened the Technology and Innovation Ad Hoc Committee in 2017. The primary conclusion of the Committee was:

“…that technology does not result in innovation. Adding technology without also changing organizational culture creates a “bolt-on” model of innovation that does not create the transformation, and ultimately increases costs with no return on investment.”

The committee offered four recommendations:

  • Extension Leaders: Foster and Reward Internal Innovation
  • Extension Leaders: Address Priority Cultural Barriers to Internal Innovation
  • Extension Leaders: Focus on Learner Engagement
  • eXtension Foundation: Strengthen the Horizon Report

The committee also recommended that the eXtension Impact Collaborative be used to implement their recommendations. Read the final report…

Impact Collaborative

The Impact Collaborative incubates innovative ideas and accelerates their development as projects for measurable local impact. This is the flagship program of eXtension. The IC seeks to help Extension professionals increase their visibility and measurable local impact. Learn more about the Impact Collaborative…

Fellowships and Innovation Grant Projects

eXtension funds fellowships and innovation grant projects as part of our effort to identify and incubate innovation in the Cooperative Extension System. Recent fellowships have included topics such as knowledge networks, large-scale qualitative data analysis, citizen science, the Maker movement and many more. Learn more about the 2015 Fellows and the 2016 Fellows.

Innovation grants have been awarded to develop programs around topics like story mapping, smart beehives, 4-H Maker festivals, Bio-band fitness trackers for youth, drones for small farms, and others. Learn more about the 2016 innovation projects and the 2017 innovation projects.

chasing a droneEach initiative operates with a contract that specifies the structure, timelines, goals, outputs, and intended impact. participants receive mentoring in defining the research, prototype development, adoption plans and other steps of the innovation process. Outputs might include presentations, demonstrations, reports, published papers, webinars, blog posts and other communications key to sharing ideas and advancing adoption.

ed tech ln logoConnecting Extension Professionals and Innovation

The Ed Tech Learning Network is a vehicle for connecting innovation-minded Extension professionals and empowering them to put technology to use in their programs. The EdTechLN hosts regular tweetups and offers a weekly newsletter. The founders of the EdTechLN recently received the 2017 JCEP Award for Creative Excellence. More than 300 people have joined the network with even more following on Facebook.

eXtension also sponsored the development of the New Media Consortium Horizon Report 2016-2021: Cooperative Extension Edition. The report was compiled by a 50-person expert panel. It will guide many of the future initiatives of eXtension with the goal of increasing the visible and measurable local impact of Extension professionals.

Innovate events have been held in Oregon, Utah, Delaware, and Ohio in 2017. These events bring together Extension faculty and staff to focus on the creative process and empower them to work differently. The innovate events were pilot programs from which the lessons learned and feedback are being used to shape the Impact Collaborative process.

Get Involved

Apply to be part of the 2018 Impact Collaborative. Anyone at an eXtension member institution is eligible to apply. Future Fellows and innovation grant will be selected from Impact Collaborative alumni.

Join the EdTechLN to receive announcements about tweetups and the weekly newsletter.