Agriculture Communication


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Use Ag Info Center to Share Files

Ag Info Center screenshotThe Ag Info Center is NDSU Agriculture's password-protected Intranet that includes the Ag calendar, Extension Quarterly Program Reports, FeedList, a file transfer system and more. Similar to tools such as DropBox, the Ag Info Center file transfer system can store large files and can be accessed by anyone in NDSU Agriculture who logs in.

For example, rather than mailing out DVDs, Bruce Sundeen was asked to upload several horticulture videos so staff could load them onto their laptops while in the office to have them available when they didn't have Internet access to play the YouTube versions. Other examples of long-term downloads include several train-the-trainer facilitator guides and PowerPoints on a variety of topics, 2012 Crop and Pest Reports, Consumer Choices judging classes and much more.

If you've forgotten your Ag Info Center password, call the ITS help desk at 231-8685.

If you want to create a folder to have your materials grouped and shared with staff, contact Roger Egeberg.

Becky Koch, Ag Communication Director, (701) 231-7875

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Talking About Digital Badges

On March 25 at 1 p.m. (Central) I'll be moderating a conversation about digital badges in Cooperative Extension. The eXtension Network Literacy Community of Practice is presenting "Critical Conversations: Digital Badges" to introduce digital badges as a way of recognizing achievements, successes and experience.

Digital BadgesGuests Tony Cook of Alabama Cooperative Extension, Brett Bixler of Penn State University and I will discuss how digital badges might be used to recognize learning people gain with the help of Extension, how digital badges could change the way we view credentials, and how badging might impact social and informal learning.

Brett Bixler works with the "latest educational technologies and learning theories to produce learner-centered active and collaborative learning environments."

Tony Cook leads the For Youth, For Life Learning Network project, leveraging the power of online networks for youth learning. Last year, the project won $150,000 in the Badges for Lifelong Learning competition.

I interviewed Dr. Cook for the "Working Differently in Extension" podcast. Check out that podcast and join us for the Critical Conversation on March 25.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Use Google Maps in Ag CMS

You can insert Google Maps into Ag CMS pages, events and news items, making it easy for people to find county offices and events. Check out this How-To on YouTube (3:02).

By the way, if you need to get screenshots or do quick recordings (less than 5 minutes long) like this, you can download Jing for free. It's easy to use. Download Jing 

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 241-6403

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If CRAAP Doesn't Work for You, Try SMELL

In my recent post, "Think Before Hitting 'Share'," I suggested using the CRAAP test (currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose) to evaluate online content before sharing it.

Image courtesy Luke Gattuso, McManus offers another useful tool for testing online information in his post, "Don't Be Fooled: Use the SMELL Test To Separate Fact from Fiction Online." Here's the SMELL test.

S stands for Source. Who is providing the information? 
M is for Motivation. Why are they telling me this?
E represents Evidence. What evidence is provided for generalizations?
L is for Logic. Do the facts logically compel the conclusions?
L is for Left out. What's missing that might change our interpretation of the information?

Whether you use the CRAAP test, the SMELL test or both. Make sure you take the time to see if something stinks before sharing content online.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

Image courtesy Luke Gattuso

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Think Before Hitting "Share"

Almost every day I see at least one post on Facebook that makes me think, "Is that for real?" Images like the one below about U.S. soldiers being denied breakfast are great at getting people motivated to click the "Share" button, but are they true?

Soldiers Going Hungry LetterLike most inaccurate content, the letter in the photo below has a tiny grain of truth in it, but on the whole is untrue.

When you are active on social media, whether personally or professionally, it is important to be able to distinguish content that can be trusted from rumor. Often a quick search will tell you if there is evidence to support the content being shared.

Before you retweet or share something on social media, take a moment to assess the reliability of the info. One quick way to test information for reliability is to use the CRAAP test. CRAAP is an acronym that stands for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose. Ask questions like:

  • Is the information current?
  • Who is the author or publisher?
  • What are their qualifications?Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Can you verify the information from another source?
  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?

If you want to learn more, Steve Judd of the Network Literacy Community of Practice has a helpful blog post, "Is that so? - Assessing the reliability of online information".

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Hangouts On Air Pilot

Google+ (Google's social networking tool) Hangouts allow users to easily invite up to nine other users at a time into a high-quality video conferencing environment. I am a member of the Network Literacy Community of Practice (CoP), and we have used Google+ Hangouts along with Google Drive (formerly called Google Docs) to create content collaboratively in real time. It's a pretty great tool.

Google has taken Hangouts to another level by allowing them to be broadcast via YouTube. You can have a Hangout with up to 10 people who are able to share their video and voice, and share that Hangout with the world. These Hangouts are called Hangouts On Air, and I think they can be a great tool for education. They are broadcast live and remain archived on YouTube.

I have participated as a contributor in a couple of Hangouts On Air sponsored by eXtension and the Network Literacy CoP. Here's one I moderated on personal vs. professional online identity (

Ag Comm Web Services is looking for teams of collaborators who would like to pilot Google+ Hangouts On Air. If you have a team of six or more people who share an educational goal, and you can commit to the time and training required to produce six Hangouts On Air in 2013, we would love to work with you.

Sonja and I will provide training, assist with setting up required accounts, help with technical troubleshooting and do whatever we can to make your experience with this new tool a success.

If you have a team that is interested or you'd like to talk more about this project, please contact us.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381
Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Sharing Your Web Pages on Facebook

Before you share a link to an Ag CMS item on Facebook (or any other social networking site), visit that item on your public website.

When you are creating or editing an item in the Ag CMS, you are logged-in. Your logged-in view may be different than the public view of an item. For example, you might be using an image that is stored in an Ag CMS folder that is not published. As a logged-in user, you will be able to see the image but a public user will not have permission to view something that is stored in a "private" folder.

The Web address of an Ag CMS item is different when you are viewing it as a logged-in user. Although that Web address might work for public users, it is long and potentially confusing,

If I wanted to share a link to this article on my Facebook page, I would not use the Web address or the Facebook Share button from my logged-in view. Instead I would go to the public view of this article on the Agriculture Communication site at and share it from there.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Learning Opportunities for Dec. 2012

There are some really exciting online learning opportunities this month. Please check out the links below to learn more about these events.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Tweeting Fall Conference

A number of people will be using Twitter to share information from the 2012 Extension/REC Fall Conference, Nov. 5 - 8.

The conference hashtag is #ndsuconf2012.

If you'd like to start using Twitter to find and share information about Fall Conference or anything else you're interested in, checkout our "Tweeting Fall Conference" video. It will show you how to create a Twitter account and start using it.

If you just want to keep up on the tweets from Fall Conference, visit

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381; Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Taking Control of Your Learning Webinars

In September 2012, Ag Comm Web Services offered 3 webinars to help people take control of their own learning through the use of a personal learning network. If you are interested in building a personal learning network, check out the recordings below to help you get started.

They are archives of Wimba webconferences. If prompted for a "room" when accessing the archive, enter "NDSU_Ag".

Start Managing Your Own Learning - If you are not actively keeping up with your own learning and professional development, you are falling behind. A Personal Learning Network (PLN) can provide you with learning from leaders, experts and colleagues around the world, bringing together communities, resources and information impossible to access from within your office walls. Learn how you can get started on your own PLN and contribute to your professional development.

Getting Online Information to Come to You - One key to effective learning in the digital age is to get information to come to you. Learn how you can use online tools to get the information you need to come to you.

Finding People To Learn From - If you want to discover relevant online information that you can trust, connect with smart people who share your interests. People should be a big part of your online network. Learn how use social media to find and follow people who can really enhance your learning and professional development.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381; Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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