Working Differently


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Roles for Extension

This document describes some roles NDSU Extension professionals could play in emerging knowledge landscape.
Web and mobile technologies can be used not only for information and content transmission, but also facilitation and transformational education.

Extending our online presence into facilitation and transformational education requires adding process to content. We intend to build process in our online education efforts by organizing, filtering and contextualizing information, connecting people and by engaging learners.

Active Learners

Extension professionals need to actively pursuing learning. Rather than waiting passively for the next conference or webinar, active learners build a personal learning network, allowing information to come to them and opening the door to the discovery of new knowledge, new relationships and new opportunities for partnership and collaboration.


The way we organize our content impacts how that content is found, how it is consumed and whether it ultimately benefits the user. As educators, we tend to group multiple topics and ideas into publications and programs. By organizing our content in more discreet pieces, we can make our content more visible through search and accessible through multiple channels (social media) and across multiple platforms (smartphones, tablets).


With all the information people have access to today, one of the more important roles we can play as educators is that of curator. People want to know where they can find information that is relevant and can be trusted. We can play a critical role in filtering and providing context for online information.

To play this role effectively, we need not only to connect a user with a resource through a link, but also to add value by providing context like why the resource is important or how does it fit into a bigger picture. Our curation needs to occur or be shared in the online spaces people use.


Extension professionals already play the role of connectors. We connect people with resources within and outside of our organization. Occasionally we connect people with each other, as well. This role can be adapted and amplified in the new communication landscape. Social media makes it possible to connect individuals and resources into powerful learning networks.


We often use “engaging” to mean “attracting users to content.” For example, "the addition of images would make the content more engaging." In the context of working differently, we define “engaging” as “involving users in content in ways that motivate and lead to behavior change.”
We can begin to engage people as learners and teachers by engaging in their online communities, working to connect them with each other and inviting them to become partners in their own education.
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