Agriculture Communication


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Add a Portlet to the Left Side of Your Ag CMS Site

There's a little trick you need to do when adding a portlet to the left side of your website in Ag CMS. It's a best practice to make sure the navigation is at the top of your site. To do this, you need to hide the existing navigation portlet and re-add it, along with your new portlet. Then you can go in and move the position of each portlet. See this video to learn how (4:39):


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

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Beware! Facebook Page Verification Scam

If you are a Facebook Page owner or admin, you might receive a message about the "Facebook Page Verification Program." It is touted as a new security feature, but it is NOT real. This hoax is designed to phish for your personal information.

The message will read something like:

"Dear Facebook User,

You are receiving this message to notify you about the new security feature from Facebook called "Fan Page Verification Program".

After many Fan Pages have been stolen lately leaving us no choice but Deleting them forever, we had to come up with an original solution about the Fan Page's Security..."

If you receive a message like this one, don't open any links or attachments.

Sophos has more information about this hoax in the article, Phishers try flattery with Facebook Page owners.

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

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Some Ag CMS Portlets To Be Removed

Portlets are pre-programmed, templated tools that allow you to dynamically or creatively display content in the left and right side columns, as well as above and below content in Ag CMS desktop view. In mobile Ag CMS, portlets appear below the content.

There are currently 19 portlets available on the Ag Content Management System (Ag CMS), but some of those portlets offer little or no value or are not being used. In an effort to simplify the management of portlets, our Ag CMS team will be making some portlets unavailable beginning on May 24, 2013.

Read our post, "Ag CMS Portlets To Be Made Unavailable," for a full list of the portlets being removed and more information on the process.

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

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

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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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