Ag Communication Web Services

Tech info, tips & tricks


PLN Barriers - Afraid of Technology

For the past few weeks Bob Bertsch and I have been promoting Personal Learning Networks (PLNs), part of the Working Differently in Extension initiative that encourages people to use PLNs to both learn and promote their work. We want to keep that rich tradition of extending University knowledge and research to the public.

Did you catch that commercial for a seed company that ran several times during the Bison Football opener – the one that started “It used to be you went to your county agent (for ag information)…”? They promoted their blog, Facebook and Twitter presence as the new way to keep informed on seed and ag issues. More than ever we need to be connected in the online world to make sure we’re top of mind when it comes to all things ag.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with many people and talk about PLNs. More than once I’ve heard that a barrier to using a PLN is the intimidation of using technology. How is Twitter different from Facebook? How do I know where the good blogs are? What is a Google alert? Even though I consider myself more-than-average technical, I’ve learned a lot when Bob explains things. That is a PLN in action, right there!

But I know what it’s like to be intimidated or confused by all the online tools out there. I’ve been the least technical person on a technical team but played a very important role of interpreting web or software development updates to clients. At one time I didn’t know what an OS or a URL was. I actually DID know what they were, I just didn’t know that’s what they were called.

It’s been more than a decade since most of us took our first trip down the “information super highway”. That term was exciting when it came out, but by me just saying it now makes me sound dated. The way we work and play has changed as we take many of our tasks online. Today’s “hot” online tool or social network can be replaced swiftly. Maybe you bought the latest and greatest smartphone, only to have another version takes its place two months later. It’s a challenge to keep up with technology, no doubt about it. I keep up with it by reading blogs, PLN in action again!

It’s okay to not know everything about technology – that’s not your role. Your expertise is knowing your county, or bugs or nutrition, etc. It’s perfectly fine to ask questions. No question is a dumb question. I’ve had this conversation with a few people and that seems to put them at ease so that they could ask questions and get answers, so we could move forward in getting them online.

Bob and I have started monthly Ag CMS trainings. Intro is a great place to start and for more advanced features we have the workshop. These are live trainings where you can get your questions answered. Again, there’s no such thing as a dumb question.

We’re also excited for PLN trainings coming up this month. We’ll show you how to get started, how to find information and how to collaborate in your PLN. We’ve already had quite a few people sign up, so that is exciting.  Hope you can make it!

I want to finish this post by poking a little bit of fun at myself and anyone who has been intimidated by technology. Check out the Technologically Impaired Duck. You might feel a little smarter than this poor duck and that technology doesn’t seem so scary after all.

Sonja Fuchs
Web Technology Specialist



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Author: Julie

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