How scarcity affects Extension or why we should be giving it away

Everything I have been reading has pointed to one conclusion… we need to openly share what we create in support of Extension. A model of information control once served Extension well, but that has significantly changed in recent years. The information that Extension has provided to the public is no longer scarce, it is available for the taking on the Internet. Schmidt and Rosenberg best explain it in their book, How Google WorksRead more

How to scan docs as a PDF to Dropbox or Evernote with your Smartphone

Earlier today, I encountered a problem, and my smartphone (Android) came to the rescue. I needed to send out an application but I failed to scan it and file it before I left home. As I mentioned, my smartphone helped me solve this problem.

Basically, I used Handy Scanner to scan the application to a PDF document. Handy Scanner is a free application that converts documents to PDF. Handy Scanner allows you to scan multiple pages to a single document. With this application, you can also scan documents to a JPEG files.

Once I finished scanning the document, I then sent it to Dropbox. To send the document to DropBox, I use Andmade Share Pro. Andmade Share Pro allows you to send a document to multiple applications at the same time. I have personally been very pleased with this program. In Dropbox, I was able to select the exact folder where I wished to place the file.

The simple fact I could do this without going back to my home scanner saved me a considerable amount of time. The convenience of being able to do this anywhere has made my life easier.

I would like to add that if you send the PDF to Evernote, you will be able to search the text of the PDF. Evernote does a fantastic job of making text searchable on images and PDFs. Imagine going to the library for research and taking PDF scans of books and articles with the ability to search through them at a later date.

Great Organizations are Constantly Learning and Improving

Time to re-inventI would like to challenge you this new year to learn something new to improve your craft and organization. Two often, we become comfortable with what has worked for us in the past, and we are hesitant to try something new. We are afraid of failing. We are afraid what others think of us when we try and fail.

Great organizations become great organizations because the learn and adapt to an ever changing environment. There are many organizations and programs that failed to adapt and as a result are now extinct. Here is a list of good stores that never adapted quickly enough. These stores failed because they were content to doing it the same way.

I am interested in education. I am interested in my personal education, informal education, corporate education, extension education, higher education, non-profit education, adult education, technology in education, etc. What is fascinating is the more I read about education and learning, and the more I am involved in education and learning, the more disconnection I am finding. Dewey, Lindeman, Knowles, and others have been admonishing educators for over 80 years that the lecture method is not the best method for instruction, yet, it is the most common method in our schools today. We need to listen to their advice and make changes.

There are three areas I would like you to look at when you look for something new to try: subject matter improvement, instruction methods improvement, technology implementation improvement. As an educator, these are the three areas I consider most important. Presently, I am looking at it from the vantage point of extension.  Here are some ideas you might want to consider:

  • Stay abreast of changes in your field of study by subscribing to or creating a newsletter. More.
  • Reflect on what you learn using a blog or podcast.
  • Improve support to your courses with performance support and job aids. More.
  • Make your course more engaging by flipping your instruction. More.
  • Use QR Codes to enrich your physical documents. More.
  • Use tools like Evernote, Diigo, Zotero, and Dropbox to become more organized in your research. More.
  • Read a book on improving your instruction.
  • Read a book on implementing new technology.
  • Teach a class in a way that you never have before.
  • Let others know what you are reading and why. More.
  • Keep an eye out for what others are doing well and benchmark the ideas. More.
  • Add fun and engagement to your class through gamification. More.
  • Improve your operations by creating a checklist. More.
  • Make time for learning, attend a Webinar, read a book, explore a program, just do it.

One of the most frustrating things I face is when people dismiss something on hearsay instead of investigating it for themselves. I challenge you to honestly explore new methods, techniques, and technologies for yourself before dismissing them, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Make a commitment to yourself this new year to go out and learn something new. Try something new in your classes, your students will appreciate it, especially if you are not lecturing.

My many methods of note taking.

Note taking
Note taking

I just finished reading an interesting article Social media & learning – note taking on steroids by Donald Clark. He discusses the benefits of note taking and using social media tools. After reading his post, I realized I was using similar strategies.

Clark comments on note taking at conferences, and questioned why many professionals did not. I personally am an avid note taker at conferences. Lately, I have been using Evernote as my primary tool. You can read more about this strategy here. Evernote has been a great tool for collecting and later finding notes and ideas.  My friend, Deb Beck recently wrote about taking notes with pen and paper. While I appreciate her need to do this, I personally can not make the connection. My connection is with technology – having a digital record that I can quickly retrieve.

I also use Twitter to get the word out about items I find interesting. If I happen to be retweeting a link, I often capture the link into my Diigo account. Diigo is my actual note taking tool for keeping track of great finds in the wilds of the Internet. Most importantly, I use the Diigo’s tagging system to organize and make sense of all the links. Diigo’s search feature is also extremely useful.

For my academic and professional research, I use Zotero. I have gotten into the habit of reading books with a note taking focus. Once I have read a book, and scribbled notes in the margins, I then spend the time to add it to my Zotero library. When I started my library, I would only add notes regarding my academic research. I now add notes about all the books and journal articles I read. This has helped me on a number of occasions when putting together articles, reports, and grants. It has increased the breadth of my research. Here is a little more on Zotero.

Finally, I use this blog to pull my ideas and notes together. This blog helps me make sense of things I have read or discussed. Again, as Clark points out, it allows me to search through my writings, which I have had to do on a number of occasions.

I would be interested to hear how you use social media for your note taking, or even, why you don’t.

Zotero to the rescue!


Over the past two weeks, I have been leveraging Zotero heavily in my work and studies. Zotero is a citation management system, which allows for tagging, searching, note taking, collections, and shared libraries.

While I started to use Zotero to help sort out my dissertation research, it has started to become extremely useful. During the past two weeks, I have tapped into my research to write a paper for class, cull citations and references for a grant, and gather notes for a final exam.  I have also been using it to support this blog.

Here are a couple of things I have learned while using Zotero:

  • Feed Zotero properly – What I mean is, take the time to take interactive notes.  While you are reading a book, article, or blog, take the time to write your notes in Zotero. I picked up this idea of interactive note taking from Peg Single’s book, Demystifying Dissertation Writing. I highly recommend this book.
  • Take time to write citable notes – Review your raw notes, and turn them into something you can easily cut and paste into other documents and projects. While it takes some up front time, it will save you time later as you are putting together documents and projects. Again, this is a great idea from Peg Single.
  • Take time to tag your references – After you have added a reference and your notes, spend a couple of moments to tag the references. This will help cull references and notes later when you need them most.
If you have to write articles, write grants, cite information you are handing out, then I strongly recommend Zotero.
Here is a learning guide on Zotero for more information.

The University of Wyoming Librarians ROCK!

I have to put out a shout to the University of Wyoming Librarians whom I have had the pleasure to work with. Kaijsa Calkins, Cheryl Goldenstein, Melissa Bowles-Terry, and Cassandra Kvenild have always provided me with not only exceptional support in my personal research, they also provide great instruction.

Over the past couple of months, I have attended great instruction on how to better use the library resources. They have not only showed their skill with the tools, but also provided great instruction on strategies for getting the most out of the tools. So that you can benefit as much as I have, here is a list of recent recordings of their sessions:

Citation Management Tools Workshop – Learn how to use EndNote Web and Zotero to keep track of research references during a long-term project. Recording

Citation Chasing Workshop – When you find an article that meets your information need, you often want to find more like it. This workshop will give you strategies to find related items, articles by the same author, and articles that have cited the original item. Various library databases will be used, with a particular focus on Web of Science. Some hands-on searching will be done. Recording

RSS Feeds: Save Research Time Workshop – Come and learn how to set up RSS feeds and have new articles and information gathered in one place for greater research convenience. Recording

Writing a Review of the Literature – Melissa Bowles-Terry, a reference librarian, will lead participants through the process of collecting resources for a review of literature, and Margaret Garner, director of the writing center, will help participants learn how to put the material together for an effective review. Some hands-on work will be done. Recording

The University of Wyoming is lucking to have professionals like these librarians.