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Updated on Feb 24, 2011

One way to do this is to make better use of the Web. “We’ve just really begun to see the impact of ubiquitously available information on the Internet,” he says, “and one of the things we still have to figure out how to do is to utilize that medium to deliver information that has a research and analytical base.”

ACES is also beginning to explore this shift in delivery. “At one time we were a high-touch organization,” Brown says. “The idea was that families could easily get to their county office.” Brown explains that today, however, ACES is looking to balance the high-touch approach with a high-technology delivery.

But this evolution from high touch to high tech isn’t just a result of the economy. Cooperative Extensions across the country, Brown says, are looking to provide a greater degree of accessibility by utilizing the technological tools of the day.

What does this mean for the average parent, teen, or child? Easy access to research-based information though online games, discussions, visual aids, etc.

This is not to say that there isn’t concern within Extension systems about changing the delivery model or losing the original mission of Extension and land-grant universities. Brown explains that some of the current dialogue among administrators and educators has to do with how best to preserve Extension’s mission and reach those individuals who need Extension services the most. “There’s the issue of helping low-resource audiences and providing that accessibility to them when they might not have the technological tools that are more available to those in more urban settings,” he says.

Across the spectrum of programming and educational services, it’s historically been Extension’s outreach to low-resource individuals, as well as its access to researchers and specialists, that set Extension apart as an education provider.

Now it’s just a matter of making a strong case for the value of Extension services.

The loss of the model by which we deliver community education would be tragic,” Sams says. “But I think there is still a critical need, especially in the information age, to provide authoritative and trusted sources of research-based information and educational programming.”

Search online for information about your state’s Cooperative Extension and programming in your area. Or visit eXtension to see how land-grant universities across the country are using the Internet to exchange objective, research-based knowledge to solve current challenges.

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