I’ve received a number of GREAT questions about the Learn calendar here on Connect Extension. What is it? Who can use it? What’s the value in using it? I thought it would also be helpful to explain some of the things that are happening on the backend that many might not be aware of - and how you, as Cooperative Extension professionals, can take advantage of that with ease!
First - who can use it? Anybody in Cooperative Extension can use it. You do not need to be a member of the eXtension Foundation to take advantage of this. You would need to create your own free account here in Connect Extension at connect.extension.org/join.
There’s some history with the Learn calendar. For years, it was its own separate platform created and maintained by eXtension. Now, all that old content has been migrated over here to Connect Extension and included as part of the new Learn calendar here on this platform.
So, what is it? On the surface, it’s a national listing of Cooperative Extension events posted by Extension professionals where they can promote these events to the entire system and to the public. From eXtension’s perspective, our goal was to create something that would help drive more folks from the public to Cooperative Extension offerings and resources. But, if you dig a little deeper - there’s a little more to it.
When you post an event to the Learn calendar, it triggers a few things to help promote and market the event you just posted. As I’ve been seeing folks regularly post to the Learn calendar, I’ve been asking them one question: does posting here help drive more participants to your event? The answer has generally been yes. In one case, it drove so much traffic that they needed to upgrade their Zoom room size to accommodate the number of participants!
Immediately, a notification goes out to every Cooperative Extension professional that has an account in Connect Extension and alerts them of this event. There are currently about 2500 Extension professionals with accounts here in Connect Extension; the platform averages about 800 new accounts per month from Extension professionals.
Those that RSVP to the event on any calendar here in Connect Extension will also receive reminder notifications leading up to the event. They can also export it to their own calendars.
The Monday prior to your event, it will get listed in the Connect Extension Weekly Digest newsletter that goes out to approximately 20K Extension professionals across the country.
You can have your own calendar widget. This is a cool feature of Connect Extension and the Learn calendar that is part of it. Let’s say you want to post to the Learn Calendar, but you’d like for that event to also appear on your website. We can help with that. If you take a look at eXtension.org, you’ll see two calendar widgets on the front page. What we are doing is adding events to our own category of the Learn Calendar and it automatically populates that widget with only our events.
Another example are the folks over at eOrganic.org. One benefit here is streamlining some of the work - only having to post your calendar event in a single place rather than multiple places. In the example with eOrganic - when they post to the Learn calendar, their event also displays a badge that says eOrganic.
What’s the traffic like to the Learn Calendar? Here’s some data from March 23rd, 2020 - June 1st, 2020 (first 75-ish days of implementation)
- 135K Users and 191K Sessions
- 318K total page views
- Referral traffic - 35K from two calendars listed on eXtension website.
- 106 events added to Learn Calendar from Cooperative Extension professionals
At eXtension - we’ve managed to crosslink our homepage and our own calendar widgets from Connect Extension to drive traffic both ways. As a result, we’ve seen a 45% increase in traffic from Q1 (before Connect Extension) to Q2 (with Connect Extension implemented). You can also do this for your own websites.
How do you post? It’s very easy to do! Once you login to Connect Extension, just click “Post” and then “Event.” Fill out your details and make sure to include a link to the event registration or connection information, and click publish! I’ve put together a short video that will walk you through this here.
NEW! Something I’ve just added to the Learn Calendar is your ability to associate your event with your Cooperative Extension region. When you create your calendar event, you’ll be able to choose your Extension region under the "Select Calendar" drop down menu. It all still populates to the same Learn calendar, but this will allow anyone to search for events by region, or subscribe to things by region in their personal notifications if they choose to do so.
It’s worth reminding everyone that Connect Extension is a tool for Cooperative Extension. While we at eXtension make an effort to model how it can be used and manage the technical administration of the platform - anyone in Cooperative Extension can use it to do the same things we do in here: create calendar events, collaborate in subgroups, share resources, solicit feedback from across the system, etc...
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below or reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In my next post, I’ll show you how to search through the Learn archive and find what you need, or discover the nearly 4000 past events, many of which have recordings.