New gig: Danae Wolf, ed tech specialist

Please join me in welcoming our new full-time educational technology specialist, Danae Wolfe. Danae began her new position in OSU Extension’s Educational Technology unit Aug. 3. Below is a brief Q-and-A with her. You also can learn more about her and her new role on the OSU Extension Ed Tech blog.—Ken Martin

Extension background

Despite participating in 4-H as a youth, it wasn’t until much later in life that I discovered Extension. I started working as Summit County’s agriculture and natural resources Extension educator in 2012. Prior to that, I donned the iconic Smokey Bear uniform while working as an interpretive park ranger at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, where I taught park visitors about water quality issues and invasive plants.

I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to teach informal education, but I was never quite sure in what capacity. With opportunities to reach a statewide audience (and beyond), I knew Extension was the right fit for me when I discovered all the organization had to offer.

How did you get to be so interested in educational technology?

With a background in environmental education, it seems odd that I’ve become so interested in educational technology (especially considering that many environmentalists feel society needs to disconnect to become more in tune with the natural world). Throughout the last three years working as a county-based Extension educator, I’ve had the opportunity to teach a variety of classes and workshops about educational technology, and I’ve learned how critical digital media is to the work that we do in Extension.

I’m particularly interested in how Extension can become more adaptable to meet the changing needs of our clients. People are accessing their information differently than they have in the past. The Internet is often the first (and sometimes only) resource people look to for information, and it’s our responsibility to ensure that our clients are finding the most up-to-date and reliable information possible. I’m looking forward to exploring the many ways we can stay at the forefront of creating innovative educational experiences that empower people with knowledge.

What has been your favorite project or program that you’ve worked on that involved tech?

My favorite tech-related programs have been the Garden and Insect Photography workshops I’ve offered over the last two years. I’m a macro insect photographer and sharing my expertise with others has been a thrill. Seeing insects up close allows people to appreciate their beauty and intricacy and provides an avenue for learning about and valuing species that often get overlooked. I believe we can use photography not only to educate our clients about a variety of topics but also to tell the story of Extension.

What are you excited to learn more about or work on during the next year?

One of the things I’m most excited about is the opportunity to meet with faculty and staff in each region and start drafting a comprehensive social media marketing campaign for Extension. I’ve heard countless times from clients that Extension doesn’t market itself well enough and I’d like that to change. I have ideas for viral videos, hashtag campaigns and a 365 photo project that highlights stories of Extension. Other than a social media marketing campaign, I’m also excited to explore how we can improve search engine optimization to ensure people can find our web content and fact sheets. We want our information to rise above the junk floating around on the Internet!

Ed tech philosophy

Technology allows us to break free from geographic constraints. It allows us to connect with people and organizations that share similar interests and face similar issues. Educational technology, when used appropriately and well, will move us forward into a future of Extension that globalizes unbiased, research-based information. The mission of Ohio State University Extension is to strengthen the lives of Ohioans through research-based educational programming, but why stop at Ohio?

As I think about how we can use technology in the work we do in Extension, I’m excited for the opportunity to engage my creative side. The possibilities are boundless, and I encourage each of us to think innovatively as we move into the future.

Contact Danae at wolfe.540@osu.edu for any and all questions related to technology integration in Extension programming. You also can invite her to upcoming team meetings for training and/or ed tech expert advice and guidance.