Gavin Beever, extensionAUS Relationship Manager, said the platform exists to drive practice change across rural industries and communities across the nation.
“extensionAUS provides a tried and trusted legal framework where experts can collaborate with confidence, in real time and, via the processes, collectively and quickly share knowledge and information amongst themselves and with other industry stakeholders,” Mr Beever said.
A turnkey solution for agricultural extension
The extensionAUS platform enables the development of communities of practice (CoPs), which are networks of subject matter experts who discuss, learn and share knowledge in a subject area. It enables collaboration between individuals and organisations regardless of their location and affiliations. At present, there are 16 CoPs on extensionAUS, with scope for many more to be added.
Kellyanne Harris, Agriculture Victoria, stresses that extensionAUS is much more than a website; it is a collaborative system, a tool for providing extension and interaction.
“extensionAUS does two things. Firstly, it’s about getting real collaboration across boundaries and over time. The second is about getting information out to an audience in a very targeted way,” said Ms Harris.
“A community of practice, or group of likeminded professionals, is at the core of extensionAUS. This network is where the real value of the platform lies.”
Amplification and authenticity in collaboration
It’s what happens behind the scenes that makes the extensionAUS platform so valuable. A Google-based space for collaboration and discussion allows users to peer-review content and in addition to the workspace, CoPs have access to dedicated support services, tutorials and webinars to make the most of the platform functionality.
Felicity McIntosh, Senior Extension Officer – Poultry at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Queensland coordinates the Chicken Meat RD&E CoP on extensionAUS. Ms McIntosh said the platform strength is in its set up, which made it an obvious choice when looking for a way to approach extension and collaboration with chicken meat researchers and practitioners.
“The process and the platform are established,” she said. “It’s an efficient structure. Our time is better spent because it’s all set up and ready to go.”
Ms McIntosh said that for the chicken meat industry, where there are multiple players including a range of government departments and organisations spread across the country, extensionAUS provides a common ground on which to collaborate. She said the platform doesn’t duplicate existing work, but rather provides a way of working across boundaries.