March 18, 2008

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and Cooperative Extension Service are partners in a groundbreaking new Web site, eXtension.org, where experts in a variety of areas offer free personal insight to knowledge-seekers.

eXtension.org recently launched its Web site, which is a gateway to answering questions ranging from parenting, to saving and investing, to entrepreneurship, to livestock care and vegetable gardens. Faculty and specialists affiliated with Kentucky Cooperative Extension, including UK Extension and Kentucky State University, are providing online information to web users of all ages.

eXtension experts are the brains behind eXtension.org, a sort of "next-gen Google," where curious minds can find a range of information including how to calculate their retirement readiness score, tips to easing credit card debt, how to grow the best tomatoes on the block or ways to set a schedule for a new born baby. Even better, if the consumer can't find the information he or she is looking for; real live authorities in their area of interest monitor and answer questions through the Web site. And all of eXtension's resources are available to knowledge-seekers at no cost.

With 16 resource areas, called "Communities of Practice," consumers can navigate the site to find the answers they need. A Community of Practice is typically multi-institutional, multi-state and multi-disciplinary bringing the "best of the best" educational resources to the public. In addition to providing credible eXtension experts to answer knowledge-seekers' questions, eXtension.org offers opportunities for consumers to interact with each other to grow their knowledge in a particular field. Drawing on the popularity of online social networking, individuals interested in a specific topic or subject matter area can "gather" to form a Community of Interest. As that Community of Interest grows, professional educators with expertise in that topic or subject matter area join together and form a Community of Practice.

Not only does eXtension.org bring consumers the best knowledge from the sharpest minds in higher education, it also uses the most innovative and advanced features available on the Web to enhance the learning experience. Users can rate eXtension.org articles based on their usefulness, with the "most useful" articles ranking the highest on searches. If an article does not answer a user's question, he or she has the option to "Ask an Expert."

Further, articles receive tags showing what users are searching for most often. For example, as can be expected with the state of today's economy, the Personal Finance Community of Practice shows that most users are searching for topics relating to financial security. In the Consumer Horticulture Community of Practice, it appears most searchers are looking for the right way to groom their vegetable gardens. Users can also subscribe to RSS feeds, and eXtension will automatically send updates on topics of interest.

eXtension is affiliated with Cooperative Extension, a nationwide, non-credit educational network. Each U.S. state and territory has its land-grant programs and a network of local or regional offices. In Kentucky, land grant programs at both UK and Kentucky State University serve adults and youth through a wide range of programs and services.

Due to its relationship with Cooperative Extension, eXtension.org is able to pull the best, most researched knowledge from the smartest land-grant university minds across America, connecting knowledge consumers with knowledge providers eXtension offers:

• Credible expertise;

• Reliable answers based upon sound research;

• Connections to the best minds in American universities;

• Creative solutions to today's complex challenges;

• Customized answers to your specific needs;

• Trustworthy, field-tested data;

• Dynamic, relevant and timely answers;

More information is available on eXtension.org.