Integrating the World Wide Web into Existing Extension and Educational Technology

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  • 1 Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2133.

Studies by academic, extension, and private foundation think tanks have reaffirmed the land-grant philosophy as an important component of American society in the twenty-first century. Successful land-grant systems will have more closely integrated educational, research, and extension programs characterized as more accessible, affordable, and accountable than current models. The World Wide Web (Web) will play a key role in this transformation. Web technology is evolving rapidly, necessitating continuous and rapid adaptation by information providers (Lineberger, 1996a, 1996b; Rhodus and Hoskins, 1996). The availability of low-cost, user-friendly Web access through home TVs promises to upset the existing paradigms of extension information delivery through county offices and undergraduate instruction exclusively in the campus classroom. Some land-grant professionals have adopted Web technology as a tool to deliver educational programs and coursework; however, most have not, citing as justification the very steep learning curve and time involved in formatting materials for electronic delivery. We have emphasized the need for lifelong learning to our clientele and students; we must heed our own advice. Faculty must develop the ability to integrate appropriate technology into their own programs, since it is clear that land-grant systems of the future will not provide them with the support personnel to do it for them.

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