Technology In 10 Years From Now Essay

Technology is the use of scientific knowledge to produce new machinery and devices that can be used to provide different services or can be employed further to create more devices. The application of information to design and produce machines and other goods to make life more convenient for the human beings is known as technology. Here are some essays of varying lengths on Technology to help you with the topic in your class tests and exams.

Essay on Technology

Essay on Technology 1 (200 words)

The term technology has been derived from Greek words technne and logos. Technne means the skill required to craft something and logos stands for knowledge or discussion about something. Technology thus means the use of knowledge to create something to enhance life. Several big and small things we use in our day-to-day lives have been an outcome of technological development.

Scientists conduct research and experiment with different things to come up with newer ideas. Technologists use these ideas to develop newer devices. People these days have grown extremely accustomed to the use of these technological inventions that they simply cannot do without them. They await the launch of newer and more advanced devices. Mobile phones and cars are the best examples of this. People wait for the new models and replace them without giving it a second thought.

The smart phones offer so much, from amazing gaming experience to instant connectivity with people, that it is hard to take your eyes off it. Your car, air conditioner, microwave and other technologically advanced devices also seem as good because of the convenience they offer. However, it is wise not to go overboard with their use. Maintain a balance between science and nature to lead a peaceful life and keep your surroundings healthy.


 

Essay on Technology 2 (300 words)

Technology has helped in the growth and development of the mankind as a whole. Technological inventions have made living convenient. Connecting with people in different parts of the world, travelling long distance, having constant sources of entertainment and ease of cooking and storing food are some of the best things technology has offered us. But is technology really a boon to the mankind?

Technology: A Boon to the Mankind?

Well, this has always been a point of debate. While technology has paved the way for a better living its downside cannot be overlooked. The continual use of technologically advanced equipments as well as the process of their production has led to a drastic rise in all types of pollution. The rising pollution has become the cause of several health issues. Excessive use of technology has also contributed to problems such as obesity and visual impairment. Besides, it has isolated people socially more than connecting them. It has also led to a decrease in the employment opportunities particularly for the labour class.

The Relationship between Science and Technology

While science and technology are interdependent, these are two completely distinct fields of study. Science contributes to technology in several ways. It is the knowledge of science that gives way to new and innovative ideas to build different technological tools. The research and experiments conducted in science laboratories lead to the designing of various technological techniques and devices. Knowledge about science also helps in understanding the impact of technology on the environment and the society. Technology on the other hand extends the agenda of science. When the ideas are put to use, the scientists are inspired and motivated to research and experiment further to come up with newer ideas.

Conclusion

Technology certainly has given way to an improved lifestyle and contributed towards the growth of economies; however, the amount of damage it has done to the environment as well as the mankind is a cause of serious concern.

Essay on Technology 3 (400 words)

From the television you watch to the mobile phone you use to connect with your near and dear ones, from the car you drive to the refrigerator you use to store your food, from the air conditioners you use to beat the heat to the laptops you use to accomplish various tasks –  everything is a gift of technology.

Technology – An Integral Part of Our Life

Technology has become an integral part of our lives. It is ever-evolving and is responsible for our changing lifestyle. Newer technological inventions are taking the market by storm and people hardly take any time to get accustomed to these.

Technological advancements have also led to the growth and development of the nations as a whole.

The Downside of Technology

Here is a look at the downside of technology:

  1. Pollution

The use of technological equipment has given rise to various types of pollution. The industrial waste is thrown in the seas and other water bodies, thereby leading to water pollution, the smoke emitted by factories and vehicles causes air pollution, noise pollution is also a result of the production/ use of technological devices. Industrial waste has also led to soil pollution. Technological advancement has also given way to thermal, radioactive and light pollution.

  1. Depletion of Natural Resources

Many natural resources are being over-exploited to produce technological equipment. While these equipment have proved to be useful in many ways this practice is resulting in the depletion of natural resources which is a threat to the environment.

  1. Health Issues

Rise in the level of pollution and the weakening of natural environment has led to several health issues. The use of technology has also reduced physical activities which again has given rise to various health problems. Breathing problems, lung infection and obesity are among the problems that are on an all time high due to the increasing use of technology.

  1. Unemployment

The work which was once done manually is now accomplished with the help of machines. The production of machines has thus taken away the livelihood of several people.

  1. Nuclear Weapons

Technology has also led to the production of nuclear weapons that are a threat to the mankind.

Conclusion

Almost everything we use in our day-to-day life is a gift of technology and we cannot imagine our lives without most of these things. However, as much good as the technology has done to the mankind, we cannot deny the fact that it has also caused as much harm to our surroundings.

Essay on Technology 4 (500 words)

Technology is commonly defined as the use of scientific and technical information to design, create and monitor machinery, electronic devices and various other kinds of goods to serve the mankind. Technology has been classified into different categories with each of them having its own unique purpose.

Types of Technology

Here is a look at the different types of technologies:

  1. Industrial Technology

This type of technology deploys manufacturing and engineering technology for the production of machines and other equipment. Employing these technologies makes the production process quicker and more efficient. The process is also made simpler.

  1. Alternative Technology

This type of technology is known to be environment friendly compared to the other technologies that are more dominant in today’s scenario. Some of the examples of alternative technology include the use of wind turbines to produce electricity, the process of composting, use of solar panels, anaerobic digestion, biodiesel, vegetable oil, wind generators and grey-water recycling.

  1. Creative Technology

It includes art, product design and advertising made with the use of software based, electronic or data-driven device. This includes the use of 3D printing, computer graphics, virtual reality and wearable technology among other things.

  1. Architectural Technology

This involves the use of technology to design and build buildings. It is a part of architecture and building engineering. It is closely associated with the advancement in building science. At times, it is seen as a separate discipline.

  1. Low Technology

This is a term given to simple technology that does not make use of non-mechanical things to create new objects. This was mainly prevalent before the industrial revolution. It can be practiced with low capital investment and is not capable of producing high-end devices.

  1. Assistive Technology

This involves making use of different kinds of goods and services to aid people with disabilities. It includes non-mechanical, non-electronic aids, mechanical, electronic and microprocessor based equipment as well as exclusive instructional materials and services to assist disabled people in learning and functioning. It is also used to make the environment easily accessible for them.

  1. Instructional Technology

It is the practice of development, utilization, management and assessment of the procedures and resources of teaching and learning. Its main purpose is to generate engaging and effective learning experiences.

  1. Micro Technology

It is basically a technology that makes use of microelectronics. It was in the year 1960 that the scientists learned that by bringing together microscopic transistors on one chip, one could build microelectronic circuits that can enhance performance and functionality with reduced cost.

  1. Medical Technology

As the name suggests, this type of technology produces various devices and equipment to diagnose and treat different medical conditions affecting human beings and animals.

  1. Information Technology

It involves the utilization of computer systems and telecommunication to study, store, send and retrieve information. Internet is the most common example of information technology.

Conclusion

While technology has been classified into several categories each serving its own purpose, the core motive of all these remains the same,  that is to design and build newer devices to make life more convenient.


 

Essay on Technology 5 (600 words)

Technology is basically the application of information to build equipment and devices that can be put to different use. Technology has gradually become a part of our everyday life. The things we use everyday including the gas stove, refrigerator, bike, laptop, phone, air conditioner, car, lamps and internet connection have all been sourced by technology.

While technology has made life convenient for us, the negative repercussions it has cannot be overlooked. Here is how technology has impacted our lives and also how to strike a balance to overcome this impact.

Addiction towards Technology

The use of technology for improving one’s way of living is fine. However, addiction with technological devices can prove to be disastrous. Unfortunately, we have come a way too far when it comes to using the technology. Almost everyone today is glued to the technology these days. One of the apt examples of this can be the cell phones. Whether you are in a café, office or at home – everyone around just seems busy fiddling with his/her smartphone.

Similar is the addiction to air conditioners. During summers, it is almost impossible to sit without air conditioners. Summers used to be as hot a few years ago too but people did without this air cooling device but now it has become an addiction. Another example of technological addiction is the use of vehicles. We have almost forgotten how it is like to walk.

Similarly, we have grown addicted to most of the technological devices.

Negative Repercussions of Technology

This addiction towards technology is destroying us physically as well as mentally. Here is how:

  • Engrossed in technology, children these days develop social isolation that results in lack of social skills. Extreme use of technology and a socially isolated life can even lead to depression.
  • Abundant sources of entertainment are available at home and thus people do not feel the need to go out. Most kids these days stay indoors rather than indulging in outdoor activities. This leads to health problems such as obesity, poor sleeping habits and stress.
  • The use of technology has led to a drastic increase in pollution which in turn is responsible for various health problems.

Striking a Balance between Technology and Nature

Most people are unable to strike a balance between technology and nature. There are certain people who are too addicted to technology and their high standard of living that they have almost forgotten how it is like to live the natural way. On the other hand, there are those who are still stuck with the old ways of living and are hesitant to use technology to improve their standard of living.

The idea is to strike a balance between them. You must not go overboard with any of the two modes of living. It is understandable that you cannot stop working on your laptop or avoid using your mobile due to the nature of your job. However, you can certainly put it aside when you are with your family and friends. Talk to the people sitting next to you rather than constantly chasing the ones far away. Similarly, it is a good idea to try hands at gardening on the weekend rather than spending time watching movies.

Instead of using elevator or escalators it is suggested to take the stairs. Also for travelling small distances, it is better to go walking rather than using your vehicle. This way you will not only indulge in physical activity but will also do your bit to control the vehicular pollution.

Conclusion

Technology seems addictive due to the convenience and easy sources of comfort and entertainment it offers. However, being one with the nature is no less ecstatic. Try striking a balance between the two and you will see how your life changes for good.

by John Shutske, Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor, UW-Extension

The Extension Reconsidered blog features posts from guest contributors who care about Cooperative Extension, the land-grant mission, community arts and humanities, civic engagement, and other issues related to the Extension Reconsidered initiative.

Earlier this summer, I had an opportunity to share some thoughts at the annual meetings of two different professional groups on a future vision for Extension with a focus on the role of technology and how it will likely impact the future work of all in Cooperative Extension.  I felt empowered doing this having written a similar piece in 1997 as part of a technology “visioning” group with Minnesota Extension, knowing that at least a few of my predictions at that time eventually came to fruition a decade or more later.

I have divided this essay into three parts. First, I will briefly talk about a new employee in Extension, “Natalie” who will join us in 10 years with a new and different set of skills, expectations, and experiences, particularly in comparison to when I entered Extension 29 years ago as a “baby boomer” including those connected to technology. Second will be a discussion of several enabling and sometimes disruptive technologies that will re-cast much of the work done in Extension in the year 2024.  And finally, I share my thoughts on how we move toward a future focused on this 2024 vision, starting today!

Part I – Natalie, our Millennial Generation Extension colleague in 2024

Imagine the world of “Natalie,” who is now a 20-year old, entering her third year as an undergraduate biology student at a U.S. land-grant university. Now let’s put ourselves in August of 2024, ten years from today. We will hire Natalie to work with us as an Extension Educator in 2024.  Natalie will start with us in UW-Extension after having already had a couple of interesting “careers” working on issues connected to biology and the environment.

Natalie will turn 30 in 2024, and like many in the millennial generation, will have several meaningful careers and multiple jobs during her working years.  She will enter a position in Extension having grown up as a “digital native,” with her use of technology having been fully integrated into her life from an early age.  Natalie will have expectations of an Extension role that’s fast-moving and flexible to allow professionals to create, grow, and explore new ideas and relationships while blurring the lines between job, home, family, friends, travel, and fun.  As an Extension employee, Natalie will want a reasonably well-paying positon, but it must be meaningful and rewarding with opportunities to work collaboratively as a team member or leader.  It is likely that many like Natalie will be confident – and they will not be afraid to challenge the status quo of their work world if it is simply based on tradition and history. Many sources are available on the unique characteristics of the millennial generation including Generations at Work by Zemke, Raines, and Filipczak.

As you will see later in my final thoughts in this essay, Natalie’s position will be partially-funded through a carefully-crafted public-private partnership that provides the necessary dollars to support her work while Natalie works within her educator role maintaining a high degree of objectivity and integrity.

Oneida County’s first agent, E.L. Luther with a new technology of the time. Photo courtesy of UW-Extension, Cooperative Extension.

Natalie’s world in 2024 will be greatly influenced by technology.  One hundred years ago, Wisconsin’s first Extension Agent, E.L. Luther used the technology of a state-of-the-art motorcycle to rapidly travel the dirt roads of rural Oneida County to explore and build relationships.  Similarly, Natalie’s use of digital technology will strongly support her efforts to develop, nurture, and maximize the value of important relationships with individuals within communities, families, and businesses – the hallmark of Extension.

Part II – Technologies that will Shape the Work of Extension in 2024

Here are six technologies that will continue to develop, evolve, and truly change the game between 2014 and the start of Natalie’s work with us in Extension in ten years.  Some might call these technologies “disruptors.” Some of them are, but I prefer to think of them as technologies which will enable and empower our Extension colleagues in the future and make their work more impactful and rewarding for all involved!

Mobile.  As we are now just beginning to see, mobile technology (smart phones, tablets, wearable communication devices, etc.) will dominate much of our communication and information world in 2024.  Think of how a modern smart phone in 2014 has more computing power than the very most sophisticated computers used in the Apollo space program at the time we landed people on the moon 45 years ago (by several orders of magnitude).  Now, we can access nearly all information ever created and recorded in the last several hundred years with a couple clicks on a screen.  What will tomorrow’s mobile tech look like?

Mobile devices likely will have the potential to be even smaller with greater and greater power.  But, further miniaturization will be constrained by human vision limitations and the need for a readable screen.  Further advances in battery power will allow devices to last for days or weeks rather than hours.  Surfaces in your vehicle, office, or home will also be set up to charge your device.  You won’t have to plug it in – you’ll just need to set it down in the right spot.

Because of increased power and battery capacity, a small smart phone will also serve as a projector.  Not only will it project presentations, but any smooth vertical surface will be able to be transformed into an HD monitor.  If we’re really ambitious in our thinking, we won’t need a surface but rather an open space into which we will project a fully three-dimensional holographic image.  Likewise, your smart device’s projection capabilities will be able to transform any horizontal surface into a virtual keyboard and touch pad for data entry.  And, by 2024, voice recognition and control will be almost perfected.  Your smart phone will also have a fully visual interface such as today’s prototype wearable “Google Glass” system. But for daily work, wearables will likely only be used as input, visualization, or data collection devices.  The brain of Natalie’s mobile future will still be her smart phone.

Internet-Enabled “Face-to-Face” Communication. We’re all aware that interpersonal relationships have always been a key to Extension’s historical and current success.  But, travel associated with always doing face-to-face is expensive (including the time and opportunity costs). Heavy travel schedules also may not be nearly as accepted by our 2024 workforce as has been the case for the past many decades. Imbalances in time spent traveling will be a significant factor associated with job satisfaction and retention.

New developments will further enable highly effective “distance” communication and education in which little will be lost in terms of our communication.  New systems like Cisco’s Tele-Presence system will be increasingly pervasive within educational settings and eventually highly affordable.  In many cases currently, Extension staff are now beginning to save thousands each year in travel costs and time using inexpensive, off-the-shelf hardware and software.  Many communication platforms are now free or available at minimal cost (like Google Hangouts and Skype).  Technology in 2024 will provide amazingly crisp visuals and low latency (lag), high quality voice and sound.  In addition, interacting with others through the use of three-dimensional holograms will begin to be commonplace.

In addition to sitting and interacting with a constituent or colleague on a monitor, screen, or hologram, Natalie will see significant advancement in the use of wearable virtual reality (VR) displays (sound and video).  In recent months, a VR system called “Oculus Rift” has been released along with a software developer’s kit that encourage individual inventors and entrepreneurs to develop highly customized applications of this amazing technology.  In addition to using it for one-on-one “distance” interaction with other people, virtual reality will be used by Natalie to do educational demonstrations, and offer people other types of highly complex three-dimensional immersion experiences.

Driverless Vehicles (and the Collaborative Economy).This enabling technology is a two-for-one.  By 2024, Natalie will not need to own a car.  And, she will not necessarily even know how to drive (she may not want to!).  Driverless vehicles on the highway will become commonplace.  We see companies like Google and even the big U.S. auto manufacturers investing heavily in the technologies that will support fully autonomous vehicles. The movement toward driverless automobiles has been slow and evolutionary starting with devices like cruise control, forward and side-looking sensors and sophisticated driver-information systems for the operator.

Google’s driverless car on a test course. Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/5499949739/.

Development in these vehicles will accelerate in the coming years as we see further advancement in sensors, data transmission speeds, and computing power (as well as public and private investment). The limiting factor of driverless vehicle adoption may not be the technology, but instead the consistency of smart public policy.  Since Natalie’s schedule will be stored on her smart phone and linked to the “cloud,” she will have the option of a vehicle showing up at her doorstep at the time she needs to leave to occasionally travel out in the state for an Extension event, for fun, or for a combination of the two.

But, Natalie will not need to own the car, because she will subscribe to a service where vehicles are part of a shared resource.  Costs will be much more in line with the true value associated with transportation, because technology will enable a greater degree of vehicle usage efficiency.  Most people’s cars now are actually “in use” for less than 10% of any given day, and future services will increase utilization efficiency by a significant percentage.  In addition, Natalie will have the option to stay overnight in less costly shared space, perhaps enabled through a collaborative-economy based service like AirBNB. When Natalie does travel, because she’s in a comfortable space being driven to her location, she will be able to spend that time learning, working, communicating, or even having fun.

Besides benefiting from a driverless, autonomous vehicle, depending on Natalie’s Extension program interests, she might need to know a little something about the use of automated, autonomous systems such as aerial “drones,” robots, and driverless industrial equipment (tractors, construction machines, etc).  If Natalie is an Agricultural Extension Educator, she may have a small collection of ‘drones’ located in key locations in her territory that she can remotely send out each morning to shoot video providing just-in-time information on crop conditions, pest control issues, and seasonal progress.  Or, she might have a dashboard on her smart phone that aggregates all milk production data coming off of robotic milking machines from the few dozen dairy farms in her region. Technology will allow her to remotely monitor how the current hot, dry weather is impacting local production and she can then make recommendations to farmers and others in the supply chain.

The Internet of Things (or Internet of Everything). Within ten years, we will see amazing use and ubiquity of sensors embedded in every machine, appliance, and component, not to mention inside people, animals, and environmental “systems.”  As Wall Street technical guru and futurist Esther Dyson has said, “Soon we will salt the oceans, the land and the sky with uncounted numbers of sensors invisible to the eye but visible to one another.”  These sensors will be networked, and the data that they generate will be accessible via the Internet.

In terms of Natalie’s future work as an Extension worker with interests and education in biology, imagine if we had sensors embedded in every dairy cow or beef animal in the country; every 100th ash or oak tree in the Midwest; every musky or loon in or on the nearby lake; every warm-blooded pet; or, every person?

The data generated in our new world will likely change the nature of traditional research.  The possibilities to learn about and understand our world will be endless.  But, it also has the potential to be wildly overwhelming!  And, it obviously raises all kinds of questions about data privacy, access, appropriate use, security, and other potential downsides.

Big Data.TheInternet of Everything will further accelerate the pace of technology and information change. It will continue to generate unimaginable mountains of data.  Information in the book “The Human Face of Big Data” is both inspiring and daunting:

  • Today, a street vendor in Mumbai can access more information, statistics, academic papers, price trends, and futures markets than a U.S. president could only a few decades ago…
  • In 15 minutes, 20 petabytes new data generated by the human race…3X the amount in the Library of Congress. (20,000 Terabytes or 2 X107 Gigabytes)
  • From the dawn of civilization until 2003, humankind generated 5 exabytes of data (1018 bytes) – Now, we produce 5 exabytes EVERY TWO DAYS and the pace is accelerating.

For Extension, the Internet of Everything and Big Data will be a game-changer.  I will be bold and say that applied agricultural, biological, and environmental research “projects” using old-style approaches and methods will be largely a thing of the past within a little more than a decade.  If you are Natalie or one of her professors (perhaps an Extension Specialist?) in 2014, and want to work on an animal science project involving nutrition or reproduction of sheep, or dairy cows, or pigs, what do we do now? A professor gets a $500,000 USDA grant. She works with the staff at the university research farm. The faculty member buys 60 animals or whatever the project budget will allow, and divides them into groups. She would then conduct the experiment, and harvest the results.  It’s an expensive model and one that may not be able to be accommodated and sustained by publicly-funded resources in the future.

Based on the ubiquity of sensors and networked data, I believe we will see a greater focus on-farm or “in-the-plant” research that involves partnerships with people and business entities in the private sector. The opportunities to access data connected to independent and dependent variables as well as information about all surrounding conditions and environmental and statistical confounders will be limitless. This will open up countless citizen science and youth engagement opportunities as we now see with things like water quality, wildlife, and weather monitoring by interested and eager public citizens.  We will see this shift in areas outside of agriculture and environmental sciences as well.

These trends will also raise important data and research quality issues.  The role of Natalie in 2024 will shift away from “doing” lots of research toward data analysis and interpretation and synthesis of new knowledge and models for understanding the world around us.  Or, Natalie may play a crucial role working with her constituents on issues of science literacy and appreciation using the exciting science that surrounds us.

People with strong skills will be paid a premium if they know how to effectively use data to formulate, inform, and communicate recommendations that lead to sound decisions.  People in Extension who figure this out quickly will have very bright career opportunities.  Those who do not will need to work in other sectors.  Technical skills will certainly be important.  But communication skills and an ability to interact with people will also be crucial!

Social Media.  For private companies, social media and the effective adoption of early platforms like Twitter and Facebook has already become a game changer.  Unfortunately, some in Extension have viewed the social media revolution only as a passing fad.

Some do not see the value in a 140-character “tweet” and having followers whether on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.  What they may fail to recognize is that social media, if done in smart ways, will allow Natalie to connect in a direct, concise, and immediate way to a few hundred or thousands of the most influential thought leaders in her field, whether they are other scientists, educators, industry, leaders, consultants, or elected officials!

The value of a tool like Twitter is not the 140 characters themselves – a Tweet or Facebook post, when properly used, can be a precise and highly-trusted pointer to a tiny, but critical information needle in an overwhelming global data haystack.  And, if you are connecting that needle to even 100 of most influential people in your programmatic world, the impact can grow exponentially and have massive impact. If you’re skeptical, consider the impact that these tools have had on major global events and civil revolutions in many parts of the world in the last five years.

I believe that we are only in the early stages of social media development and application.  Tools like Twitter and Facebook will continue to evolve. We will see new applications and platforms that are hard to imagine. There will be Twitter-like platforms that will have behind-the-scenes analysis algorithms that quickly identify and communicate trends and help sift good from bad data and information.  Not all of the “tweets” and other information being analyzed will be manually entered by people.  Imagine every crop field “tweeting” about current soil moisture conditions, ambient sunlight levels, temperature, and relative humidity.  Imagine getting a text message every time that musky that you caught last summer gets re-caught by other catch-and-release fisherman on the nearby lake (from the fish)!

For individual educators like Natalie, social media tools such as trust-ratings, “likes,” followers, favorites, retweets, and recommendations will be a part of her academic professional portfolio much the same way that peer-reviewed journal articles are used as a measure of credibility in today’s world.  This will affect her science-based reputation and her work as an educator.  Accountability measures for Extension education specialists and researchers will be much more public.  We have already seen this sort of application for university classroom teachers where social media tools like “Rate My Professors” are used to rate faculty on the quality of their instruction and communication.  These tools now have the potential to influence individual course enrollment numbers and tuition revenue for academic departments and colleges.

Part III – Where Do We go From Here?

Let’s step back to 2014.  Natalie’s got some time to learn and finish her degree this school year and next.  In Extension, we have some time too, but the clock is ticking rapidly!  Outlined in the last section were a few of the dozens of tech-based enablers and disruptors that will continue to evolve and change our world in the coming decade.  Those described in Part II are simply the ones I’ve thought the most about and can personally foresee rapidly coming onto the scene and having a big impact on Extension’s work.  Some already are.  Or, perhaps should be.

As a final thought, as I presented this summer, lots of people agreed with the majority of my comments and analysis.  A few did not.  But, the common question was, “Yeah?  What can we do now?  If we don’t go there proactively, we’re going to be left in the dust.”  Here are a few concluding ideas.

First, universities and Extension cannot do ‘this’ alone.  But, nether can the private sector. If we try and go it alone, we will likely fall short, largely because of the continued shrinkage of public sector dollars that feed our education and research systems in the U.S. We need the private sector – but they need us too, both in terms of resources as well as technical knowledge, talent, and expertise. So, new partnership models are needed including those which can enable us to share resources, positions, and funding streams in ways that are consistent and fully aligned with Extension’s values.  This, of course, makes Extension professionals and leaders tremendously nervous. Rightly so.

Our brand has always been built on being objective and unbiased.  But, the growth, adoption, and cost of these technologies and being able to pay people like Natalie a competitive salary will leave us no choice.  As we’ve seen these last 30 years, there has been little or no growth in public-sector funding for research or for Extension educational work. When you factor together state plus federal funding, the growth has been very much in the negative direction nearly everywhere in the U.S.

Other funds will be needed to maintain the infrastructure within universities (such as classrooms, labs, and outdoor science facilities). Higher education leaders will need to be smart about the level of physical infrastructure actually needed in this new world. We MUST find ways to partner while also being hyper-vigilant about protecting our unique position and brand.  We also must think carefully about how the technologies cited in this essay can BOTH enhance and improve our impact while also helping to control or cut the costs of doing the work!

For the Natalie’s of our world and for future student who want to consider working in Extension, the marketplace for Extension professionals will be exciting. It will also be global.  We already see this with high quality candidates applying for and accepting both campus and locally-based Extension positions having come to us from other nations around the world.  In addition, the market for our knowledge and our ability to formulate sound decisions from an ocean of raw data will be global.  No longer will state or county boundaries confine the reach of Extension within a particular geographic domain. The move toward globalization needs much further discussion by Extension leaders nationwide!

Finally, despite all of the techy stuff described in this essay including mobile technology, automation, and commoditized data access, it is clear that we must continue to focus much of our basic education to include science, math, engineering, and technology skills.  For people like Natalie, the “tech” piece will not be a shocker, nor will it be as problematic for future generations as it has been for us Baby Boomers.  But, people like Natalie will find that but being able to effectively work, socialize, and communicate in the zone of knowledge, wisdom, and decisions will be very tough work.

But it will be exciting and highly rewarding.  Just like the work of today’s Extension workers is today in 2014, or can be!  The school year starts very soon for most of us.  Natalie is ready to roll up her sleeves and dig back in to prepare herself for the future.  Are we?

Opinions presented on the Extension Reconsidered blog belong to the authors. Contact Jen Jensen (jkj37[at]cornell.edu) to contribute, or comment here to share your thoughts. The author also encourages comments to shutske[at]wisc.edu. Follow @extrecon on Twitter for blog updates or read more about the Extension Reconsidered initiative at our website.


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