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KNOXVILLE — On December 11, the University of Tennessee Extension launches a second online learning portal geared to the professional development of its state-wide workforce.

UT Extension Online Learning (extOL) is a group of Web sites that deliver online professional development offerings and in-demand Extension programming that has traditionally been delivered at county meetings and in-services throughout the state. The launch of the extOL Workforce Learning Web site caps off a series of training events related to e-learning scheduled throughout the week of Dec. 7-11 (officially proclaimed Employee Learning Week in the state of Tennessee by Governor Bredesen through the efforts of the Nashville chapter of the American Society for Training and Development).

Richard Karel, Instructional Technology Specialist for UT Extension Online Learning, said Extension has come up with some innovative ways to deliver the same valuable programming to Tennesseans, and the workforce that makes up UT and TSU Cooperative Extension Service, in order to remain effective in their mission.

“UT Extension has already certified 49 private applicators in the Pesticide Safety Education Program through online delivery via extOL, seeing an average gain of twenty-three percentile points in test scores,” Karel said. “Now, UT Extension is focusing on the optimal performance of our workforce with the soon-to-be launch of our professional development online learning portal—which will be ‘powered by’ the knowledge transfer of Tennessee Extension professionals.”

Tim Cross, dean of UT Extension, says that he is pleased to announce that Extension is nearing the official launch of the extOL Workforce Learning site—a web site that will serve the purpose of sharing knowledge with colleagues around the state. “For Extension, many opportunities exist to expand our abilities to reach our audiences and support our own training needs through online courses and tutorials.”

Karel asserts that, while there are many challenges ahead in the Moodle implementation, “Our LMS Implementation Committee was able to target specific training needs for UT Extension and our clientele, and this will ensure productivity and cost-savings by generating the intellectual capital required for each employee to meet compliance guidelines and achieve excellence in all areas of their employment.”

The first extOL Web site went online in October of this year. The extOL Certifications site was a campus-wide effort, requiring many departments to collaborate within Extension and without. “I’m very impressed with the way this came together—from the Treasurer’s Office to the Office of Information Technology—to achieve the launch of the fee-based certifications site,” said Karel. “LMS companies have resorted to telling about the dangers of finding the right partner for implementation in their own advertising, so to have ours go so well is quite a testament to UT, Extension and our service providers.”

For more information on extOL, visit http://extol.tennessee.edu.