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Using the eXtension Ask an Expert Widget

The eXtension Ask an Expert widget is a tool that enables Extension professionals to offer their constituents an easy way to ask questions via their blogs, county Extension websites, and other Extension related websites. The widget enables Extension professionals to manage and answer these questions, outside of their email application. The widget works in conjunction with the eXtension Ask an Expert site.

The widget is available on all of the public state and county extension web sites. It can be added to the sites through the web site administrative interface whenever the county is ready to activate it

Requirements

You must have an eXtension ID to use the widget. If you need one, sign up at https://people.extension.org/signup

The following instructions are specifically for the North Carolina county extension web sites. If you wish to include the widget on an extension web site other than a county web site, see eXtension’s instructions with this news post about an updated widget.

How it works

AAE Widget Screenshot1. County extension employees sign up to answer questions received through their widget.

2. When a member of the public submits a question, it’s routed to one of the individuals who signed up. That person will receive an email prompting them to go to the Ask an Expert site where they may respond to the question or assign it to someone else.

3. When your county’s Ask Widget is activated, everyone in the county must commit to being responsive. Lingering unanswered questions create a poor image of North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

Who answers the questions?

Questions are answered by dedicated Cooperative Extension agents, staff and professionals from around the country who have volunteered to work in the eXtension AaE system.

Here’s what happens to a question:

  1. A question is submitted from an Ask an Expert widget
  2. The question shows up in the Needs an Answer list at https://ask.extension.org/expert/home/ (eXtensionID required)
  3. The question is automatically assigned to an Extension agent based on the source widget or location. If there’s not a widget or location match, the question is assigned to Extension agents who have volunteered to handle and route orphaned questions. An email is sent to the agent when a question is assigned.
  4. If able, the agent answers the question and the response is emailed to the user who submitted the question. Otherwise the question can be assigned to someone else who has registered to answer eXtension FAQ questions.

Instructions for reassigning Ask an Expert questions Illustrated guide

Why use the widget?

  • The Ask an Expert widget provides another way for you to interact with your clientele.
  • The widget provides an opportunity to connect with clientele who were previously unfamiliar with Cooperative Extension. It may be that along with answering their questions, you will see an opportunity to direct their attention to related educational programs or other opportunities to engage with your offices. See: Marketing with the eXtension Ask an Expert Widget for more ideas about using the widget to market Extension.
  • The questions and answers become part of the national eXtension Questions database. Using the widget to answer questions generated locally will help to build a national repository of questions and answers — a valuable resource for all extension employees.
  • Your activities with the widget are tracked. Activity reports are available for individuals, counties, or the entire state.
  • You can use previously written answers, so you don’t have to recreate the answer for commonly asked questions.

Instructions

  • Click on the link to the question in the email notification you receive OR on the title or text of the question on the page
  • Click the “Send an Answer” button.
  • Use the “Search” field to find previously answered questions.
  • Click “Reply” to answer the question.

Written By

Photo of Scott McCollumScott McCollumWeb Services (919) 515-8450 scott_mccollum@ncsu.eduExtension Information Technology - NC State University
Page Last Updated: 2 years ago
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