H. Wooten, UF/IFAS Extension, Orange County, Orlando, FL
Situation: The public is increasingly engaged in social media resulting in shifting information gleaning from authoritative sources to social networks. Extension faces challenges reaching new, diverse audiences, while also supporting existing clientele with science-based information. Science-based social media education provides on-demand education that facilitates knowledge gain resulting in adoption of new practices and behavior change. In addition, using YouTube as a teaching tool caters to visual, auditory, and hearing impaired learners, and transcripts can be generated in over fifty languages which accommodates diverse audiences.
Methods: Several “Set it and Forget it Hydroponics” workshops and demonstrations were offered in Central Florida starting in 2017. The demand for the classes exceeded the supply, and experienced students expressed a need to revisit the science-based methods learned at traditional, face-to-face, extension programs in order to adopt the practices season after season. An easily searchable YouTube video entitled “Hydroponic Lettuce Hannah Wooten” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQey35Tt24I) was developed in February 2018 in partnership with Seminole Government Television to provide on-demand learning about hydroponics.
Results: The YouTube video has over 428,000 views with an average view duration of 5 minutes. There has been a 1533% increase in subscribers to the Seminole County Government YouTube page. The video has over 5,800 “likes” and over 350 comments many of which commend the educational quality of the lesson. As a result of the video, individuals locally and internationally contact UF/IFAS Extension for more science-based information about the . Additionally, Extension educators less experienced in the subject of hydroponics rely on the YouTube video to support their own programs, thus extending the reach of expertise.
Conclusion: Extension engagement in social media delivers science-based information to support clienteles’ adoption of practices beyond the classroom, while also positioning Extension as an accessible authority for gleaning factual information in an on-demand society.