NETC Gatherings

What are Gatherings?

On the second Tuesday of each month, the NETC community meets to discuss topics ranging from professional development to personal growth. Discussions are usually led by NETC members volunteering their time and expertise to the community. We are excited to share these online events with both NETC members and affiliates.

NOON Central every second Tuesday.

Important: Once registered at the above link, you’ll be able to attend all 2023–24 Gatherings with the same Zoom link. If you have questions, contact us at

Upcoming Schedule

June 11, 2024 – Searching for Perfection

Presenter(s): Brian Webster & Kristi Elmore, Iowa State University

Efficient website search functionality is critical to user engagement. Join us as we delve into Iowa State University’s journey to optimize their website search, starting with Apache Solr, transitioning to Google Custom Search, and most recently implementing Typesense. This presentation will cover the strengths and weaknesses of each platform, the decision-making process, and the technical challenges and benefits experienced along the way. Learn how Typesense became the chosen solution to enhance search performance and user satisfaction. 

Interested in presenting at a Gathering, or have a topic you’d like to see covered?


May 14, 2024 – No Gathering (NETC Conference)

There will be no Gathering for the month of May as it falls during the week of the conference.

April 9, 2024 – Crafting Your Personal Brand

Presenter(s): Melissa Johnson, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, Social Media Manager

Reimagine your digital presence with tips, tricks, and things to consider while working on Y-O-U. This presentation will give you a roadmap to explore your own persona and offer ideas for how you can craft your own personal brand.

March 12, 2024 – Connect, Innovate, and Grow at the 2024 NETC Conference!

Presenter(s): Ed Zuech, Penn State Extension

Join us for the latest insights, from our nationally-renowned keynote speaker, sessions that will be offered, to the fun activities we have planned for you while in “Happy Valley” State College, PA. We will answer questions on travel and lodging, where to find the best pizza in town, and how to win some cool prizes through our conference gamification efforts. We look forward to sharing!

In addition to a ton of great information, we will be giving away a $50 State College Downtown gift card to one lucky individual at the end of the session.

February 13, 2024 – In Our Own Voice with National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Utah

Presenter(s): Mindy Lathen, NAMI Utah

NAMI Utah will share an hour-long presentation on mental illness. The presentation will include personal stories and allow time for questions regarding the presentation and any other questions participants might have regarding mental illness. 

January 9, 2024 – A Non-Technical Introduction to ChatGPT

Presenter(s): Mark Locklear, IT Project Manager with the Extension Foundation

In this talk, Mark Locklear will give a high-level overview of ChatBots and ChatGPT. He will explain and give examples of “Prompt Engineering” and how you can use it in your day-to-day activities. Other topics included will be ethics, environmental impact & sustainability and bias in AI.


December 12, 2023 – Adobe Software — What’s new?

Presenter(s): John Hartley, Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES)

A look at the new AI (Sensei)-focused features in both existing software (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) and new software releases, plus 3D & AR.  

November 14, 2023 – Developing Inclusive Distance Learning Courses: A Union of Technology and Technique

Presenter(s): Paul Treadwell, Cornell Cooperative Extension

In this presentation, we will explore the crucial convergence of technology and technique in shaping inclusive online learning.

As the prevalence of distance learning has grown, it has brought to light the accessibility challenges that exist. Often, our pursuit of inclusivity concludes once we’ve met compliance with accessibility regulations. To truly cultivate inclusive learning environments, we must equip ourselves with a set of soft skills that enable us to create inviting and equitable online learning spaces.

Throughout the session, we will draw from the lessons gleaned over the past few years to shed light on this journey.

October 10, 2023 – An Overview of the Extension Foundation’s Work on AI and ExtensionBot

Presenter(s): Mark Locklear, IT Project Manager with the Extension Foundation & David Warren, Senior Director, Integrated Digital Strategies at Oklahoma State University 

We will discuss the Extension Foundations’ work over the past two years in the area of Artificial Intelligence. This will include an overview of ExtensionBot, a chatbot trained exclusively on Extension only resources. We will share more information on how your institution can partner with the foundation so your institution’s data can be included in the project.

September 12, 2023 – Making Digital Presentations More Accessible

Presenter(s): Dan Horn, University of Illinois Extension

We all are doing a lot more digital presentations, both in person and virtually.  This presentation will provide some suggestions on ways to make those presentations more accessible to individuals with visual impairments.

August 8, 2023 – Meet the NETC Board for 2023–24

Presenter(s): 2023–24 NETC Board

Want to get to know our board members better? Now is your chance! Each member’s interests and talents will be highlighted, and we’ll cover the history of NETC and what exactly we stand for. Come with your questions and be ready to socialize.

July 25, 2023 – Canva Basics

Presenter(s): LaurenColby Nickels, Mississippi State University Extension

Learn how to create eye-catching graphics with the user-friendly web-based software, Canva! In this session, we’ll explore both the free and pro versions of Canva with its wide range of features that can be used to craft stunning social media posts, flyers, presentations, and much more!

June 13, 2023 – Digital Marketing 101

Presenter(s): Melissa Johnson & Kristena Merritt, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

Confidently create social media and web content that reflects your brand message! Digital Marketing 101 will cover an intro to digital marketing, brand awareness, tips for content creation, and how to measure your success. Then, get practical resources and learn how to connect with the NETC digital marketing community.

May 9, 2023 – Teams in Twenty Minutes – A Crash Course in Collaboration and Getting the Most Out of the NETC Member Team

Presenter(s): NETC Board + Joe Gasper, IT Systems Administrator, UF/IFAS

This month’s Gathering covers new member orientation post-conference and discussion of ways to connect with the community, with the final 20 minutes focused on the NETC Teams environment.

April 11, 2023 – Sneak Peek of NETC in AZ!

Presenter(s): Dominic Rodriguez, Sandra Saad, Jessica Montgomery

Join us to hear about what’s in store for 2023 NETC-AZ!

March 14, 2023 – Working Genius

Presenter(s): Ed Zuech, NETC President, Penn State

Patrick Lencioni is a pioneer of the organizational health movement. He is an accomplished author of 11 books, including The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. His latest discovery, The 6 Types of Working Genius, looks at work differently and provides insights and understanding of the types of work that either give us joy and energy or that are draining and uninspiring.

In this session, we will explore the six types of Working Genius and how this model supports a healthy work environment from both the individual and leadership perspectives. We will discuss how the Working Genius allows individuals and teams to be more productive and fulfilled. Lastly, 10 attendees of this session will be offered the opportunity to take the assessment and share their practical application and experience with the assessment results with the group.

February 14, 2023 – What’s new in the Zoo(m)?

Presenter(s): Lance Ford from Zoom

Zoom is an ever-evolving platform with many exciting new enhancements and opportunities. We all know Zoom from our “pandemic” experiences with video, but did you know that Zoom could be used outside of a meeting? How about the fact that Zoom can help with creativity and brainstorming both in the meeting and beyond? We’ll explore these and several other topics when we get together to find out “What’s new in the Zoo(m)?”

January 10, 2023 – Choose Your Own Adventure! Active Learning Strategies for In-Person and Zoom

Presenter(s): Christine Rybak, University of Wisconsin Division of Extension

Christine will define what adult learners want from their learning experiences and give you a menu of research-based instructional strategies to meet those goals. You choose which of them we take a deeper dive into during the session!

Each strategy is adaptable for face-to-face or virtual sessions. You’ll leave with practical activities and materials to use for your next programming event! 


December 13, 2022 – Help Your Data Do the Talking

Presenter(s): Deanna Schneider & Christine Rybak, University of Wisconsin Division of Extension

Did you know that numbers can tell stories? When we use data to craft clean visualizations, our message becomes more memorable and persuasive! In this session, we will take a closer look at poorly crafted visualizations and learn how they can be improved using 5 simple tips. 

November 8, 2022 – Presenting, You! Research-based Tips for Giving Your Best Presentation

Presenter(s): Kristena Merritt, MA, UXC, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

No more death by PowerPoint! Learn research-based tips and tricks about how to design slides, speak confidently, and make your presentations accessible.

October 11, 2022 – Meet the NETC Board for 2022-23

Presenter(s): NETC Board

Want to get to know our board members better? Now is your chance! Each member’s interests and talents will be highlighted, and we’ll cover the history of NETC and what exactly we stand for. Come with your questions and be ready to socialize.

September 13, 2022 – Empowering Faculty Development Professionals with TOPkit 

Presenter(s): Florence Williams and Tina Calandrino, University of Central Florida

Description: The Teaching Online Preparation Toolkit (TOPkit) is a comprehensive resource for those who are responsible for faculty development, including those who develop relationships with faculty to ensure quality online or hybrid courses. This session introduces the enriching, informative components of the TOPkit.

August 9, 2022 – Captive or Captivating? You Choose! Brain Hacks for Virtual Engagement

Presenter(s): Megan Wecker & Christine Rybak, University of Wisconsin Division of Extension

Description: Engaging our audiences in transformational virtual learning requires a shift in content design. We will be discussing and working with the concepts of primacy/recency, cognitive load, and retrieval practice.

June 14, 2022 – Got questions about the conference? Our planning team has your answers! Learn what to expect at NETC 2022!

Presenter(s): Amy Cole, Karen Watts-DiCicco, and Diana Morian

Description: Join us to learn more about the upcoming NETC Conference in Little Rock, AR.

May 10, 2022 – EdTech Connect: What products are peer institutions using?

Presenter(s): Jeff Dillon (

Description: EdTech Connect is a free tool for higher education to list and rate the solutions it uses.
Jeff will talk about some of the possibilities, opportunities and considerations to consider when selecting solutions for the future.

April 12, 2022 – Understanding DiSC Communication Styles in Meetings

Presenter(s): Karen Lathrop, a marketing specialist in the Advancement Unit (  and/or Alison DePenning, program specialist both at Iowa State Extension & Outreach, (

Description: Poorly run meetings have always been problematic. Knowing the DiSC style of your colleagues, and adapting your approach accordingly, can help make sure that everyone remains engaged, is able to contribute and the meeting is more productive. 

March 8, 2022 – Implementing the New Block Editor in WordPress

Presenter(s): Megan Wecker, Chrissy Dillhunt, Eric Schuck, Jason Lemahieu

Descriptio(n): The WordPress Block Editor introduced new and easier ways to create content. This session provides information about what the block editor is, how it changes the way content is put into WordPress, and how the University of Wisconsin Division of Extension is deploying this new feature.

February 8, 2022 – What’s SWOT got to do with it…?

Presenter:(s) Ed Zuech, Penn State

Description: A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis is a framework used to evaluate a company’s competitive position and to develop strategic planning.

January 11, 2022 – Credit Card Processing at Penn State College of Ag

Presenter(s): Roger Tharp and Darren Clapper, System Administrators with Penn State

Description: This Gathering will provide an overview of the different ways we process credit card transactions with compliance, security, safety & customer experience considered.


December 14, 2021 – The Impacts of Remote Work on Extension Professionals

Presenter(s): Jerry Thomas and Julie Aldridge, The Ohio State University

Description: In the Spring of 2020 Extension went virtual. This study explores what worked and what didn’t. This includes not only technology but also support services, etc.

November 9, 2021 – Grab-n-Go: Making Technology work with a Brown Paper Bag

Presenter(s): Mariah Morgan, Bekah Sparks, Joy Anderson, Lara Angel, Kelsey Helm Martin

Description: The COVID-19 pandemic underscored how technology can connect us to our clientele, but it also showed us that clientele still need practical, hands-on experiences. MSState Extension Agents and Specialists worked together to provide Grab-n-Go kits for clientele. This session will look at the method, tools, and technology resources used to complete this project.

October 12, 2021 – From Chaos to Organized with

Presenter(s): Karen Watts DiCicco, Digital & IT Innovation Manager, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

Description: In the old days, we tracked IT requests and projects using Excel, Word, Box or (Gasp!) email. Join us for an overview of and how it helped us turn chaos into a well-organized project management system!

September 14, 2021 – Reporting Technologies Within Extension

Description: Have you struggled with Extension’s reporting requirements (local, state, federal, tribal, etc.), especially in terms of program impacts and collecting participant information (demographics)? Find out what works and what doesn’t and see some Universities that are doing this well!

August 10, 2021 – Meet the Board!

Want to get to know our board members better? Now is your chance! Each member’s interests and talents will be highlighted, and we’ll cover the history of NETC and what exactly we stand for. Come with your questions and be ready to socialize.

July 13, 2021 – Online Courses: Tips, Tricks, & Discussion

John Hartley, IT specialist with Auburn University, will discuss course development and management, LMS systems, tech support, and more! Learn about the software and best practices for establishing, marketing, and maintaining a thriving online course catalog.

June 8, 2021 – Conference Preview!

Get a sneak peek at the upcoming NETC Virtual Conference and learn about the platform we are using to host the event! Find out about our keynote speakers and learn about the presentations coming up on June 14-16th!

May 11, 2021 – Wi-Fi Enhancements on Native American Tribes During the COVID Outbreak

Presentation by University of Arizona Extension Director of Cyber & Information Technologies, Matt Rahr

April 13, 2021 – Zooming Through the Year… Securely!

Navigate Program Delivery and Collaboration events as safely and securely as possible, presentation by Auburn Extension Service IT Specialist, Rusty Presley. View presentation documentation.

March 9, 2021 – Zooming Through the Year

Exploring the Use of Technology for Extension during the COVID Crisis. A presentation by Cornell Cooperative Extension Distance Learning Advisor, Paul Treadwell

February 9, 2021 – Who’s Your Audience?

Writing Effective Digital Media Content for Extension Clientele. A presentation by University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture Digital Media Manager Amy Cole

January 12, 2021Emotional Intelligence

Presentation by Iowa State University Extension specialist, Alison Boelman


December 8, 2020 – Discussion of Alternative Operations Models, as Dictated by COVID-19

With Auburn University Extension IT Manager Greg Parmer

November 10, 2020 – Teaching Remote Pilots

With University of Florida Extension Agent, Jennifer Bearden

October 13, 2020 – Take Your Zoom from Required to Desired

No description provided.

September 8, 2020 – Connecting with Urban, Hobby and Community Garden Farmers through Facebook Live

With Lisa Hickey, Sustainable Food Systems Extension Agent with the University of Florida

July 14, 2020 – Zoom Security

Presentation by University of Wisconsin Educational Specialist, Tony Roman.

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Previously recorded Gatherings are available for NETC Members within the NETC Microsoft Teams.