School board members got their first hands-on experience with eMeetings at a training session Wednesday.
Technology supervisor Suzanne Ingram was there to help, along with all three of her technicians who had volunteered to stay and help.
One by one board members were introduced to their new laptops, and helped to log on and change their passwords.
Technician Wendell McClure explained the security measures that guard the schools' wireless network, telling board members they had to make a non-wireless connection to the network at least once a month to allow the code and programs to update.
"The code is not sent across the wireless network," McClure explained.
He also gave board members a good tip: for maximum disc longevity, shut down a laptop before you close it and carry it around.
"I'm impressed with the technology folks down here," exclaimed Randy Bennett, associate executive director and legal counsel for the Tennessee School Boards Association, who was there to teach board members how to use eMeetings, the program that will allow them to conduct "paperless" meetings. Instead of bringing a fat binder of copies of all the school system's policies, and a stack of supporting documents for agenda items they are expected to consider, board members can read everything on their laptop.
"You know this means you have to attend every board meeting," Kristen Gold jokingly said to Ingram, who was kept busy solving problems and giving hints.
Bennett showed board members the way around the eMeetings screen and demonstrated the useful links to policy, TSBA, and the Tennessee Code Annotated. Board secretary Rhonda Pool had a more extensive training earlier in the day, and she will be putting the agenda and related documents on the site before board meetings. During meetings, Pool can keep track of the votes and record the minutes on her laptop. Gradually a searchable archive of minutes will be built up for Marshall County - another useful feature of the program.
"This really is easy," Ingram said at the end of the session. "It's user friendly."
"This is great," agreed schools director Roy Dukes.
Board members carefully shut down the laptops and carried them away in the bags that were supplied with them. They have until the Oct. 20 meeting to get ready to be citizens of the paperless world.