Over the past few months I’ve attended a wide variety of meetings: PTA, School Board, coffee talks and even new committee meetings. All of these were held in the evening and most on weekdays which meant coordinating with my wife. None of the meetings I’ve attended were available remotely meaning I had to be physically present which in some case meant getting out the map and heading off the parts of Scotts Valley I’d never seen which is fine but is just one more reason someone might not attend a meeting. While that’s not a big deal it does raise the bar and with each increment you’re likely to lose someone along the way.
Part of my work involves online training where I train 30-40 people per month attending from around the world. My company uses GotoMeeting and GotoWebinar where attendees can dial in by phone or use VOIP to hear my voice and connect via the Internet to view my computer desktop in real time. I’d particularly like to see PTA and Board meetings broadcast or at least recorded so I can either attend or listen in allowing me to hear for myself exactly what was said and how. Accuracy of the information coming from these meetings is crucial to building trust in parents throughout the District.
Now, I realize GotoMeeting is not free however there are free mechanisms to share meetings that could be utilized. For example, I have an account with cinchcast for easily recording and sharing of audio over the web and while not live at least gives people the opportunity to find out what happened and allows them to “attend” and draw their own conclusions from what was said. There’s also qik.com (among others) that supports near real-time video streamed from a cell phone and while that may not scale to a Board meeting it is an option and I hope it gets people thinking.
To make some progress on this I’m going to contact Shannon Calden, the District’s Technology Director, to determine if the school has any technology that could be leveraged from phones, to Internet access, to remote meeting software.
If you have ideas or feedback please leave a comment or contact me.
[Update: April 30, 2010] I recently learned that the Board meetings are recorded so perhaps posting these recordings online might make sense at least for reference.
One more point to add would be “live” blogging of these meetings where minutes taken during the meeting are done so online and available immediately.