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Being better informed just got easier

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Ain’t technology wonderful? Oh, sure, sometimes it becomes a bit overwhelming and maybe even overhyped. It seems that constant communications and worldwide information at our fingertips has become a must-have ability that we couldn’t possibly do without. 

Clearly, technology advances make us more efficient in the workplace and daily living. But I’d also argue that Twittering and Facebook pages shouldn’t replace direct interpersonal relations, unless of course you believe we’re doomed to fulfill some sort of offshoot prophecy of an Orwellian society. 

And I’m not a subscriber to a theory of machines taking over every aspect of our lives.

Still, there’s ample worry that technology dominates too much of our lives and I admit I’ve got a friendly ear to that argument. Given the choice of playing video games or kick ball, I’d go for kick ball. Although there’s some remote argument you might someday qualify as either a software engineer for more gaming software or a remote pilot for a drone, I’d say there’s a lot more physical and social benefit to be had for cutting down video game time in lieu of more time spent playing kick ball. 

Streaming YouTube videos is entertaining, but you have to search hard to find any with significant intellectual value. Skype and OooVoo video teleconferencing is making it easier for us to save the Earth through elimination of long road trips for conferences. I like that kind of energy and time-saving software, but frankly I use it more to visit with my grandsons than for professional purposes.

But, technology really can be a tremendous asset for us. It keeps us informed and can provide us with learning opportunities we never had. 

That access is being aptly demonstrated with the new availability of valuable information for people who are interested in the Ronan School system. A concerted effort to expand the school district’s information technology system has taken a major step this week with the availability of a section on the school’s web site that is devoted to school board business.

Fire up your computer and visit www.ronank12.edu/board/ and you will see what I mean. In that section of the web site, you’ll find basic information about the board’s organization, but you will also find click-through areas that provide meeting agendas, policies and procedures, and the board meeting packets that represent most of what the trustees receive, excluding information on personal privacy issues that the school is required to protect by law.

I’m excited about this major step because the public now has easy access to information and background material that is discussed at the meeting. Before, providing that background material was both costly and time-consuming to provide. Now, it’s there right in front of you with a click of a button. 

We’re not the first school in the valley to take this step. Other schools have similar web pages, including:

• Polson — www.polson.k12.mt.us/District23/greetings/board.html

• Arlee — www.arleeschools.org/20091099985017/

• Charlo — www.charlo.k12.mt.us

• St. Ignatius — https://sites.google.com/a/stignatiusschools.org/board-policy/

These are useful sites for everyone to better understand the business being conducted at school board meetings. That’s good for the public who may or may not understand the background of issues discussed among trustees. But I hope it also helps motivate people within the school district to come and hear the discussion on topics that personally interest them.

It’s nice that we have reporters who attend these meetings and do their best to keep you informed. But there’s nothing that can adequately replace the experience of participation and hearing for yourself what was discussed.

Indeed, technology is wonderful, especially when it truly helps us to be better informed and maybe even motivates us to be a participant.

So, now we have even less of an excuse to not get or stay involved in our schools.

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