Questions are being posed to school board members and superintendents at each of KSBA’s Fall Regional Meetings, but the participants won’t have to wait long to learn if their peers agree with their opinions.
KSBA is using instant polling technology for the first time during this fall’s meetings to help shape some of the decisions the association will make. The system uses hand-held electronic "clickers" to log participants’ responses in real time.
"I thought it was wonderful," Greenup County school board Chairwoman Kelly Adkins said. "I think it’s great that we’ve stepped up to similar technology that we’re using in our classrooms to get feedback, and I just really appreciated as a school board member that KSBA was very interested in … finding out what we want, what kind of issues we’d like to address."
The issues being polled range from what the KSBA Board of Directors’ priorities should be to the format of future regional meetings to the association’s legislative priorities.
"I think the interactive polling’s good because you get to see the results right then," Robertson County Superintendent Sanford Holbrook said. "It gives you an idea of how each region feels and gives you an idea of what we want you all to advocate on our side in Frankfort, especially with legislation coming up in 2016. And it lets your board members see what other board members around them from surrounding counties think, so I think this quick polling is a great thing for these meetings."
Morgan County school board Chairman Marshall Jenkins, who is a member of KSBA’s Board of Directors, and Morgan County school board Vice Chairwoman Mary Alice Oldfield use handheld electronic clickers to vote on questions at the KSBA’s Fall Regional Meeting in Morehead Sept. 8.
KSBA Board Team Development Director Kerri Schelling noted the use of instant polling is a change of pace from previous formats, but this year was a perfect opportunity to incorporate the technology into the meetings.
"I think instant polling is one of the most successful engagement strategies we have ever used anywhere," Schelling said. "These meetings are always very content heavy. We have a lot of information to share and a limited amount of time in which to do it so the presentations often end up being one way.
"What we’ve done this year breaks that up in a very meaningful way," she added. "We still delivered a tremendous amount of content but it felt different because the audience wasn’t just listening, they were actively engaged."
At the end of the 12 Regional Meetings, KSBA will compile the data to determine what its members want the association and board to focus on.
"The board of directors recently came up with their top five priorities for the association over the next year – they’re all good," Schelling said. "But since we can’t do everything at once, the instant polling gives members the opportunity to help us prioritize. I expect that by the time we’re finished with these meetings, we’ll have a very clear direction what our members want us to do first, and it’s exciting to know that our efforts will match up with their expectations.
"I think everyone is just going to be a lot more satisfied with the results," Schelling added. "It’s easy for people to sit in their offices and decide what they think their members want. But to go out and ask them specifically, there’s no substitute for doing it that way."
Early on, Schelling said there have been some surprises with the polling but she expected each region would have some differences in its results.
"We know that our membership is diverse, so we expect that each region is going to have their own flavor in the polling, but that’s going to help us, too," she said. "Because even though many of the things we’re doing are going to be association-wide, it’s also important to understand how to tailor our efforts to meet regional needs."
Using the technology to get feedback early in the process should be a big benefit for KSBA going forward.
"The fact that we can be proactive in these areas and get their input before we commit time and resources to end up with a final product, is a luxury we don’t always have so we were happy to take advantage of the opportunity when it presented itself," Schelling said.