Friday, February 24, 2017

FutureLearn Genealogy MOOC: The Second Half

Well, I have completed the Massive Open Online Course I was taking through the University of Strathclyde via FutureLearn called "Genealogy : Researching Your Family Tree." What an experience! 

I came to learn that there were over 12,000 people enrolled in the course. Yes - 12,000! Three zeros. 

That being said there wasn't much interaction with peers or professors. The information that was disseminated was fabulous but honestly, it wasn't much different than reading a book on the topic. Yes, there were some videos and suggested activities but it wasn't really like taking a college course. I wasn't graded, there were no due dates, etc. I just went at my own pace reading through or watching the materials presented for the week. It really took no more than 2 hours each week. And in all honesty, that is what I wanted.

The first half of the course I wrote about week by week. The second half was really the type of instruction I was really looking to see presented online; it focused on the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS), really reading documents, filling in family tree forms, placing your genealogical finding into historical context, local history resources, and DNA testing as a genealogical tool, just to mention a few of the topics covered.

For my next genealogy learning experience, I have signed up to participate in some webinars through The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) called  "Mastering New York Genealogy." It is being offered exclusively to NEHGS members for $125 and is a series of five presentations that can be viewed online either in real time or after the recording. They are taught by expert genealogists employed by NEHGS. They include: Christopher C. Child, Lindsay Fulton, Henry B. Hoff, David Allen Lambert, and Rhonda R. McClure. Most of whom I have seen speak before at genealogy conferences and presentations.

I will keep you posted on how that experience goes but anyone who is looking to get just a little more insight on how to do genealogy research, I highly recommend taking  "Genealogy : Researching Your Family Tree" by the University of Strathclyde through FutureLearn.

The Lead Educator, Tahitia McCabe was wonderful. I sincerely loved Graham Holton's information DNA. I also loved watching Chris Atkins family research story unfold. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Week 3 of the FutureLearn Genealogy MOOC

This week of the class is exactly what I have been waiting for. We covered the major types of genealogical resources; both civil and religions. A big focus was placed on census records. I've been waiting to see how someone breaks down the overwhelming number of resources available into digestible lessons.

I really enjoyed the discussion of giving proper consideration as to WHY the record was created. You have no idea how many times I've showed a client a census record and they ask me, "Does it say when they died?" Um, not unless the census taker was an assassin or a psychic. One needs to realize why a particular resources is telling you what it is telling you and why it's not going to give you other bits of information you might be looking for.

My absolute favorite part of this week, though, was a video which demonstrated exactly how to use documents to fill in your family tree. After the instructor showed a document and discussed the recorded information, the video transitioned to a blank family tree form and showed exactly how to fill in the facts we just learned through the documentation.

The most important part of that video was the instruction to use pencil. We haven't gotten up to learning about the genealogical proof standard, or GPS, just yet. If you have done any family history research of your own, though, you have learned that not just one piece of documentation alone constitutes a fact. You kind of have to built up a collection of resources and boil them down to the facts.

The final component of this week's lessons focused on evaluating databases. In our very digital age we expect everything to be online in one place. Let me tell you, is not the end-all-be-all of genealogy research. It does indeed provide one access to a large array of resources but there are all sorts of online resources available for this type of research and even more that has not been made digital.

In any case, I wonder what this week has in store...