SLIG 2011 was, overall, a great experience. The Irish Family History Research course was well thought out and really informative. I especially appreciated having two main instructors with three speciality instructors ~ it provided varied pacing for the lectures, additional insights and expertise and different "octane" levels. The combination of the high energy, rapid fire delivery of David Rencher together with the moderate energy, thoughtful delivery of David Ouimette was excellent. The guest lectures were very good and it is always nice to hear Thomas Jones speak on any topic!
A few thoughts and suggestions (on both the SLIG in general and Irish Family History Research course in particular) now that I have had some time to process the week:
- Location, Location, Location ~
- The Irish Records Collection at the Family History Library lecture would have been much better over at the FHL ~ it would have provided an excellent introduction to the collection and would have given the attendees a sense of where things were physically located (help us "get our feet wet") during individual research.
- The Irish Records and Resources on the Internet lecture could have been, at least in part, a computer lab held at one of the FHL computer rooms. Learning by doing is quite helpful and attendees would have had an opportunity to click and try various suggested websites.
- The Identifying Irish Locations lecture would also have been much better over at the maps and gazetteers section of B2 at the FHL. It would have been helpful to see various maps (perhaps with one of the librarians explaining their drawer system) and actually locate certain of the townlands, parishes and counties on the larger maps. Visual learning should not be discounted.
- Mix It Up ~ I think it is good to mix things up (in terms of educational format) rather than having static lectures ~ especially first thing in the morning or after the lunch break (something to keep us all awake). I also think that the FHL can be a bit intimidating to the first time visitor or the first time to that section visitor. Besides, what is not to love about field trips!
- Invest in Great Coordinators ~ David Ouimette did a fantastic job of encouraging class interaction and was very patient in answering our questions (he seems to be a natural teacher - really enthusiastic and supportive of students). His lectures never felt rushed and his ease and mastery of the subject matter was quite impressive. Ouimette also imparts such a love of genealogy and thrill for the whole records' process that you can't help but share his excitement. His considered opinions as to where FamilySearch, Ancestry, Footnote, and various Irish online and actual repositories are (or will be) with their capabilities as well as what the future holds for Irish research were quite interesting.
- Timing is Important ~ Instructors need to keep to the time limits set out in the schedule. This was really only a problem with lectures held before lunch on Tuesday through Thursday. Since various genealogy database providers were giving "lunchtime lectures" about their programs, something was missed when arriving late to the lecture.
- What Will We Be Learning? ~ Instructors should take special care with the titles of their lectures. I am sure there are plenty of reasons for being creative with the titles but at SLIG 2010 and again at SLIG 2011, two of the evening sessions I attended where not really what was "advertised" in the blurb. It could be the attendee's misreading or the fact that they had "cute titles," but an instructor needs to be clear what he/she plans to teach so that attendees are not disappointed. Attending an evening class on top of the all day sessions is an additional cost in time and money for the attendee ~ make it worth our while.
- Materials In Advance ~ It would be nice to get the course materials in advance of SLIG. Reading through the materials the night before the lectures does not really give the attendees much time to digest the information. Certainly the bibliographies provided with the course materials would be nice to have beforehand to check some of the materials out at a local library.
- Little Glitches & Let's Go Paperless ~ In an effort to save paper (or perhaps it was just done in error) the course materials were copied two-sided in their entirety (with no page breaks). This made it difficult to separate out the course materials by topic and/or by day. I would happily download or get a DVD of the course materials and forgo paper completely but that is just my personal preference. Barbara Renick often provides her course material in a download format (a great idea but also something we should have been aware of before the lecture in order to take advantage of having the information available to us).
- Too Much Information ~ At the closing banquet UGA gives out certain awards and the various administrative/institute people speak about the current SLIG and future SLIGs. The awards for Thomas Jones and Paula Stuart Warren were interesting and applicable to SLIG. On the other hand, the administrative coordinators need to be aware that most of us are not "active" members of UGA and are unfamiliar with, what appeared to be, some type of internal shakeup or difficulties with this year's SLIG. More than a few people mentioned "the situation" several times and it was disconcerting and awkward for those of us who were clueless. Keep in mind the audience at these functions, the purpose of the banquet (an entertaining after dinner speaker and a "thanks for coming see you next year" upbeat message), and perhaps share your internal comments at a UGA meeting rather than at the Institute.
- Caffeine Please ~ Since SLIG is held at the Radisson and the back table has ice water, would it be that hard to have coffee and tea (or even hot water) available to the attendees. We are there all day Monday through Friday (usually 8:30 am to 3:00 pm). Just a thought from a coffee/tea lover!
SLIG 2011 was excellent and I learned so much about Irish research. I have a lot of work to do before I can cross the pond, but now I feel like I have an excellent road map to help me on my journey. Thanks to all the instructors and a big thank you to the coordinator, David Ouimette. Lucky for me I spent some extra time in Salt Lake City ~ so I proceeded to the FHL for a little bit of research.
|Ah ~ records galore!|
|Almost always open!|