Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Online Lectures & Webinars

There has been a great deal of discussion lately about genealogy and money ~ how to make a living doing genealogy, whether to and how to monetize genealogy blogs and websites, whether the genealogy community thinks that everything should be free (and what "free" means), whether the genealogy community understands the true costs of providing information in a bricks and mortar setting, online, and through sharing with each other, and how the genealogy community should determine the value to place on genealogy resources.  This was a much-needed discussion and scads of bloggers provided lots of great responses to the daily posts. 

Digital Image by Felixco, Inc. ~ Thanks



Online Lectures & Courses

One of the discussion topics focused on online lectures and webinars ~ their availability, the costs associated with them, and how to value them.  Since this is a Thankful Thursday post, I would just like to say thank you to the individuals and organizations that provide online lectures and webinars for our benefit.  A special thank you to FamilySearch which gathers lectures from a variety of sources and makes them available at its website.  Kudos to the following organizations and individuals for placing their lectures with FamilySearch-Learn and making these lectures available to all of us:
  • Midwest Genealogy Center
  • Library of Congress
  • Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society
  • Tulsa City-County Library
  • Association of Professional Genealogists
  • Board for Certification of Genealogists
  • ICAPGen
  • Several Individuals who provide their lectures through the above organizations, individually or through their employment or in their volunteer capacity at the Family History Library
There is an amazing amount of material out there online.  I have said it before and will say it again ~ these online lectures, courses and webinars are a great resource for genealogists and should be encouraged and appreciated.  If you have not been to the FamilySearch-Learn website lately, check out the lengthy list of research courses ~ there are some great new additions. 

Webinars

Yesterday I attended AncestryTrees with DearMyrtle, a webinar that focused on publishing your family tree online.  As usual, DearMyrtle gave an excellent presentation.  I have attended some of her in-person presentations as well as presentations through Legacy Family Tree webinars and now her own webinar presentations.  She is one of the most comfortable, "go with the flow" presenters I have encountered.  She is extremely personable, stays focused on the major points of her presentation, provides useful PowerPoint presentations, and organizes her presentations to include a lengthy question and answer period. 

In this presentation, DearMyrtle explained why and how she began using online trees, walked the attendees through the process of setting up and using a tree on Ancestry.com, together with her co-presenter she showed attendees how to make a GEDCOM and upload it to Ancestry.com, and answered attendees' questions. There were about 100 attendees at the webinar ~ at least one was from Sweden, a few were from England, and several were housebound (either in wheelchairs or unable to attend an in-person presentation due to medical conditions).  The webinar was interesting, she addressed the pluses and minuses of publishing a tree on Ancestry.com, and I think made the attendees comfortable with the idea of publishing their trees (whether on Ancestry.com or another website).  DearMyrtle recorded the presentation but I am not sure how or when it will be available ~ you might want to check out DearMyrtle's blog.  FYI ~ she has a Facebook webinar/workshop coming up on May 18, 2011.

If you haven't checked out the GeneaWebinars Schedule posted by Geneabloggers, take a look and see if there is something you would like to learn.  I make it a point to check out the schedule, sign up for webinars and put them in my calendar.  While attending the webinar, I take notes and make screenshots in my OneNote program for further reference (and because I like to noodle around a bit with the concepts).  These webinars have been a huge help to me.  I have used them to: 
  • make improvements to my blog (Blogging for Beginners, More Blogging for Beginners, and Building a Research Toolbox)
  • check out online storage and cloud computing (Dropbox for Genealogists)
  • decide whether to use some additional social media (Twitter and Tweet Deck with DearMyrtle)
  • learn more about add-on software (Map & Explore Your Family Tree with Family Atlas)
  • improve my genealogy research skills (What Is A Reasonably Exhaustive Search? and Silent Voices: Tip & Tricks for Tracing Female Ancestors) and, most recently
  • decide whether to publish an online tree (AncestryTrees with DearMyrtle)
Thanks to DearMyrtle, Legacy Family Tree, and all the other individuals and organizations that are "doing" webinars.  It is a great service to engage and educate the genealogy community.  Whether these webinars also showcase paid resources (software programs or subscription websites) or provide a marketing opportunity for presenters (presentation materials for sale after the webinar), I say "more power to you."  I applaud these individuals and organizations ~ they are taking us forward in genealogy and technology.  Bottom line ~ these webinars provide a valuable and oftentimes no-fee service to the genealogy community.  Thanks!

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