Hi, and welcome to my first-ever presentation! Thanks for coming.Today I will be going over some information about Boston University's Genealogical Studies Certificate Program, including some of my own experiences.My experience is particular to the online version of the program. I can only imagine how great the on-site version in Boston is.The website for more information about the program is noted here. I’ve included some of the information from the site in this presentation, but there’s more to read there.I noticed this morning that I didn’t write the date in standard “genealogy” format here or elsewhere in my slides; I’m used to using this format when I work on others’ presentations at work.
This is just some of the “fine print.” Other than some basic facts about the program, everything else is just my opinion, not those of anyone else involved with the program.The program improves every session, so if you participate in the future, anything I mention here might change.One thing that might make the experience very different for you is how much experience you have compared to what I had going in. I’m pretty new, had never written a client report before (though I have done some research for a friend), and though I had familiarized myself with a lot of the concepts beforehand, I hadn’t really put them into practice yet.The last point is just a clarification because those of us who have earned our certificates get the question all the time, “Oh, so are you a certified genealogist now?” The answer is no, because that’s an entirely separate process with BCG, though this program can give you great preparation toward that.
This just shows you who the wonderful instructors are and which modules they teach.
This shows you the various modules that make up the program.
I’m asked most often about how much of a time commitment this program is. It’s significant, to be sure, and could definitely vary from person to person. For me, I spent usually about 20 to 30 hours per week, though it was sometimes a little less, and sometimes a little more.I was working full-time, though at my current job things are more or less busy depending on the season, and I took the course during a slower time on purpose, though I wasn’t sure I was really ready for it yet. I’m glad I did it when I did, though, rather than waiting for this summer because I’m being let go from that job and the demands of finding a new one are quite enough. Also, I did fine for grades, so while it was a lot of work, I was apparently ready enough.
This just gives you an idea of what the program is like in terms of the studying and assignments. The online program is run through something called “Vista,” with software you use in your web browser to navigate through class materials, discussion threads, assignments, etc. There is of course plenty of reading to do, participation in discussion threads (some of which are required as part of earning your grade for a module), and assignments to turn in by their deadlines.
This is really just a list of the highlights I found most memorable, just a snapshot of all the things you learn and do throughout the entire course.I was the FGS conference with my mom during the first week of this program, and I remember well working on my transcription and abstracting assignments in my hotel room long after my mom had gone to bed!Writing client reports is probably the biggest overall takeaway for me, probably since I had never done them, and had no idea how helpful they could be just for my personal research.Timelines, citations, using tables for evaluation, reading case studies, some basics of forensic genealogy, and how to develop research plans were also among my highlights.
This is just those things that I found to be particular challenges, besides of course the challenge of completing the assignments and such. For the most part, this was mostly that I couldn’t plan ahead very far for coursework and assignments, which made it difficult to make personal plans very far in advance or plan days off when it might have been helpful to do so.The iPad thing was mostly that I hoped to get a lot of the online reading done during my lunch hours without having to bring my laptop to work, but the interactive features embedded in the reading were Flash-based, so I ended up having to bring my laptop with me anyway most days.
Those were fairly minor quibbles, though, compared to how great the entire program was.
This just notes for you when the next two sessions are, for both the full program, and for the Essentials course if the full program isn’t for you at this time. There are three sessions each year.
Finally, this just outlines the expenses involved with taking the course. There are now three ways to receive a 10 percent discount (APG membership wasn’t an option when I registered for Fall 2011). Payments plans are available, in particular note the two-month plan for the next session if you register by March 31.I listened in on the webinar APG held I think in January regarding taxes, and was happy to learn that the program may qualify for a tax credit or business tax deduction, though I recommend speaking with your own tax professional about what may work for you. There’s a lot of confusion about what educational tax credit or credits this may work with if you don’t have business income to write it off against.The required books are great for anyone to have in their library anyway, so you may not need to buy all of them if you have any.The use of Microsoft Word (or any program that can save in .doc or .docx format) is not explained very well before you register, and it kind of seemed like it was assumed everyone just owns Microsoft Office. I got by with the basic version that came with my computer for a while, but I quickly learned that it didn’t have all the necessary functionality, so I upgraded and was able to get it for a fairly reasonable price through Amazon.com.
Boston University Online Genealogical Studies Certificate Program
General Information and My ExperiencePresented to the Second Life Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists By Meg Macbeth March 8, 2012 See also http://professional.bu.edu/programs/genealogy/
Other than factual information, this presentation contains my opinion only, and does not reflect the opinions of the instructors, my classmates, or others who have participated. The program is continually being improved upon, largely based on student feedback, so anything noted here may change before you participate in it. Though I grew up with a genealogist mom and helped her with various projects over the years, I jumped into this with only a few months spent learning all I could and doing genealogy myself, so your experience might be very different from mine depending on your experience. Being a “certificate-holder” should not be confused with being “certified” which, in genealogy, is a credential granted only by the Board for Certification of Genealogists. (See www.BCGcertification.org)
Melinde Lutz Byrne, FASG Program Director, Instructor: Forensic Research Dr. Thomas W. Jones, FASG, CG, CGL Instructor: Evidence Evaluation and Documentation Elissa Scalise Powell, CG Instructor: Foundations of Genealogical Research Allison Ryall Instructor: Problem Solving Techniques and Technology
For Fall 2011, the 15-week program was divided into sixmodules that varied in length from one to four weeks.There are now five modules. (I’m not sure if the sixthwas eliminated or absorbed into one or more of theremaining modules.) Foundations of Genealogical Research Problem Solving Techniques and Technology Evidence Evaluation and Documentation Forensic Genealogical Research The Professional Genealogist
For me, coursework typically took between 20 to 30 hours per week. The module on evidence evaluation and documentation was by far the most challenging for time, but they all involved quite a bit of work. I did this while working full-time (nongenealogy job), and while necessary chores got done (like dishes or laundry), most other things around my house just didn’t (I don’t have a spouse/significant other/roommate to help pick up my slack). I didn’t have as much time as usual to spend with friends either, but for a few months they were understanding and it was all very much worth it.
Reading included online materials from the instructors through BU’s software (with interactive learning tools), assigned reading from the required books (more info about those later), and other provided assigned reading, such as case studies. Class participation was through online discussion threads: some required, some not, but all very helpful. Optional online chat sessions were also held. Generally two to three assignments per module. No exams or finals, but what is learned in one module is built upon in the next, and so on. There are minimum grades you must achieve to earn the certificate.
Learned about and practiced transcribing and abstracting Learned the essentials of how to write client reports (a number of assignments were submitted in this format) Utilized timelines to evaluate evidence Spent a lot of time learning the art of crafting citations (and that it is a lifelong pursuit) Learned about and practiced creating tables to evaluate conflicting and indirect evidence Critiqued a case study against BCG standards Learned some basics of forensic genealogy, such as photo identification and searching for living people Learned how to develop research plans
Information about each module, including assignment due dates, wasn’t available until the day each module started, so it was difficult to plan ahead. If I could have planned ahead better for assignment due dates at least, I would have planned strategic vacation days off from work rather than ending up rather tired much of the time. Much of the online coursework utilized Flash, so I wasn’t able to use my iPad on-the-go as much as I had planned.
All my personal struggle aside, I found the whole program extremely valuable, and the comments from my classmates, most of whom had more experience than I did going in, were similar. While I might be able to learn everything covered in other ways (books, webinars, conferences), this course was a great way to get grounded quickly in good genealogy practices and means I might get even more out of all those other methods going forward. The instructors and TAs were excellent, very involved, and extremely responsive to answering questions. I might very well consider taking the course again someday after Ive been able to do client work for a while. Not only will I approach it from a different perspective, but the program will probably have evolved a lot too.
The next two sessions of the Genealogical Studies Certificate Program begin May 8, 2012 (registration deadline April 18, 2012), and September 4, 2012 (registration deadline August 15, 2012) A Genealogical Essentials course also begins May 8, 2012, and September 4, 2012 (registration deadlines same as above)
Tuition: $2,695 If you are a member of NGS, NEHGS, or APG you are eligible for a 10% discount There is a two-month payment plan for the session beginning May 8 if you register by March 31 (there may be a longer payment plan for the fall session, but I haven’t received an email about that) You may be eligible for a tax credit or business tax deduction (consult with a tax professional) Books The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, BCG Evidence Explained, 2nd ed., Elizabeth Shown Mills Professional Genealogy, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills Microsoft Word Requires a version that allows you to edit the headers and footers (the basic version that came with my newest laptop didn’t allow for this functionality, and I ended up upgrading to Office 2010) Assignments need to be in .doc or .docx format