Sunday, January 26, 2014

SLCC Genealogy Course: Post #17 - Gen 1010: Introduction to Genealogy

Where did my winter break from college go? I can't believe that the new semester has begun at Salt Lake Community College.  I am on my second class in their Genealogy Course. This semester I am taking Gen 1010: Introduction to Genealogy. Kelly Summers is my instructor.

Here is a list of the required materials for the course.

1. The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy [3rd Edition, 2000] by Val  D. Greenwood
2. The Complete Beginner's Guide to Genealogy, the Internet & Your Genealogy Computer Program [2011] by Karen Clifford
3. RootsMagic genealogy software.  If you have a Mac computer you need a windows emulator to run RootsMagic.

I had to purchase the new edition of Karen Clifford's book because mine was out-dated. Other than that I was good to go.

The syllabus states a few things will be required.

1. Join a Genealogical Society
2. Attend a Genealogy Conference
3. Attend a Genealogy Webinar

I already participate in all of the above, so that's a plus.

This week's assignment was had 5 different parts.

1. Pre Course Survey - this assignment helped the teacher learn about us. There were only 4 questions. This was my answer on the question "What do you hope to learn from this course?

"I want to have a good understanding of how professionals organize and process the genealogy problems they try to resolve. I want to learn how to write thorough research reports so people can follow in my footsteps and further the work I started."
2. Introduce ourselves to our fellow students.  Here is what I posted on our discussion page.
"Hi, my name is Renee Zamora and I also took Gen 1000 last semester. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot. I took my first genealogy class when I was 15 years old and have been hooked every since. I've attended tons of genealogy conferences and classes over the years, but having a fully structured class with assignments, was extremely helpful in showing me how things fit. I am really looking forward to this new semester. What I want to learn the most is how to do a research report. 
The area I am researching is upstate New York in the Warren and Washington Co. area.  This is where my family has lived since the 1700's so it's the only place I research. I am rather nervous about getting records because New York is a big black hole at times and not much is online.
I write a blog called "Renee's Genealogy Blog" and will be writing about my experience attending this course. I also work for RootsMagic as the Magician's Assistant answering support questions and beta testing new features. I am a Family History Consultant and serve at the American Fork FHC. I am also the secretary for the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group (UVTAGG).
I am married and have 3 adult children and live in American Fork, UT. I am one of the official RootsTech Bloggers so stop by the media hub and say hello to me."
3. We reviewed the Research Cycle and had some reading and videos to watch. The videos were refreshers on RootsMagic. One of the reading assignments was "The Research Cycle" by Karen Clifford. 

4. Next was a genealogy computer program review assignment. Basically we had to submit a PDF of a Family Group Sheet from the previous course. So that was easy for me.  Kelly's comment back was "Perfect!" so Kelly's requirements for what is needed are exactly what Janet Hovorka required from us last term. That's always a positive.

5. The final assignment was to participate in a Genealogy Computer Program Review Discussion. We had to tell our experience learning about and using RootsMagic in the previous course. Did we use another program outside of class? What are their strengths or differences. Is there additional functionality we would like to see in RootsMagic? Have we learned about a feature in RootsMagic that we have not used in class so far? My reply was pretty long, but I felt I needed to disclose more of my background.
"I started working on my genealogy when you used typewriters. I very enthusiastically embraced computers when they became available to me. I started with PAF and then graduated to Legacy Family Tree.  I was very happy with Legacy until I was challenged to take a look at RootsMagic in 2007. I quickly jumped ship and became an avid RootsMagic user. The screen layouts were designed just the way my mind thinks. I fell in love with the spreadsheet feel to the Edit Person screen with everything in chronological order. I found the program very intuitive and never struggled using the program. 
In fact I loved RootsMagic so much in 2009 I started working for Bruce Buzbee, the owner of RootsMagic, as a part-time employee. I am the Magician's Assistant, providing support on the forums, answering tickets, and tracking bugs and enhancement requests. My most enjoyable part of my job is beta testing the new features before they are released.  
Can I honestly say I learned anything new about RootsMagic during the previous course? No, not really. I can say that I did learn to discipline myself to be consistent in transcribing my sources and making comments about the sources from being in the class. I also developed the habit of marking the source quality.  You can know all you want about a computer program but if the person behind the wheel isn't using sound genealogical practices then it benefits them nothing.  
What new features would I personally love to see in RootsMagic? I would love a more developed Research Manager, where the To Do List, Correspondence List and Research Log play in better harmony with each other. I would like it to have it's own View, like the Timeline views so I can open two copies of the same database and compare data to Research items. I also want to see a feature where I can collaborate with others in the cloud on the same database. Do I know if they are coming down the road and when it will be released? Honestly, no. I never know when something new is coming until I'm given the job to beta test it. I'd also lose my job if I told you what was being beta tested. 
Have I learned about a new feature we haven't covered in class. Yes, lots but the webinars and shorter videos do a good job covering most of it. I have personally been working on my own Family Tree Management System using RootsMagic that helps me keep things organized. It's a system where I can keep track of the status of anyone in my database and what I have done with them on FamilySearch Family Tee. I can print out a report of everyone that I have a temple card for. I can create a group of people that I shared the ordinances with the temple and then know exactly when they are all done. This is accomplished by adding a custom fact, developing a code system to use on the fact, creating groups by filtering on the codes, creating a custom report and filtering by the groups I created. I can also use the FamilySearch Person Tools to use a group as a second filter to narrow down what I am working on. Some day when life isn't so crazy, I will create a YouTube video for my blog to show people how my system works.  
For one of our assignments last semester I compared Ancestral Quest and Legacy to see if they could give me this same type of management system and level of organization, and I found them unable to do what I can accomplish with RootsMagic. So I won't be changing programs any time soon."
On a side note I just have to tell you what I just discovered. I had been sending little test emails to my SLCC student email address. I wanted to find out where they went, because I wanted to sign up for Amazon Prime for Students. First, I needed a .edu email address. I wasn't going to give out my SLCC .edu address if I couldn't access it. When I first set up my profile on the SLCC website I thought I linked my Gmail and SLCC email together. As I sent these test emails to myself, I would never see it forwarded back to my Gmail account. 

When this new semester began I decided to look around to see if there was a way to locate my test emails. Oh boy! was I ever an idiot. I had bookmarked the link accessing the course syllabus directly, doing my assignments from there. I never visited again the SLCC landing page for my profile. There were all my "LOST" emails. Yup, a whole semester worth. With a little experimenting, I discovered I could sign in directly to my SLCC emails on Gmail. Duh! Why I never tried to do that earlier I'll never know. 

I spend an evening going through all my emails. Janet Hovorka gave me some really good feedback on my assignments. I had seen some of them previously next to my assignment grading, but obviously missed some. I also missed all the discussion comments that were emailed to me. I had previously just visited the discussion page to read them. I could have had life so much easier, if I only investigated why I wasn't getting emails earlier.  

So if any of my fellow students last semester, made a reply to one of my discussion posts or asked me a question, I'm sorry I never responded. Now that I've admitted my mistake I will go sit in the corner for a while.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

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