I’ve been researching my family tree for more than fifteen years so I feel that I’ve gained a lot of experience over that time, however there is always a little voice at the back of your mind questioning everything you do. One of the things I’ve been trying to do over the last couple of years is make sure I have verified all the information on my tree and clearly outline areas that still need work. In addition, starting this blog has made me think more about citing my sources and how to do that correctly. All of these things eventually led me to Future Learn and their Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree free online course.
The course’s aim is to help you “develop an understanding of basic genealogy techniques and how to communicate your family history” and it is suitable for everyone whether you are a complete beginner or have been doing it for a number of years. The course, which was developed by the University of Strathclyde, runs for 6 weeks with an expected study time of 4 hours per week, however you can work at your own pace which is helpful if you work full-time like myself. As well as following the course work, you can take part in discussions and study groups to enhance your learning, however this was the part I found the hardest. With over 6,000 people participating (according to the email stats I was receiving) it was really difficult keeping up with comments on each part of the course as they numbered in their hundreds.
I did the majority of my course at the weekends and I only managed to read a few of the comment pages because there were just too many. Nevertheless, it was interesting reading how other people approach their research and the differences between these who stick to “paper” research and those of us who have gone digital. As part of the course, you get to follow the research done by a woman named Chris and while her documents are all laid out in an impressive fashion in colour coded folders, part of me was screaming “waste of paper”. I cannot imagine ever wanting to print out all the records I have for every person on my tree but it did make me think more about backing everything up. So far, I’ve opted to install Family Tree Maker (FTM) on to my laptop and synch it with my tree on Ancestry as FTM downloads copies of the records as well, I also have a copy of my tree uploaded to FindMyPast (FMP) but I prefer the tree on Ancestry so tend not to use the FMP one.
Once of the best things about Future Learn is the ability to do courses at your own pace and, of course, the fact the courses are free, however there are restrictions. Since I have my eye on several courses, I decided to become an Unlimited learner which means I can do the courses when it suits me rather than having to wait on a specific time. While I’ll probably be sticking with the short courses, there are loads of different categories to choose from, some can be used to improve skills in your current employment or as steps onto higher degree courses, so the world is your oyster!
Now that I’ve completed Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree, I plan to take a few historical courses to explore the type of jobs my ancestors would have done, including the mining and textile industries, and any courses exploring social aspects.
Please note this is not a sponsored post or a paid promotion.