Thursday, November 3, 2016

New Practicum in Genealogy Research Course

This post is part of my ongoing series by guest authors reviewing genealogical courses. In this article Denise Cross shares her perspective on the new Practicum in Genealogical Research taught by Melinde Lutz Byrne through Excelsior College.

"What I Did on My Summer Vacation, or, My Adventures in Genealogical Education"
By guest author Denise Cross

My first taste of formal education in genealogy was the Boston University online certificate program. It opened a whole world of possibilities I did not know existed. I took every opportunity to learn more and hone my skills. I work full time, so I can do anything that is online and at the right time of day. Webinars, the ProGen Study Group, and local society meetings filled my calendar since finishing the BU course. Summer freed me up from my academic year demands and I added travel to the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) and Western Institute of Genealogy courses. The best thing I added to my intense summer of genealogical learning was the Excelsior College online Practicum in Genealogical Research.
The Practicum is one of two new genealogy offerings from Excelsior College. The inaugural semester ran May-August. Melinde Lutz Byrne developed the course for experienced genealogists. Using real world cases, both solved and unsolved, she gave us thought provoking assignments. We tore the cases apart and put them back together. We studied our biases and assumptions to identify them in our work. We took our own unsolved cases and reframed them to make more progress in solving them. In the course of our 16 weeks, we developed our skills underpinned by the Genealogical Standards. I’ve read the standards many times. I have now internalized them.

Genealogists who want to further develop their skills for solving cases and writing them up to convince others, should consider this course. It is set up in two week modules with a predictable sequence of assignments and discussions to fit into most busy schedules. If you took the 15 week Boston University course, the workload felt like it was half as intense and took up about half of my time. And yet I felt like I learned twice as much. Both from the course and from my classmates. You will want to have some experience with taking an online course and some advanced genealogy experience such as an institute to meet the expectations of this course. All the information, including a syllabus is at: .  The semesters start September, January, and May. You won’t have to wait long to get started. You’ll be glad you did.

Denise Cross is a full time librarian at a community college by day and falls down genealogical rabbit holes by night. She takes advantage of every educational opportunity possible, including the BU Certificate course, Excelsior's Practicum in Genealogical Research, both sessions of GRIP 2016. Writing up the forgotten stories of the people she studies is a passion and a goal of all this education.