Monday, April 6, 2015

Whether Right-Brained or Left, This DNA Class is for You!

I am excited to share a review of the “(Finally!) Understanding Autosomal DNA” course taught by Blaine Bettinger at the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research. Today my friend Cari Taplin, CG is a guest author sharing her opinion of this new course. This is part of my continuing series on genealogy institute courses, where attendees share their perspective on the course for others who may be interested in attending in the future (or in the case of the Virtual Institute, purchasing the course online).

Whether Right-Brained or Left, This DNA Class is for You!

By Cari A. Taplin, cg

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts with an emphasis in painting. I tell you this so you can understand that science and numbers don’t really come too easily for me. I rely on my calculator for even the simplest mathematical tasks, and even then, I’m never sure if I got it right. So, when DNA for genealogy became the latest and greatest research tool, I tried to pay attention at the various lectures I attended, but all those numbers just went over my head and my eyes glazed over.

Despite being more scientific than many genealogists I know, it seems that this whole DNA thing is not going to go away and it appeals to and attracts the more left-brained researcher that may have been put off by genealogical “proof” from more traditional methods. And when some of the biggest names in genealogy are taking it seriously and also taking classes on it, I took notice. I attended SLIG this past January where Elizabeth Shown Mills was a student in one of the DNA classes! Many of my genealogy friends have taken several classes on the subject. Sometimes peer pressure can be a good thing because I finally began my reluctant journey to learn more about the topic. 

I decided to take the online course offered by the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research with the title “(Finally!) Understanding Autosomal DNA” taught by Blaine Bettinger. What an excellent course! Blaine is not only very knowledgeable about the subject, being among the first to begin using DNA for genealogical purposes, but so very clear in his explanation of the subject matter. While some of the topics could have been heavy on math and science, he really has a way of breaking down the subject matter so that even I could understand what was going on. My eyes did not glaze over during the course’s roughly 12 hours of class time.

Blaine covered a variety of topics pertaining to autosomal DNA such as how autosomal DNA works biologically, how it gets passed down, how autosomal DNA can be used to determine relationships, various tools to use to help with analysis of DNA results, including those at the test providers’ sites as well as third-party tools such as GEDmatch, triangulation of DNA results, using a spreadsheet to work with your matches, and much more. He also covered such topics as DNA ethics and asking for spit in ways that get results. 

If you’ve never taken a course through the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research (, you should give it a try. I have taken two courses so far and they have both been top notch! They are not like your average webinar. These courses take an in depth look at the topic and feel closer to a week-long institute than your typical single afternoon genealogy class. Past classes are available for purchase through the Virtual Institute’s website.

For more details on the “(Finally!) Understanding Autosomal DNA” course by Blaine Bettinger, or to purchase a copy of the recordings, see
Cari Taplin is related to Roy Rogers. Or at least the stories her grandparents told her as a child said so. As a result, she has been working on finding her true heritage since the year 2000. She is a native of Wood County, Ohio but migrated to Wyoming, Colorado and now Pflugerville, Texas which is just outside of Austin. Cari is a Certified Genealogist (sm) and is a past President of the Boulder Genealogical Society, and has been a speaker to local and state societies since 2004. She is the owner of GenealogyPANTS, providing speaking, research and consultation services. She has had articles published in the Boulder Genealogical Society Quarterly, Digital Genealogist and the National Genealogical Society Magazine. She is a graduate of the NGS Home Study Course and ProGen 16. She is the 2013 recipient of the Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr. Prize from IGHR. When she’s not working on her genealogy, she is a wife and mother of two/too cute kids.

 CG and Certified Genealogist are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board certified associates after periodic competency evaluations, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.

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