Free Classes Make Genealogy Expertise Accessible Anywhere
SALT LAKE CITY—It is rare that Marcia Covington can make the trip from her home in State College, Pennsylvania, to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Now, however, people like Covington can take classes from the world-famous library without ever leaving home.
The FamilySearch Family History Library is now making its popular classes available at FamilySearch.org, where anyone anywhere in the world can access them for free at a time that is convenient for them. The classes have been offered on-site in Salt Lake City for years. Until now, attendance has been limited to those patrons who are fortunate to live in the surrounding community or happen to be visiting the library as part of a research trip. Making the classes available online allows access to many more patrons.
“Most people do family history whenever they can fit it in their busy lives, on evenings, holidays, weekends, and so forth. Whether you are a beginner or experienced researcher, you can choose subjects of interest to you from the available classes and watch them anytime and anywhere,” said FamilySearch Community Services Manager Diane Loosle.
The online classes are a great complement to the free personal research assistance the Family History Library offers to its patrons in Utah and through its family history centers worldwide. According to Loosle, the free online classes are one part of the growing number of tools FamilySearch is building for its online patrons. That is great news to people like Covington.
“Very few people have the opportunity to come to Salt Lake City, but these classes give me the same access at home as I can get in Utah,” Covington said. “Our distances here are pretty long, and for some people it is a 40-minute drive to the nearest family history center. These classes make it possible to get training in your home whenever you want, and it is so nice that it is free.”
There are currently 23 Family History Library classes available online, with subjects ranging from European research to United States military records. The most popular offerings are the Beginning Research Series for Ireland and England and a class on descendancy research.
The classes vary in length from 6 to 58 minutes, with most lasting about 25 minutes. The format of the class varies, depending on the content being presented. One type of class shows a video that alternates between the teacher and the PowerPoint slides. Another kind of class integrates video of the presenter, the accompanying PowerPoint slides, and links to supplemental materials all in one screen.
Several of the classes are interactive, such as a course on reading German handwriting. In these classes, the teacher is represented with still photographs and audio narration, and the student can actively participate in learning activities, such as matching English and German characters or transcribing selected words from a document. As a student types, the correct text appears in green and incorrect answers appear in red, providing immediate feedback.FamilySearch is continually adding new online offerings; classes on how to read English handwritten records are currently in development. All of the classes can be accessed on www.familysearch.org by clicking on Free Online Classes on the home page.
FamilySearch Public Affairs Manager