Courses and Programs of Study
|This article originally appeared in Printed Sources: A Guide to Published Genealogical Records, edited by Kory L. Meyerink.|
This category of instructional materials provides a somewhat structured and formal study opportunity by actively involving the student in the learning process. This is achieved through the use of audio or visual products, or through participants’ written responses. Within this category are classroom aids for teachers, home-study courses, and self-improvement manuals for professionals.
Teacher Development and Classroom Aids
Tapes and syllabi from national conferences can be helpful for teachers who seek to improve their presentation skills. Topics include selecting curricula for beginning and advanced courses, understanding adult learning processes, planning and preparing lessons, and marketing a program of genealogy.
Appropriate tapes and syllabi can be found through Index to NGS and FGS Conferences and Syllabi, compiled by Joy Reisinger (Salt Lake City: National Genealogical Society and Federation of Genealogical Societies, 1993). The topic Education lists dozens of lectures presented between 1978 and 1993 pertaining to the development of teaching skills. Presentations on specific topics, such as record sources or methodology, enable instructors to gain deeper understanding and thus enrich their own lesson plans. The taped presentations are not for group use, however, because the copyright for the content rests with the presenters; public presentation would violate this copyright.
Classroom aids are not plentiful, but they are becoming more widely available than they were in the 1980s; then, teachers were forced to create their own lesson plans, visual aids, and handouts. Commercially and privately produced aids now range from originals suitable for handout or visual aid reproduction, to detailed lesson plans, such as Elizabeth L. Nichols’s Teaching Family History in Four Weeks: A Course Outline.
Self-Contained Instructional Material
An innovation in genealogical education has been the development of instructional materials for home study. The earliest of these are the programmed instructional works by Elizabeth L. Nichols, The Genesis of Your Genealogy and Help Is Available, 2nd ed. (Logan, Utah: Everton Publishers, 1980). Programmed instruction requires students to respond in spaces provided. By checking responses against an answer sheet, students can determine how much they have learned.
NGS American Genealogy, a very successful home-study program produced by the National Genealogical Society and implemented by staff members at society headquarters, was introduced in 1982. With this award-winning course, students complete projects, then receive tests through the mail. Rather than being totally self-contained (as are Nichols’s programmed instructional booklets), the American Genealogy course requires outside reading and exercises to enhance the basic course information. Students gain practical experience by visiting public record offices and libraries. In 1996 this home study course received accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council for a five-year period.
Commercially produced audio- and videotapes are also useful for home study. With these tapes, researchers can bring the expertise of nationally acclaimed speakers right into their living rooms or cars. Those lectures delivered at national or state conferences that have been reproduced on audiotape can be identified by using "Index to NGS and FGS Conferences and Syllabi". This helpful publication indexes lectures by topic and by speaker. Ordering instructions explain where to write for the tape and how to get the handout or the entire syllabus.
A series of instructional tapes titled Fast Lane Learning Kits is available from Family History Unlimited, 3507 North University Avenue, Suite 350B, Provo, UT 84604. Fast Lane offers four hours of audiotaped instruction with an accompanying workbook.
During 199798, the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the Ohio Genealogical Society videotaped five teleconference sessions: Military Records; Immigration and Ship Passenger Records; American Land Records; American Court Records; and Modern Vital Records. Each 180-minute presentation includes a syllabus. They can be ordered from the Ohio Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 2625, Mansfield, OH 44906-0625 or from the Federation of Genealogical Societies, 1-888-FGS-1500 or (fax) 1-888-380-0500.