Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Earlybird catches the Worm

I was up at dawn this morning to join 999 other genealogists around the world for The Google for Genealogists webinar hosted by Legacy Family Tree and presented by Thomas MacEntee. Thanks to Geoff Rasmussen and all at Legacy for organising the event.

Instructions for accessing the webinar were emailed to me after I registered. I logged on ten minutes early, some software was downloaded to my computer and I was ready for action. The interface was very easy to use. If you have thought aboout joining a webinar but are wary of the setup do give it a try - it'a a piece of cake. Details of future free webinars can be found on the Legacy site.

Geoff, who acted as the facilitaor, welcomed the group, conducted a few polls, gave some instructions and then introduced the main attraction, Thomas MacEntee. It was a huge topic that Thomas covered so he was only able to scratch the surface of each Google app that he discussed but he did this with ease switching seamlessly from slides to live demonstrations of various Google features. From time to time Geoff interjected with questions from participants that Thomas answered well.

Although I have a good working knowledge of Google I learnt a few new tricks and about one new app to use in genealogy. The main benefit of the webinar for me was that it reinforced and helped me consolidate the knowledge I have about Google, it is so valuable to see everything presented in an organised structure.

Thomas advocated the use of Google Scholar and Google Books for finding further information on our families and the places and times in which they lived. I was interested to see look at the templates that one can use from Google Docs for genealogy - I use this application a lot but not for genealogy.  I have not used the forms feature in Google Docs, Thomas demonstrated how easy it is to set up surveys using this application. I have been using Survey Monkey but will give Google Docs a whirl when I create my nextonline survey.

Thomas reminded us that we can import .pdf documents and images into Google Docs and that they  can tbe saved as a text document through their OCR facility. I had forgotten about this feature that is wonderful for genealogists who have old scanned pages of text etc.

I was unaware of Google Patents application until Thomas introduced it. This app allows the user to 
search over 7 million patents from the US. As I had someone involved in manufacturing in the 19th Century I searched for his patents but had no luck. This, however, is a wonderful place to search for further information on family members.

As Thomas was demonstrating some custom Google Maps he had produced I noticed a link to a Geniaus post on his sidebar. Thomas had produced a map "My key to Ireland" from  the posts for the 11th Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture: My Key to Ireland.

View My Key To Ireland in a larger map

After Thomas' formal presentation Geoff drew a few lucky door prizes and then opened the floor to questions. The interactive features of the webinar allowed participants to ask questions in realtime via the microphones on their

We, in Australia, are a bit isolated from the rest of the world and do not have many opportunities to hear international speakers in person. Being able to access Webinar breaks down the barrier of  distance and gives us an opportunity to take part in worthwhile learning experiences. It would be wonderful to see our Australian genealogical societies use Webinars  to reach our scattered population.

It was certainly worth getting up with the birds to feast on this big worm..


Shauna Hicks said...

As another early Australian bird, I too thought it was a great and easy way to hear and see a live presentation. Like Geniaus I have a good understanding of many Google features but still managed to pick up some new tips. Best of all it was free so well worth getting up early.

Thomas MacEntee said...

Thanks so much for the feedback! I think that online webinars are the future of genealogical education and I would love to attend any conducted by Australian genealogists!

Geoff said...

Glad it worked out well! We had a great time too. The recorded webinar and its handouts are now available at Thanks Thomas - great job!

By the way, I enjoyed my time in Australia in November on our Legacy Genealogy Cruise.

Kylie Willison said...

Thanks for posting about this, I didn't know these webinars existed! What an exciting way of using our technology!! I'll be looking up the future webinars for sure!

Kylie :-)

Maureen West said...

As a New Zealander who did not have to get up quite so early, I too enjoyed the webinar. I have attended several since they started and have learnt so many tricks.


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