Monday, March 14, 2016

Online Learning

I'm a student again!  

I don't do things by halves I have taken the opportunity to enrol in two free online introductory courses in family history.

When I was at the Society of Australian Genealogists a few weeks ago and told two of my genimates who have already undertaken the University of Tasmania Intrroduction to Family History course they giggled and told me that I would be frustrated by the course. They weren't wrong. How frustrating it was to spend the first 2 weeks of this course on administrivia and learning to use the online messaging and learning system. MYLO the system that delivers their online learning is clunky. Locating replies to one's messages in the system requires determination and lots of digging. It is not at all intuitive.

Like a trooper I have stuck with the course and have now completed Weeks 1-3 and about 50% of the requirements for week 4. What concerns me mostly is that the course is based on a very traditional 20th century version of genealogy research. So far no mention has been made of the value of using one of the many excellent computer software programs that are available to family historians to record the data they research. Some of the resources that have been suggested would not be at the top of my list. I am concerned that the online multiple guess questions asked in the quizzes are very simple and do not really measure learning.

This afternoon I logged in to the University of Strathclyde Researching your Family Tree course which commenced today. What a difference! The interface is clean and intuitive and learners don't need to devote two whole weeks to learning to navigate the interface. Sure I pressed the wrong key a couple of times but it was easy to find my way back to the beginning and continue with my work.

The course coordinators have introduced themselves, the learning outcomes have been explained, some definitions shared and we have already started learning. This is in contrast to the course from Tasmania. The materials in the Strathclyde course are organised so that one does not have to jump back and forwards to find course materials.

Of course I may change my mind as I progress through the Tasmanian course but for the moment my money is on the course from the University of Strathclyde.

Yes , those giggling genies were right.


Hilary Gadsby said...

I'll be joining you on the Strathclyde course.I have participated in other courses at Future Learn work related. This one was a must as soon as I saw it.

GeniAus said...

See you there, Hilary.

Susie Zada said...

Hi Jill - congratulations for taking the plunge. Last year I also took the plunge completing my Diploma of Library and Information Services in one year instead of two. And the first couple of weeks were a nightmare trying to conquer the online software - especially as the lecturers were also apologising saying they didn't know how to use the "updated" online system. Ironically while I was "learning" to use the online system I got my two worst results - a Credit and a Distinction. The rest were 17 x High Distinctions - and I'm blaming the online system. I have since learnt that it is one of the worst and antiquated - BlackBoard. Back in the early 1990s I did the Diploma in Local & Applied History - 3 years - through UNE in Armidale. Best thing I ever did. Included Local & Family History but the focus was on procedure and not specifics as they were changing all the time - as we know. It was hard work but I loved it - VERY comprehensive and ended up being researcher / historian on Heritage Studies throughout Victoria. It was also a brilliant grounding for family history. I thought I knew it all at the time but as Sgt Schulz used to say ... "I know nuffink". Absolutely loved it. And back then some of the units / exams were in exam environments - at a local participating university - now that WAS a learning curve after years away from study.
Anyway - enjoy - and will be interested in the comparisons between the different courses.

Maria said...

Thanks for this informed and interesting post, Jill. As always, I enjoy reading your ideas. I have to say ... a big thank you for highlighting the need for genealogy courses to embrace the new (? well, not that new really) world of software and technology. Sadly, I completed a course a few years back where the students were not permitted to use genealogical software to complete a family tree assessment task! Can you believe it? I found myself using rulers, lead pencils and erasers. What a timewarp I was in. It was baffling as well as annoying and a wee bit useless. I think most genies have left handwritten family trees behind, except perhaps when creating calligraphy work. I've been looking around for another family history course to do online when I have a bit more time so the Strathclyde course looks like a beauty. Thanks for telling us about it.

Kylie Willison said...

Thanks Jill I might have another look at the Strathclyde course too. I found the UTAS one okay last year but as you say it is difficult to get around and a lot of time is wasted that way.

Kylie :-)

Megan said...

Hi Jill

I completed the UTAS course last year and also felt a bit the same. I have since done Writing Family History with UTAS and it was brilliant! I am a fellow student on the Strathclyde course and haven't had a chance to log in yet, but will be in there tonight.


Rosemary Morgan said...

Jill, like you and Hilary I've also signed up for the Strathclyde course, which is actually run by FutureLearn. So it's their interface etc, while Strathclyde provide the content. I haven't posted on the course yet as I'm actually away skiing this week. I'm doing this course mainly to make sure all my knowledge is up to date, and to be able to review it for others (as I already have the Strathclyde PG Diploma).

Lynda said...

I'm also doing the Strathclyde course, I wanted to see what it was like and you always learn something. I'm also doing the Irish Lives in war and revolution that started the same day.


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