Free online genealogy courses. Worth the time?

Once upon a time, there was a woman who questioned the value of free online courses. The woman was me. The time was nearly six weeks ago. That was when I signed up for the Future Learn genealogy course by the University of Strathclyde Glasgow. I am rapidly approaching the final week of the course, and I wanted to share my thoughts on the program.

Genealogy: Researching your family tree.

The course instructors are Tahitia McCabe and Graham Holton. Both Tahitia and Graham instruct other courses at the University of Strathclyde at Glasgow. Tahitia is the course leader and Graham is the head tutor in the MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies program at the school.

Photo by Negative Space on

Things to love about this course.

There were several things about this course that won me over. The first thing I really enjoyed about the program was the structure. Each week, the instructors release a new module. Students can work through the material as their schedule allows. I found personally that I enjoyed breaking the weekly course material into two study sessions each week.
You perform exercises suggested throughout the course and converse with classmates in a comments section on each page or you can attend the study group in the tab at the top of the page. Tahitia and Graham also interact with students through the course to answer questions, adding a very beneficial element to the course.

Sprinkled through the course are small quizzes. They are 5 questions, optional to complete, and your score doesn’t affect your ability to complete the course. I found these to be a great self-test as I moved through the course.

During week 5, there was probably my favorite part of the entire genealogy course. There was a strong focus on DNA, which I found very enjoyable and they host 2 livestreams with Tahitia and Graham. In the livestreams you get to meet virtually with the instructors and ask questions that remain unanswered. They went to great lengths to answer every question and even ran over their scheduled time answering questions.

A couple finer details.

Don’t let yourself get sucked down too many rabbit holes. The instructors loaded the course with great resources and the comments section reveals a great deal many more gems. Save the links and investigate them later to focus only on the lessons given or you might spend hours just looking at great new research resources.

The school that offers the course is in Scotland and many of their topics are heavy in records for that region. As someone who focuses on North American genealogy, I found that part of the course is exceptionally helpful. It gave me a greater understanding of what sort of records I should search for when I research genealogy in Scotland.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who learned she was wrong.

My takeaway from my experience with the genealogy course on Future Learn is that there can be great value in a free online course. This course has something to offer new genealogy researchers or experienced genealogy researchers alike. I am glad that I took the time to test my theory on free online classes with this one. For those interested, you can pay for either an individual course certificate or subscription to Future Learn and get a certificate of completion for the course. The next Genealogy: Researching your family tree course begins in March 2020.

Future Learn also offers several other classes that can be helpful to genealogy researchers. I recommend going to the site and doing a quick search for either history or DNA.

My rating for this course?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Have you taken any free online courses that you enjoyed? I’d love to hear about your learning experiences in the comments!

  9 comments for “Free online genealogy courses. Worth the time?

  1. Amy
    December 1, 2019 at 10:00 am

    Sounds great! I’ve watched some of Crista Cowan’s videos from Ancestry on YouTube, but that’s about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 1, 2019 at 10:01 am

      I was a skeptic but I really enjoyed this course a lot. I definitely recommend it. Not a sponsored post I just enjoyed the class that much. It’s great.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy
        December 1, 2019 at 10:02 am

        Good to know—thanks for the tip.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. December 15, 2019 at 1:27 am

    Hi Carrie, I have only just started a blog and you kindly liked the first post. I just want to say I fully endorse your comments on the Strathclyde course. It was an eye-opener for me. It also got me so motivated I studied a Diploma of Family History through the University of Tasmania which I have just finished. On the other side of the coin, I was going to do a certificate course through Canada but I did one unit as a taster and decided it wasn’t for me as there was no real interaction at all – and it would have cost a lot of money! Cheers, Yvonne

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 15, 2019 at 8:10 am

      I am delighted to have been your first like! I look forward to reading more of your posts. The Strathclyde course really was great. I went in with low expectations and was left blown away. I will have to remember your reviews of the University of Tasmania and Canadian course for the future. I think my next genealogical education task will be working on some of the programs through NGS. There are so many great, affordable options out there theses days.


  3. December 30, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    Thank you .. just signed up ..

    Liked by 1 person

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