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.

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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!

Free Courses for Genealogy Research Success

Frugal Finds

I have raised 3 kids. Well 2 and a half… one is still floating around the nest for a few more years. One thing raising kids taught me was how to be frugal. I’m annoyingly cheap. That carries over into my genealogy. I splurge on my ancestry account, but mostly I spend my genealogy dollars carefully.

I take advantage of a lot of free research resources. I have a list of sites I rely on to provide me with research information that might be harder to find on bigger sites. I also take advantage of a lot of free courses. The Internet is full of free genealogy courses, webinars, videos, and how to articles. Sometimes the trick is knowing where to look to find the best resources among the vast noise out there.

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Future Learn

Recently I took the Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree course on Future Learn. The course is 6 weeks long, taught by instructors at the University of Strathclyde Glasgow, and offered free on the Future Learn open course platform. I cannot say how much I enjoyed the course. It is great for beginners, but even experienced researchers will get great information. There are quite a few other courses on Future Learn that could interest researchers.

Evidence Explained

The National Genealogical Society offers a certificate in American Genealogical Studies. The certificate course comprises 4 classes that teach different aspects of genealogical research. The classes are a great value but out of my budget, so I looked at what I could find about the course that might be helpful. The required materials for the second two classes of the program include a book called Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

Elizabeth Shown Mills is a fellow of the American Society of Genealogists. She is an expert in the field and her book is an irreplaceable resource. She has brought some of her knowledge to a series of quick lessons on her site Evidence Explained.  On her site, she provides 26 quick lessons that provide in-depth explanations of evidence and how to understand what it means.

There is a wealth of free learning resources on the Internet. What are some of your favorite free learning finds?

**No plugs just honest opinions. I receive no compensation for this post.**