Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The 2010 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy

There are many opportunities throughout the year to attend courses, seminars and conferences relating to genealogy.  Most of us have a limited budget and are trying to get the most "bang for our buck."  I have found that the Salt Lake Institute is an excellent opportunity to combine learning about the method and practice of genealogy with the ability to research at a great facility.  I attended the Institute on two previous occasions (in 2007 and 2009).  I really enjoyed the first course on American Records with Paula Warren, partly because of her knowledge and enthusiasm for the material and her gift for sharing it with the students.  I not only learned a great deal but I was able to apply what I learned at the Family History Library and made the most of the research opportunity.  I was disappointed with the second course on the Internet partially due to the last minute substitution of instructors as well as the general lack of usefulness of the information provided.  If not for the fact that I could and did make serious use of the Family History Library I would have considered the trip a waste of my money and time. 

One of the other students at that second course mentioned to me that she had attended the computer and technology course the previous year and it had been excellent.  When the brochure came out for the 2010 Institute I almost discarded it, but saw that the computer and technology course was being offered again.  I looked up the proposed instructors online and decided to give the Institute a second chance. 

Everything at the 2010 Institute was exemplary - the administrative organization at the Institute was excellent. The course I attended was taught by engaging and enthusiastic instructors who clearly wanted to share a great deal of information with the students. The outlines were well written and packed with lots of useful information.  The classes were, for the most part, well run and interesting.  The instructors did a great job of educating and entertaining us and they went out of their way to help all of the students and make sure to raise the level of every student's skill level - no small feat when you have both computer novices as well as computer pros!  The instructors also were able to "roll with it" as the computers at the FHL Tech Lab were being switched out while we were there and changes were made to the Family History Search site - the instructors just worked around the inconveniences and didn't miss a beat! 

A Few Thoughts for Future Institutes
  • A much better pre-Institute web presence is necessary.  I received very little information either on the website or through emails prior to the Institute. 
  • Be clear in the brochure and/or website as to the timing of actual classes and free time as many students plan to research at FHL during the week.  The first two times I attended the Institute, we had a block of time in the afternoons free for research.  The computer and technology course had courses in the morning and labs in the afternoon which left little time for research at the FHL (a big drawing card for this Institute). 
  • Schedule some get togethers/breakout sessions in the evening that are not fee paid additional courses - perhaps relating to genealogy programs used by the students, brick wall research problems, and/or research facilities in various states and/or countries. This would help with fostering greater interaction among the various course attendees.
All in all, the Salt Lake Institute 2010 was great and I am happy I went.  Special thanks to the instructors, Barbara Renick, Debby Horton, Josh Taylor - amazing instructors and enthusiastic genealogists!  It took me a bit of time to follow through on the classes and lab where we learned the "nuts and bolts" of blogging ~ but better late than never.  Thanks.


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