2018 August – Internet and Digital Skills

Refining Internet and Digital Skills

Course Coordinator, Cyndi Ingle

Additional Instructors, Michael D. Lacopo, DVM, Kimberly Powell

Held 29 July-3 August, 2018, at Daemen College, Amherst, NY. Registration Information.

A prepared and organized genealogist is a productive genealogist. Similarly, a prepared and organized digital workspace is a productive research instrument for that genealogist. The Internet and computers of all types require an understanding of all the ways in which they can be used to take advantage of their maximum potential as exemplary research tools.

The course will not directly address specific types of hardware and operating systems. Examples from the course coordinator will be given on a Windows laptop, but the intent is to demonstrate concepts for using technology within genealogical research. The focus will be on using computers and laptops, as well as tablets that can function as a small laptop replacement. We will begin the week with organizing our computers and digital filing. We demonstrate how to effectively search the Internet, online databases and records repositories. We learn the ins and outs of several popular, and necessary, repositories online. We will cover technology tools that enhance the research experience: spreadsheets, tables, timelines, maps, foreign language translation, etc. And then we will focus on the final product of a research plan or project – the output: photographs, scanning, web sites, blogs, and publishing. Each day will have scheduled time for students to work on their computers and put into practice everything learned that day.

Requirements

  • Although reliable Wi-Fi access should be provided by the college, students may also want to bring their own Wi-Fi hotspots to ensure connectivity during the classes.
  • Students must bring a laptop (preferred) or mobile device on which to practice new skills.
  • Preferred: students should have existing accounts set up for tools that will be used in class, ie. Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, FamilySearch, Ancestry, Scrivener, Word, Excel.
  • Optional: students may bring to class specific examples of past online problems that they want to explore.

MONDAY, Day 1:  Organizing

The week begins with organizing our computers and digital filing. Specific technology tools will be discussed to help make that digital environment orderly and we will begin the digital planning stages for a typical research plan.

File Management (Cyndi Ingle)
This class will cover typical types of genealogical filing systems and how they can be applied to digital files. File organization also means maintaining your own archive and backup copies of genealogically relevant files such as databases, images, documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, DNA data, and more.

Tech Tools (Cyndi Ingle)
This class will highlight popular tech tools for genealogy. We will go more in depth for those programs that are widely used for evaluation, data management, projects, and writing.

Planning: Research Plans, Notes, and Reports (Cyndi Ingle)
We will walk through a typical research question: how to create a research plan using software and online resources; working with a research log and notes; and creating a final research report with the conclusions reached and plans for the next steps to take.

Personal computer time to practice new skills (Cyndi Ingle)
One-on-one time with course coordinator, practice scenarios will be assigned. Student may also bring their own examples or problems to work on.

TUESDAY, Day 2:  Searching

The second day will be spent on how to effectively search the Internet, online databases and records repositories.

Advanced Google Techniques (Cyndi Ingle)
The most popular search engine is Google, so it makes sense to focus on best practices for using it. Most of the concepts learned here can be applied to other similar search engines. We will cover advanced search protocols with examples that are specific to genealogy.

Strategic Searching When Things Are Unfindable (Michael Lacopo)
Genealogy in the digital age has changed the way we search for information. Unfortunately, it has its own unique pitfalls, problems, and drawbacks. Learn search strategies and “smart searching” on the big name sites such as Ancestry and FamilySearch, as well as others. How will you ever find Abraham Brubaker of Kosciusko County, Indiana, when Ancestry has him indexed as Abehan Brutalo of Kaseinske? You will find out. “Smart searching” allows you to harness the power of your search parameters instead of allowing the algorithms of the major internet sites to do the work for you. Other search engines, their idiosyncrasies, strengths, and weaknesses will be discussed. Not finding the information you are looking for on standard genealogy sites? Archives, manuscripts, libraries, and their associated finding aids will be discussed and may provide answers you cannot find elsewhere.

Deep Searches & Online Finding Aids (Cyndi Ingle)
In this class we will only discuss search functionality within popular online records repositories. Handouts will include cheat sheets for current (as of the week of the class) search terms, operators, tricks, and tips. Learn and use advanced features for search engines and genealogy databases online. Learn about the records behind the technology. Dig into the records and the repositories that contain those records.

Personal computer time to practice new skills (Cyndi Ingle)
One-on-one time with course coordinator, practice scenarios will be assigned. Student may also bring their own examples or problems to work on.

WEDNESDAY, Day 3:  Records

Day three has the participants learning the ins and outs of several popular—and necessary—repositories online, building on the search functionality we discussed on day two. We will focus on specific record types and we will cover using the individual database interfaces for each site, how to get the most from the sites, how to print and save records, and how to take notes and create citations for these online repositories.

Records: two continuous sessions covering a variety of record types (Cyndi Ingle)
Birth, marriage, death, census, ebooks, land, military, newspapers, obituaries

Show Me The Money: Taxes, Wills and Probate (Michael Lacopo)
Estate records and tax records are two types of records we should all be utilizing fully as good genealogists. What do they tell me, and where can I find them? Learn what records are being digitized and where they can be found, but also be cognizant of what is NOT available online and what you might be missing. Understanding the laws and statutes that governed taxes and estates is vital to knowing what you are looking for and what records are available – both online and off. Major collections of estate and tax records will be discussed, along with their strengths and weaknesses. Finding, understanding, and comprehending state statutes to understand these valuable record groups will help you get the most out of what you find.

Personal computer time to practice new skills (Cyndi Ingle)
One-on-one time with course coordinator, practice scenarios will be assigned. Student may also bring their own examples or problems to work on.

THURSDAY, Day 4:  Methodology & Tools

The fourth day will cover technology tools that enhance the research experience: spreadsheets, tables, timelines, maps, foreign language translation, etc.

Correlating Data: Using Tables and Spreadsheets (Cyndi Ingle)
How to use tables and spreadsheets to analyze data, record information, and sort out tough research problems.

Timelines, Maps, and Google Earth (Cyndi Ingle)
Software and examples of using timelines for data analysis will be covered. Several online mapping tools will be highlighted, including Google Earth and digital map sources.

Tools for Sharing Your Family History Research (Kimberly Powell) (moved from Friday for scheduling purposes)
Genealogy isn’t as fun if you don’t get to share! This session will explore several tools and software programs that can assist you in sharing your family history research and/or results with family and friends, whether through a blog, online family tree, web site, or print.

Personal computer time to practice new skills (Cyndi Ingle)
One-on-one time with course coordinator, practice scenarios will be assigned. Student may also bring their own examples or problems to work on.

FRIDAY, Day 5:  The Output or Product of Your Research

The fifth and final day will focus on the final product of a research plan or project – the output. We will talk about photographs and the scanning and filing of digital images. We will discuss options for publishing a final report, whether that takes place on a web site, a digital family tree, a blog, or by creating a printed book. And last, but certainly not least, we will discuss how research online can meet the GPS, the Genealogical Proof Standard, thus inspiring the attendees to use everything they’ve learned over the week to successfully move forward in their research.

Locations, Ethnic Groups, Religions (Cyndi Ingle)
We will highlight online resources for specific locations, ethnic groups, and religions. And we will discuss general ways in which English-speaking genealogists can use tech tools to deal with foreign languages, alphabets, and handwriting.

Photos & Digitized Images: Scanning, Storage, Tools (Cyndi Ingle)
There are many reasons we must focus on photographs for genealogy. Initially they provide us hints and clues for our research. Along the way they add color and texture to the stories of our ancestors. And in our published work they give a face to the names of the people mentioned therein. Genealogists naturally become the family archivist for all photos and memorabilia. We will discuss the best options for scanning, archiving, replicating, and storing of digitized photos and images of records.

Personal computer time to practice new skills (Cyndi Ingle)
One-on-one time with course coordinator, practice scenarios will be assigned. Student may also bring their own examples or problems to work on.

11:30 a.m. Certificates, Farewells, and Lunch