Tuesday 18 December 2018

Webinars: Are they the future?

I have noticed that more family history societies and other genealogical organizations are offering webinars as a way of disseminating information and, I presume, attracting new members. Such talks are usually free to view on the day they are given. The presentations are recorded and stored for future viewing, some free, some for a small fee and some only for the members of the societies who sponsored the talks. Over time, many groups have assembled libraries of webinars.

Conferences, both large and small, are also regularly recording presentations for later viewing. In some cases, they are live-streamed.

This past September I presented one of my favourite talks, Genealogy and the Little Ice Age, at a one-day conference in Seattle, Washington, put on by Unlock the Past. It was scheduled in advance of their Unlock the Past Cruise to Alaska. All of the talks were recorded by Legacy Family Tree Webinars. They are now up on the Legacy website, including mine. That was a first for me and I am delighted that the talk has been viewed by a several people since it was made available. A family history group in Washington even approached me to ask permission to show the webinar at their meeting in January. Of course, I said yes!

I have offered other talks to Legacy for their series. Next year is already full, so mine, if they are accepted will not likely be available until 2020. I have signed up with the Virtual Genealogical Association to present a talk about Using Parish & Other Records to determine how natural phenomena affected people & communities. It is scheduled for 20 July 2019.

Legacy Family Tree Webinars now has 828 presentations in their library. https://familytreewebinars.com/ You can take out a membership – it is really inexpensive – and watch what you want, any time you want. One of their most exciting developments, described in a recent press release, is in offering closed captioning for recordings released since 1 May 2018, as well as its most popular 50 webinars. Legacy is spreading its wings around the world with featured subjects and regions, such as the 2019 lineup for their “Down Under Series” especially for genealogist in Australia and New Zealand. https://familytreewebinars.com/downunder

In various blog posts, as well as society newsletters, I have become aware of many more webinars now available for the general genealogical community. Many groups have now scheduled presentations for the entire coming year.

Following is just a small list of other webinar sources that have recently come to my attention. This does not include podcasts or online courses – perhaps subjects for a future post here.

Virtual Genealogical Association: 2019 program has 40 presentations scheduled for paid members only. https://virtualgenealogy.org/programs/ They are also organizing a virtual conference for 1-3 November 2019 that has some notable experts in various subjects.

Southern California Genealogical Society and Family Research Library: 2019 Jamboree Webinar Extension Series will have 22 presentations. https://scgsgenealogy.blogspot.com/2018/12/ca-scgs-announcing-2019-jamboree.html

MyHeritage LIVE 2018: talks given at a conference held this past November are now available for viewing by the public. https://live2018.myheritage.com/

Ontario Genealogical Society: live, monthly presentations are available for free to the general public. Recordings of past talks can be viewed only by society members. Their 2019 schedule should be out soon. https://ogs.on.ca/webinars/

Rootstech: sessions from their last four conferences are available. You can find information about future meetings on their general webpages. https://www.rootstech.org/video-archive The live stream schedule for the 2019 event has already been set. https://www.rootstech.org/salt-lake/live-stream-schedule?fbclid=IwAR0RD1mlEQgUcAajBSk3Lnu11bXtIGYHbzE4f679t49mFD1bgJiYYGtPRPY

FamilySearch: has an extensive library of webinars and classes available for viewing for free https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Family_History_Library_Classes_and_Webinars#Past_Webinars_.26_Handouts

New England Historic Genealogical Society: American Ancestors: offers a free webinar guest account to watch a selection of 23 webinars they have online or you can join the society for even more. https://www.americanancestors.org/guest-user-resources

YouTube: a search of the Internet for “genealogy on youtube” brings up a staggering 27,000,000 hits. No-one will have time to even go through the list, but up front are many webinar-type presentations from many professional genealogists on a wide variety of topics. One probably needs to narrow down the search to specific subjects so as not to be overwhelmed. For example, searching for “dna genealogy on youtube” gets only 1,890,000 hits, although “england genealogy on youtube” gets 4,470,000. Still too many to look at, but you get the drift.

However you look at genealogy webinars, and wherever you look for presentations, there is a lot of stuff out there, much more than shown above. (Readers of this post may wish to add to the list of sources.) Most of the presentations are free to view and you don’t have to travel to a faraway place to listen and watch.

Progressive societies and organizations, including commercial enterprises, are increasingly offering webinars focused on genealogical research. Is this the way of the future for genealogical societies, education and publication?

The only problem I can see is that none of us have enough time to watch them all.