Note: This is a condensed version of a recent post on The Family History Guide blog site. See the full-length article here: http://www.thefhguide.com/blog/presenting-the-family-history-guide-part-2/
There are many opportunities to present The Family History Guide in shorter time amounts, some of which you may not have thought about. Here is a recap of some of these presentations, arranged by approximate time to deliver:
This morning we had a class scheduled at our local family history center, "Virtual Grave Digging" (nice title). I realized that the instructor might have a problem making it to the class, and it was late to get a sub. So I thought I would go to The Family History Guide pantry and see what I could find there on short notice, in case I needed to fill in.
Long story short ... the instructor made it to the class, which was great. But the prep experience I had was definitely worth sharing, so here it is:
Was it elegant? Not really. Would it have been helpful and interesting to those attending? I think it definitely would have been, and I learned some great things in the hour or so of preparation I put in.
So, next time you need a quick training meal, remember The Family History Guide. And don't forget that you can use the Course Catalog to plan out your own training classes well in advance.
If you had 30 minutes to present The Family History Guide to a group or class, what would you do? What about 45 minutes to an hour?
For any of these, the great thing is that you don't have to prepare a set of slides and handouts; you can present The Family History Guide using the website itself.
That brings up the next point: what do I show? Here are some suggestions to consider, based on the amount of time you have. They are listed roughly in order of priority:
There are many more items in The Family History Guide, but an Overview presentation should focus on the basics, leaving the rest for specialized classes or presentations. The Family History Guide is a lifetime learning system, so be sure not to try to cover it all at once.
A good reference document for deciding what to include in Overviews is "Thirty Things to See in The Family History Guide" (https://www.thefhguide.com/30-Things-to-See.pdf).
Good luck with your presentations, and look for an in-depth blog post coming soon, about ideas for Overview training with The Family History Guide.
As we prepare our family history presentations, we often get wrapped up in the content details. Details are good, but there are some simple things to focus on that can be of great benefit as we present.
Last week I attended a presentation on U.S. Census records, taught by a former employee of FamilySearch. Yes, there were good tips and helpful slides on doing research with census records, but there were also a few simple things the instructor did that made the class even better:
Are there some simple things you enjoy in presentations from others, or that you use yourself? Let us know!
Here are some typical things that your learners may be thinking during family history presentations or mentoring, when they are about to lose their way or lose interest ... and what you can do about it.
I have often mentioned the concept for trainers and consultants that they should think of themselves as the librarian, not the library. In other words, you don't need to have everything committed to memory (and who can do that?); you just need to know where to find the information. That's where The Family History Guide comes in handy: it's the knowledge library you need, at your command.
Especially if you are new to The Family History Guide (and even for us "old-timers"), here are the "go-to" tools on the website when you need to find that missing piece of information to answer a question:
All that said, the more familiar you are with The Family History Guide, the more often you can skip ahead and go right to the answers without looking them up. But having an awesome library behind you is a great feeling!
If you had just a few moments to tell a friend about The Family History Guide, what would you say?
A basic approach is to start with a simple sentence that shows what it is and why it would help them.
For example: "The Family History Guide is a free website that helps you do your family history faster and easier." Then focus on the learning and resource parts, such as: "You can learn FamilySearch (or Ancestry, MyHeritage, FIndmypast) step by step, and find the research tools you need, right when you need them."
The idea is to start simple and then drill into a few of the important specifics and benefits, keeping the "few moments" idea in mind. That's where your preparation is important: you should have a good high-level knowledge of the menus and features of the website, to answer questions.
If The Family History Guide has made a difference for you, be sure to let your friend know that. And look for the opportunity to show the website, on whatever device is handy.
There's a new one-page document on the Trainers Resources page of the website. "Spread The Guide" offers practical ways for people to share The Family History Guide, via social media, quick demos, and activities. You can also access it here: https://www.thefhguide.com/Spread-The-Guide.pdf
Also included are resources for Latter-day Saints and Temple & Family History Consultants to help spread the word about The Family History Guide. "Spread The Guide" can be a good follow-up to classes offered on The Family History Guide, where learners have a practical way to share what they learned with others.
The Training Resources page on The Family History Guide now has links to two new slide decks. One is for use in training local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on how The Family History Guide may be implemented in wards and stakes. The other contains training on how Temple and Family History Consultants can use The Family History Consultants in their training and mentoring efforts.
These materials are produced by The Family History Guide Association. No endorsement from the Church is implied.
Some of you may be familiar with this document ... it's a collection of 100 questions that someone might ask about family history, and corresponding answers from The Family History Guide. The questions are arranged alphabetically by topic, from Adoption to Technology. Answers are linked to Goals on the website.
While the document may be useful for individuals, it can be especially helpful for consultants, especially those who work at family history centers. It's in Microsoft Word format so you can add more questions and answers as needed.
We've also made a few other changes to the Media page on the website. The 100 Questions and Answers document is here.
No, that's not about restaurant employees … it's about the new page on The Family History Guide website where you can find all the Training Tips posted in our Facebook Group, all in one place. It will be updated about once a month to add the latest tips (you'll still get them each Tuesday in the Facebook Group).
The tips page are on this page. You can also read our blog article on the topic.
For a few learners, turning on the firehose of information is an exciting thing—but most aren't too thrilled about being flooded with knowledge at once. Genealogy and family history are amazingly broad and comprehensive: they include such topics as geography, history, cultures, research, religion, travel … and the list goes on. As we mentor those who are just starting or are less experienced in family history, we need to resist the temptation to dispense too much information, too quickly.
Here are a few tips to help you slow the flow and get better learning retention with those you mentor and train:
In the Trainers menu of The Family History Guide, you'll see a Resources section that includes Quizzes. Click that item to open the Quizzes page.
The Quizzes are arranged by partner: FamilySearch, Ancestry, MyHeritage, and Findmypast. Each Quiz covers an entire Project in The Family History Guide, except for the Goal Quizzes, which cover one goal each.
To start a Quiz, click its picture or title. There's a link on the opening page of the Quiz that links to a Quiz Instructions page. The question types are multiple choice, multiple response, true/false, matching, and sequence. At the end of each Quiz, a results screen is displayed with the score; 80% correct is passing.
The Quizzes can be handy for assessing knowledge with those you are training in The Family History Guide topics, or you can take them yourself to brush up.
Enjoy The Family History Guide quizzes—more are on the way!
In group training, a good way to get people involved in learning is by asking questions. However, ineffective or inappropriate questions can also put the brakes on the learning experience. Here are 10 tips that can help you as you prepare questions to ask in group settings:
When we give presentations or training on family history, it's all too easy to walk through a lot of talking points and consider the job done. No matter how interesting our points are (and sometimes they are more interesting to us than to others), we need to remember how effective it can be to "see the points" as well as hear them.
Presenting The Family History Guide website is a case in point. You could easily spend an hour just scrolling through the various screens and mentioning what's available. While that can be helpful to a degree, there's a point where too much new content and too many screens can lead to learning overload for those attending. Several things can help you with these challenges:
Item 3 bears special mention. Some of the websites referenced by The Family History Guide present powerful visual models. Here are two examples:
There many other hidden gems in The Family History Guide; some of them are great visual demonstrations, while others make their points without much in the way of graphics but with powerful analogies that create visual pictures in our minds.
I heard the above statement in two different settings over the past few weeks. The outcomes to both of these are interesting, so here's what happened:
In a recent training session on The Family History Guide for Temple & Family History Consultants, I asked, "How many of you have used the Country pages?" Nearly all the 20 consultants in the class had said they were "familiar" with The Family History Guide, but only two hands went up in regards to the Country pages. I was a bit surprised by that but went on with the training. Afterwards I invited the attendees to come to a Beginning U.S. Research class I was teaching the following week. Nearly all of them came, and I got quite a few comments about how amazing the United States page is in The Family History Guide.
This is from a trainer outside of Utah. She told me that she was doing some publicity for The Family History Guide, and one of the family history center directors told her, "Yes, we know about the website. It's free, so people can just visit it and get what they need." Then the trainer asked if anyone in the area had been trained on The Family History Guide. The answer was "no," so she proceeded to help the director understand the unique benefits of the site and why training was important. The director saw her point and asked what she could do to help get some training scheduled."
There's a big difference between "We know about the website" and "We are excited about this website!"—and the difference often happens when trainers show the possibilities of what can be done with it. Here are a few talking points to help people catch the vision, based on sections of The Family History Guide:
You can add your own talking points as well. It's a great experience to watch the "light bulbs" go on as people catch the vision of what The Family History Guide really is.
With many of us acting as family history mentors to others, here are a few thoughts on building good mentoring relationships with our learners.
As the learner gains confidence and skills, he or she can assume more of the workload, leaving you the time and energy to develop new mentoring relationships. Best wishes for success in your mentoring! And from one who is deeply invested in family history training, a sincere thanks for the great work you do!
The Sandy Granite center—where The Family History Guide originated—has introduced some interesting on-demand training options. They have a nice assortment of instructor-led classes for local attendees, with sessions in the mornings and evenings. The class schedule is posted on their website, where you can see a calendar with upcoming classes.
So far, this is fairly typical of what family history centers offer. But they have added some additional twists that raise the training bar:
There's a great resource for trainers built right into The Family History Guide. Go to the Trainers menu and select "Training Tips" (just below "Resources"). It will take you here.
The Training Tips page has the following sections:
Check out the Training Tips page on The Family History Guide and see the difference it can make for your training!
If you are a Temple and Family History Consultant, it's likely you will need to wear these four "hats" as you fulfill your responsibilities:
The Family History Guide can help you in each of these roles, as well as in the Discover, Gather Connect process. For the Librarian, you can guide others to answers, without having to know everything yourself. See TRAINING TIPS #7 for more details.
For Mentor, use the Consultant Planner on LDS.org to invite others and set goals for their family history work. Did you know that The Family History Guide can be a great asset in setting goals with the people you help? The Choices in the Projects for The Family History Guide lend themselves well to four basic types of things that learners may want to accomplish: navigation skills, gathering memories, research, and temple names. As you work with others, be sure to maintain a balance where the learner stays involved in the discovery process.
For Trainer, develop customized classes using the Course Catalog from The Family History Guide. You can use the website as the training material, with Exercises and links to article and video resources. In most cases, you won't even need to build slide decks to teach from. These classes can be used in small or larger settings as needed. For more help, see Training Tips in the Trainers menu of The Family History Guide.
For Recruiter, encourage others to become involved in family history. This task can be made much easier with The Family History Guide. You can show others the 15-Minute Approach on the Home page of the website, to help busy people fit family history into their lives. You can also point people to fun and engaging family history activities that bring families and individuals together, including youth and children.
One of the most common reasons people use for not getting involved in family history is "I don't have the time." Yet if you ask a busy person if they could spare 15 minutes a day or every other day for something very important, chances are they'd say "yes."
This is where the "15 Minutes" idea can be helpful, for those you'd like to get involved in doing family history. We recently added a "15 Minutes" button on the Home page of The Family History Guide. It goes to a newly revised "More Things to Do" page that is geared around doing family history tasks and activities in short spurts. Combined with The Family History Guide, this 15-minute approach could be the difference-maker in helping you get more people involved in family history.
Watch for a post on our Blog Page this weekend on these ideas. We'll be updating the "More Things to Do" page from time to time, to keep people inspired and motivated to be on the family history path and enjoy its life-changing benefits.
When we teach traditional family history computer classes, we typically set up the class with a presentation screen at the front and rows of computers filling the rest of the room.
That usually does the trick for group instruction in a computer lab, but what if you need to do individual mentoring with a group? Walking back and forth between aisles to help people can be a pain, not to mention bumping into chairs, people, and power strips.
Recently, the Sandy Granite family history center came up with an interesting solution. There are two rooms in the center: one is set up as a traditional computer lab, and the second, until a few weeks ago, was an overflow room with a few computer tables. The tech staff re-configured that room for mentoring, using an ingenious setup.
Starting from the middle of the room, there is a pod of four computers, 2 x 2, facing each other. Around the middle pod is a spacious walking aisle. The outer edge of the room has three banks of computer tables: one in front, one on the left, and one on the right. You can see this layout in this picture.
There are several mentoring advantages here: 1) Learners can get to any seat in the room easily; 2) the instructor can quickly get to any computer to provide mentoring help; and 3) learners can also walk around and see what others are doing, or get help from others.
When the instructor needs to address the entire group, seats can easily be swiveled to face the needed direction. The presentation screen is still at the front of the lab.
When people ask you questions about family history, you begin to realize how much there really is to learn. You may find yourself thinking, "I'm not a library—I don't know all the answers!" And that's totally OK. Stressing about the things you don't know is a sure way to not enjoy being a consultant or mentor.
So what's to do? One way to alleviate some of the knowledge burden is to think of yourself as the librarian, not the library. You can become very successful in helping others with family history if you know the basics, and then you know where to turn for additional answers.
For example, you should know how to access and do basic navigation in one or more platforms, such as FamilySearch or Ancestry, and perform simple record searches. (And you may already know much more than that, or not—depending on your experience.) But what about the many other aspects of family history that others may have questions about? That's where The Family History Guide can help you feel like a librarian, rather than a library.
For example, do you remember all the steps for uploading photos in FamilySearch? What about explaining the best strategies for descendancy research, or how to do research in archives and libraries? If you don't remember, but you know where to point someone in The Family History Guide, the answers will usually come fairly quickly. (Uploading photos? Project 2: Memories, Goal 6 ... Descendancy research strategies? Project 3: Descendants, Goal 1 ... Archives and libraries? Find the Goal in the Country or state page you want.)
I remember once when I was helping a guest at a family history center with a question, and someone else came up to wait for help. I could sense the second person's impatience, so I interrupted my conversation and asked what I could do for them. Normally that wouldn't be a great strategy, as the second person could take over the conversation, and the first person would feel abandoned. But I had something in mind. When the second person asked his question, I thought for a moment and said, "I want you to open The Family History Guide and go to (such and such) Project and Goal. Read the first Choice and then I'll be with you in a few minutes." When I got back to that person, he said, "Never mind—I found an article that answered my question ... thanks!"
Not all experiences will go as smoothly as that one, but it shows the power and potential of helping others find answers to their questions using The Family History Guide. When a person is at least partially involved in finding an answer, it does tend to stick with them pretty well, and you have the satisfaction of helping them progress.
Best wishes with your adventure of being a librarian instead of a library—it should prove to be a very rewarding experience!
When it's time to teach a new class on a family history topic, some of the first thoughts that may cross your mind are, "I'll need to build a slide deck for that" and "I'll need to come up with some class handouts." That's the process that trainers have used for a long, long time, and still do. But there's a new process in town ...
Because The Family History Guide is a self-contained online learning system, it means you can teach its family history topics right from the website. So instead of spending hours creating slide decks, or finding them form other people and adapting them, you can be ready to teach from The Family History Guide in a fraction of the time. Here are the basic preparation steps using the website:
That's pretty much it. In addition to saving prep time, this approach enables trainers to teach family history topics that they had not considered before, since the material is there and ready to use. When the training is over, the Tracker provides a way for learners and trainers to continue monitoring progress.
So, about those handouts ... Although preparing detailed handouts for training with The Family History Guide is usually not necessary, there are a number of useful handouts in the Media section (Intro > Media). There are also brochures on that page you can print and use in training.
Enjoy the mind-shift of the future that's here today ... move from slide decks and handouts to The Family History Guide!
Hopefully, many of you have had the opportunity to present The Family History Guide to others, possibly in a computer lab setting such as a family history center. It's a rewarding experience to see the "lights go on" in people's eyes when they realize what a difference The Family History Guide can make in their own progress.
Here are a few tips for presenting the website in a computer lab setting, where the learners may be matching your navigation on their workstations:
As trainers, we probably wish all our learners were eager and thoughtful. That would be such an easy training assignment, right? Perhaps, but the "easiness" of the way can also cause us to miss the mark. Let's take a look at each learning type and some ways we can better meet their needs.
The Eager Learner
Eager learners are typically ready to listen to whatever we have to say ... and that may actually be a problem. Why? Because we end up going too fast, trying to cram in too much new information in a training session. Or, we may stress "favorite" areas of family history that are enjoyable for us but not essential for those who are just getting started.
To counteract these tendencies, we should decide on the basic fundamentals we want to get across, and the level of detail for each. Resist the temptation to dive in too deep to a particular topic, even if the learner seems to want to know all about it. Instead, focus on a balance of topics to build a strong foundation. You can use the Tracker from The Family History Guide to pre-assess skills or set goals with your learner. Remember: you want to empower your learners to see where to go next, rather than cause them to be dependent on you for knowledge. The Family History Guide can be a great asset in accomplishing that.
The Thoughtful Learner
This is probably the ideal training situation, but it still has some important challenges. Here are a few basic tips:
Enjoy training your eager and thoughtful family history learners. They are truly a gift!
This type of learner may be suspicious of trainers or have strong opinions about the way things should be done in family history. You may meet him or her in a classroom or in a one-on-one mentoring situation. Assuming the person really does want to learn, even if it's buried deep inside, here are a few do's and don'ts to keep in mind.
Reluctant learners will probably be thinking or saying:
Here are some ideas that can help us get past our family history doubts and fears:
TIME—You don't need to become immersed in genealogy; you can enjoy it in pieces. The key is having brief, meaningful and enjoyable experiences, from 15 to 30 minutes at a time (or more, if the mood strikes). The Family History Guide is ideal for this: you can select a Project, Goal, and Choice and quickly find instructions, articles, and videos to get you going. Feeling like you've succeeded and learned something positive will keep your family history momentum going.
AUNT CLARA—The assumptions here are: 1) you have to be very skilled to be involved in family history; 2) it takes all your time; 3) it's more efficient if one person per family handles family history work. Simply put, all of these are false. Everyone can participate, no matter the skill level (even "Aunt Clara" started off as a beginner). It doesn't have to consume your life (see "Time" above). Do the math: more people working together can build family trees fuller and better. But the biggest advantage of not leaving it all to Aunt Clara is that we all need to experience the personal connections to our ancestors that family history brings—not just Aunt Clara.
WHERE TO START?—The usual answer here is "start with what you know" ... and that's good advice. Getting documents and photos organized and getting the first few generations in order are good goals for any genealogist. But what if more work has already been done on your family lines? Then it's time to reach out to family members and see what needs to be done next. The major family history sites—FamilySearch, Ancestry, MyHeritage, and Findmypast all have excellent collaboration tools, and The Family History Guide has an entire Project dedicated to help and collaboration.
TOO HARD—Imagine if you are trying to get back into physical shape after after a long layoff. Overdo it, and you may quickly give up on the fitness idea. With family history, you can plunge right into trying to crack that research brick wall in the 1600's ... or instead, you can check out articles and videos to help you get warmed up to research. The stronger your foundation, the better you'll be able to handle family history challenges when they arise. Remember that it's not all about finding that "new person"—there is plenty you can do for people already in your tree, such as finding stories and photos, or providing sources for their information.
IT'S BORING—If you're not into dates and places, and that's all that family history is supposed to be, then yes, it may seem boring. That's where the power of connections and discovery comes in. When we discover a photo of one of our ancestors for the first time or read an inspirational story about one of them, it's a whole new game—we start to discover who we are, as well as who they are. This is something vital for us, and it's vital that we pass it on to the next generation. Kids who know their family roots can build a stronger, more confident identity as they go forward in challenging times. The Family History Guide has a section dedicated to fun family history activities—they are anything but boring!
4 Family History Stages—https://www.thefhguide.com/Four_Family_History_Stages.pdf
Family History Activities—https://www.thefhguide.com/act-families.html
The Secrets of a Happy Family—http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/fashion/the-family-stories-that-bind-us-this-life.html
Imagine yourself seated next to someone who has asked you to help with his or her family history. (For LDS family history consultants, this is a pretty familiar scenario, and there are great suggestions in the Consultant Planner on LDS.org for this very thing.)
How would you get started?
Often, we focus on trying to pour information into the learner's head—especially information from our own area of genealogy expertise (record types, research tips, etc.). But that may not be what the learner really needs. If we "force-feed" an informational meal, even though it's delicious to us, it may kill another's appetite for learning.
Let's take a look at a few sample "learner profiles" of people you may have the opportunity to help with family history:
Next week's post: Helping Reluctant Learners Find the Joy of Family History