… and it’s a Wrap!

A week ago it was the final day of Congress 2018 and participants were rushing to make photo calls, laughing and chatting in the sunshine with their new found Genimates, bolting down lunch in between sessions and wondering whether they should risk the Light Rail/Train combination to the airport to meet their scheduled departure times.

There was a full day of lectures to attend as well as the closing ceremony which made for a very full day indeed.

Readers may wonder why, if it is a week after the end of the Congress, is she finally getting around to writing about it? After all, hasn’t it all been said?

My Congress 2018 experience closed with a flight to Melbourne, then a long drive home to finally see my own bed around midnight.  My throat had been flaring and flaming sore all afternoon despite some honey and lemon throat lozenges and I wasn’t feeling all that flash. Fast forward four days and I am finally back to some semblance of normal – well, at least I can remain upright and not spend every hour of the day asleep.

     Genibloggers assembling for the Group Shot

I’ve read the contributions of other Geniebloggers  recapping and celebrating Congress 2018 and the fabulous work of the organising team from Society of Australian Genealogists.  What more can I add? It was a marvelous learning experience, great social atmosphere and I am very pleased I was a part of it.

Highlights?

Anything Jill Ball (GeniAus) touched, she turned to gold.  This woman is remarkable for her energy, her commitment, her scholarship, her welcoming skills, her capacity for inclusiveness and her all round goodness.  We thank you, Jill.

Meeting Marilyn Rowan from NSW Transcription Services   and learning about her new service for ordering certificate transcriptions through Ancestry.com.au   I hadn’t realised that the little shopping trolley that was popping up in the search results linked to Marilyn’s service.  What a bonus! I’ve used Marilyn’s service in the past and found it prompt and good value as a means of obtaining the next best thing to an extract.  Given the budget doesn’t allow for too many full priced certificates, this makes for a viable alternative.

Marilyn has already sent through one transcription requested and, when I was finally seeing straight, I have ordered four more!

Dianne Snowden (c) with Rosemary & Eric Kopittke (l) & John (r) after the UTAS photo shoot

The UTAS group – current students and Alumni – owe a substantial debt to Dianne Snowden. She headed the team delivering the very first unit of the UTAS Diploma of Family History and has supported us first as students and now graduates of the course. Perhaps we can blame her for our new found addiction to online education? Her continued support of the family history sector and her encouragement of all budding professional genealogists is fantastic. It was great to catch up with her, hear her  presentations to the Congress and to have her as part of our UTAS photos.

To all the people I’ve met and reconnected with, the new friends I’ve made, UTAS fellow students, bloggers, Facebook group members and new FB friends and connections: it was and is a great pleasure to have had the opportunity.  My thanks to those who shared their expertise and experience, who asked the questions, gave the answers, shared a smile or a joke or a glass of water.

I hope I haven’t shared any of my germs with you 😉

 

 

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Congress 2018 Update

We have, at day one and a half, had several photo sessions trying to get all the UTAS students and graduates together for a group photo.  One session yesterday morphed into three when a couple of latecomers missed the first group shot.

Today we’ve gathered some more of the alumni who missed yesterday for another photo.  The plan is to blend all the shots together so we are all recorded in one group.

Herding cats?  yes…. it has been a bit like that, but it has been fun to put faces to the names that, for the last three years of the DipFamHist, we have mainly known online.

Diploma of Family History

This week, the University of Tasmania advised me that I was eligible to graduate with this Diploma.
Returning to study was quite a step as I had not indulged in a formal educational environment for the best part of 40 years; as a student, that is. This course was delivered entirely online so there was a learning curve that involved learning to navigate the online delivery system as well as slipping back into the discipline of regular study.
Discipline??? Me?? Never… I was the most disorganised student, always leaving it to the last minute and in many cases, just scraping by. This was going to be a challenge to undo all those bad habits and unpleasant memories associated with school.
Fast forward to now and I’m itchy…. to get moving with the next round of study! The Diploma is finished but there’s a chance that there may be some ‘advanced’ units in the future. In the meantime, I’ve racked up a few other Arts units which may well lead on to something else. In between time, there has also been the opportunity to do a unit or three in the Health faculty. So what have I done? Just to keep my hand in, I’ve enrolled in two more units for Semester 2 this year – Arts and Dementia Care and Foundations of Arts and Health.

Some of the study already completed has been focused around the effects of ageing and dementia – and how we can equip ourselves with the means to prevent this invasive disease of the elderly.  Keeping learning is something we can all do to keep our brains healthy and active – the learning of a musical instrument or a language are highly recommended but any learning will do.

So here I am, warding off the effects of ageing, attempting to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and having a great deal of fun at the same time.  Try it yourself, you might be surprised that you discover a whole new purpose in life.

 

 

Another round of classes

Not content with currently studying two units of the UTAS Diploma of Family History, I decided to sign up for a MOOC. What’s a MOOC?
A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course – you can search for and take part in free online courses offered by Universities all over the world by looking here. What a great way to learn about something new!

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And just what did I decide to study?  Preventing Dementia.  This is a MOOC offered by UTAS and its an area I have wanted to investigate and learn about.  There’s a unit to do with Dementia offered in the degree I’m enrolled in that I had considered taking on this semester but chose to leave it until next year by which time I would have just about finished the Family History course. In the meantime, it seemed like a good idea to take this short unit and bring myself up to speed on all things demented before I launched into the other unit.

MOOCs are a great way to break into study as an adult – no fees, no exams, no stress and a supportive international student cohort who are all in the same place as you.  Learning to navigate the delivery of the MOOC subject matter through UTAS is also a great way to learn their  formal online study delivery system without the pressure of passing or failing hanging over you.

My local neighbourhood centre has invited me back to facilitate a second round of Family History classes – so not only am I knee deep in learning, I’ll be sharing those skills with others as well.  If you’re a Central Victorian and want to get started on your own research, there are just a couple places left in this 4 week class that begins in August. Enrol here.

The neighbourhood centre has a computer lab and a library subscription to Ancestry.com.au so you don’t even need to have a computer to be able to get started – the centre is a GoDigi partner and have mentors in place for people wanting some IT guidance and support.

Study….

I’m often asked why I spend so much time on researching family history – not just mine, but other people’s families as well.  History of any sort has always been something that I have enjoyed.  Whilst at high school, I took every history class I could.  I attended high school at a time when classes were streamed with either a Maths/Science emphasis, Humanities or Commercial emphasis.

Those in the Maths/Science stream were invariably tagged as the bright kids, the Humanities tended to average but creative and the Commercial were going to be the early school leavers. The Commercial stream subjects included Home Economics, Typing and Shorthand; subjects I could never have imagined myself needing or wanting to study.

I fell into the Humanities basket – creatively average!  I hated the languages but was forced to study them right through to Year 12. I also just managed to scrape through to Year 12 in the basic Maths class which was also compulsory.  Where I had some choice was in the History areas. Over the latter years, we could choose – and I chose them all.  Everything that was offered, I did.

I’m not good with the dates or the major wars – that sort of History isn’t captivating.  What fascinates me is the how people lived, what factors influenced  their life choices, how world events could affect the ordinary person, how did the not-so-ordinary person function within the society’s strictures, customs and expectations at any given time.  The list could go on and on.

At one point, I spent a great deal of time looking at the history of people marginalised by their sexuality or their calling – there’s not a lot of people about who would read for ‘entertainment’ histories documenting the dire fates awaiting homosexuals in the 18th Century if they were discovered. Such reading enabled me to understand the influence of the church on the law, societal standards and double standards, impacts of industrialization in UK and Europe and how women could be financially independent at a time when they were still regarded as property. So illuminating!

Is it any wonder that, when I discovered that the University of Tasmania was offering units of online study in Family History,  I jumped in boots and all?  I haven’t studied formally for the best part of 40 years.  I wasn’t going to let that stop me although I doubted whether my research and writing skills would be of the required standard, let alone my computer skills.

It seems I needn’t have been too concerned.  I was up to the mark – and I have developed somewhat of an addiction to study.  I have to date completed three units of the Diploma of Family History and am currently enrolled in two more. There are three more to complete for the Diploma and my name is on the list for those.

Just because I could, I have also undertaken three units in the Health Sciences field and a Photography unit in the Arts stream.  My results have all been pretty good – High Distinctions – although in the Diploma we are only given an ungraded pass as a final result, we are marked and graded as we complete each assessment.

Why am I doing this?  Why not? Just because I am technically a “Senior” doesn’t mean that I can’t continue to broaden my horizons, expand my skills, meet new people and generally want to be challenged by the unknown.  I want to learn – so why not learn about something that intrigues and delights me?

I can hear the observant muttering “But what about those Health Science units she mentioned.  What’s that got to do with family history?” Good question.  They were offered and I thought that I might give them a try after having successfully completed the first unit of the Family History diploma. They hooked me in too as they were just as much about answering some of those questions posed earlier. What factors influence how people behave/eat/exercise?  More opportunities to explore social issues in a health science environment couldn’t be ignored. Besides, they helped out with better equipping me as an effective volunteer in the health and aged care sector.

So, one creatively average high school student has evolved into a multidisciplinary mature aged university student.  I’m studying History, Art, Health Sciences and English across three different study plans online at a Uni I will probably never set foot in and I’m having the time of my life!

I’ve realised, having got to the end of this post, that my real reason for writing was because I had received the latest unit results today.  I wanted to celebrate my achievement.  Instead I’ve reflected – that English class must have taught me something after all!

Back to the Books

Its hot and dusty here in my Spot already and I find myself more than ready to hunker down and sweat out the summer over the books again.

This semester I have signed up to study two units online at UTAS. “Writing Family History” is only three weeks old and already my head is swimming with ideas for stories.  Do I write a ‘fictionalised’ account of one ancestor? Do I try to tell the stories of several of the most interesting characters? Do I try to unravel some of that confused oral history and attempt to set the story straight?

The last thing I want to do is to write something that is essentially boring. Lots of family histories are boring – lists of dates of  births, deaths, marriages.  In ours, at least, there would also be a list of divorces and remarriages to make it a little more interesting if I took the conventional route.  Then there’s the rest of the family to consider. How would they feel about some of those stories being investigated, recorded and subsequently published? Its the conundrum that faces every writer of family history when dealing with those closest to you especially if the family story has been tucked under the carpet or hidden in the closet for many years.

We’re on semester break shortly so I have ordered an ebook for some light holiday reading : Hazel Edwards’ ‘Writing a Non-boring Family History’. I’m hoping this will give me some technical help and inspiration as I work through the remaining exercises or e-tivities, as they are called in the course.

The hardest task of all has been deciding just who to write about – there are so many little vignettes that bear recording before they are lost. I’m frightened that I might find myself taking a scatter gun approach and in the wash up, not do any of the ancestors’ stories the justice they deserve.

I’m tending towards a series of short stories – fictionalised accounts of separate incidents – that may or may not be about my family. ‘Names changed to protect the innocent’ and all that sort of stuff. Using a short story format also gives me the opportunity to explore a range of styles of writing.  I like the constraints of a word count – it focuses one’s attention on making sure there isn’t any ‘waffle’.

And I can waffle with the best of them!

 

‘What was the other unit you are studying?’ I hear you ask.

‘Photography and Social Media’

More about that some other time, dear reader.

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Congress2015

In a few days time I will be leaving for Canberra to attend four intense days at the AFFHO Congress for 2015. There’s been quite a bit happening personally, so preparations for my attendance has been a little haphazard.
However, I have been reading a bit of timely advice and taking note:

Keeping up with Congress2015 through Jill Ball at http://geniaus.blogspot.com.au/ and Pauline Cass https://cassmob.wordpress.com/

How to pack for every circumstance with Susie Zada …. http://justlovehistory.com/historians-backpack/

……And discovering that I really did need to get some, new up to date business/contact cards thanks to Judy Webster ….. http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/top-3-things-to-do-before-genealogy.html

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and now I have the Congress App (It’s iOS and Android friendly) as well….

The App allows for me to load up my personal programme of lectures and events and for timely updates to be sent straight to my phone or iPad (both of which will be packed with chargers according to Susie’s instructions!)

I’ve registered some of my research interests…. I need to go back and put in a few more names.  This event draws such a wide range of attendees, it would be a shame to miss an opportunity to connect.

The final part of my preparation for this event involves being right up to date with my online study commitments (UTAS and NIGS subjects underway and FutureLearn (Monash) about to start) and to resolve as many of the outstanding research queries I have on a project I am completing for my friend as I am to deliver her a preliminary report on my way to and from Canberra.

Having taken part in UTAS Introduction to Family History class with Dr Dianne Snowden  over summer, I was one of over 1,000 people who stepped back into formal study or undertook a university subject for the first time.  Many connections were formed and online groups were started – Facebook and Google+ – and some of us are getting together for a social evening during the conference.

Enough said…. its back to work for me…. counting the days!!!