Sure, you can attend the sessions in your running shorts and squeeze in a webinar between the kids' soccer games. You can even wear your PJs and bring food and drinks to class! You can play the radio in the background or keep an eye on game score, too.
But, I've found that multitasking isn't always the most effective way to attend a Virtual Genealogy Conference. It's too easy to be distracted by everyday routine and miss out on just the session or chat I want to see most.
Instead, I get a lot more out of online learning when I take time to prepare just like I would if the conference was held on site.
This weekend's Family Tree University's Fall Virtual Conference features three different genealogy activities:
- 15 recorded webinars
- 8 scheduled live chat sessions with presenters
- a conference message board for on-going discussion and questions
All activities will be coordinated by Kerry Scott, FTU Instructor and Clue Wagon blogger. Kerry is sure to keep things lively and entertaining all weekend.
A Handful of Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Virtual Conference
1. Get Online and LogIn
A day before the conference begins you will receive a copy of the Student Manual (pdf) and a link to the Conference website on Blackboard. This is the same software used by many universities for online learning and it's intuitive and easy to use.
If it's your first online conference it's a good idea to take time now to make sure you can log into the site. The content won't be posted until the actual date, but you can be ready to go! You don't want to miss something good because you are figuring it out the details.
2. Mark Your Schedule
I like to review the topics and presenters ahead of time so that I have a good idea of what sessions I want to view early on in order to ask any questions I might have at the live chat with the presenter. The full program for the Fall FTU Virtual Conference is posted here.
If possible, view companion webinars before the live chat so you are ready to ask questions and join in the conversation.
3. Prepare Your Home and Family
When it comes to weekend genealogy, it seems like it's all or nothing at my house. I might have time for uninterrupted research and webinars, but when family activities take priority during a virtual conference, I focus on downloading materials and checking the message boards so I can review everything later.
Sometimes it's possible to set aside a Genealogy Weekend that's clear for conference events and your own personal genealogy research. Let the rest of the family know what hours you'll be busy; order pizza or make a do-ahead casserole. Pretend you are attending a conference on-site and give yourself time to make the most of your virtual conference weekend.
3. Join In! Ask Questions! Participate
In a face-to-face conference the presenter can see you smile or nod your head, but in a virtual world the chat room is lonely and quiet without participation. It's okay to make brief comments just to let folks know you are there. Ask a relevant question, or make a remark like, "thanks, "great idea," or "LOL" to join in.
4. Take Advantage of the Experts
The Discussion Board is a great place to leave questions, pose a problem, or make a request for more information. You've got a a wealth of experience available; make use of it!
5. Download the Materials
Before signing off for the weekend, take time to download the webinars and handouts, and print out a copy of the conference program. It will be your Table of Contents to hours of genealogy education on demand, whenever you have time and questions on the conference topics.
You still have time to register for this genealogy event and get ready for a weekend of family history fun and education. See you this weekend at the Family Tree University's Fall Virtual Conference.