Sunday, March 14, 2010

NIGS – First 3 Classes Complete

In January, I decided to work toward a certificate program offered by the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.  I’m working on the American Records certificate, and have completed my first three classes:  Methodology Part 1, US Census Records, and Electronic Resources.  I started my fourth course, US Land Records on March 1st, and will begin two more courses (Methodology Part 2 and US Vital Records) on April 5th.

So far, I’m enjoying the courses.  I’m learning new things in a structured way, which is helping with my research.  Since these first courses are the Basic Level, there is some overlap with what I already know, but in some cases, it serves as a reminder and is strengthening my knowledge. 

Most of the assignments are practical.  For example, we had to analyze an 1870 Products of Industry schedule of the census.  For me, this was a great exercise, as I had never used this type of schedule prior to this class.

The one thing I don’t like so much is that you don’t really get any feedback from the instructors.  Each level has an Analysis & Skills Mentoring course, where you do “meet” with the instructor twice during the course.  But so far in the other courses, I have not received any feedback.  It is possible that you get feedback upon the completion of the course, but technically, my three course do not end until March 28th (I have completed all the assignments and the exam though).

Some of the assignments are “public” meaning you post them to a message board type tool and others can view your answer (likewise, you can view others’ answers).  You have the ability to send an email message to a classmate, but not the ability to comment directly on their assignment post.  I think this would be a nice feature.

One thing I’ve noticed from the public assignments, is the lack of thought from a few of the students.  In some cases, it seems that they’re just posting a quick answer without putting much thought into it.  In other cases, I’ve seen people basically give the impression that they only use Ancestry for their research, without regard to other resources.  Then, why, I ask, are they taking these courses?  They don’t really seem open to learning about additional resources, and these classes are not exactly cheap.  I truly hope that my impression is wrong, but I fear some of them may simply be after the certificate and postnomials PLCGS (Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies).  Regardless of the other students’ intent, I am set on learning all that I can to enhance my research and analysis skills.  The certificate and postnomials are a bonus.




Alice Dilts said...

Keep it up! I checked the classes out and you are correct they are pricey! If you end up needing a brick wall type of assignment, I have a few for you.

Kathryn Doyle said...

I commend you for your efforts and thank you for a peek into the process. I believe this is the program that Steve Danko recently completed, is it not? He might have some insight into what you are noticing. I look forward to updates on the process. You definitely get an "A" for completing the course early!

Julie Cahill Tarr said...


Yes, Steve Danko was listed among the graduates of the program. There were a few other names I recognized (although it's been months since I looked at the list).


Julie Cahill Tarr said...


I actually purchased the courses in a package, which will save me quite a bit of $$. As for brick walls, so far, most of the practical-type assignments have not been related to personal research.


Sheri said...


This program was the first one I checked into when I made the decision to try and "formalize" my education. The ONLY thing that prevented me from signing up that very day was the cost.

It is most unfortunate that the class does not interact more but don't let that get you down. This is long-distance education.

You are well on your way and don't let anyone stop you! Please keep us up to date with your progress Julie, we are all proud of you!

Julie Cahill Tarr said...

Thanks, Sheri!

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