Monday, February 1, 2010

Back To School: Day 20

An update on my participation in the Boston University Certificate in Genealogical Research online program which began on 13 January 2010.  You can read about Day 1 here.

I forgot how much hard work is involved with education and going back to school after being away for so many years!  I'm really not complaining because I am thoroughly enjoying the BU program.  I wanted to give my readers an idea as to what is involved especially since this course uses an online format.
  • I am dedicating about 20 hours a week to reviewing course content, reading from the required texts (see below) as well as completing assignments.
  • The course is made up of "modules" that are "open" on specific dates and then "close" at which time you are no longer able to work on the related assignments.
  • The first module, 13 January through 19 January, was dedicated to the Foundations of Genealogical Research and taught by Elissa Scalise Powell.  I really enjoyed this module and just when you think you have a good foundation in the field, the materials told me otherwise!
  • I am currently working on the second module which runs from 20 January through 9 February, and is entitled Problems Solving Techniques and Technology.  It is taught by Allison Ryall and Joshua Taylor - both are people I've followed in the genealogy field and for whom I have much respect.  Their body of knowledge is phenomenal and they are always available in the Ask The Instructor discussion group or if you email them directly.
  • The assignments in this second module have not been easy.  I think I was up until 3 am one morning trying to finish one!  Although there are several assignments which must be finished by the end of the module, we've been asked to stay on a schedule and to complete certain ones by a specific date.  The reason (and it makes sense): there are discussions involved for each assignment and this way you aren't holding up the rest of the class - you can stay in pace with everyone which is necessary especially in the discussions.
  • What are the assignments like?  Well I am not going to give specifics but let's say that they range from a) transcribing very old documents; to b) tracing the deeds with all involved parties for a late 18th century property to the present day; to c) reconciling conflicting census information for an immigrant family.
  • I estimate about 22 students from all over the United States and even one from New Zealand!  I find that everyone is supportive in discussions and shares freely especially when it comes to making suggestions and sharing resources - not unlike the rest of the online genealogy community!
  • Are you graded on assignments?  You betcha!  You submit the work and after a few days you receive great feedback from the instructor(s) and a number/letter grade.
I hope to have another update next week once I am done with this module and we move on to the Evidence Evaluation and Documentation module.

© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee


Heather Rojo said...

have been waiting for an update on your BU class. I'm seriously considering taking it on campus, but I'm liking what I'm reading about your online version. It would certainly beat driving to Boston from New Hampshire, especially with the nasty weather lately. Thanks for posting the text books, too. I can look for them ahead of time and try to get a good price. My daughter is in Boston, in grad school, and she just paid $150 for a paperback textbook! Your honest opinion of the time involved is helpful, too.

Thomas MacEntee said...


I didn't post the other two books but here they are:

Evidence Explained (


A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your Immigrant and Ethnic Ancestors - this one was almost impossible to find (in fact Amazon has private sellers with it starting at $197! today) I contacted Betterway Books and ordered via snail mail.

Heather Rojo said...

Oh, goodie! I already own a copy of Evidence Explained!