Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Attending N.I.G.S.

At long last, I can finally say that I am attending N.I.G.S. - The National Institute for Genealogical Studies, affiliated with the Continuing Education Division of the University of St. Michael's College in the University of Toronto. I have chosen to work towards a Canadian Records certification as most of the ancestors I am researching spent at least a good part of their lives in Canada. N.I.G.S. offers certificate programs in six countries (United States, Canada, Australia, Scotland, Ireland, England and Germany) and the program of study allows me to take courses specific to those country's records in addition to the Canadian records on which I will have a special focus.

I have written previously ("My Continuing Genealogy Education" - July 2010 and "Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2010" - May 2010) that podcaster extraordinaire, Lisa Louise Cooke of the Genealogy Gems podcast recommended that as genealogists, we should be spending thirty percent of our time furthering our genealogy education. I noted that Lisa has updated this recommendation at the recent Rootstech 2012 conference to twenty percent! (Oh, what shall I do with all the free time that provides me?) In past, I have used podcasts, webinars and the occasional conference as much of the source of my genealogy education. These helped me learn knew techniques and approaches in addition to helping me stay current with the genealogy industry. But as I approach retirement and the additional time it affords, I needed to decide to stop talking about genealogy education and 'jump in.'

I chose N.I.G.S. for a few reasons. One reason is personal - I am a graduate of the University of Toronto so I already have a soft spot in my heart for the institution. Sentiment aside, I like the flexibility in the program that allows you to take courses at your own pace and the fact that it is online make the courses very accessible. N.I.G.S. also has an impressive list of instructors such as Kory Meyerink, Gena Philibert-Ortega, George G. Morgan, Lisa Alzo, and Michael Hait to name a few. My one reservation was not knowing if the program would meet my learning expectations after thirty plus years of doing genealogy research.

I'm happy to say that although I have to this point been only completing the required basic level mandatory courses in Canadian records, I am learning - and that is what it is all about! The basic level courses have thus far been easy for me but I know that as I progress the courses will become more challenging and I will learn more. I have been very impressed with the quality of the course materials. For example, the course materials for Canadian Vital Statistics Records - Part 1 is 189 pages long. That is a lot of great information about the history and one component of the records of Canada.

The point of this is to echo Lisa Louise Cooke's education recommendation. Find a program that works for you, that meets your time and funding availability and pursue it! The option is learning by osmosis which will work but will likely take much longer.

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