Monthly Archives: August 2006

Transcribing and Abstracting Documents

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One of my greaat pleasures in working for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies is the consultations i have with students. My students in Analysis and Skills Mentoring 2 and 3 struggle through transcription and abstracting assignments. Some I am sure will never tackle such tasks again, and neverrise to the great potential they have as genealogists of professional quality. These skills are critical for advanced research.

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Semantic Spin: Just What the Doc Ordered?

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I heard someone say the other day that here is a lot of bad PowerPoint presentations out there. Apparently many of these boring, uncreative slide shows, like some of mine, have put audiences to sleep. Others are poorly created: wrong sized fonts, trite templates, poor color choices etc. again a few of mine were like that before I came to my senses. The problem is so common, my informant suggested, that many people turn off when they hear the term PowerPoint. They
just don’t want to sit through another one. Continue reading

The Hermit Poet Makes a House Call.


We are fortunate to have The Hermit Poet (THP) home for the weekend to work on some details of a new website. My team of furniture assembly experts worked till 2:00AM the other night installing my office just to be ready. THP arrived Friday morning and went right to wrrking setting up the new computer (iots smart enough to walk AND chew gum at the same time. Yesterday afternoon and today THP has been doing his web design stuff. Premature to show you, but its way better than my crude efforts. You can look at one of his recent efforts at

Podcast from a Major Archives: An Interesting Educational Idea


A recent media release from The National Archives (UK) makes me wonder if other archives or libraries are exploring the idea of educating their clients using podcasts. It seems efficient: A lecture by a subject specialist is recorded and made accessible through the website WHEN THE CLIENT NEEDS IT. I expect that major genealogy collections will include podcast lectures teaching clients what is in the collection and how to access and use it. Interested in this example? Read on.

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Test Questions for a Genealogy Course: Assigning Values


Still unpacking. Today I found my computer glasses and a stack of cards with test questions for an English genealogy class. Here are ten questions for you to look at.

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A Tale of Two Experts


Long ago and far away in Hawaii I was a struggling student of applied lingustics looking at a peculiar method of measuring language skills. My profs were unhelpful, and the literature was contradictory. Scholars in teaching reading said one thing, and scholars in language testing another . So I decided to approach the most qualified exponents in each camp and ask them about their views on the other position. These scholars were in slightly different fields and definitely had never communicated. Here’s what happened.

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Learning from the “Lists”

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Self-Directed Learning is an important part of being a serious genealogist. Many genealogists subscribe to on-line forums or lists and receive email messages daily, even hourly from others with similar interests. Often long threads are generated as the topic is explored from various angles. Just as often these threads carrying a common subject, wander off on tangents and ar so off topic as to be meaningless. Other times responses the thread carries too many “me too” messages. How does the self -directed learner make the most of these lists?

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Crash & Burn, Wobbly Table, and other Problems


Sorry for not being very prolific lately but my computer has aged and periodically dies unpredictably. My computer table limps on one short leg and three of the other kind, and i am having health problems. My get up and go, got up and went. But help is on the way.

  • The new computer awaits assembly and it can walk and chew gum!
  • A new computer desk awaits assembly- its steady and the correct keyboard height
  • That leaves my get up and go. Maybe this will return. Unfortunately there are complications so I’ve been cancelling fall lectures in Calgary and Kelowna and elsewhere. Work keeps coming in. So i am thinking of taking on an apprentice or intern. Interesting idea. Any ideas on how to make apprentice idea work?

The Best Teachers and Speakers Make You Feel Good!

Think about this peculiar fact for a minute: Your audience will forget your content, but not how you made them feel. Now take a minute and ponder on the balance of information content, expressions of affection and motivation in your lectures.

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Quest: A Practical Course at the Family Records Centre, London

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From the Newsletter of the National Archives in the UK comes the announcement of a new class: “Quest is a new training course specifically designed for visitors to the FRC who are just setting out on the trail of their ancestors. Taking a practical, hands-on approach to family history research, the two day course uses a series of case studies to introduce beginners to the basic sources available at the FRC. A pilot version of Quest will be held at the FRC on Friday 13 & Friday 20 October 2006.”

I seem to recall not so many years ago when archivists despised genealogists. how things have changed! Do any of the archives you use offer beginners genealogy classes? How frequently are they offered. Who teaches? What is taught? How successful are they in addressing the goals of the archive? The goals of learners? Your comments are welcome>