Friday, June 1, 2018

Collective Learning Resources

Coming back to my hotel room following a powerful presentation masterfully done by Diahan Southard last night, I couldn't help but reflect on the benefit of the conference approach for learning. While I lean toward preferring the institute model of learningfocused and in-depththere is still much value in what can be gleaned in one hour sessions through the conference setting.

The benefit of gathering together for regional or state genealogical conferences is that we, as organizational members or paying attendees, pool our financial resources which we then entrust to a conference committee tasked with shopping wisely for top notch speakers on a variety of topics. While a regional conference such as the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree may not be as large as a national conference or even a statewide event, the collective force of an organization of this size affords us the ability to draw well-respected experts. While local societies such as my own county's group may pay well for our speakers, there is no way we can command such a panoply of internationally recognized presenters.

Of course, if any of us can avail ourselves of this collective benefit, why not do so? Granted, it involves an investment of time and money to get to an event like thisI and others from the north end of our state had to drive for several hours just to get here a day before the event beganbut the payoff is getting to spend time with experts from across the country.

Yesterday was no disappointment. Traditionally billed as DNA Day, the day preceding the official kick-off of Jamboree is a quirky blend of mind-numbing data-crunching details and inspiring accounts of adoptees reunited with birth families and other heartwarming human interest vignettes about the awesome power of genetic genealogy. Of course, the latest in genetic genealogy trends are showcased, not only in the conference exhibit hall, but in the workshop sessions and classes.

Apparently, the latest buzz is of graphing capabilities offered by companies such as RootsFinder in combination with the Tier1 capabilities at I heard the RootsFinder name mentioned in sessions I attended by Leah Larkin and Blaine Bettinger yesterday. Of course, now I want to rush home and play with all these fun new toys, but I'll wait until after the next two days of conference. There is much more learning to come.

Top of the list is one of the conference's special offerings tomorrow. The Jamboree planners responded to attendee feedback a few years ago and decided to start offering longer sessions which could allow members to go more in-depth with targeted half-day workshops. These offerings allow more advanced attendees to spend time rolling up their sleeves and getting hands-on experience in selected areas.

For instance, I will spend the entire afternoon, laptop open at my fingertips, practicing Blaine Bettinger's Visual Phasing approach. Other workshops offered here this season include a session with Leah Larkin on Genome Mate Pro, a complex program enabling more efficient management of autosomal DNA match data; a chromosome mapping session with Dr. Tim Janzen; and a beginner's overview of genetic genealogy and comparison of DNA testing companies by Emily Aulicino.

Meanwhile, the regularly-scheduled hour-long sessions more customarily offered in a conference setting are running concurrently with this four-stage DNA workshop array. Speakers for classes include Maureen Taylor, Lisa Louise Cooke, Geoff Rasmussen, and Daniel Horowitz, among many others. In the morning, I'll catch several of those classes, myself, before settling in for the afternoon session on Visual Phasing.

Where else could you catch this many well-known instructors, all in one place and offering such a wide choice of topics, but at a conference? I may get jealous of others who are able to attend the NGS or FGS national conferences, but when it comes to face time in my own back yard, I'm happy to have the learning opportunities offered through the efforts of a regional genealogical society closer to home.


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