Saturday, August 8, 2020

Countdown to Learning


Somewhat akin to the feeling of celebrating Christmas in July, the middle of summer has become my personal cue to revel in the anticipation of wintertime learning to come. Instead of thinking of December in July, I turn my thoughts to January in August.

In case you haven't heard, today is the opening of registration for a key learning opportunity in the family history community: the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. Precisely at 10 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time, the online system opens up to those diligent learners who are sitting, poised at their computer with their mouse hovering over the "register now" button. They've already scoured the course descriptions and made their selection. Now, all they have to wait for is the opening bell, when they'll race through the registration details until they successfully complete the process and see the prize of that final message, "Your registration has been recorded."

This year will be different at SLIG, of course. The decision had to be made a while back to convert the in-house learning experience to a virtual one, based on the long-term assessment of the need for social distancing. Gone will be any snarky remarks about germs being caught and attributed to the journey to Salt Lake City in January; this year, the learning will be contactless. Much safer in this pandemic atmosphere—though I must admit I'll still miss being there with the many others who enjoy their week's learning at the SLIG Center at the downtown Hilton.

Different, too, will be the new option for attending online SLIG. Instead of one week of learning with everyone present at one location for the duration, the planned courses have been spread out over two weeks. Week One of SLIG 2021 will be held from January 10 through 15, and Week Two will occur from January 24 through 29.

For those keen observers reading those dates, yes, that means learners can avail themselves of twice the learning opportunities. Our continued learning is thus limited only by our ability to continue staring at a computer screen for hours on end. Thankfully, I see the SLIG tradition continues of the reasonable breaks usually included in the schedule; we will need not only a stretch break but an eye break as well.

It almost seems like yesterday when I was leaving class each evening and heading to the Family History Library to tackle that month's research challenge. I can't believe it will soon be time to reconvene—only this time, by virtual means.

No time to cry over such lost opportunities, though: first, I need to successfully navigate the registration process faster than the few minutes it takes for the most popular courses to fill up. If I remember correctly, the first class to reach capacity last year made it to that cut-off mark in only six minutes. With a countdown as quick as that was, better be nimble about finishing the registration process this time.

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