[APG Public List] National Genealogical Meetings

Suzanne Johnston suemj at verizon.net
Fri Oct 2 10:15:30 MDT 2009

Small study groups are a good place to handle this type of debate, but 
they are of necessity limited to small groups of individuals who are 
able to attend the meetings on a regular
basis. Because they generally maintain the same members from meeting to 
meeting (with small changes), the input will not vary as much as it 
could at a national conference. Plus, the study groups actually study 
before they question. Questions and answers immediately after a 
presentation offer a totally different type of interaction, making the 
questioner and the lecturer think "on their feet." Plus the 
material/technique/resources should be "cutting edge."

I thoroughly agree that not all attendees at the national conferences 
would be advanced enough to handle this type of questioning, although 
they could benefit by listening to it. If a track is offered, perhaps we 
should go back to ranking lectures by beginner, intermediate, advanced, 
all levels, etc. Then an individual could decide if he/she is capable or 
willing to handle this type of presentation. But I would be opposed to 
offering it as another level of "paying extra" to be able to attend; it 
should be an open track available for the conference fee. The NGS and 
FGS conferences (as well as regional ones) should be for everyone, not 
just those within one standard deviation from the mean. IMO


Elissa Scalise Powell, CG wrote:
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: On Behalf Of Suzanne Johnston
>> Sent: Friday, October 02, 2009 11:07 AM
>> Although many of the instructional lectures use problem-solving within
>> the presentation, it would certainly be interesting to have a track at
>> national conferences that is totally devoted to interesting and unusual
>> case studies and/or the use of unusual resources to solve a particular
>> problem.
> <snipped> 
>> These questions cover the research techniques
>> used and the conclusions drawn by the speaker and require the speaker to
>> defend all of his/her techniques and conclusions. The questioner often
>> suggests other conclusions that could or should have been considered and
>> the speaker must answer to both the questioner and the audience. 
> This brings to mind the article discussion groups sponsored by the Great
> Lakes Chapter of APG that meet every month in Akron, Ohio or the virtual
> ones sponsored by the TGF list. The Great Lakes Chapter also usually does a
> session at the annual Ohio Genealogical Society conference each April. The
> format is to study a certain article (NGSQ or other peer-reviewed journal)
> and then discuss it in depth in the group at the conference as a
> pre-conference event. Did the author make his point? Was there enough
> evidence? Is there another conclusion that could be made? Perhaps the
> national conferences could invite these types of workshops. However the key
> is study ahead of time for the participants and a certain cap on number of
> attendees for benefit of discussion.
> Playing devil's advocate I will also venture to say that national
> conferences attract all levels of skills and experience. The reason the
> paper presenting/debate style works in other professions is that (I would
> assume) the attendees all have a basic level of training and understand the
> terms being bandied about. What we are discussing is definitely for the
> advanced practitioner and professionals. From my observations at the most
> recent FGS conference, I would say a great amount of the attendees were
> beginner to intermediate, still looking for great-grandpa to appear on the
> lecturer's screen and don't care how he got there. (Don't laugh -- it
> happened to me early on -- there he was up as an example on the screen --
> not just one but two ancestors in different lectures.)
> So what is the purpose of our nationally held conferences? To bring the
> curious into the ranks of the beginners? To educate the beginners in data
> collection and management? To help the intermediates write the family story
> and document their analysis? To present challenging topics to the advanced
> and professionals? I'm for it all, but it seems it has to be a bell-curve
> with the intro and the advanced on the smaller ends.
> It occurs to me that this type of format, track, debate, newest techniques,
> etc. would be well-suited for the APG to sponsor. Whether it is a whole
> track inside the conference (1-day or more) or a single day at say, the NGS
> conference (keeping the Professional Management with the FGS conference)
> would be up to the APG board if they want to spend the volunteer time and
> money.
> Clearly, members are looking for more interaction.
> -- Elissa
> Elissa Scalise Powell, CG
> www.PowellGenealogy.com
> CG and Certified Genealogist are Service Marks of the Board for
> Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board certificants
> after periodic evaluations by the Board. 

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