[APG Public List] National Genealogical Meetings
Barbara Vines Little, CG
bvlittle at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 5 08:56:57 MDT 2009
This is the second time you have referred to the 1997 NGS conference
complaining about a PhD lecturer whom you do not name. Are you sure that
you are not confusing conferences? I do not find your name on the list
of attendees. And, I find no females on the program whose bios include a
PhD. I do know that one of the participants, Helen Hinchcliff, does have
a PhD. She is also a fellow of ASG and has, on a number of occasions,
published in the _NGSQ_ and presented (at national conferences) case
studies that would qualify for the advanced lectures being requested.
As Jay notes, both national conferences often have case studies on their
programs; however, a room of 300 people does not lend itself to question
and answer. This works much better in smaller study groups.
Barbara Vines Little, CG
Dominion Research Services
PO Box 1273
Orange, VA 22960
bvlittle at earthlink.net
CG, Certified Genealogist, is a service mark of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used
under license by board-certified genealogists after periodic evaluation; the board name is
registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.
Jeanette Daniels wrote:
> Dear APG public list members,
> I have attended several different types of conferences over the years.
> They have not been what Carolyn described. Some have been where
> lecturers were paid with honorariums and some participated without pay to help the
> conference planners. These lectures regardless of whether it was
> sponsored by the Utah Medical Association or the Family History
> Expos given throughout the western states have all had audience
> participation. Mario Capecchi (the Nobel prize winner for his
> genetic research in mice that is helping in cancer research) gave a
> very interesting lecture at a Utah Medical Association sponsored medical
> convention last May. I attended and he had a very nice power point
> presentation showing the mice before, during, and after dissection
> and the experiments tried, why, and the results. Of course, there
> was audience participation during the lecture and time for extensive
> questions afterward. It was not a 20 minute lecture. It lasted
> approximately 1 1/2 hours to make sure that there was time for the questions.
> I loved his sense of humor at the end. Mario was "explaining" how
> he got his lab mice. The last slide showed a mouse with a football
> helmet on his head looking at a mouse trap with a big piece of cheese on it.
> I recently participated for free at the Salt Lake City Family History Expo
> because it is important to have the very types of lectures available to the
> public that Carolyn thinks no one would go to, i.e. "Also, someone suggested
> more lectures on problem-solving. I wonder if
>> I gave a lecture entirely composed of why I had a problem knowing if
>> three German Wittenberg brothers were really brothers and the sons of
>> both parents and how I solved the problem with DNA and in-depth
>> genealogical research over one hundred years after the birth of these
>> It seems to me that such a specific problem-solving lecture would have
>> few participants. You probably wouldn't come unless you were
>> interested in the specific problem solved, would you?"
> The lectures I see presented at medical conventions are definitely specific
> problem-solving lectures. I believe that several on the list have made it
> clear that they do want this type of presentation. We learn from examples
> that work. It is easier to remember research solutions attached to "story problems."
> Carolyn also wrote "And they are not often vetted to any great degree. People
> submit papers and often try to get their own panels of interrelated topics together
> on their own, and if the conference head decides it sounds useful, s/he accepts it."
> The national conference planners are not vetting their lecturers in
> the way I would expect. A simple phone call to Betterway Books
> would have exposed the phony lecturer I saw at the NGS conference
> 12 years ago in 1997 (last century conference).
> On the plus side of Carolyn's remarks, there are several places that
> more in depth education is available at the various college-level courses
> that have and are being developed. But most professionals are not
> interested in taking courses, however. They are not at the beginning stages of
> their careers. They want a higher level of education such as presented
> in other professions as "continuing education" or current research findings.
> The DNA lecture Carolyn proposed could be fascinating depending upon
> how the material is presented.
> I believe that the list members as a whole are on the same page regarding
> what they want. As stated in previous emails, I will let you know from
> my IT person about the webinar possibility for communicating and holding
> webinars for this type of continuing educational experience.
> From: Carolyn Earle Billingsley <cebillingsley at earthlink.net>
> To: Public APG <apgpubliclist at apgen.org>
> Sent: Mon, October 5, 2009 12:39:13 AM
> Subject: Re: [APG Public List] National Genealogical Meetings
> I've spent many years of my life attending and presenting at history conferences. There are always three or four presenters in an hour and 15 minutes session. They read an abbreviated version of their longer research paper, which may or may not become a longer journal article in the future.
> There is usually a panel chair who has read the papers in advance and makes points, compares, and critiques the ideas presented after the presenters give their talks.
> I've never seen but one history conference where visuals were presented, except one I did and often the ones at the Arkansas Historical Association annual conference.
> Most of the give and take is because the presenter can only present a small portion of his or her work due to the 20-minute time constraints, so the audience perceives the gap of all the information that was not included in the talk--and there are never any kind of handouts. But, yes, the Q&A sections do often bring up arguments and disagreements and challenges. Usually civil, but not always.
> Moreover the give and take, or the Q&A can only last 5-10 minutes because of the way the sessions are structured. Not enough time to really delve deeply into something.
> But these presenters are NOT paid; are not reimbursed for any expenses; and in fact, their conference entry fees are not even paid.
> And they are not often vetted to any great degree. People submit papers and often try to get their own panels of interrelated topics together on their own, and if the conference head decides it sounds useful, s/he accepts it.
> Genealogy has developed a style of conference or lecture presentations that is much more interesting and informative. Let's don't emulate other professional disciplines' styles, for goodness sakes! We have developed a style of presentation that meets the highest quality as far as time allotted, visuals, and handouts. Great lecturers are not a dime a dozen, so conferences are our opportunity to hear the really great ones and sometimes even hear those not of the very highest quality yet with something to teach us.
> Genealogical lecturers can only present what people want and will pay to hear. And they're not going to do it for free, because they have plenty of work to do in the genealogical world (or the "real world") and have no need to pad their vita by giving free lectures (except for the pro bono lectures we often give to help some small society).
> As for audience participation, I am always willing to talk to anybody who wants to question or remark on my lecture . . . preferably after the lecture is over. Can you imagine the kinds of questions we would get from less experienced genealogists who only want to take about their own grandpa? Been there; done that.
> Yes, we could have a conference that was devoted to high quality research and standards for the advanced genealogist. But, how many do you think would come? That's why we have Samford's IGHR (to name but one venue) for those who want to learn about topics in depth with higher standards.
> Furthermore, we now have a university program that has an Associates Degree, a BA, and an MA in Genealogical Studies. Those who want material that is really challenging and in depth and is on the level of college classes have that option.
> In other words, there is a place, a conference, a school for anybody in genealogy at any and all levels. National conferences perforce try to offer appealing topics for the widest audiences at all levels.
> There are plenty of options for any genealogist at any level to get what they need (or want). The national conferences are designed to appeal and help genealogists at all levels--and they do just that.
> Some of the best experiences I've had involved Round Tables at a conference--where people could sit at a particular table with a particular "expert" and the ensuing discussion was just that--a discussion, give and take, and not a lecture. There are multiple tables with a variety of topics.
> We did that at the Texas State Genealogical Society annual conference and I thought it was a great success. Perhaps national conferences might fit in this type of multiple round-table discussion technique; just ten people at a table discussing and dissecting one topic under the leadership of someone with the knowledge to lead the discussion. Nothing formal--just give and take, with input from all and someone to keep it all under control and on topic.
> Also, someone suggested more lectures on problem-solving. I wonder if I gave a lecture entirely composed of why I had a problem knowing if three German Wittenberg brothers were really brothers and the sons of both parents and how I solved the problem with DNA and in-depth genealogical research over one hundred years after the birth of these sons?
> It seems to me that such a specific problem-solving lecture would have few participants. You probably wouldn't come unless you were interested in the specific problem solved, would you? Can national conferences afford to present topics with only ten people in the audience?
> Just a few of my ideas on the topic. Regards, Carolyn
> Suzanne Johnston wrote:
> 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. Another way that genealogy conferences differ from other professional conferences is in audience participation. At many professional conferences (I can cite some history conferences and at Audiology and Speech conferences) a lecture is presented followed by audience questions. But not just polite questions designed to better understand what the speaker has said. 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. The debates I have heard were usually civil, but occasionally became quite heated. The listeners often learned more about the topic by this give-and-take after the lecture. Unfortunately, this type of rigorous questioning rarely occurs at genealogy conferences, at least the ones I have attended. The majority of lectures given at our conferences don't need this type of questioning because of the nature of the presentations. But the lectures using case studies or problem-solving techniques could benefit from audience questioning, critiques, etc. Again, the track suggested in the first paragraph above might encourage this type of interaction. IMO! Suzie Johnston jfonkert at aol.com wrote:
>> I've only been to a handful of national conferences, but I've perused the program of several others over the past 4-5 years. From what I see on the programs, it would appear to me the conferences are of a quite different nature than academic or professional conferences it other fields. The national genealogy conference programs do seem geared toward reporting research or new developments. Rather, the programs seem to have the same core cluster of topics year after year (not a terrible thing, necessarily, as the conferences move around to different regional audiences). The programs are heavy on instructional topics (record types, methodology, technology -- again not inappropriate), but do not seem geared toward talks that report research or developments. Personally, I would like to see more research-based talks that demonstrate problem-solving techniques. I can read about census records or passenger records on my own, but
> I'd like to hear about how people solve interesting problems.
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