24 December 2017

Tracking and Organizing My Genealogy Studies

Over the years I have read lots of articles, books, blogs, attended talks, watched webinars, learned from others. But if I was asked to name even a fraction of them I would not be able to do so.

So I decided that I needed some way to document this upcoming year of study in preparation of becoming a Certified Genealogist.

First requirement was that it fit my way of thinking so using it would be instinctive. If my method was difficult I might use it short term but not long term. I learned this from a book called "Organizing From The Inside Out" by Julie Morgenstern.

Second requirement was that it would include all the information I needed so that I (or someone else) would be able to locate the information again. But again keeping it simple enough that I would use it and not feel bogged down having to write a bunch of stuff down.

So this is what I have come up with...

I will be using Excel spreadsheets. Someone else might use Word, OneNote, Evernote or even Scrivener. As I will explain later in this post, I am going to also use OneNote for a particular portion of my tracking. But for now I will concentrate on why I decided on Excel and how I am going to utilize it.

I have been playing around learning how to use Excel for a couple of years now and have become quite comfortable with the program.

Excel will allow me to create a "book" of spreadsheets to track the different types of learning I will be doing. Each sheet has its own tab that I can name, allowing me to know what is on that sheet and to easily navigate between them.

My tabs (the "How" I am getting the information) are titled:

*Online Courses
*Live Lectures & Seminars (meaning I was physically at them)
*Live Courses and Classes (again I was physically at them)
*Magazines and Periodicals (including newsletters and professional journals)

Each tab has some variation of the following columns:

*Title (of Webinar, Course, Book, Lecture, Blog Post, Article this takes care of the "What")
*Presenter/Author/Teacher (This takes care of the "Who")
*Date of Presentation/Publication (This takes care of part of the "When")
*Location (URL for things online, for live events where the event was held, for books I have Publisher in this spot, for magazines I have Magazine title. This takes care of the "Where")
*Length (Time of presentation, or if written word number of pages.)
*Date I watched/read/attended/completed (That takes care of the other part of "When")
*Notes (some things, like webinars and classes, are labeled "Beginner" "Intermediate" "Advanced" If something I do has such a label I will include it in the Notes column)

I mentioned also using OneNote in my record keeping for my project. I will use OneNote to organize any Syllabus I get from a class, lecture, or webinar. I think I will also add the Table of Contents from books. This gives me a quick easy way to go through the things I have heard and read, as well as good documentation of what was included in that lecture/course/book.

For those who have managed to reach this point of my post, hopefully you have found some inspiration and ideas for tracking your own learning. Whether the topic is Genealogy or some other subject (especially if it is for your profession) tracking your educational pursuits is probably a good idea.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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