Every once and while, a program or a website comes along that makes a significant contribution to the genealogical community. These advances can take the form of opening access to additional records or searching, organizing or presenting those records in a new way. Sequenced or structured learning has been around for a considerable time. See Wikipedia: Sequence learning. The new website, The Family History Guide, is a professional level, sequenced learning program dedicated to learning about genealogical research in general and specifically about the FamilySearch.org website and Family Tree program. The Family History Guide is free and fully functional. Content is being added regularly
If you are visiting the website for the first time, you should begin by clicking on the "Get Started" link on the startup page. Clicking on that link gives you several options as shown in this screenshot:
The idea behind the program's organization is to provide the user with a structured entry into various topics about genealogy and FamilySearch.org. The best way to start is to watch the short video linked from "The Family History Guide Quick Tour," visible on the left-hand side of the screen. Most users will benefit from the program by following the sequence of resources offered by the program itself. If you watch the videos, you will see that the program is divided into different sections that are accessed through links at the top of the screen, under the logo. If you want more information about the goals and methods of the program, click on the link entitled, "About the FHG."
The developers of the program, have focused on created an environment where the user chooses his or her own goal and then is given a series of step-by-step instructions about how to achieve that goal. The resources of the website are created by links to existing online resources, many that the user would be unfamiliar with. The program contains over 350 pre-selected goals supported by over 600 flexible choices. Here is a very basic example.
Let's suppose that you want to learn more about using your computer. From the Get Started window, you would click on the link for "Computer Basics." Here is a screenshot showing you the location of the link:
The next screen gives you some basic choices. Let's further suppose you want to get to know your computer.
This link introduces you to a ten page introduction called "Getting to Know Your Computer," by Colleen Willis. (In this case, the article is directed at Windows PC users. I hope they realize that there are whole lot of us that use Apple Macintosh computers as well. Hmm, maybe there aren't any Apple computer instructions for genealogists?). Just in case you are wondering, here is a list of online basic introductions to Apple Macintosh computers:
- Rochester Senior Center, Computer Fundamentals for Apple Mac
- Apple.com, Mac Basics
- Learn the Mac in Under an Hour
Here is a screenshot of the linked article:
That is the idea of the website. You choose what topics you would like to learn or feel a need to learn, and The Family History Guide, walks you through the process with instructions and links to supporting documents.
Here is another example. Let's suppose I want to get started on FamilySearch.org. First, I can click on the link to Family History Basics:
This link takes me to a number of possible options:
Of course, I can work my way through all of the options, but the program leaves me with the decision as to which option to choose to address. The "Getting Started on FamilySearch" link takes me to an extensive document from FamilySearch on that topic:
Once you get accustomed to the program, you can begin working your way through the 7 projects:
The projects address different parts of the FamilySearch.org website and supporting topics. For example, the Family Tree Project takes you to a series of 14 Goals that address different aspects of the FamilySearch.org Family Tree.
Each of the goals is supported by valuable resources about that particular aspect of the Family Tree program.
I certainly suggest that you take some time and explore and learn from this new valuable resource.