Monday, January 27, 2014

An Amazing Conference Experience - IAJGS, Boston, 2013

Yes, yes. I know it is January of 2014 but it has been a hectic 2013 so a little backtracking is really needed. As far as conferences go I have truly experienced my share of them. I loved being a part of the technology in education world, being involved with classroom teachers, technology coordinators, college professors who were opening the window on technology use in the world of education at universities around the country and the world. I attended them all as a learner and many of them as a presenter.  Retirement finally brought me into a new kind of convention, one like no other I had ever attended.


Somehow along the Post Retirement Road I became a Genealogy Buff, big time. The Genealogy research process begins fairly slowly and then, suddenly, you become hooked, big time. It is always interesting. The web has become an amazing resource for searching for hidden information that is just waiting for you. My family members  came to this country from Romania in the early 1900s and the late 1890s.  Somewhere in my searches I was introduced to the JewishGen Website. It included an added attraction as a beginning researcher. Not only were there lots of amazing resources but the offered online courses, including one for a beginner.  For two years running I also read about the 2011 (Philadelphia) and the 2012 (Paris) IAJGS conferences. They sounded amazing but I knew I needed more time to be ready for that big conference jump. 2013 became the year for me! And what an unbelievable first time experience it turned out for me. Yes, it has many similarities to the professional conferences and meetings I had attended but it also had many wonderful and unique qualities. It was a larger group than I had expected and it included folks from almost every state as well many that had come from other countries.

The first unique component was the name tag. No, in this case a name tag is not just a name tag. It is a way to find new relatives or new resources through folks researching the same countries or towns. The way this accomplished is through the largest name tag I had ever seen! I did have to smile at first as I noticed how everyone seemed to be peering at each chest that passed them. But although I was not as lucky there were people finding matches as they walked around through the week. Each fully registered participant received a conference bag, a flash drive with all presenter handouts, a Daily Planner, and The Family Finder. The planner, of course, included the schedule of all meetings for the week but also the Film Festival Schedule for the week.  Each day there were films that would be of interest to this particular audience. I had seen several prior to the conference and was so glad that others would be having a chance to see them as well.

Clearly you don't meet everyone so the Family Finder was a really special resource. It listed the surname, town and country and the name of the researcher for every surname that was being researched by those attending the conference. If you saw a name of interest to you it was easy to contact the researcher because the book also included name, address, phone and email of each conference attendee.
But there was even more that took advantage of today's technology. A conference app that was created by an outside company whose name I could not find in the app. It was planner/calendar/note taker app. When the schedule was displayed the user could tap and get more info and then select the session. Returning to the calendar the user found the session had been sent to the calendar. Tapping on the session title in the calendar moved you to a Notes page for the session.... not the presenter's notes but a space for you to take your session notes. Ease of use was determined by the tool you were using. It could be downloaded and used on a laptop, a tablet or a smart phone. When the conference ended there was a key that said "Email all notes."  Doesn't that sound wonderful?

This year the conference is being held in Salt Lake City and I am hoping that they will be using this tool again. Yep, I  will there with bells on. And, yes, I am excited about going to explore the amazing Family Search Center.  Well, enough for now. I will be back to tell more about the sessions which really provided not only new ideas that made me think about the direction of my research. You can expect more genealogy in coming posts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

and we got to see living relatives, too!
Nancy & Fred