This is the time of year there would normally be a lot of genealogical conferences. Yet, with quarantine and lockdowns around the country and the world, not to mention travel restrictions, most of them cannot be held in person as they normally are. Because of this, many genealogical conference organizers are taking their events online. This is okay. You can still get plenty of learning and enjoyment out of an online conference. Here’s how.
Choose your conferences carefully. Do research on what you need or want to learn, and which conferences are offering it. Look for conferences that fit your budget, as some are free and some have an attendance fee even for online conference attendance. Then, prioritize the top three conferences for you based on your needs and desires. Also remember that conferences may be multi-day events, one day educational seminars, a series of classes, a presentation, or any other number of online educational configurations.
Make sure you ask questions before the conference. This includes getting instruction on how to use the online platform the conference will be presented on. You may find conferences presented on Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or other platforms you don’t know how to use. You want to be completely comfortable with the platform before attending the conference. Ask for assistance before the conference starts, as in a few days before it starts. Leaders will be too busy to help you after that, and you will need to find help elsewhere if you wait.
Discover if the conference will be all live, or if it will be pre-recorded so you can listen to seminars later at your leisure. Some conferences will by hybrids of both of these models. If the conference is all live, decide what modules you want to attend, as it is likely there will be concurrent ones going on, and you won’t be able to attend them all at the same time. Choose your favorites carefully, and attend those. If there are pre-recorded sessions available, you will have more flexibility than at an in-person conference to attend all the modules you like.
Also, don’t assume you will have unlimited access to pre-recorded sessions. Some of the conferences may allow you to download these to watch at your leisure, but others will have the sessions only on their websites, and only for a certain period of time. Learn about this ahead of time, so you don’t miss out on a module you wanted (and maybe paid) to attend.
Most of all, relax and have fun learning about genealogy and improving your skills from the comfort of your own home. This is a unique time in history, and you may find this model of attending genealogy conferences is actually preferable to you. It is not difficult to imagine that many conferences will offer online options going forward since they learned how to have one online this year. This model allows you to attend conferences you might not otherwise be able to, due to distance, cost, schedule, or other reasons. This makes online conferences a great opportunity for you.