A few months ago, I received word of a new genealogical institute that would be offered in a virtual manner. I remember being excited at the prospect of such an institute, but with my schedule and financial constraints, I was not able to jump on board and try it out.
About a month ago, I came across Jenny Lanctot’s blog post Review: Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research (VIGR) and was curious to see what she thought. As I had feared, Jenny’s biggest disappointment had to do with the fact that it was clearly stated that courses would be limited to 100 participants to allow for “a higher level of class participation and instructor feedback than typically offered by genealogy webinars,” and she felt that this level of interaction was not a reality. Many of the people that commented on her post, who also attended the same course Jenny discussed, felt the same way. Following was my response to her post:
Thanks for sharing your experience, Jenny. Having run webinars for nearly three years using GoToWebinar, I wondered how the idea of “a higher level of instructor feedback” would work, especially with the modifier of “limited class sizes of only one hundred registrants per course.” Sounds like it may not have worked out so well. There are other options available to make it a more interactive experience, but I get the feeling that this was a matter of going with what you (the organizers) know and what the genealogy community is familiar with (webinars, particularly the GTW platform). Perhaps with your feedback (as well as others who participated and felt the same way) a better solution can be implemented in the future.
Fortunately, my prediction was right. The organizers of VIGR considered the feedback and are trying a new solution, where participants can pay an extra $30 to receive “Plus” perks that include a separate one-hour Q&A session and instructor feedback via email (details in the press release below). I’m not sure that I agree with the solution of a “Plus” package, especially since a higher level of interaction was promised from the beginning. But kudos to the organizers for listening to the participant’s feedback and trying to come up with a solution.
Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research Offers
New Interactive Option for Courses
RALEIGH, North Carolina, 17 December 2014:
The Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research is evolving!
Student responses to our first course have reinforced our plans concerning the need for additional instructor interaction and feedback. Beginning in 2015 we will offer instructors and students this option.
Previously our courses came in a single format: four 90-minute lecture sessions with Q&A, extensive syllabus material, and at least one practical exercise.
Plus courses will consist of:
- the same four 90-minute lecture sessions and syllabus material offered to standard students; plus
- an additional one-hour Q&A/discussion session held on an evening either midweek or at the conclusion of the course;
- individualized instructor feedback on practical exercises by email;
- a Certificate of Completion for the course.
The Plus option for any course will cost $99.99, as compared to the $69.99 cost of standard courses.
J. Mark Lowe’s “Preparing the Field: Understanding the Agricultural Records of Our Ancestors” will be the first course to offer this new option. Beginning on Wednesday, 17 December 2014, buttons will appear on the website to purchase either the Standard or the Plus option for this course. Many of the Institute’s future courses will also offer this option.
What do you think about the new solution being offered by VIGR? Did you attend the first course offered, and if so, how did you feel about the level of interaction? Are you willing to pay an extra $30 to get these “Plus” perks? I’d like to know how others feel about this. Please leave me a comment and share your opinion.