One of the truly valuable courses offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies is our Lecturing Skills Including Preparation course. This course focuses on the skills needed to present genealogical-related lectures to a variety of audiences. It is a “hands on” course where the student will develop all aspects of the lecturing process including the proposal and biographical sketch; marketing; syllabus material; creating lecture slides; and much more. Linda Debe is one of our most recent students who has completed this course, and she shares her experience below.
Presentations Come and Go, but You Always Remember Your First
by Linda Debe, Student
On Saturday, Nov 14, 2020, I presented my first official webinar to fellow students, colleagues, friends, and family. This presentation was part of the National Institute’s course: Lecturing Skills Including Preparation.
First, I had to decide on a lecture topic. I started my list, but none of the topics really gave me that warm fuzzy feeling. Adding to the topic dilemma, I only had 30 minutes to present, so it had to be interesting yet explained in the allotted time.
A friend suggested, “Talk about what you love… maps.” With that, I decided to do an introductory presentation on Google My Maps. I have watched many presentations explaining Google Earth Pro, but not as many on My Maps.
Once I had the presentation topic, I needed to decide on a title. I decided on “Google My Maps: Visualizing Your Ancestors’ Lives.” It was to the point, yet kind of catchy.
I have used Google My Maps for about a year, and I really like “seeing” my ancestors on a map as I track them from their origins and immigration into the United States to their migration across the country as they lived their lives. I can add photos of my ancestors, their homes, tombstones, or any other photo I have, to that location, to help bring it to life. For example, it’s great to find your family in the 1880 US Census, but what if you added that census record to a pin in the exact location the family lived on your map? How cool would that be?
Another nice thing about this app is you can color code your pins (places on your map). You can even change the pin icon, so it’s not the boring default balloon pin, but maybe a house, cow, hospital, castle, or piece of pizza.
With Google My Maps you can build layers, which are groupings of pins, in a way that makes sense to you. Group the pins by a family name, a state, paternal or maternal line, or a layer with all of the locations where a veteran served. Imagine the difference in just knowing your dad served in Viet Nam, then getting his military records so you can plot out on a map the actual locations where he was stationed.
With Google Maps, you can share and collaborate your maps with family, friends, and other genealogists. Because the maps are saved to Google Drive, you can share your map with a few clicks, so others can see and appreciate your work.
Now at Thanksgiving dinner, or any other family gathering, rather than the eye rolls or the glassy-eyed stare you get when you bring up the topic of genealogy, hook up the laptop to the big screen TV and show your map to the family. You will have a captive audience and everyone will want a front-row seat. With Google My Maps, family history ceases to be just a bunch of dull dates, places, and documents and instead can be “seen.”
More information about the Lecturing Skills Including Preparation Course is available here.