Independent Study offers family history courses

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    By Emily Andersen

    Independent Study is giving America more of what they want. It offers a variety of ways to participate in one of the biggest hobbies in this country, family history.

    Roy Schmidt, family history certificate program coordinator said, family history is generally one of the top three hobbies in the country.

    If your interested in getting involved in family history, like many around the country, but you don”t know where to start Independent Study gives you three options.

    There are three free personal enrichment courses that deal with family history for beginners. For those who want to go more in-depth Independent Study offers 43 non-credit personal enrichment courses in family history, and also an 18-credit certificate program, Schmidt said.

    Free family history courses were made available to the public last year, Schmidt said.

    The free-courses, are offered on the Internet and teach about the basics of family history, how members of the Church can prepare names to be submitted to the temple, and an introduction to family history.

    Schmidt said the courses have been highly subscribed to. Within the first month 3000 people enrolled, Schmidt said.

    Anyone can also enroll in any of the 43 non-credit classes offered through Independent Study. Tuition is $20 per class and must be completed in one year, Schmidt said. Course subjects range from helping children with family history, to military records, and Luxembourg: Naming Patterns.

    For students who want to go even farther into family history Independent Study offers a certificate program. This program is not for beginners, because Independent Study assumes you already know the basics, Schmidt said.

    Students complete a total of 18 credits in either a North American Option, or a British Option, and receive a certificate upon completion stating they have finished the course, Schmidt said.

    There are many benefits to Independent Study”s certificate program.

    Schmidt said the certificate program was developed for people who are interested in family history, and want more then just a basic family history program. People also want to show they have been trained, Schmidt said.

    George Ryskamp, associate professor of history at BYU and an instructor of several family history classes for Independent Study said their program is beneficial to the public who cannot come to BYU.

    Courses online are missing the classroom element that is beneficial to learning, Ryskamp said.

    But the online classes also allow for more in-depth study because you can learn at your own pace, Ryskamp said.

    Schmidt said the certificate program also increases the credibility of a researcher.

    “If you told me that you completed the certificate program at BYU you would have more credibility then if you had just been researching for 10 years,” Schmidt said.

    Schmidt said he doesn”t know of any other program that is as broad or as detailed as Independent Study”s.

    Schmidt said that their certificate program does not mean a student is certified in genealogy upon completion. Certification is only achieved through the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

    Independent Study places such an emphasis on family history work because the church is so interested in it, said Duane Hiatt, the Director of Editorial and Media Productions for Continuing Education.

    Hiatt said Independent Study”s program is in tune with the three-fold mission of the church to redeem the dead, perfect the saints, and preach the gospel.

    Though Independent Study”s program is extensive there is always more to offer, though there is nothing planned right now, Schmidt said.

    “I would like to see every family history course that the University offers available through Independent Study,” Schmidt said.

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