Online teaching

I think I survived my first foray into online teaching Wednesday night when I gave my lecture on “Working in and Understanding Original Records” as the third presentation in the NEHGS Online Course “Researching New England,” a fee-based program open to NEHGS members.[1] The course began on July 5, with David Dearborn’s class on “Settlement of New England”; then, on July 12, Lindsay Fulton gave the second class on “Seventeenth-century Published Resources.” The two classes after me are by David Lambert, “Researching Colonial and Revolutionary War Soldiers” on July 26, and Chris Child, “Thinking Outside the Box: Breaking Down Brick Walls in Early New England” on August 2.

I think mine went pretty well considering that it has been a long time since I’ve prepared a lecture in-depth on a complex subject, that I have not made any similar presentations in perhaps a couple of decades, and that I’ve never given an online presentation. Fortunately, my hand was kindly held by Ginevra Morse, our Director of Education and Online Programs, who walked me through a rehearsal as well as the live presentation.

It’s exhausting for someone like me who does not regularly lecture and weird because I don’t see the audience and they don’t see me (probably best for all concerned), so it is hard to judge when their eyes begin to glaze over. In real life presentations you have the opportunity, at least, to adjust for such situations. I am going to need more rest before I watch the video and begin to dissect how I might improve, but if you were a participant in the class, suggestions are always welcome.

In real life presentations you have the opportunity, at least, to adjust…

I also have not done much in “chat” format. There were three question-and-answer periods during the hour-and-a-half-session where listeners could type questions in the chat. I did pretty well, although I got stumped a couple of times – which just means that there will be upcoming Vita Brevis posts on such things as resources for seventeenth-century handwriting and the Massachusetts Judicial Archives.

I do have to admit that giving a lecture from my living room in Plymouth on a Wednesday night at 6:00, rather than having to get myself in and out of Boston, is delightful. Perhaps this online stuff was really invented for old broads like me.


[1] Members can still register for the course through August 1; recorded versions of the earlier segments are available for viewing.

About Alicia Crane Williams

Alicia Crane Williams, FASG, Lead Genealogist of Early Families of New England Study Project, has compiled and edited numerous important genealogical publications including The Mayflower Descendant and the Alden Family “Silver Book” Five Generations project of the Mayflower Society. Most recently, she is the author of the 2017 edition of The Babson Genealogy, 1606-2017, Descendants of Thomas and Isabel Babson who first arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637. Alicia has served as Historian of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, Assistant Historian General at the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and as Genealogist of the Alden Kindred of America. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in History from Northeastern University.

16 thoughts on “Online teaching

  1. I was a participant in the class and was highly impressed with your presentation and the content of the class. It was top-notch! I hope you will do more of them.

  2. I just signed up and am so glad the class was re-opened to registrants. Your sense of humor, once again, is always so enjoyable in addition to your expertise!

  3. “Perhaps this online stuff was really invented for old broads like me.” Well Alicia, that makes two of us, I signed up for this series because of your blog posts which gave me the “dump draft” template which has helped me begin to organize my years of research and a better idea of the process that involves. I read some of the other vita-brevis blog posts too but I never miss yours and often read them again.

    From another old broad, sitting in her favorite red leather chair, in the upper peninsula of Michigan.
    Could we have more please?


    1. Sandra, thank you. The Upper Peninsula must be lovely this time of the year. One of my favorite places of all time to visit was Mackinac Island — because it had horse carriages!

  4. Twenty-some years ago I was given some good advice by a publicist about doing radio interviews. She suggested keeping a mirror on my desk to make sure I was smiling throughout the interview. She insisted that a smile in the mirror is reflected in the voice. The bigger the smile, the more energy in your voice. Sounds silly, but it works.
    I am also one of the class participants and you did just fine!

  5. As I stated to you personally, I loved your presentation. I have done workshops and seminars for the past 25 years both online and in person. The quality of your presentation and materials presented were top notch. Thank you. Please consider doing more!

  6. Alicia, your Blogs are so engaging and entertaining, I cannot imagine there were eyes glazing over! Besides, everyone who attended really wanted to be there. I’m sorry I missed it, and hope to attend a future class!

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