Course FAQ

We have compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Family Tree University below. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, please feel free to contact us at (855) 840-5127 or by e-mail.

Basic Class Setup

Q. When do classes “meet”? What if I can’t get online then?
A. Getting to class “on time” is never a problem with Family Tree University. You can log on at your convenience, any time day or night, to participate. Students communicate with each other and the instructor by posting comments and questions in designated discussion areas. When you’re ready to go to class, you simply log on to the site to visit the various student areas, post your questions or comments, read the lesson material, and complete the exercise or quiz.

Q. I don’t live in the United States, can I still take courses?
A. Yes, anyone anywhere with internet access can participate. Because the courses don’t meet at a specific time of day, you can log on whenever it’s convenient to you.

Q. Are my assignments private?
A. Yes. Exercises are submitted directly to the course instructor. The Blackboard system contains a feedback area where your instructor will make comments on your work and where you may post follow-up questions for your instructor’s response. No one but you and your instructor will have access to your submissions. Quizzes are automatically “graded” as you complete them—after answering a question, you will see if your answer is right or wrong, as well as an explanation for the correct response. But if you have questions or messages you’d like to share with the whole class, you can post to the class message board, which is public.

Q. What if I know I won’t be able to “attend” a lesson during the course? Can I make up the work?
A. You may access all lesson materials for the duration of the course session. As long as you turn in your exercises before the end of the course, there’s no penalty for being “late” with an assignment. (Our exercise and quiz due dates are simply guides to help you pace your studies.) If you know ahead of time that you won’t have access to a computer during a part of the session, you can complete the assignment early or let your instructor know you’ll be completing it later.

Q. Can I e-mail my instructor directly? What if I want to call him or her?
A. All student-instructor interaction in Family Tree University takes place within Blackboard. If you have a question about a lesson, you would post it in the discussion area for response from the instructor and/or the class. Questions about an assignment would go in the feedback area where only you and your instructor will participate in the dialogue. In order to protect our instructors’ privacy, we do not release their phone numbers.

What Courses to Take

Q. I’m new to genealogy — what course should I take?
A. When you’re a family history newbie, the prospect of diving into your roots research can seem overwhelming. We have a course specifically designed for people just starting to trace their family’s roots: Discover Your Family Tree: Genealogy for the Absolute Beginner. This course will start you on the fun and rewarding journey of discovering your roots. You’ll learn how to begin, where to look for information to extend your family tree, what to do with what you find, and how to put it all together. After that, you’ll be ready to take any of our classes with “101” in the title—that signifies that they’re for beginners.

Q. Can I take more than one course at a time?
A. Sure, if it makes sense and if you’re able to make the time commitment. If you take on more than you can realistically handle, you won’t get as much from the experience.

Q. Do I have to take courses in any particular order?
A. Most classes can be taken in any sequence that works for you and satisfies your research needs and goals. Certain series of courses are designed to follow a logical research progression—for example, in the Google-focused series, the classes build on each other and are meant to be taken in order. Although we recommend taking selected courses in the order intended, it’s not required nor do you have to take all of these courses.

Questions About Technology

Q. What if I have computer problems and can’t get online? Will you accept late assignments?
A. You can submit exercises any time during the duration of the course. But if you are unable to “attend class” for an extended period, you can contact us. We aren’t able to offer computer repair advice, but we will be able to offer you alternative solutions to getting your work completed. If your system failure forces you to drop out of a course, our standard refund policy will be applied (see Registration Policies for details).

Q. Do I need any special hardware or software to participate in a course?
In order to participate in the courses, you need internet access, an e-mail account, a current internet browser, a PDF reader and word-processing software.

For PC users, Internet Explorer 7 or 8 and Firefox 3.5 or 3.6 are recommended. For Mac users, Safari and Firefox are recommended. Some users have encountered issues when accessing Blackboard using Chrome. (We do not recommend using AOL’s built-in browser or any other internet service provider’s proprietary browser, as certain functions may be restricted.) You can see the Blackboard system’s current browser recommendations here. Because we regularly upgrade the site and add features, we recommend always using the most current browser version available for your system to make sure that you can take advantage of enhancements as they are made. If you need to upgrade your browser, go to your browser manufacturer’s website and download the most recent version.

You will also need an email account to receive registration confirmations and other announcements (e-mail is not used for class communications). Most lessons include exercises in the form of Word documents (.DOC files), so you will need word processing software to complete them. If you’re a Mac user and do not have Microsoft Word or any other word processing software, the free Open Office suite is a good option. You also need the free Adobe Reader (or Preview, which comes with Mac computers, or another PDF viewing program) to view PDFs. All of the course materials and reading assignments are viewable online and downloadable in PDF format.