Category Archives: Courses

From the Archives: 7 Things You Can Do to Ensure a Great Workshop.

7 Things You Can Do to Ensure a Great Workshop. Workshops are an excellent way of getting yourself in front of potential clients. Running workshops is something I really enjoy. Over the years I’ve learned a few things about designing and facilitating them that I’d like to share with you.  Here are seven things you can do to create an optimum learning environment for your workshop. Set up a comfortable … Read More

From the Archives: Get Help Now With These Photo Restoration Services.

Get Help Now With These Photo Restoration Services. I find restoring a damaged photograph to its original splendor satisfying work.  I’ve  been using ArcSoft PhotoStudio 5 which came bundled with my Canon Pixma color printer. There is a newer version PhotoStudio 6 for US$80. Click here for details. It’s not as professional or advanced as Adobe Photoshop but it’s easy to use and does the trick. You can have someone else restore your photos if you’re not a “Do-It-Yourselfer”. I’ve assembled … Read More

7 Things You Can Do to Ensure a Great Workshop.

Workshops are an excellent way of getting yourself in front of potential clients. Running workshops is something I really enjoy. Over the years I’ve learned a few things about designing and facilitating them that I’d like to share with you.  Here are seven things you can do to create an optimum learning environment for your workshop.

  1. Set up a comfortable workshop space. Nothing does more to kill a good workshop experience than a poorly lit room that is  too hot or too cold, too big or too small. Avoid having chairs lined up with military precision. If possible, request ahead of time a U-shaped seating pattern. This provides for greater intimacy and participation. Also, ask for a room that will comfortably hold the number of participants attending. Finally, always arrive early to check out your room and make certain it’s set up to your specifications.
  2. Greet participants when they arrive. I always make a point of welcoming participants and giving them a folder of workshop resources. This creates a friendly, inclusive atmosphere and allows you to get a quick sense of who’s attending your workshop.
  3. Avoid telling participants what they already know.Remember that your workshop participants are a tremendous resource  from which to draw.  Adult learners bring a wealth of experience. Start with the assumption that your participants already have some experience and ideas about the topic.
  4. Check out expectations. This flows from the point above. One way to find out what people want to learn is to ask them! Somewhere near the beginning of my sessions I make a point of asking people for their workshop expectations.
  5. Build in participatory activities. Avoid lecturing. If you must, keep it short – like five minutes! People enjoy being involved. How many activities you can do will depend on the size of your group and the length of your workshop.  If the group is small, fewer than twenty, use pairs or triads to get people engaged with one another. For example, in determining expectations,  I divide the group into pairs. I ask each person in the pair to describe to the other what it is they most want to learn. After about five minutes I bring everyone back to the group and solicit their expectations. Then I write these on a flip chart. For a list of other engaging activities click here.
  6. Create a safe and comfortable learning experience. Your workshop participants will, for the most part, be  strangers to one another. They need to feel comfortable with each other before  speaking up in the group. That’s why I design ways to get people into smaller clusters which allows participants to get to know one another more easily.
  7. Lead by example. Your words, body language, and tone should read relaxed, attentive, non-judgmental, supportive, and open. I often start my sessions by saying, “In our workshop today no one gets to be wrong…including me!” I emphasize that all questions are legitimate and will be listened to respectfully.

Photo by kellerabteil

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5 Top Sites for Free Online Videography Training.


If video personal histories appeal to you but your experience with video production is limited, help is just a click away! You’ll find a wealth of valuable resources in these five sites.

  • Videomaker: “This is the place to start for videography training. Here you will find hundreds of articles about audio/video software, video editing hardware, and help with video lighting techniques.”
  • Video 101: “Offers tutorials on the fundamentals of film and video production. Includes video clips, flash animations, and explanations.”
  • VideoUniversity. “Hundreds of free articles for new and advanced videographers. Here’s a sample:  50 Ways To Improve Your Video Business; Video Art – An Introduction;  Audio for Video — Part 1 Tape Formats and Hardware;  Audio For Video – Part 2 Microphones & Techniques;  Audio For Video – Part 3 Audio Production Techniques.”
  • MediaCollege. “… a free educational website for all forms of electronic media. We have hundreds of exclusive tutorials covering video & television production, audio work, photography, graphics, web design and more.”

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Get Help Now With These Photo Restoration Services.

I find restoring a damaged photograph to its original splendor satisfying work.  I’ve  been using ArcSoft PhotoStudio 5 which came bundled with my Canon Pixma color printer. There is a newer version PhotoStudio 6 for US$80. Click here for details. It’s not as professional or advanced as Adobe Photoshop but it’s easy to use and does the trick.

You can have someone else restore your photos if you’re not a “Do-It-Yourselfer”. I’ve assembled a partial list of companies that provide those services. I haven’t tried any of them so I can’t vouch for their quality. Prices vary depending on the amount of work required. If you use a restoration company and are pleased with their work, let me know in the comment box below.

For those of you who are serious about doing your own restoration, I’ve listed two online courses and a couple of books to get you started.

Photo Restoration Services

  • PicFix Provide price quotes within 24 hrs.

Photo Restoration Courses

  • Photo restoration basics: preserve your family photos. Free, online classes, from HP available 24/7. “Would you like to restore your old, faded photos, edit new photos or learn how to safely store and display your current ones? Learn why photos deteriorate, and how you can rescue them by scanning and making quick fixes using Microsoft® Windows Live Photo Gallery, Snapfish and touchscreen printers. You’ll also learn advanced retouching techniques in Adobe Photoshop Elements and get tips for printing, displaying and backing up your photos.”
  • Lynda.com “Helping you learn, master, and apply digital tools and techniques.”  Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals Author: Deke McClelland

Photo Restoration Books

  • Adobe Photoshop Restoration & Retouching (3rd Edition). “Whether you’re a professional photographer or the family shutterbug, you can’t afford to miss the third edition of the now classic Photoshop Restoration & Retouching. Katrin Eismann and co-author Wayne Palmer have reviewed, updated, and revised every single technique to address the most important features in Adobe Photoshop CS2.”

Photo by Mike Richardson

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Holiday Gifts With a Personal (Historian) Touch.

Last December I wrote about some low cost or no cost gift ideas. And with the holiday season quickly approaching, I thought it was time to suggest some gifts that have a personal touch.

DIY bookmarks. Here’s something for the bibliophile in your family. It could also be a nice little gift to include in a card to your clients. There are several sources that can help you with this project. Fabio Sirna has created four charming downloadable templates that you can run off on your printer. Check them out here. In addition you can go to e.m. papers and for US$5.00 download ten printable bookmarks. Each has a reminder of one of the “10 factors recent science has identified that lead to feeling more happy and satisfied with life”  such as  Have an attitude of gratitude and Make friends and treasure family. Be sure to check out Bookmark Craft Projects. There’s a list of sixteen different bookmarks you can make.

One of a kind blank cards. “I use semi-colons.” Here’s a great set of cards for any aspiring writer. They’re available from Etsy for US$2.50.The  product description says  “Show off your semicolon skills; your friends will be so impressed. The card measures 4 by 6 inches, comes with a lovely blue envelope, and is blank inside so you can write a whole lot of complicated sentences.”

Online writing courses. Give a gift certificate to a friend or family member who’s been talking about writing a memoir. An online course could be just the ticket to get them going. Check out a previous post I wrote, Get Started on Your Memoir by Taking an Online Course. In the article I’ve listed four sites offering writing courses.

Instructional DVDs for the videomaker. Videomaker magazine has put together a comprehensive series of instructional DVDs. You can find out more here.

Family heirloom recipe. For those  of you who have a special family recipe,  print it up on some good quality paper stock and include with it the actual cooked item. For example, my mother makes the most wonderful oatmeal raisin cookies. Anyone who’s eaten one claims they’re the best in the world. And I think they’re right. So, I’m thinking of getting the recipe from Mom and baking up several batches of cookies. My friends at Christmas will get a family heirloom recipe and some cookies to match.

Photo by iStockphoto

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Back to School for Personal Historians.

school class

The beginning of new school year got me thinking.  My learning these days is  hit and miss. I  learn on the run,  sandwiching it between my daily tasks. You’re probably like me – scrambling to learn how to use  a new piece of software or how to scan photos properly or whatever.

But I have a plan. I’m dedicating September to setting aside  time to learn one new thing that will be useful in my personal history work. In my case that’s learning how to run online courses.

So here’s a challenge to all you personal historians.  Is there a new skill you could learn this month that would make you a better personal historian? Let me know by leaving me a comment below. Love to hear from you.

To give you some inspiration, I’ve selected several online sites that cover an array of courses and guides. Hopefully, they’ll whet your appetite. My thanks to fellow personal historian Pat McNees for recommending some of these sites.

  • Step-by-Step Guide to Oral History: “As a door into the world of oral history, these pages give basic suggestions for collecting and preserving the valuable oral treasures around you, to enrich you and future generations.”
  • Oral History Workshop on The Web: The Institute for Oral History at Baylor University offers  workshops on: Introduction to Oral History, Digital Oral History, Transcribing  Style Guide, The Heart of Oral History: How to Interview, and more.
  • How to Create Your Own Online Course: “Resources to help you discover how to combine both what you have to offer and what you wish to gain by guiding you through creating and establishing an online course. No matter what age of student, subject you want to teach, or size of the class, you will find resources and information to bring your class online.”
  • Vermont Folklife Center Archive: Field Research Guides: The Center provides online access to a series of research guides on: Digital Audio Field Recording Equipment Guide, Field Recording in the Digital Age, Digital Editing of Field Audio, and Resources on the Preservation of Materials in Ethnographic and Oral History Collections.
  • How to Guides for Your Business: Work.com “helps small business decision-makers solve their most pressing business problems and realize their most compelling opportunities.”

Photo by Philip Howard

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My 100th Post!

100-balloonsToday is special. It marks the completion of 100 posts. When I  started this blog back in July, some eight moths ago, I didn’t know if I could come up with three posts a week and enjoy writing them at the same time. It was definitely an experiment. Well, I’m happy to report that I’ve really enjoyed researching and writing the articles.  And it’s been gratifying to receive positive comments from people who’ve found value in my work.

I’ve tried to write for both the professional personal historian and for those of you simply involved in a personal history project with a family member. I don’t know how successful I’ve been at straddling that line. I’d welcome your comments on that. In fact, any comments you have for improvement or changes will be very welcome.  I’ll give each and every one of your suggestions my attention and consideration.

I was curious to see what have been the most popular of my posts.  I’ve compiled a list of the top ten beginning with the post that received the most attention. Many in the top ten had to do with my series on writing your Ethical Will. Perhaps this suggests that another series would be of interest to viewers. What do you think?

And what are some of my favorite posts out of the 100? I’ll pick two – 6 Lessons My Cat Taught Me About Time Management and How a Prehistoric Cave Painting Came to My Rescue . I like these because they bring together quite different subjects in a creative way to make a point. They also have a personal connection. My cat Annie  spends a good part of the morning snoozing on my desk and acting as my muse. And discovering a picture of a prehistoric cave painting spoke to me in a profound way about our need to be remembered and not forgotten.

Here then are the top 10 posts of the past 8 months. Just click on the link to take you directly to the post.

  1. Six Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Personal Historian.
  2. Ethical Wills 101: Part Two~ Discovering Our Values.
  3. Ethical Wills 101: Part One ~ How to Begin.
  4. What do Sidney Poitier and Ethical Wills Have in Common?
  5. How to Interview Someone Who is Terminally Ill.
  6. See How Easily You Can Write Your Life Story Book.
  7. Ethical Wills 101: Part Three ~ Expressing Gratitude.
  8. How a Prehistoric Cave Painting Came to My Rescue.
  9. Ethical Wills 101: Part Seven ~ Putting it All Together.
  10. What You Need to Know About Becoming a Professional Personal Historian.

Photo by David Greenwald

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Here’s An Opportunity to Improve Your Life Story Skills.

uc-favis-large

UC Davis Arboretum

The University of California Extension Division at Davis is offering an online certificate course in Oral History Methods. You can find out more by clicking here.  This is the 9th year the course has been offered.

The instructor is Kristin Delaplane Conti, a former San Francisco Chronicle columnist. She has produced and published histories and biographies for families, individuals, organizations and museums since 1990. She has also taught workshops at the University of California and other venues.

Here’s what Conti has to say about her course:

Apply this practical guide of oral history methods and techniques to your history projects, whether you want a record for your family, a museum, historical society or business. Learn to document the experiences of someone who has personally experienced or observed a period, event or trend of historical interest. Interviews will emphasize significant participation, changes observed and accounts that highlight the particular era or events, and you’ll learn how to present them in a historical context. Find out how to use recording and transcribing equipment, as well as options on publishing and archiving. Enrollment is limited to 15 students, so early registration is advised.

Registration closes on February 4th, so if your interested go to this link and register now.

Photo by Ivan Kozik