RootsTech Connect – In 2021 We Have A Virtual Feast of Family History Posted 22 February 2021 by Tessa Keough In case you haven’t heard, RootsTech Connect, an international family history event, normally held in Salt Lake City, Utah, is going virtual. The event this year begins on Wednesday night, February 24th, with a four hour pre-event opening of the virtual exhibit hall. Keynote addresses and guest speakers are scheduled throughout the three day event (Thursday, Friday & Saturday) February 25 – February 27, and over 600 20-minute sessions are recorded and will be live from the start. Two important features this year – the event is FREE to all attendees (and so far over 300,000 people from around the world have signed up) and every session is pre-recorded and will be available both during the event and for 365 days after the event. That’s right – you can view over 600 sessions on your own schedule throughout the year. You will recognize many of the presenters, including some of our very own Guild members! So, how do you sign up and how can you get the most out of “attending” RootsTech Connect? I’m glad you asked. Go to RootsTech.org and register – there you will see the website/dashboard which you will be returning to before, during, and after the event. It has general information on it today, but by Tuesday (Wednesday at the latest when it goes live) it will be ready for you to make it your own – more on that later. Go to FamilySearch.org and create an account if you don’t already have one – it is free and there are so many reasons why you should have an account (the ability to save your sources to the source box and export search results to csv format are only two of the reasons). For RootsTech Connect, if you have a FamilySearch account you will be able to take the best advantage of the event dashboard. Register for the Relatives@RootsTech experience (found at the RootsTech website) – I suggest you add some bare bones information in the FamilySearch tree – over the weekend I added my parents (living so no information will show), grandparents, and great-grandparents. Because I also registered for the Relatives@RootsTech experience, I already have several connections with Swedish and Norwegian “cousins.” Since over 300,000 people have signed up, there are many opportunities to check on cousin connections. Download the 2-page PDF list of the keynote addresses (Main Stage Schedule) and the 18-page PDF of all the sessions (RootsTech-Connect-2021-Sessions-eng.pdf) and decide on the ones that you are most interested in and/or may have some questions to ask of the presenters. Those are sessions that you should attend during the event because chat groups/sessions are scheduled with presenters and you will have an opportunity to interact with them as well as other attendees. These chat groups/sessions are only available during the event. Save the remaining sessions of interest to watch on your own schedule after the close of the event. The Relatives@RootsTech experience is also only available during the event. The sessions are available in 11 languages (your dashboard will default to your computer’s language but you can always change it) and since the sessions will be uploaded through YouTube, close-captioning is available. 19 of the sessions have ASL included. Any sessions recorded in other languages (I believe there are 40 sessions) have been translated into English. If you have a FamilySearch account and are registered through the RootsTech.org website, you can take great advantage of the dashboard at the website (no mobile app this year) and your keynote and session choices will remain available after the event concludes. Why is this helpful? Well you can make your own playlist and watch any of the sessions at the website for an entire year! The dashboard has four tabs (as of this writing) Home — Guide Me — Sessions — Expo Hall Home – where you will find all the latest news, keynote addresses, & schedule of events Guide Me – not sure what sessions to choose or feeling overwhelmed? The RootsTech team has curated the sessions into groups based on skill levels, particular subjects (like DNA), particular presenters/interests (archivists/archival research). You can choose the entire series or one or more sessions in a series to add to your playlist. Sessions – for those of you who want to pick and choose from the list of sessions, make up your own playlist. Here you will find the session description, presenter bio, and any handouts or links of interest. Expo Hall – a virtual exhibit hall with all the big and not so big players. Ancestry, FamilySearch, FindmyPast, and MyHeritage are all sponsors and will have large virtual booths. Approximately 100 national and regional organizations and companies or individual exhibitors will also have booths. At these booths you can visit with the exhibitor, ask questions, watch demonstrations, get handouts, and most likely learn about promotions/deals. For those of you who have attended an in-person RootsTech event, the Demo Theatre that you know and love will be in the virtual Expo Hall. If you are in the Guild’s Closed Facebook group, Debbie Kennett and Michelle Patient (both Guild members are presenters at RootsTech Connect) provided some great information, links, and tips for attending and getting the most out of your RootsTech Connect experience. Another Guild member who works at FamilySearch informed me that there is a possibility to host a group chat for Guild members during the event. I will check that out and, if available, set it up. It would be a great chance for Guild members attending RootsTech Connect to get together during this virtual event. And do be sure to scroll all the way down on the RootsTech Connect registration page – yes, what you see is a display block where anyone can add a surname and find out more about it. What a great conversation starter for any chat room you join during the event! So what are you waiting for? Fascinating keynote addresses, a wealth of sessions on a variety of family history topics, group chats, an expo hall where you can get your questions answered and learn about new products – it is all coming to you (in the comfort of your own home) this week at the RootsTech Connect. I hope to see you there!