The Family History Diploma I am doing is run entirely online. More information here: http://www.utas.edu.au/arts/diploma-of-family-history
The course has proved extremely popular. Over 1200 students enrolled for the Convict Ancestors Unit that I have just finished. Of course being free helps! Some people may only do one Unit, or just the 4 free Units. Others like me are going to try and do the full Diploma.
The course materials are contained in weekly modules, designed to build on the previous week. There is reading material, videos of lectures from the teaching team, and other resources to aid us in finding information. A Unit is generally around 6 weeks. In the just completed unit it was 6 weeks spread over 8 weeks. We got 2 weeks break in the middle to research the Convict ancestor we had to write our final assignment about.
Assessment mostly consists of weekly quizzes, which you are allowed to attempt as many times as you like to improve your score, and a final assignment. In this last unit, we had a transcription exercise (learning how to read old documents) worth 10 points, 4 quizzes @ 10 points each, and the final assignment worth 50 points. Currently I am sitting on 43 points out of 50. I wont get my final mark for the assignment until end of the month.
In the previous unit, Intro to FH, we also had a component worth 20 points based on our participation on the Group Dicusssion Boards. You had to meet a quota of starting new threads, and replies to other students threads.
In the Intro Unit, our final assignment was to write a Research Plan for one of our problems/brick walls etc. We were required to state the problem, discuss what we had done, what records we'd looked at etc, then formulate a plan to move forward, again what we proposed to do, what records we would look at etc. We had to include a Family Group Sheet of the ancestor, and a snippet of the tree where he/she fits in the picture. I also included a time line for my guy. This was a very interesting exercise as my research is often hit or miss, with no real plan. Just doing the time line alone, revealed all sorts of new things to me! The other component of this final assignment, was to include a Reflection Statement. Now this was very challenging. It is some new fangled thing that Universities around the world have introduced into their learning. And it caused a lot of angst for many of us. BUT it challenges you to look at yourself, reflect on the learning journey, and what you have learnt.
In this just completed Convict Unit, we had to write a non-fiction story about a convict ancestor. If we did not have an convict ancestor, we could "borrow" a convict to write about. Australian convicts are among the most documented people in the world. Almost every move they made was written down by the Colonial masters! So on the face of it, research for this was not overly difficult. Basically we were to trace the person from their home in the UK, their crime and trial, sentencing and transportation to Australia, and then their life in the new colony. My convict was involved in the "Swing Riots" of the 1830's. After he got his free pardon, he went on to become a successful citizen. The assignment needed to contain extracts from documents, pictures if possible, background material, eg conditions at the time, etc. We had to try and paint a picture of the person if you like. We were set 750-1000 words! Many of us could have almost written a book!
As Tessa says, learning from the other students is invaluable. Everyone has so much to contribute about new resources, places to look for information etc. The discussion boards were fantastic resources. Ask a question, and a wealth of information would come back to you. The only problem was the sheer volume of the boards. It was impossible to read everything.
I have a ton of new information to enter into Legacy now!
In addition to this course, I have also enrolled for a free University of Strathclyde course coming up in July through Futurelearn. A friend completed this last month and she enjoyed it. Still open for those interested. Focus is on UK Genealogy.https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/genealogy