RootsTech 2022: How To Choose from 1,000+ Sessions

education Mar 02, 2022

Genealogy’s mega-conference RootsTech 2022 starts this week and with more than 1,100 English-language sessions, how do you even begin to choose which sessions you want to watch? In this post I’ll share my learning philosophy and how you can make choosing your sessions a little easier. There’s also a quick video tour of the session listing so you can find what you’re looking for. And, I’ll even share a bonus tip for how you can actually watch all of the sessions you choose.

Learning Philosophy & Approach

I’ve attended many large genealogy conferences over the years. When I first started out, my goal was to take in everything I could because I really wanted to learn. However, about four years ago, I realized that this approach was not serving me well. What I figured out is that I need to choose sessions that are aligned with either my research goals or my educational goals, both of which I set at the beginning of the year. Otherwise, I am not doing myself any good by consuming content for things I’m not actively working on. For example, let’s say there are sessions on Italian genealogy. While I have an interest in the topic because of my stepfather’s family, I have no plans to work on it this year. So, consuming information that I can’t apply right away, to me, is a waste of my time because it’ll go in one ear and out the other.

I will admit that, on occasion, I may add one or two sessions that aren’t aligned with my goals simply because they’re tied to an area of interest that I just can’t pass up even though I may not actively have a need for it right now. One example would be the Salem Witch Trials…I’m a sucker for anything on that topic!

This philosophy applies to all conferences I attend (whether in person or virtually), but it’s extremely critical when it comes to RootsTech. Why? Because it’s HUGE! This year, there are more than 1,100 sessions to choose from. While you might think that’s wonderful, my guess is you’ll start to feel overwhelmed with so many choices. So how do you choose?

First, think about the projects you plan to work on in the next six to twelve months. If a session deals with any of those topics, places, etc. that you need to learn about or brush up on, then add it to your list.

Second, think about your educational goals. In some cases these may be focused on new-to-you records or places, skill-building, strategies, and methodologies. Again, if a session deals with anything related to your goals, add it to your list.

Third, if it’s one of those topics (or maybe a favorite speaker) that you just can’t miss, even though it’s not aligned to your research or educational goals, go ahead and add one or two to your list. Otherwise, skip it!

Your list may be pretty long, so you can either go through it again and prioritize or check out the bonus tip below for another idea on how you can actually watch your chosen sessions.

For a look at the RootsTech session list and how you can find sessions and add them to your list, check out this short video.

Bonus Tip

If you watched the short demo video, you saw that I filtered the sessions by 2022 sessions and English-language sessions, which left me with more than 1,110 sessions. I browsed through all of the sessions, determining whether they aligned with my goals, and if they did, I added them to my playlist. I got down to 28 sessions, which is actually less than what I had last year (which was 40). But, 28 is still a lot of sessions! For context, if I were to attend the NGS conference in person later this year, I could physically attend up to 19 sessions over the course of four days. Now, I don’t plan on taking off four days later this week to watch 19ish RootsTech sessions. Instead, I may watch one or two over the weekend; there’s one I really can’t wait to see, along with one I want to attend live. But how do I watch the remaining 20+? Well, I could watch one a day for a month, or I could do one a week for six to seven months. For me, this makes it so much more manageable and less overwhelming, and it’s totally doable. This is the strategy I’ve used the last two years with all the virtual conferences I’ve “attended.”

Now that you know my approach for choosing which RootsTech sessions to attend, I hope you’re able to use it or adapt it to fit your needs. So what’s next? Simple! Head over to the RootsTech website and pick out your sessions!

I hope you enjoyed this article and that you’re ready to make a list of your must-see RootsTech sessions. If you found this article helpful, be sure to add the Genealogy In Action blog to your favorite RSS reader.

© Julie Tarr. This article was first published at Genealogy In Action; appearance of this article elsewhere, without my permission, violates copyright.