Course Syllabus

Course Structure

Course Description

FHGEN 120 is an introduction to computer and internet research techniques for family history. This online course focuses on methods of locating and managing internet and other computer-based genealogy resources.

Students need basic computer skills to be successful in this course. Please note that this course does not teach you basic computer skills; rather, it is assumed that you are already familiar with using a computer. To help ensure that you possess the necessary skills, you will work through a technical skills inventory and then take a quiz. The inventory is simple; you are asked one or two yes-no questions about a basic skill. If you answer "no" to any question, you are encouraged to read or watch videos on the topic. Once you finish the inventory, you will take the short quiz at the end. If you don't pass the quiz the first time, you must review the materials and re-take the quiz. You may take the quiz as many times as you want, but you must pass the quiz with a 90% before you will be allowed to begin work in the course. Your highest score will be recorded.

This course, in conjunction with the other courses in this program, will help prepare you to apply for a professional genealogical credential through ICAPGen or BCG. (Note that earning the BYU-Idaho Certificate in Family History Research is not equivalent to earning a professional genealogical credential through ICAPGen or BCG).

Important Information

"The words Certified Genealogist and letters CG are registered certification marks, and the designations CGL and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation" (BCG website).

"The ICAPGenSM service mark and the Accredited Genealogist® and AG® registered marks are the sole property of the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists. All Rights Reserved" (ICAPGen website).

Course Outcomes

As a result of completing this course, you will be able to do the following:

  1. Create and edit a personal database using RootsMagic
  2. Search and for genealogical records
  3. Locate and use other genealogical databases and websites to plan research and find records that may solve research problems
  4. Use social media for genealogical research

Learning Model Architecture

The course follows a weekly cycle of Prepare, Teach One Another, and Ponder & Prove activities.


You will prepare by completing readings and other activities. You will learn how to perform family history research, gather information, and use various websites and computer programs.

Teach One Another

You will teach one another through discussion board interactions focused on experiences gained while completing the Prepare activities. You will also have assignments to teach other people in your life and share those experiences with the class.

Ponder & Prove

You will demonstrate the skills you've learned by completing interactive activities, assignments, research projects, reports, and assessments (quizzes).

The course is not an independent study course. The Teach One Another activities require students to cover material at the same time and at the same pace.

Course Overview

Course Expectations

  • Each week includes discussion boards, activities, assignments, and a quiz.
  • Discussion boards are weekly opportunities to teach one another.
  • Participation is important not only for you, but for your classmates as well.
  • Activities give you the opportunity to learn by practice and to perfect your abilities and skills. They can be completed as many times as needed for you to master each concept.
  • Assignments are different from activities because they will be personally graded by the instructor. Assignments allow you to ponder what you have learned and to prove that you know the materials you have been studying.
  • Quizzes are taken at the end of every week. They require you to use your skills in a practical way to demonstrate that you know certain aspects of family history research.

Writing Requirements

In this course, you will be required to write papers as part of certain assignments. You will need to follow the instructions carefully to write professional, college-level papers. Make sure that your papers are focused on the topics given by your instructor. Be concise and clear. Rambling will not be accepted for full credit. Do not attempt to "pad" your responses by being wordy. Your papers should be well organized using paragraphs with correct spelling and punctuation standards.

To learn more about writing standards, visit the BYU-Idaho Writing Center website for tutorials and handouts. Tutoring sessions are also available to students in the Writing Center on campus or online via Skype. If your schedule does not coincide with the Writing Center hours (9:00 AM–5:30 PM, Monday–Friday) you may email your paper to and receive written feedback for your paper within 48 hours. Visit the Help for Online Students page for more details on these resources.

Remember, it is your responsibility to understand and follow the instructions completely. If you have a question regarding an assignment, ask your instructor early for clarification. Last minute questions cannot always be answered immediately.


Course Texts and Materials

There are no texts for this course. However, you will need to purchase the latest version of the RootsMagic software program. You can purchase it for the student-discounted price of $10 (works on both PC and Mac). Full instructions are included in the course. You may also use the software at your local family history center.

You also need Microsoft Word and Excel. If you do not yet have these programs on your computer, you can download them for free as a BYU-Idaho student. Follow the instructions on the Student Software Download page from the University Store.

Make sure you have a Microphone and Webcam.

Proctored Exams and Assessments

This course will use an online proctoring software called Proctorio. This makes it possible for students to take assessments and exams without a human proctor present. Proctored exams can be accessed like any other exam, once the software has been installed. Exams will be recorded by Proctorio and reviewed by the BYUI Testing Center. Any questionable exams will be forwarded to the instructor for further review.

For step-by-step instructions on Proctorio installation, please refer to this help guide article (Links to an external site.).

Weekly Time Commitment

The online class policy is that for every credit hour, you should expect to spend 3 hours per week on the classwork. For this class, you should plan on spending approximately 9 hours per week.

Grading Policies

This course is comprised of readings, activities, assignments, discussion boards, assessments, and a final exam.



Activities are step-by-step procedures that students follow to gain experience with the new content being taught that week. Often, students will have multiple attempts to complete these. Many of these activities will require the students to use the new researching skills that they are being taught that week. The Technical Skills quiz is included in Activities.

Overall percentage of grade: 20%


Assignments consist of short essays, questions, or other assignments that must be submitted to the instructor. Only one submission is allowed for each assignment.

Overall percentage of grade: 35%

Discussion Boards

Discussion boards usually begin with a task or assignment that the student must complete before posting. For example, a student must teach someone else about that week’s lesson. After students complete the task, they are asked to share their experiences with the class.

Overall percentage of grade: 10%


These are quizzes at the end of each week that measure the student's abilities and understanding in each area. These quizzes can only be taken once.

Overall percentage of grade: 25%


This course has two exams: a mid-term and a final.

Overall percentage of grade: 10% (80 pts)


If you need assistance, visit the I-learn help tab located on the left hand side of your screen to contact the appropriate support center.


Materials on BYU-I I-Learn and related sites may be protected by US Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code). These materials are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated.

University Policies

Students with Disabilities

Brigham Young University-Idaho is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere that accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have a disability and require accommodations, please contact the Disability Services Office at (208) 496-9210 or visit their website and follow the Steps for Receiving Accommodations. Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with students and instructors by the Disability Services Office.

This course includes required synchronous meetings. If you are currently registered with the Disability Services Office and need an interpreter or transcriber for these meetings, please contact the deaf and hard of hearing coordinator at (208) 496-9219.

Other University Policies

Student Honor and Other Policies

Please read through the document called University Policies. It gives important information about the following topics:

  • Student Honor
    • Academic Honesty
    • Student Conduct
      • Sexual Harassment
  • Student with Disabilities
  • Complaints and Grievances
  • Copyright Notice

Go to the Student Resources module to review further resources and information.

Personal Conduct

All of your correspondence with the instructor or other classmates must be respectful. Writing something disrespectful or “venting” is unprofessional and not becoming of a university student. In addition, it is not in accordance with the Honor Code of BYU-Idaho, and you will be subject to discipline accordingly. You are invited to reread the BYU-I Honor Code and the “Principles of Personal Honor.”


Due to the nature of certain assignments in this course, some images do not include alternative text. If you need assistance with these images, please contact your instructor.

Please visit the University Policies page to read BYU-Idaho’s policies on student honor, students with disabilities, sexual harassment, and complaints and grievances.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due