Have you always wanted to attend RootsTech, but couldn’t travel to Salt Lake City? The silver lining in the worldwide pandemic has been the ability to attend conferences, institutes, and classes virtually. RootsTech is no exception, and to top it off, the conference is free! Typical of RootsTech, this conference will be groundbreaking in its scope. The map below shows the numbers of total registrants – over 300,000 and still growing. Those registrants live in over 200 countries worldwide. A large percentage of those registrants are attending RootsTech for the first time.
What makes this conference unique? RootsTechConnect 2021 is a global conference with localized content. This means that the conference will be broadcast in eleven official languages with the ability to hear the keynotes and have the classes translated into those languages. Additionally, local messages will be available in the language of the country.
What do you need to know? First of all, in order to access all the features of the conference, you will need a free FamilySearch account. Be sure to sign up before the conference starts so you hit the ground running. If you have an existing FamilySearch account, but don’t remember your login information, recover that in advance as well.
When RootsTech decided to go virtual in September of 2020, the first task was to find a web platform. The team couldn’t find anything that fit, so they decided to design their own. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at all that will be available from the home page. Here are the main features and what to expect.
Once the conference begins, the home page of Rootstech.org will display the Main Stage, which will have keynotes and classes from around the globe. The keynotes will be starting at multiple times around the world and you’ll see the schedule reflected for your location. In between keynotes, there will be discovery content from many countries. RootsTech is describing these as “edutainment.” Discovery segments on music, food, travel, traditions, and culture from around the world will give you an international experience.
RootsTech typically features four keynote speakers, but this conference will treat us to thirteen individuals or groups and their perspectives on connecting with family. Many of these speakers are new to us and it will be exciting to learn about them. The same keynote speakers will be featured on the second day of RootsTech but in a different order.
Traditionally, the Expo Hall vibrates with the excitement of vendor booths and attendees swarming to see the latest and greatest developments in family history. How do you duplicate that for a virtual experience? Each vendor will be showcasing their products, offering specials and demo videos on how to use them. The opportunity to engage in real-time with experts at each “vendor booth” will give you the chance to ask your questions and get some answers.
Each year at RootsTech, innovators show off their family history-related products – software, websites, apps, and more. You’ll be able to explore these in the Innovators Portal, as part of the Expo Hall.
For North American attendees, the Expo Hall opens Wednesday, February 24th at 5:00 PM Mountain Standard Time, four hours before the event begins. This will offer you the perfect opportunity to chat with exhibitors, watch product demos and explore the latest in innovation. For attendees in other parts of the world, you’ll be able to visit the Expo Hall throughout the conference at your convenience.
If you enjoyed visiting the Demo Theater at previous RootsTech conferences, you’ll be happy to know that the virtual Demo Theater will run the entire conference and feature demos from a variety of virtual booths. If you see something that captures your interest, you can visit that vendor’s booth to learn more.
Sessions and Guide Me
Are you excited about the opportunity to learn from hundreds of experts in genealogy and family history? New for this conference will be shorter classes. RootsTech discovered that a twenty-minute video offers the optimum amount of time for online learning, so the majority of class sessions are twenty minutes in length. Some of the classes are divided into two or three twenty-minute sessions. Hundreds of localized classes in multiple languages have been pre-recorded and are ready for your viewing. Here are the numbers:
– 746 classes
– 280 tips and tricks
– 1,026 total sessions
The search function of the website will enable you to search by topic or speaker and the Speaker Directory will list all sessions by that speaker. If you find an interesting class, simply add it to your Playlist to watch later. If you are just beginning your journey into family history and feeling overwhelmed, the Guide Me section will help you know where to start with suggested classes.
Think of this virtual RootsTech conference website like Netflix – a library of experiences on demand. The content will be available for the next year. Each session has a chat associated to allow you to ask questions of the speaker, who will address those throughout the three-day conference.
The in-person RootsTech Conference has typically offered attendees opportunities to connect with other like-minded genealogists. The virtual experience also offers a chance to connect – with other attendees, speakers, exhibitors, cousins, and more! The “Connect” button on the bottom right of the screen will open up many options.
– Ask Us Anything: search by category or just type in your question.
– Direct messages: send a message to any other attendee
– Chat rooms: set up for each booth and class; can also be created by users
– Relatives at RootsTech experience: if you have your family tree on FamilySearch, you will be able to connect with all your relatives who share a common ancestor
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sponsors RootsTech and offers additional experiences such as Temple and Family History Leadership instruction,
– #QuestforConnection : for all youth and young adults age 11 to 35; challenges, experiences, and a wrap-up event on Saturday, February 27th, 1:00 MST
– Family Discovery Day will be held Saturday, February 27th at 12:00 PM MST. Join Elder and Sister Holland as they share experiences with family history and “talk about connections—connections to our ancestors and homelands, to our families and peers, and to God.”
Family Locket at Rootstech
Nicole, Robin, and I have recorded many sessions for the conference, ranging from five-minute tips and tricks videos to full-length classes. Search for us by name to see our sessions, then add them to your playlist so you can come back to them at your leisure.
Family Locket Genealogists is part of the Expo Hall and we will be available for live chatting throughout much of the conference. We’d love to have to “drop” by and say hello. We have some great specials we’ll be offering and will be debuting our new book, Research Like a Pro with DNA.
Best of luck in all your genealogy research!