DNA Skills Workshop FAQs

Q: I love attending Diahan’s classes at conferences and your webinars. How is this different?

The Workshops bring the best aspects of her classes and webinars into an extended, hands-on format where you’ll learn in an interactive setting, work on real-life examples, follow up (live!) with your questions, and work on MORE examples to be sure your learning experience is complete and thorough. It won’t just be a fun-but-onetime event, but rather a series of progressive, hands-on tutorials and experiences. Plus, Diahan will be checking your progress to make sure you are learning all the things you need to.

Q: I haven’t done a DNA test myself. Can I still take part in the workshop?

By the time the Workshop starts, you should already have autosomal DNA test results in hand. You’ll need them because this is a hands-on learning experience. Optimally, you’ll be working with your own DNA test results, but you can also use someone else’s, as long as you have their permission and the login access. The cost and ordering of DNA testing itself is not included in the course. See Workshop pre-requisites below about a testing company recommendation.

Q: Are there any prerequisites for the DNA Skills Workshop?

DNA test. Testing with Ancestry will likely result in the most rewarding Workshop experience because of the company’s analysis tools and large database of potential matches. A lot of the Workshop techniques are demonstrated on that site. That said, many researchers find benefit in the other testing companies, too: Those who have tested with MyHeritage (or transferred and paid the unlock fee) will find a nice suite of DNA tools there. 23andMe and Family Tree DNA (Family Finder test) offer additional features. 

Research goal. Preferably, you will have a specific research goal or question in mind when you take a Workshop. Your goal needs to be to find a 3X great grandparent or closer. (Read more about what DNA can and can’t do.) If you don’t have an ancestor in that timeframe you want to find, you will find the class helpful if you even just pretend you do not know an ancestor, and then use the steps in class to help you learn the process of using DNA in your family history research. Sometimes you’ll discover a research question or goal as you begin learning. Any time you spend making your family tree more DNA-friendly will likely be a good investment.

DNA matches. Ideally, you want to have some DNA matches within the range of whatever question you’re trying to answer. For example, to identify a close birth relative (parent or sibling), you should have DNA matches who share 1200+ cM with you. If you don’t, then we will still be able to learn about your family, but we may not be able to pin down your specific parent. Similarly, if you want to find your 2X great grandparents, you will need 3rd-4th cousins to help. If you do not have the matches you need, we will still be able to make progress in your research, but we may not be able to find that missing ancestor right away.

Prior experience. Unless you’re a really quick learner, we don’t recommend this Workshop if you’re brand new to looking at DNA matches. This Workshop is meant to take your skills from an advanced beginner to an intermediate level.

Q: Can I join the Workshops after they’ve already started?

While we would love to accommodate late arrivals, that won’t be in your best interest. You’ll lose too much by not starting with the class. Don’t worry, there will be more opportunities—sign up for the free Your DNA Guide newsletter to hear about workshop sign-ups first.

Q: Yikes! The Workshop I want is full. Is there a waiting list?

We are so glad you’re excited to join a DNA Workshop! When classes are full, we sometimes offer waiting lists for the next Workshop. Again, get on our newsletter list to stay informed.

Q: What technical requirements are necessary? Is there a textbook?

Each Workshop takes place online. During these weeks, you’ll need a fast, reliable internet connection for learning sessions and for additional learning on your own time. For your individual coaching session, you will need to be able to access your family tree and DNA results on a device with a microphone and camera (and know how to use them). You’ll need access to your DNA test results on whatever testing site you’re using. Your primary textbook is Your DNA Guide—the Book; you’ll receive both the print and ebook editions when you register. You’ll also receive a workbook and additional reference materials that support your learning.

Q: What’s the schedule for the DNA Workshops? How much total time should I plan to spend on it?

See each Workshop description for its specific schedule. Overall, plan to spend at least 6 hours per week watching prerecorded video tutorials, participating in a live, one-hour Q&A session, working on case studies + homework and on solving your own DNA mysteries. Some people may work more quickly than others, and some may want to dive deeper than others. That part is up to you. About 60% of Skills participants report spending more than 5 hours a week on the course, and some report spending more than 10 hours.

The first week has a live kick-off meet-and-greet session. The last week’s Q&A session is a capstone case study that pulls together all your learning and lasts about 2 hours. (Again, see the Workshop schedule for your session.)

You’ll also have a 30-minute one-on-one coaching or private consultation session with one of the expert DNA coaches, which you can schedule anytime during the Workshop.

Q: What if I am not able to attend a live Q&A session?

Life happens, even with the best intentions! While it will probably be more fun to attend live each week, don’t worry if something comes up. These sessions will be recorded. Recordings will be made available in your personal courses page for as long as we offer the Academy. Because the recordings are available, refunds will not be granted due to unexpected changes in your schedule. (See our refund policy.)

Q: What if I get stuck doing my homework?

Great! That means you are progressing! In addition to the weekly Q&A sessions and instructional class time, there will be a discussion board for class members to share in a community setting. Furthermore, everyone is invited to pair up with a research buddy or join a small research group to keep each other motivated and accountable. Each participant will also receive a 30-minute individual consultation with an expert coach at some point during the Workshop, so you can use this time to discuss your unique DNA situation or homework challenges.

Q: What guarantee do I have that this course will work for me?

We are so confident that the DNA Skills Workshop will make YOU more confident in using DNA for family history that we offer a money-back guarantee. Read about it here. 

Q: What is your refund and exchange policy?

Scheduling conflicts happen. That’s why we have a refund and exchange policy. Read it here. 

Q: What workshops will you be adding in the near future? How can I stay informed about them?

The best way to keep up is to subscribe to the free newsletter, where everything is announced first.

Q: Do you offer these courses for genealogical societies to participate in?

We are currently developing options for societies or groups to run their own private classes for their members. If you’re interested, please contact Diahan.