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Dispelling Myths About the USDA Indexing Courses

There has been much misinformation about the Graduate School, USDA (GS) indexing courses disseminated over the years and we have recently heard yet another inaccurate myth being perpetuated.

Fact or Fiction? The GS courses were created and revised by non-indexers.
FACT: The GS indexing courses were created and revised by professional indexers.

The current inception of the Basic Indexing course was created by Nancy Mulvany. It has always been updated by professional indexers. The latest edition was updated by a team of half a dozen indexers plus experts in instructional design for distance learning courses. (While all of the instructors of the course at the time of the revision were asked for their input, not all of them participated in the revision.)

The Applied Indexing course was originally designed by Shirley Manley. The latest edition was updated by Pilar Wyman, in concert with experts in instructional design for distance learning courses.

It has been a huge plus to have instructional design experts help revise the courses. These experts have a greater understanding of learning theories and practices than working indexers. While the instructional design experts focus on the course structure, the indexers focus on the course content.

Fact or Fiction? The GS courses were created to give farmers' wives something to do to make money during the winter months.
FACT: The GS courses were created to provide training for government and non-governmental employees alike so they could widen their fields of opportunities.

Sure, bureaucracies often assign responsibilities in quirky ways. The Graduate School's mission has nothing to do with agriculture or farming. The GS was established to provide training for government employees and now non-government employees, so that they could widen their fields of opportunities.

As you will find on the GS web site,

Established in 1921 by the secretary of agriculture, the Graduate School’s mission is to improve the performance of government and to provide opportunities for individual lifelong learning through education, training and related services... Although associated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Graduate School is self-sustaining and receives no federal funds. Our only source of income is tuition and fees.
Fact or Fiction? The GS indexing courses are purely paper-based.
FACT: The GS indexing courses accept lesson submissions via e-mail.

The GS indexing course materials include hard copy course guides and the Applied Indexing course also includes electronic materials to be indexed on CDs.

The latest versions of both indexing courses allow for – and encourage – submission of lessons via e-mail. Instructors accept index lessons as RTF attachments to e-mail messages, and non-index lessons as PDF file attachments. (There are four index lessons in the Basic Indexing course, six in the Applied Indexing course.)

Of course, students can also submit lessons in hard copy via snail mail, FedEx, or other delivery services.

For more information or if you have questions about the indexing courses offered by the GS, you are invited to talk with any of the GS indexing instructors or GS staff:


Wyman Indexing © Pilar Wyman
Wyman Indexing
Tel/Fax: +1-410-757-7119
Mobile: +1-443-336-5497
pilarw@wymanindexing.com