East Asian History 2101 Spring 2017

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Consider this page your digital classroom. I’ll post vital information for the course here. The latest news will be at the top.

2017_05_11 What I’m grading right now can by found on my blog http://jacknorton.org

Please read the following before viewing your grades or emailing.

  1. Final grades are due by faculty on May 16th at noon to the Registrar. I will submit your grades sometime before that.
  2. I will soon switch D2L from showing blanks in the gradebook as null values (not calculated) to registering those as zeros. I do this after I’ve complete the major grading (see above).
  3. Data errors (as in, “I submitted that assignment and can see it in the Assignment Submission folder, how come there’s no grade?”) are easy to fix and I welcome your emails.
  4. Technical errors (as in, “I know I submitted that to the Submission folder, but it’s not there now”) will involve a longer discussion that goes beyond when grades are due. I have never had a technical error reveal a failure of D2L that resulted in a grade change.
  5. Your class citizenship grades are based on your participation in discussions and respectful behavior towards other students.
  6. I am willing to discuss individual assignments, but not the final course grade. Please consider your communication carefully when asking for regrading.
  7. My grading scale is a standard 60-69 = D, 70-79 = C, 80-89 = B, and 90-100 = A. D2L will only allow me to round at .51, so that’s what I will. 89.51 is an A, 89.50 is a B.
  8. I own all the grades (it’s a weird college thing) so I can change your grade anytime. That is to say, please do not call in the middle of the night fearing a grade will be permanently on your record. Once grades are in I must fill out a form to change it, and I can change it 5 minutes, 5 weeks, or 5 years after it’s been submitted.
  9. Grades are a measure of your performance on a set number of tasks over the course of four months. Grades are not a measure of intelligence, ability, or my afinity for you. Grades reflect what you turned in, and only that.
  10. Thank you for a wonderful semester. I will continue responding to emails, I just wanted to get this grade post up before the weekend.

2017_05_08 Class citizenship grade

One of your last grades in the course is called “Class Citizenship.” I assign this grade based on my evaluation of your actions in our course. In public, a good citizen is courteous to others, contributes to community efforts, and shows up for community events. In our course, a good citizen treats others in the course with respect, participates fully in our discussions, and turns in work that honors her/his own intelligence. So, I reflect on your discussions, your treatment of others, your attendance in person and in assignments, and I then assign a grade. Overall it’s a small grade, yet it allows me to give credit to those who do the hard work of citizenship.

2017_04_26 I’ve been fielding emails and discussion board questions over the past week, and am pleased to see students working hard to find good topics, sound thesis, and useful sources. A question I get at the end of the semester (and have for many years, regardless of textbook, essay, or exam) is: why is putting together the final project so hard?

Every writer answers this question in their own way. From my perspective, there are two big issues. One, original, critical thought that results in an intellectual interesting project is hard. There are stops and starts, pauses for clarifications, frustrations. That is all part of the writing and creating process. Very little worth doing is easy. See also love, marriage, careers, service to others, parenting, playing music or sports.

My second thought, and this is distinctive to the last two years of my courses, is that digital history requires mastering three areas: the content (knowledge about the past), the digital tools (how to use websites, databases), and historical argumentation (how to read, criticize, and create historical arguments). An average Minnesotan may think history is just dates, people, and places. As you’ve seen, history is much more. We have to find and interrogate sources, often with digital tools. Those same tools are used across the work world.

When it comes to the digital, people often believe they are wizards and witches—capable of conjuring the right combination to produce fantastic results— or complete dunces– convinced that computers hate them. My experience is that students display uneven expertise with digital materials, great with some tools and skills, challenged with others. Certainly this current generation of students must learn to navigate a greater number of tools and skills than previous generations did. You may be feeling frustrations your parents did not because the work you have to do is harder. (And yes, you can send you folks to me and I’ll argue that to them face-to-face:)

And there’s the rub: at the end of the semester, having done so much work, you are being asked to do one more thing that demonstrates you know about the past, how to use tools, and how to argue a point. In contrast, AP history courses the country over spend the last week’s reviewing just content, and how to create an essay that will earn a 5 on the AP exam. As those of you in the workforce know, no one is going to pay you to write an essay comparing and contrasting the economic blah, blah, blah of country X, Y, and Z. You’re ability to find credible information, analyze it, and present it will define your career, not your ability to recite the dates of the Muslim invasion of India or the fall of the Aztecs.

I’m proud of the work you have done and are doing, and I want to keep hearing your constructive questions. Several students have asked why I teach history as I do, and that’s a different post. I will write this: I teach on the open web. Every typo, every failure, the good, the bad, even this post, is public. I do that for reasons I’ll tell you about later. That said, I do not take my willingness to share my materials or to acknowledge needs for clarification or outright failures as weakness. Being open to criticism (within reason) is a sign of respect to those I teach, not an indication I am doing something wrong.

See you on the discussion boards!
2017_04_18 The Mark Welter Award– Due Friday, April 21st.
2017_04_03 I am away from Normandale and won’t be able to hold office hours today. I will respond to emails as usual.

2017_03_30 David Rayson, my colleague and friend, will be subbing for me today. I will be available online at https://pad.lullabot.com/p/eastasia from 12-12:25 if you have questions. David will be playing a 26 minute video on the Cultural Revolution and answering any questions you have. Then you will have time to work on your Numbers 1 assignment.

2017_03_22 With apologies, my office hours are cancelled today as I am home with a sick kid. I am on email and encourage you to contact me with any questions.

2017_03_16 CLASS CANCELLED. I spent 3 hours in the ER overnight with my daughter. She’s fine with a minor virus, but I’m going to be useless as a teacher and need to care for her.

The second half of Kieu is due this week for the quiz, which will open at the regular time.

2017_02_27 Quiz update Class -My apologies, my wife got sick this weekend so I had to be dad and husband, which does not allow for work time (or play time). I’ll have the quiz up tonight so you can take it tomorrow.

2017_02_24 I’ve shifted the dates for the quiz back a couple of days because we aren’t meeting Tuesday. The quiz will be on the second half of the book, but not the poems.

2017_02_08 Gettings your attention: a significant number of students still have not done the plagiarism assignment. If I don’t have an email from the site or from you indicating you’ve completed the quiz, you now have a “0.” If you don’t want a zero, please do the tutorial. If you’ve done the tutorial and have a zero, send me the email the site sent you indicating your score. This is the last notice I will post on this assignment. You can still get full credit, and I want to give it to you, but I need evidence you’ve done the tutorial.

2017_02_01 My apologies, but I will not be at school or able to answer emails until tonight. I’m sick, my daughter is sick, and our nanny is sick and out. I will answer emails and discussion board questions tonight once the household has gone to bed.

2017_01_19 We will have class today. I may be a little late. If you have finished the assignments, you can turn to our readings for next week.

Please read this first.