World History 1101, Fall 2016

World History 1 (HIST 1101) – Fall 2016
SyllabusAssignmentsSchedule Brightspace (D2L)

2016_12_10 Please be sure your exhibit has your name on it in the title. You can’t get a grade for work I don’t know is yours

2016_12_14 Online students: once you’ve turned in your final assignment, please login and participate in the survey of instruction. You can access it from the front page of our D2L course or in the quizzes section. I would link to it here, but the survey can only be for students in our course. Thank you!

2016_12_12 Conversations 2 is graded. Several names did not correspond with student names. Hobartweb, devorem, Theovalvase, I could not grade your posts. Please email me from a Normandale email account to claim your post. If you received a “0” it’s because I didn’t see your post. FYI, WordPress posts things on Greenwich Mean Time. I can tell what time you actually posted.

2016_12_11 A video tutorial on making the Omeka exhibit.

I’ll start to post the assignment and class I’m grading right now on my blog starting on Saturday.

Please read the following before viewing your grades or emailing.

  1. Final grades are due by faculty on December 20th 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 paper 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 and guiding your final assignments, I just wanted to get this grade post up before the weekend.

2016_12_6 I graded the Outlines and gave feeback. For my face-to-face students, a common issue is narrowing the thesis to something manageable and accessible. A number of students offered thesis that talked about why empires fell. Whole books have been written on that. You have 4-500 words. To shrink your thesis to exhibit size, think about a conversation with a friend over coffee. You say, “I’m doing this web exhibit on X and it’s cool because Y. Y had an impact on this specific region in this specific time, and it turns up in everyday life like z.”

For my online students there emerged two major opportunities for improvement. First, all exhibits must be in our time period, before 1400 CE. Two, ALL sources must have a credible Publication, Institution, Author, and Sources. That means no sources designed for children (which won’t include sex, violence or politics) no sources that lack a signed author who you can determine is an expert and no wikipedia or Britannica. You have access to all sorts of credible information through our Library website.

Some strong and interesting topics thus far. I think the exhibits could be great, with a great bit of work.

2016_11_30 For my online students: Words II is graded. Some interesting analysis. If I couldn’t see that you edited stopwords or your analysis didn’t use word counts, instead relying on close reading the text (the story in this text was . . . ) the grades were slightly lower. Numbers I is also graded. Two notes: if you were a 34 year old you should not be worried about dying because the mode was 1. Taking out the mode yielded an average in the 50s. A number of students only answered the questions at the bottom of the assignment. Not sure why, but there were more B’s because of that. More grades to come this week:).

2016_11_17 For my online students: a note on excellence. Discussion grades are described below, but there are special instances in which I feel a small bonus is deserved. A number of students have gone out of their way to post more than the minimum with quality posts (say four posts when only two are required) or to carefully craft their posts with useful evidence and respectful reflection on other’s words. For these excellent posts, I give 3.1/3 points. Many of you have received this grade over the semester for an excellent post. I just wanted to explain why you might see a better than 3 grade for the week. Keep up the good work.

2016_11_16 For my online students, some tips on how to search for and evaluate our social media for Conversations I in the form of an quick video explainer.

2016_11_14 Quizzes this week and next. For this week and next, you will learn as you converse with the wider social world of history. To reflect this learning process, the quiz will be open at the usual time and stay open until the following Friday at 8 p.m. You can take the quiz up to two times, and your highest score will count. If you have taken the quiz and are happy with your score, great. If you want to wait until the end of the week to take it, that works too.

2016_11_9 A couple of notes. 1. The historic election has left many feeling anxious. I spent several hours talking to students today, all of whom had strong feelings about the election. As a historian I cannot encourage you pay attention to evidence and then pretend that this is a regular election. The evidence says otherwise. In the course of the campaign, Donald Trump expressed racist and sexist sentiments that left many of my students in physical fear. As a teacher there is a difficult balance of respecting my students’ opinions while creating a safe space for all my students to learn. At this point, all I can say is that I am willing to talk with you if you feel anxious or sad.

  1. On sources of information for this election. I’ve seen a variety of news reportings on how many people hear only from others who agree with them while reading news or on social media. Conversations with students make me wonder about this narrative, particularly as it relates to generations. It seems to me that many students have friend, parents, grandparents, and extended family offer varied viewpoints. One advantage of history is that with time, we’ll have a fuller picture of who communicates with whom about what, and what the conflicting information might tell us about various voters.

  2. I will return to heavy grading tomorrow after having spent mfost of today listening to students (and faculty) about their lives and concerns.

  3. Thank you to all students in my face-to-face and online course for their continued civil discussions.

2016_11_7 The Maps 2 Assignments is now graded. If you got a 90 or above, you answered all the questions correctly. Students that received 80-89 either missed answering a questions correctly or did not write a sufficient amount in the final two paragraphs for me to evaluate their analysis. Students who did not write the final two paragraphs or did not answer several questions are the only ones who got below 80.

I am amazed at how much work some students showed on this assignment, especially some online students. I gave full credit to students if they showed me how they got their numbers, even if those numbers disagreed with my calculations. Few students egaged the trade of silk as a product, specifically a product that came from China, though most students considered well the positives and negatives of trade at certain cities.

If you are elligible to vote on Tuesday, please vote. Your can register at the polls if needed. For where to vote, see . I’m voting tomorrow at 10 am at Martin Luther King Park in Minneapolis. Thank you.

2016_11_4 I contacted Stanford by Twitter and they fixed the Orbis site, allowing me to grade Maps II. I’ve graded Words I: some great analysis. I’ll post an example based on a movie if the student who wrote it gives me permission. Some students didn’t show that they’d used stopwords in their analysis, and some students offered conclusions based on reading the article, not based on using Voyant. Overall, strong performance overall.

2016_11_3 Maps I is graded. It was a pretty-technical assignment, and overall the submissions were good. There were a limited number of students who didn’t enter in two areas, or that failed to mention an area outside the mapped area- as required by the assignment. Drawing conclusions from secondary sources, can be tough, and most folks offered valiant efforts at connecting two different regions based on a theme. A quick reminder: a “0” means I didn’t see that you submitted any work. I never give zeros for submitted work that fails the requirements. Even failed work deserves more points than 0.

I’m going to skip grading Maps II right now because Orbis isn’t working correctly. I’ve contacted Stanford to ask what is going on and will grade once the site allows me to double check your work.

2016_11_2 Because Voyant proved unresponsive last week, I will accept Words II assignments from now until Friday at 8 p.m. as on time. You may revise work you submitted or submit work you could not complete. If the website continues to frustrate you at a particular time, please consider running a local instance (downloading it to your computer) or working at a different time. The Assignment Submission Folder will still show the due date of last Friday, but will accept submissions.

2016_11_1 Images II is graded. The technical (posting an image, including Dublin Core Data) parts were good. The writing elements were uneven, with some analysis moving beyond the accurate to the eloquant. One area that many folks forgot, though it was in the learning goals and grading criteria: a self-defined learning goal. Onwards friends.

2016_11_1 I’m behind on grading. I recognize that an apologize. I am grading Images II Tuesday, Maps I on Wednesday, Maps II and Words I on Thursday. You obededient servant, J. Norton.

2016_10_24 For those who have been frustrated by Voyant Tools speed, you may consider running the software on your own computer. You do not need to do this to complete this assignment, but some students have expressed a desire for more speed and have installed software on computers before. Complete instuctions can be found here.. The server requires Java, which most machines already have. FYI, the programmers are transitioning all of Voyant over to HTML5 and the webpage doesn’t require Java, only the standalone version (for now).

2016_10_19 A short explainer video for how to do the Voyant analysis.

2016_10_19 Please fill out this mid-term evaluation to help me improve the second half of our course. Thank you!

2016_10_14 The Words I assignment has been posted. Please note: the tool we’ll be using, Voyant, does not always work well with Internet Explorer. If the text doesn’t load or is fussy, please switch browsers. On the plus side, learning how to do distant reading prepares you to be a CIA analyst, or journalist, or political operative, or paid researcher . . . . Seriously- learning how to read a huge body (what we call a “corpus”) of texts is central to almost every major news story of the past years, including Edward Snowden and the recent Russian hacking into US organizations.

2016_10_14 Images I is graded. A strong effort by most students. Greater attention to the question I asked about what an item tells us about the past would’ve resulted in slightly higher scores. Several students left out any thesis.

As a general web-publishing guideline (and not something I graded on), when you create words for a link, people expect the words to accurately describe the link. If you saw the the link Normandale Community College, you’d expect the Normandale homepage yes? Not some deep link to the registrar? Same goes for when you create links: make the words you are linking describe what the link is. 95% of students linked with a description such as “British Museum” and the link went to an item page. FYI.

Again, I’m perpetually impressed with willingness of students to work hard in this class, especially when it comes to trouble-shooting software and wrestling with how to make argument about the past. Keep plugging!

2016_09_28 I’ve graded Time I and II for all my 1101 students. Students are demonstrating technical skills in line with expectations. In general, the quality of the writing in the assignments is strong, with complete sentences in well-structured mini-paragraphs.

Students consider to struggle with what passes the PISA test. Britannica is not a credible source because it does not draw from primary sources primarily. It’s fine for high school, but not for college or professional work. and a host of other religious sites (both for and against religions) don’t pass the credible institution test. For example, one website was set up to give objective information about religions so that people could understand that all religions are lies. I’ll try to think of what other exercises we can do to practice weighing credibility. It’s arguable the most important skill you’ll learn this semester.

A couple folks forgot to include learning objectives in their assignments, which diminished grades. Please, I encourage you to review both the learning goals and the grading criteria before submitting your assignments. I strive for clarity in what I ask of you and how you’ll be evaluated.

2016_09_27 D2L installed an update this morning that fixed the grading bug of last week. I’m grading again and will finish Time I and hopefull Time II today.

2016_09_25 Images II Assignment posted. I prefer to have it up earlier, but grading snafus and coaching students through last week’s assignment proved more time constraining than I’d planned. Keep those questions coming: never suffer in silence!

2016_09_22 Guidance for Online Discussions
80% of the discussion posts are solid. But there are 20% that are consistanlty off, so I’m offering some concrete guidance. I recognize this may be too much detail, but hopefull it’ll help level the playing field.


Please respond to the first thread (whoever writes first) of the discussoin. Creating your own thread breaks up the conversation into silos, and I’m hoping for more big-tent conversatons.

The first line of the post prompt will always include how many times you must post to receive full credit. Please try to make our first post before Wednesday night at 8 p.m. to allow for a full discussion. Three posts in a row at 7:50 Friday night is a monologue, and not a good one.

A “post” is a single entry in the discussion board. Two posts will require two separate entries. For everything in this class, doing the minimum earns a passing grade (a C). Discussion posts will be graded 1, 2, or 3.

A 3 indicates a well-considered post, written in complete sentences. It should reference both the weekly reading or image, as well as relate to other posts. A 3 entry will use opinion backed with evidence to analyze or respond to someone else’s post. All posts should contain a minimum of three, well-considered and articulate sentences.

A 2 post has a strong point, but may not use the text or refer to other’s ideas. A 2 post may also be too short (a couple sentences) or too long (many rambling paragraphs) and lack a clear point.

A 1 post makes not a great deal of sense, but relates marginally to the topic at hand. It does not reference a specific source nor other’s posts. Quick “I think this is cool” or “what Fatima said” posts will typically earn a 1. As well, dropping in multiple posts right before the Friday deadline at 8 p.m. will earn a 1 as these are not contributing to a conversation, but merely offering short monologues for points.

Not posting earns a 0. I’ll grade as quickly as possible. Discussions will run from Monday until Friday night at 8 p.m. I’ll try to post subjects as early as possible even if the discussion board isn’t open yet.

Spell check your posts. It’s the little abc button in the bottom right. See it? Repeated failure to spellcheck or use of text language will earn lower discussion grades. You deserve a capital “I” not an “i.”

Most discussion posts will ask you to make an argument about a subject. An argument is an opinion based on evidence. This evidence comes from both primary and secondary sources, but also from your existing knowledge. For example, when arguing over the justice or injustice of a subject, you have an existing comparative model: modern U.S. and MN laws. Everything can’t be related to the present, but we don’t exist in vacuum. My best advice for useful and interesting discussion posts is: a. have confidence in yourself and your arguments. And b., be as clear as possible in your logic and your language. Historians are lawyers of the past: evidence and good judgment are our guides.

I participate in the discussions in different ways. Some weeks I chime in regularly, particularly with controversial subjects. Some weeks I’ll just ask questions to help move the discussion. Some weeks I just assess and send private messages of encouragement to students.


See video here.

2016_09_22 #@$!@#%! (That’s the polite way to curse). After grading 1/3 of the Time I Assignments, D2L injected an error into the grading rubric (adding .0000000003 to grades). This error won’t let me give certain grades, forcing me to grade high or low in order to avoid the error. That’s terrible both in terms of gradng fairness and in terms of a coding on a website. So, I have to suspend grading the Time I and Time II assignments until they’ve fixed this bug. If it goes more than a couple days, I’ll figure out a workaround. I’ll communicate as soon as I know of a fix.

2016_09_21 My office hours will be 12-1 today as I have a committee meeting.

2016_09_14 A couple of grading notes. First, I automatically drop your lowest two quiz scores and lowest two discussion (online) or response (face to face) scores. D2L doesn’t assignments or quizzes you haven’t taken as zeros, only as null values. So, your first quizzes or discussion/response scores will be marked dropped until you have more than two scores in each grading category.

I turned on the automatic drop feature today, which is why you’re seeing it now.

I’m giving credit for the plagiarism tutorial and get to know you form I asked folks to fill out in the “Read this first” and History Bootcamp documents. If you havent’ done the tutorial or filled in the form, please do so now for credit. If you have a “0” or fail by those grades in D2L, its because I don’t have a submission from you. Don’t forget to give me your full name and have the tutorial send the email to [at]

2016_09_08 I’m off to Louisiana for a family wedding today. I don’t think it right to curtail the amount of time you have to work because I have a family obligation, so no dates will change for our course. Please be aware, however, that I’ll be limited to answering questions and responding to discussion posts to evenings or when my kids nap. The next assignment (Time II) is ready if you want to look at it.

2016_09_04 I’ve added all of my online students to Omeka and Omeka has sent invite emails to those students. I’ll get my face-to-face students added tomorrow, but as we don’t meet until Wednesday, it’s less pressing. All are welcome to review the lesson and the online students may start. Your username is the full, formal name in D2L, with no spaces. So, my D2L name is Jack Norton, so my username would be JackNorton. If you forget your password, you can click the forgot my password link at the bottom of the page and it will send you your username and a link to reset the password. I sent the invitations to join Omeka through your school email accounts.

2016_09_02 I’ve posted the assignment for next week. We’ll be working with a Content Management System called Omeka that historians use to create web exhibits and catalog historical sources. I need to manually add names individually to the Omeka for you to be users. So, you should be able to get into Omeka site linked in the assignment by Sunday at the latest. Happy Labor Day.

2016_08_24 I made a video to walk you around our course pages and highlight how to read. Closed captions to follow tonight.

2016_08_23 Questions about quiz. I received a question by email, the answer to which will be useful to all. Your quiz, which opens Thursday and closes Sunday is for the reading for the week to follow. Thus, I quiz you on your reading for the week ahead, not the week we just finished. Why? I want our conversations and work to be informed by the evidence. If I quiz at the end of the week, some students won’t read until just before the quiz, making our discussions, well, less-than-useful. So, week two’s reading is that which I will grade on for the quiz that closes Sunday. Make sense?

For online students, there’s a separate discussion board for questions, and I receive instant messages when a question comes in to D2L on that boad.

Oh, and the date is in the format. It’s called the ISO 8601 standard. I use it because you can’t mess it up (month first, year first, is this paper I’m reading written by a Candadian?) and it corresponds with how most digital history tools that we’ll use measure dates. Should you wish, you can add hours, minutes, seconds and miliseconds. 2016. is the 23rd of August, 2016 at 8:45 PM 23 seconds, 12 miliseconds past the minute.

2016_08_22 Welcome to our World History 2 (HIST 1102) Course page. All the “stuff” of our class is here. We’ll use D2L to submit assignments, discuss, and view grades.