Jack Norton
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I am faculty in the History and Political Science Department at Normandale Community College. You can read about my efforts to create digital history courses that embrace an anti-poverty andragogy here.

I am also the former campus leader for our faculty development group, called the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). Normandale's faculty development blog is here.

2020-07-20, 10:47

I have updated the Theme to my website again. It should remain accessible and simple to navigate. I recognize changing themes every year is a no-no of web design, but I'm not moving stuff around, just changing color schemes.

Previous Posts

For those who want to use Grammarly, but are nervous about data usage violations, a work-around to consider.

All students

2019-09-4: Office Hour from 1-2 is cancelled today.

Please email me with any questions. I will have regular office hours again tomorow.

2019-05-21: Final Grades

Final grades are posted. I curved all of my courses .5 percentage points as I felt the weather disrupted learning in a way that merited a mild, mid-semester correction. So, instead of rounding up at .56, the round is at .06. That is, a 79.05 is a C and a 79.06 is a B.

I am happy to discuss or regrade individual assignments. I am not willing to discuss final semester grades. I can change your grades as necessary, so if you have questions, please email me with a brief and to-the-point question or concern. When you email, please recognize I take your grades seriously, and like you, care a great deal about making sure the grade is fair- for you and everyone.

I keep my D2L courses open until Normandale deletes them, around 2 years, so you are welcome to check your grade or your work anytime.

Thank you for everything this semester. I hope that some small part of what we did sticks with you into the future, perhaps even helping you land a job or make your community just a little better.

2019-05-13: What I'm grading now

Students often want to know what when to expect grades at the end of the semester, so I keep a running tally of the assignments I'm grading for all my students. I'll cross off the assignment as I grade. REMINDER: A "0" means I didn't see your work: email me a link of your work if it is on WordPress or Omeka if you have a zero but the work is done.

Conversations 1 (1101 online)
Conversations 1 (1101 face to face)
Peer Reviews (1101 all and 1133)
Immigration (1133)
Conversations 2 (1101 online)
Conversations 2 (1101 face-to-face)

Final Exhibits
1133
1101 Face to Face
1101 Online

Late Work and work resubmitted due to errors.

2019-04-27 The time for turning in late assignments ended Friday, April 26th at 8 p.m. I received a flurry of emails, all related to a similar theme, which I will address here.

  1. There are no extensions, except as stipulated in the syllabus. Fairness demands that I have a single grading policy for all my students. My late policy is generous, giving 85% of the credit you would have earned if turned in on time.
  2. Offering extensions to some students and not to others based on circumstances amounts to playing favorites, which I'm not willing to do.
  3. All of the websites (D2L, Omeka, WordPress) record dates and times differently: I know how the dates and times are recorded and will give appropriate credit. For example, WordPress timestamps all work with Greenwich mean time. I can do the math to know if your post was on time or not, no worries.
  4. I know that life, in all its complications, is the primary impediment to completing assignments. I acknowledge that reality at the same time I maintain my grading standards.
  5. I care deeply about supporting all my students, especially the ones struggling to pass the class. I answered more than 25 separate inquiries on Friday, both face to face and online, over the course of 10 hours. I answered emails until 7:50 p.m. Friday night. As I've said many times, when you win, I win.

I now face a heapload of grading, so please stay tuned as grades are updated in the coming week(s).

Past posts
As we head into Spring Break, you can expect to see your lagging assignment grades show up. Please recall I only give zeroes for work I can not see, often because a student has not signed his/her work. I will be working through the break, but may not be able to answer questions in the usual 24 hours.

Your quiz will be due March 17, not this week March 10. Happy shoveling:)

Website down

This website was down from around 22:00 on 2018-10-11 to around 01:00 on 2018-10-12. I was notified by students of the problem around 10 pm and immediately placed a service request with the server company, which restored the site. My apologies for the inconvenience. For your information, I keep backup copies of our course materials at https://github.com/jackhistorynorton . The repositories are called world_history_1, world_history_2, and Minnesota-History . "Github" and "jacknorton" should produce search results that get you to this page.

Class cancellation: 5 September 2018, Wednesday.

With apologies, I will be absent from Normandale on Wednesday the 5th of September 2018 due to illness.

Why run a course on the open web?

A number of students have asked about why I run our course through my own website, rather than putting everything in D2L. The answer to that question could fill a book, a really dull book. Still in answer to your questions let me summarize my reasons.

  1. The average time (mean) it takes most US students to earn a degree is 38 months.[1] The median is 33 months. Either way, that’s around three years. MN State archives all D2L courses after two years. I can provide longer access to course readings and materials than Normandale does.
  2. I don’t trust D2L with student data. Yes, I’ve read their privacy policy. I still find their policies insufficient, specifically their sharing of data with third-party vendors. I don’t track you on my website. You visit, you use it, you are done. The wordpress installation I use tells me what country users have visited from, but nothing else. Learners should be free to access information without someone spying on their learning. If you read a paper book, no one jumps over your shoulder and says “I see your reread this passage about boxes three times? Are you looking to move? There’s box store 2 miles from you.” I’ve designed my website to respect your privacy.
  3. Having the course on the open web means never having to worry about access. You can look at it. So can your mom or dad. Or a prospective student. Or a former student who needs a syllabus to transfer to another school but feels awkward asking me. The course is open: welcome.
  4. D2L breaks stuff or makes using the web harder than it needs to be. If a link is broken on my site, I can see the problem. With D2L, every link needs to be processed and double checked because a straight link (say www.startribune.com) won’t always display. It takes three steps to link a document in D2L when every other web publishing platform makes it one or two steps. I can work faster and, thus, have more time for students, if I’m not in D2L.
  5. Teaching on the open web holds me accountable for my work. It is not just you that can see my site: so can my congressional representatives, so can my colleagues at other colleges, so can MY mom. Being public in my teaching demands courage, professionalism, and accountability in a way that a closed web system does not. I do not think all learning should be open: we need private spaces to explore and fail. Nevertheless, I think open can be good for a public institution, even just as a model.
  6. Teaching on the open web is an experiment. That’s a reality. I’ve been doing it for one year now and will evaluate my results over the next year. Minnesotans deserve great institutions of teaching and learning and we will never get there if we don’t explore and innovate. We cannot accept the provided-but-insufficient technology solutions in education. We need to forge our own paths. I’m proud of the work all my students have done this past semester in their own educatoon paths. Their independent work, as featured on the History at Normandale Blog is a testament to their intelligence and skillls.

1 https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2012/2012271.pdf