1 World History 1 (1101) Fall 2022

Syllabus - Weekly Schedule - Discord - Home - D2L - Assignment Files

2022-11-29, 13:35 Sources for your final project

I'm listening to your podcasts (it's slow going, 90 students, 3 minutes each, time to write comments).

I'm noticing many credible but not quality sources, such as Britannica and Wikipedia and non-credible, open-web sources, such as history.com.

Note in the instructions for your Final Project that I'm asking for quality sources. That means sources created by experts, who read the languages of the peoples studied. This will mostly be articles, some books you can check out at our Normandale library or your local library, and plenty of museum objects.

Credible but not quality sources are fine to familiarize yourself with a subject. You are producing something for a fresh water nonprofit to convince them to hire you as a content producer. That means you need to bring something more than wikipedia to your work. Encyclopedia's aren't bad: they help us understand topics quickly. But expertise is rarely housed there.

You've demonstrated strong research abilities in using Jstor Project Muse and other databases. I have confidence you'll continue to do so.

2022-11-27, 19:11 Final Project (Last Two weeks) posted

There are many departures from our usual schedule, so please read the Prepared document carefully. I'll be digging out from all the "my podcast link should work now" emails tomorrow. Glad I double checked them before break as many more will get full credit.

2022-11-23, 15:20 Podcast links

I reviewed all the links submitted in your Assignment files and left comments if they were or were not working. I did not assess the podcasts, only if links were working. I'm trying to give students their best chance to have their work recognized.

I hope you all maintain or return to health over the coming days. Be well.
2022-11-18, 16:13 Project: Podcast

I reviewed all podcasts today (and am now exhausted).

Here's my top five list of ways to improve most student podcasts:

  1. Focus on small stories of the past, told with attention to detail. Avoid multiple battles, epochs, or people.
  2. Use strong credible sources as found at our Normandale library database list for history.
  3. Write in a casual tone, as if talking to a friend on Snap or writing a letter.
  4. Avoid topics in which you have a strong, non-historical opinion, that would shape your podcast. Examples include writing on your own religion or justifying a political opinion. Your opinions matter, but we're trying to understand the past historical actors on their terms.
  5. Edit with attention to spell check.

2022-11-17, 15:24 Prepare

I've read and offered comments on all your Prepare questions. The best advice I can offer is to focus on as specific a person/place/event/idea/object as possible. "Bread has been important throughout the world" can't be demonstrated with three sources in three minutes. Bakers in Rome during the 1st century BCE relied on Egyptian wheat, tying the bread of the Roman Republic to the fields of the Egyptian pharaohs, demonstrating the economic ties of two competing governments."

2022-11-14, 19:20 Explainer Video and Links to Slides

Here's a short (5 minute) video on podcasts as public history and what you are writing this week. This video will only be up for our podcast module and then will be taken down.

As well, here's a link to the slides, which include links to the Engines of Ingenuity podcast series.

2022-11-13 Podcast Module

The next two weeks we will create very short podcasts. This module is intentionally designed to create more work the first week and less the second week. This week you will do pre-writing, research, and write your script. Next week you will only need to edit (lightly),record your script, and write a Reflection. Below is what the process looks like.

Decorative Image

2022-11-13, 22:12 Revision and Reflections Assessed

Reflections remain outstanding: a joy to read. Thank you and keep it up.

The strongest Revisions included specific historical detail related to numerical data. Several people wrote convincing paragraphs about non-historical topics.

2022-11-08, 12:30 Data literacy Revision and Project

I reviewed the Projects and they were mostly rock solid. The best answers included full sentences that let me see your reasoning. For your information, the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 was the cause of the dip, not World War 1, which was limited to certain areas. For the mortality question, there are at least two correct answers. One, if you've lived to 34, any meaningful average age of death calculation should no longer include ages 1-33. Two, average mortality rates are not predictive. By definition a mortality rate describes those who have died, not when an individual will die. To learn more on death rates and life expectancy, see the Center for Disease Control data visualization on mortality trends.

2022-11-7 Zoom office hours today 1-2


Meeting ID: 952 358 8911

2022-11-04, 11:06 One-time rework of Prepare

I went through the grades for all my classes and noted who had written only two categories, rather than the seven required for the assignment. From the get-to-know-you form at the beginning of the semester and your Reflections, I have a pretty decent idea of what students are first-generation college students. There's clear and overwhelming evidence that most of the students who wrote only two categories of analysis are first generation college students.

Why does this matter? One, I'm using data to improve this class- practicing the the same type of data analysis I ask you to do. Two, the data tells me that the practice of offering an example that is not in form what the final product looks like leads many first-generation students to make choices different than non-first-generation students. Three, given the clear failures to follow the directions by one subset of students, I have to evaluate the fairness of grading for that assignment.

So, for this assignment only, if you only listed two categories, I'm allowing you to revise your assignment to include the full seven categories. Once you've done that, put a color-coded note at the top of your Assignment file telling me of the revision, and I'll regrade for full credit.

From this, consider two lessons: one, always read the full assignment, not just the example. Two, data can help us make better decisions about how we do our work, if we pay attention to it. [I have a personal lesson to learn about how particular assignment structures privilege or disadvantage subsets of students, and I'm still pondering that.]

2022-11-4, 8:17 Reading for next week- long

The reading for the coming week is one single piece, a single chapter from a textbook. That said, it will feel longer than other work you've read as it is all together. I recommend you read it in 2-3 sittings, taking notes.

This reading will satisfy those students who want a big picture of world history in the period 500-1400 CE.

2022-11-3, 21:25 Prepare: Data literacy

Mostly strong presentations of data. A couple notes:

  1. A category of data must allow other things to fit inside of it. "My dog" (a popular item) is not a category. Pet ownership would be a category.
  2. Two students noted the issue that much numerical data is self-reported, such as your weight and height on your driver's license. We are not the first historical actors to be unfaithful reporters of data and it's worth asking about the credibility of past sources too.
  3. Several students only listed two categories. My speculation is that is what the example showed, though the directions are clear that seven categories are needed. An unfortunate confusion. I still gave points above 2/7 because the attempt was made.

2022-11-2, 21:11 Questions?

Not many questions on the Project thus far. Hit me up on Dischord if you encounter difficulties.

2022-10-31, 12:13 Reflections and Revision

I continue to enjoy Reflections and encourage your robust engagement with all aspects of your learning.

Regarding last week's Revision, I've a couple thoughts:

Many student produced poor analysis. Fault for that poor analysis is at least 50% mine. Rereading the assignment I see multiple spots where I could have added clearer guidelines, especially about what Voyant can and can not tell you about a text.

For my role in the fostering poor performance, I'm sorry.

Also, for many students, consider that not everything you will need for an assignment will be given to you as a reading. For example, multiple students used search terms that where just facts not research questions, such as who was "Mohammed" and when did he live? SIFT teaches us to add Wikipedia, which is a good practice.

If you don't have basic knowledge about historical people, places, things, or ideas, I encourage you to do some quick background reading before starting your assignments. For example, if we have an assignment on the Yangtze River, and you don't know where it runs, find a map that shows you the river's course. Much like calculus demands you remember your algebra, doing work in history sometimes requires we learn a little bit before doing the work. Several of you do this all the time, wonderfully.

2022-10-28, 16:57 Still thinking

I'm still thinking about what happened with the Revision assignment. I will write now that regardless of whether students underperform or I underperform, I'm proud to read every single assignment. The worst, most poorly reasoned, ill-spelled response to a poorly-created and executed assignment is still clear evidence that the student cared about their education to show up and keep trying. That's my thought right now: show up- keep trying.

2022-10-27, 21:31 Revisions Assessed

The Revisions were very good (a few), meh (many), and poor (many). A portion of the blame for the poor work is mine, as I don't think the directions were as strong as they need to be. I'll write more tomorrow at length, or perhaps post a video.

2022-10-25, 22:19 Prepare and Project Assessed

I mostly grade credit/no credit, but a couple folks received partial credit for writing something but not including a citation (very hard to assess understanding without knowing the source.) Looking forward to your revisions.

2022-10-24 Prepare and Project Grading and video

I am grading Prepared and Project assignments from last week as credit/no credit. This grading is significantly faster and gives me more time for communication with students (which there's a lot of lately). Good faith efforts earn credit. Assignments that are unedited or incomplete earn no credit.

I added a video explainer of how to do this week's Revision at the bottom of the assignment page.

2022-10-20, 11:05 Readings posted for next week
2022-10-17, 13:33 Video Explainer and Out of Office

I'm taking Tuesday and Thursday off to do visit museums with my family. As it is official paid time off for me, I won't be answering emails in the regular way. I will answer emails at night as I can. My hope is that you can do the shorter-than-usual Prepare and Project assignments early in the week so you can enjoy MEA. Normandale is closed for classes Thursday and Friday.

For a quick explanation of distant reading and how to use Voyant, see this video.

2022-10-17, 9:25 Voyant Mirrors

If the main Voyant page is not working, consider one of these two mirrors.

For you final grades, I drop 4 assignments. To make D2L do that, I curve the total grade 12%. It looks like this. If you have zeros now, they are not dropped from the calculation, because the grade is curved. As you add more grades to your record, your existing 0 will no longer have as significant appearance on your grade. That said, your letter grade is accurate in D2L based on the below schema. I am limited in what I can make D2L's gradebook do with calculations, and this system is the best way I know to give you an accurate picture of your current grade.


2022-10-12, 20:38 Revisions Assessed

Students showing greater comfort with StoryMaps. A few folks chose objects outside our period which was 0-500 CE for the assignment.

The strongest assignments made an explicit case for why their chosen object or article was historically significant and deserved to be in a documentary, including an image, map, an citation.

A citation is metadata that lets the reader identify a source and how you accessed it. Zotero Bibliography Generator (Zbib) is the fastest way I know to generate a citation with no fuss.

Multiple students struggled with issues that were addressed in the instructions. I'll try to shorten the instructions to make it easier to digest. Thank you for reading all the instructions before starting.

2022-10-11, 15:34 Project StoryMaps Reviewed

Technically very good. Students layered maps, images, and text well.

Demonstrating historical significance is challenging and requires attention to evidence from secondary sources. That may be text next to the object or its metadata.

Several students posted map images rather than using StoryMaps maps. Please use the built-in tool. You access it the same way as a adding text (the + sign), just chose map.

Many students had strong ideas for historical significance that needed either evidence of further elaboration. Words are your friends with history: make more friends 🙂

2022-10-10, 14:29 Slides from today's lecture

Here the slides from today's lecture on religion, chronology, and use of water.

I'm grading the ArchGIS Projects now, starting with Section 10.

2022-10-7, 16:57 Prepare GIS graded, Revision posted

The Prepare documents varied widely in the use of evidence. The strongest answers fully-explained why they chose their spatial data and how that spatial data related to the history of Lysistrata and the Mauryan dynasty. I also learned that, apparently, all of you use Life36O and Snap/chat maps.

Students who currently have an F received a "let's talk" email to see if we get you back on track, in or out of this class, depending on your situations. I want you all to succeed, so even if it's not working this semester, you're always welcome back.

2022-10-3, 14:38 Project GIS Posted

This week's project use MapStory, a site that is part of a larger suite of GIS applications made by ArcGIS. While intuitive, no site is completely intuitive, so please hit up Discord, email, and my phone with questions.

2022-09-30, 13:42 Reflections for Week 6 read

Wonderful and insightful. Thank you for sharing and have a great weekend. Readings for week 7 are postted.

2022-09-29, 22:11 Metadata revision

In section 04, students who turned in the Metadata Revision assignment did a fantastic job. Both your Venn Diagrams (in all their formats) and your logic for choosing metadata were high caliber. I was terrified I'd assigned something either too hard or too dull.

Section 10 did well, but for reasons I can't explain, the analytical paragraphs included fewer examples or where short.

Both groups identified strong metadata and offered sound explanations for your choices.


A student asked for an example. The following metadata are for three hypothetical articles.

| water | water | water |
| urban planning | urban planning | urban planning |
| irrigation | dredging | brewing |
| salinization | drilling | distillation |
| mound building | dam creation | water purification |

I believe my metadata are the best for finding my respective articles because these tags focus on processes that relate to water. Of the obvious metadata categories (people, places, things, ideas, events), I chose processes as a type of idea. I think that most researchers would be able to find the articles based on common search metadata, such as people and places, but the processes for accessing and using water might not be obvious when searching for my articles. All of the articles included water and urban planning topics, so those metadata overlap. But, agriculture, dam creation, and alcohol creation have very different processes. By focusing on the action that took place by historical actors in my metadata, I am foregrounding the how of the past at the expense of the what or why.

2022-09-26, 22:04 Project Metadata graded

Students displayed strong research and writing skills on this assignment. The strongest assignments clearly demonstrated why they had chosen the metadata they had as related to the summary paragraph.

FYI, I'd included my thoughts as a way to help you understand my research process. I LOVED that you shared your research process with me. Y'all have fascinating interests and talents.

2022-09-23, 20:41 Readings and Revision posted

Have a good weekend.

2022-09-22, 15:41 An important new resource

Normandale and Minnesota State have partnered with United Way 211 to establish a statewide basic needs resource hub for MN State college students. The hub is free and confidential. It provides Normandale students access to basic needs resources and support available on campus and in the community via phone, text, or chat 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

Text MNHELP to 898211(TXT211) or call 211 (toll free at 1-800-543-7709) to speak with one of their highly trained information and referral specialists. Your call is completely confidential, and they have call menus in English, Spanish, and Hmong. Interpreters are also available for any language.

2022-09-21, 21:53- Prepare

I read your Prepare for this week. Good stuff. Remember, we use "Descriptive" not as a generic term for metadata, but for information that tells us about what is in an originating piece of data.

2022-09-20, 15:20 Revision and Reflection (week 4) read. Help on metadata

I enjoyed your Revision and Reflections on art. The creativity of your imagined art impressed me. The strongest Revisions tied their art to the historical societies that produced them. Some students wrote a great bit about symbolism or aesthetics, which is great, but best if tied to a place and time. Historical context will be key for all of our assignments. If you feel the supplied materials are insufficient to make the case you want to, please, use that information retrieval machine in your hands to find more/better sources (as many of you did- bravo!)

I created a 5 minute video on how to the metadata work this week. Remember, working in professional databases such as Jstor or Project Muse can result in "no results found" if you metadata doesn't match the metadata of the system. Google will always return a result, because they want your attention. Scholarly databases used what we call a "fixed vocabulary" of metadata and it does not see "Chna" as "China." Be creative in your search terms and persistent: I have faith you'll interesting articles.

2022-09-19, 15:36 So . . many . . emails

Lots of individual conversations with students today by email, so little collective grading. Use Discord for your metadata questions to share your wisdom.

2022-09-16, 16:59 Prepare for Week 5 is Up

2022-09-14, 14:48 Finished Reading Art Analysis Projects

The strongest paragraphs moved from description to analysis by offering a hypothesis related to evidence from our sources. A hypothesis is not just speculation, but an idea that could explain the past based on evidence.

A number of students offered original and interesting hypotheses, especially about the women and the bulls, including that the bulls symbolized geographic locations or a regions relationship with another region.

A number of paragraphs focused mostly on restating details from the sources or restating existing knowledge, which is a good start, so long as you also offer your own analysis.
2022-09-13, 21:52 Project: Grading progress

I'm working on Section 10 and stopped before Faiza, tonight. Decent hypotheses thus far. Remember a zero means I can't see your work. Email with questions!

FYI, occasionally we'll be in your Assignment file together. It's ok to chat or not: your space, I'm just reading your work there.

2022-09-12, 20:56 Project: Week 4

As you contemplate your merged artwork, consider what art can and cannot tell us about the past.

Faculty meetings all afternoon and a sick kid mean your Art Projects will need to wait for tomorrow for grading, for which I apologize.

2022-09-9, 12:18 Section 10 Grades now updated to Prepare

Good stuff. A couple of reminders:

A 0 (zero) means I do not see your work. If you wrote something and I see it, I always give some points.

Please write all your work in your single Assignment file/page that you shared with me. I can't grade from email.

Please write your most recent work at the top of your Assignment file and label your work with what it is, say Prepare for (date) or Project - Week 3. Doing so let's me focus on your work, and not on figuring out where one paragraph ends for a Revision and another stars for your Reflection.

We have an incredible diversity of perspectives in this class: that's fantastic. Let's value your experiences as a foundation for learning.

Prepare questions coming ASAP. Getting my covid booster today and very excited!

2022-09-8, 16:19 Section 04 Grades up to Date

I graded Revision, Reflection, and Prepare.

Strong writing overall, both thinking through answers and in answering questions with well-organized prose.

If in doubt, write it out. The only areas where I thought students could improve was the small number of students who wrote short on answers. For example "The Mayans used aquatic iconography" doesn't tell me much other than your read the article. At the least, I'd expect a definition of "iconography."

Looking forward to your Projects. More art in the readings for next week and a short (15 minute) video.

Section 10 to come tomorrow.

2022-09-7, 15:19 Trying to grade

I'm trying to grade from your Assignment files as I am reaching out to students who are struggling. Thank you for all your continued efforts. Readings for next week go up tonight.

2022-09-6, 8:55 Preferred Name Change Form

If you wish to change the name Normandale uses in D2L, please see this video. I have used this process to get Normandale to include my nickname "Jack" rather than my legal name "David" on most items. This form does not change your legal, just how Normandale addresses you in our official correspondence, such as D2L.

2022-09-5, 2022-09-5 Project: Week 3

Now posted.

2022-09-01, 14:02 Graded: Project 1

Lots of toilet and dam projects. Overall, strong organization, research and writing.

Continue to apply SIFT to your research. No sources and no named author will always be not credible. It may have accurate information, but like a random person standing on the street offering you a Tylenol, you can't be sure.

2022-09-01, 09:29 Graded: Prepare 1

I reviewed the Get to Know You form and all who submitted received full credit. I'll be working on your Project 1 and hopefully Revision documents today.

2022-08-29, 21:31 Reading Tips for History

Week 3 readings are your first history readings. A couple of tips for reading history.

  • Pre-read: flip through the source to see how long it is, how it is organized. No one starts a journey without a map: create a reading map every time.

  • Paper/pen notebook- Always take notes on what your read. Education studies show highlighting is not as effective as note taking with a pen or penceil.

  • Keep a world map available (paper, web). No one knows all place names.

  • Be honest with yourself about what your are thinking when you read history. Write notes that make sense to you: only you will see them.

  • Read for a theme, idea. For this class, we are investigating how people accessed, used, and made meaning with water.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do NOT read history like a novel, from start to finish. Get in, find what you need, take notes, and get out.

2022-08-29, 13:52 Example Assignment File

I created an example of what an Assignment file should look like. The main things is to write your most recent assignment at the top of your page.

2022-08-25 15:53 Good start, keep going

About 1/3rd of students have shared links for their Assignment files. I'll start calling students Friday for those who haven't submitted yet.

90% of Section 04 (all online) students have submitted the Get to Know Your Form. Looking forward to more of my Section 10 students telling me about themselves.

Keep those questions coming, especially on Discord where everyone benefits from your curiosity and courage.

2022-08-23 7:38 Out this morning

Our childcare is out with Covid today, so I need to parent today. I'll answer emails and update Assignment links tonight.

Welcome to World History 1101

Below you will find essential information for our course.

The knowledge and skills of world history are invaluable elements in your college and work careers. This course assumes you have no previous college history and no specialized digital skills.

We face two primary challenges.

1. Students have widely divergent digital literacies, yet we need everyone to be digitally literate to be successful in college. The first two weeks of our course is to level up all students, ensuring you have the tools you need to succeed in this course and in college.

2. There is more inaccurate history available than accurate history. The internet, especially social media, spreads historical lies quickly and widely. Previously, students worked hard to find any information about a historical subject, say a book on the Tang dynasty. Now, students can find information about the Tang easily, but sorting credible from non-credible information presents significant challenges.

All tools and websites we use are free, web-based, and user-friendly. As long as you can use a web-browser, you can use this semester’s digital tools. I assume you can successfully navigate a web browser: that's it.


By way of introduction, my legal name is David, but everyone calls me Jack. You can address me as Professor Norton if that feels more comfortable. Any salutation offered in respect is welcome. I'll address you by your first names, unless otherwise directed and, most importantly, I’ll always address you respectfully.

I've been teaching at Normandale since 2009. I taught at the "U" while getting my Ph.D. in history, and have since taught on the south side of Chicago for two years before returning to MN. I'm a dad of two kids. My specialties are Spanish women's history and digital history pedagogy.

Course Design

The syllabus and schedule posted to our course page. Grades will be recorded in D2L because the Family Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) requires we keep student data secure and private.

I am hosting our course on my own server. Doing so allows you open access to our material beyond the two years Normandale supports on D2L. Putting our course on the open web also lets me design a web site that includes only that which is useful for learning.

All your work will be in your own single file, that you control, in either Office 365 or Google docs. You will share that file with me (jacknorton at normandale.edu or jackhistorynorton at google.com depending on which platform you use). I will read your work and give feedback in your file.

Instructions for setting up your own Assignment file

Office 365


First week to do list

[ ] Read the user manual for this course (AKA "the syllabus)

[ ] Complete the Week 1 Prepare and Project assignments as listed in the Weekly Schedule

[ ] Set up your Discord account.

[ ] Log in to your email account. Normandale email account

[ ] Log in and review your Normandale Office 365 account

[ ] Log in to D2L, navigate to our class, and find the gradebook under "Assessments"

Avatar: It would be useful to me if you could load a picture of yourself, or an avatar into D2L and Discord so that we can all get to know you. Please do not post pictures of multiple people, just you. Your picture will be visible to other students. You can use https://getavataaars.com/ for a wide range of people or another avatar creator. Click on your name in the upper right corner of D2L to access your profile.

Most importantly, talking with students is the best part of being a professor. My door (real and digital) is open your presence is valued and welcomed.