World History: 1101- Fall 2021

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2021-12-20, 15:13 Experiment 16 and Final Grade

Experiment 16 is graded. The quality of sources and writing was wide ranging, with disappointing lows (basic SIFT analysis would disqualify most sites) to tremendous highs (fantastic analysis by many students.) The bigger the thesis, the more often it fell short. So, "Event X influence the whole world even until today" was less powerful than "event X caused specific things a and b to occur in years y and z." For example, one student argued that the invention of the caravel ship allowed for the Europeans explorations of the 15th century.

Please see my previous note about final grades (I won’t discuss the final grade itself) and individual grades (I’m happy to review individual grades). Grades are not like shoe sizes: they don’t tell you something objective about yourself. Rather, they reflect the work you did and what one person (me) considered of that work in one moment in time.

Here’s a grim but honest thought: I’ve run through cemeteries for 35 years and I’ve never seen a GPA on a single gravestone. I’ve read 1000s of obituaries, and likewise, no GPAs. You matter to me, to Normandale, and to your friends and family far beyond your grade. So, love it or hate the mark, please do not treat it as a shoe size. My dream is that you go forth with what we learned this semester to a successful career, and that you come back and tell me about it in 10 years.

In the interim, I welcome your grade questions, or just interesting history things you wish to share.

Be well.

2021-12-16, 17:16 Citizenship Grades Added

I looked at your participation in Consultations and Reflections, and the engagement you had with fellow students in those areas for this grade. This grade helps 95% of students, but how much varies. Experiment 16 left to grade.

2021-12-15, 12:59 Status Update

Reflections are now graded. There were a number of generous and grateful comments this week, and I’m touched. It’s especially touching to me to read the gracious statement given how many of you struggled this semester, with sickness, death of loved ones, addiction, racial injustice, and the regular course of life/work/school, which is "normally" hard enough. I cannot adequately express how impressed I am with you.

On to grading.

  • I will switch from D2L showing ungraded items as null values to showing ungraded items as zeroes soon.
  • I own all the grades 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 final grades are submitted I must fill out a digital form to change it, and I can change it 5 minutes, 5 weeks, or 5 years after it’s been submitted.
  • Data errors (as in, "I submitted that assignment and can see it in the discussion folder, how come there’s no grade?") are easy to fix and I welcome your emails.
  • Technical errors (as in, "I know I submitted that to the Discussion board, 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.
  • Your class citizenship grades are based on your participation in consultations, reflections, and respectful behavior towards other students. Good citizens show up and make their communities better places. If you did that, you scored well.
  • I am willing to discuss individual assignments, but not the final course grade. Please consider your communication carefully when asking for regrading.
  • I round up for grades at .56. 79.55 is a C. 79.56 is a B.
  • 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, effort, ability, or my afinity for you. Grades reflect what you turned in, and only that.

    More updates as I have them.

2021-12-14, 14:18 Experiment 15

My intention for Experiment 15 was to have students annotate the will of the elite wife ( and bring in outside sources to help us understand that will. Many students annotated the outside sources. When more than half the class does something not intended, the fault often lies in the instructions, as it did here.

So, I read through your annotations, provided you put them in the correct account, and awarded full credit regardless of what website you annotated. My original rubric is not useful, but sometimes students do something unexpected, meaningful, and deserving credit, so I suspend my planned grading system and evaluate the learning, wherever it took place.

2021-12-13, 16:52 Reflections graded through Week 15

Many of you are at 100% (60/60). A few have Week 16 still available to you (through Tuesday night at 10 p.m.). As always, I’m honored by your honest thoughts about your learning.

2021-12-13, 14:43 Finals Week

For those new to college, Finals Week only involves final projects, not regular class. We do not have a final exam, but your final project is due tomorrow (Tuesday) at 10 pm.

My week is all about responding to students and grading.

2021-12-10, 15:27 Last day for course evaluations

You received a course evaluation email from the college with links to the course eval. You can also access it on the "More" dropdown menu of D2L. More

Stay safe in the snow and have a great weekend.

2021-12-9, 16:29 Final Experiment Due Tuesday

Note that the Final Experiment is not due until next Tuesday, December 14th at 10 pm. The work requires a bit of extra thinking, so it is our culminating learning project of the semester.

2021-12-9, 13:04 Consultation, Reflection, and Closing Quiz 16 all still active

Class, your regular Consultation, Reflections, and Closing Quizzes for this week are all still active. Looking f

2021-12-08, 11:16 Consultations 15 Graded

Good stuff. Keep going.

2021-12-7, 14:17 Closing 15, Opening 16 and D2L downtime

Experiment 14 graded. Many exceptional analyses using quality credible sources. One note is not a credible source. They do not cite their sources consistently or publish who write their work.

Closing 15 and Opening 16 quizzes graded.

Section 04 please see your emails for a note about your Reflections grade that is unique to your section.

2021-12-06, 15:41 Many meetings

Not much grading today, but am monitoring our discussion 16.

2021-12-03, 10:53 Opening 15 quiz

Tremendous SIFT analysis of the Mansa Musa Catalan Atlas image. Well done with your reverse image searches.

2021-12-02, 15:55 Consultations 14

Graded. Very "it’s a holiday, this is not a priority" esque, which weirdly made me happy.

2021-12-02, 13:49 Maybe a history degree?

Did you know that a Normandale history degree (AA in History) requires only 3 history courses, and fulfilling the rest of the 60 credit transfer curriculum? Having an AA allows easier transfer to colleges than just credits for most programs, especially outside of Mn.

Having taken World 1, consider World 2 with my friend Celeste Sharpe? She’s an expert and kind professor, and has best-in-the-country digital history expertise.

2021-12-01, 16:56 Reflections and Experiment 13

Reflections remain strong and I appreciate everyone who continues to Reflect even after maxing out their points. That’s self-worth I wish upon all my students.

Experiment 13 was uniformly good. Should you be afraid to die at 34? No, the statistics clearly show a mode of 1, which makes the mean and median not useful averages. In statistical terms, should you ever face this problem again, mortality rates of the past year are not predictive of future individual mortality rates.

2021-11-30, 15:53 Updated Instructions for Experiment 15

I may have overestimated what was doable with without step-by-step instructions. To address that issue, I’ve added an additional document to help folks work through

2021-11-29, 15:54 Course evaluations and Multi-factor Authentication

Course evaluations have been sent to your Normandale email. The evaluations are sent by a company called Anthology Course Evaluations, which Normandale has contracted to conduct the evaluations. Please fill the evaluations out in the next 10 days. Thank you.

January 4th of 2022 all students will be asked to use multi-factor authentication to login to the email or Office 365. Multi-factor authentication requires you first use your password, and then verify your identity through another means – such as a text message, phone call, or security app – to log in. You can read full details of Normandale’s use of multi-authentication here. .

Many, many students will attempt to login in using multi-factor authentication January 4th. Do yourself a favor: set up your account your way ahead of time.

2021-11-24, 15:25 Reflections, Quizzes, and the gradebook

Closing 13 and Opening 14 quizzes are graded. Many student deploy SIFT analysis well, doing reverse image searches easily. Some students are still looking at a source and only the source for conclusions, which in the case of the Ibn Batuta map, yielded a good bit of guessing.

Keep those great Reflections, with mentions of other student’s work, coming.

I’ve updated the gradebook so that Reflections are now included in your final grade. If you do not have 60 points yet, there are still three more weeks (14, 15, 16). So, your Reflection grade can only go up from here. My experience is that students move their final grades no more than 2% points in absolute terms, so that should give you a decent sense of where you will finish the term.

2021-11-23, 21:36 Experiment 13

A range of answers to the GDP and statistics questions. Strong answers both showed the work and correctly labelled the answers. In history, raw numbers without an associated symbol (such as $ or %) don’t mean much. Several students referenced economic changes in Japan during industrialization, which is not part of our class or the lesson. I’m hoping we don’t have negative modeling in those answers. Credible sites were clearly SIFT analyzed. Any site that doesn’t cite the author should be suspect at this point in the semester.

2021-11-22, 21:18 Many meetings

Many faculty meetings today, so a bit behind on grading. Will catch up tomorrow.

2021-11-19, 14:41 Consultation 13

Please add something to our conversation about the Experiments each week in your Consultations. That can be a question. Or if not a question, a success you had in completing the Experiment. The Consultation discussion board is a work place- to help others work and to ask for help. It is not a check-in for when you start working. This is the last time I’m going to post this plea.

2021-11-18, 18:32 Consultation 12

Many useful examples of statistics, questions about Experiment 12, or examples of successful work. Consultations are to help you and your fellow students understand the week’s Experiments. I provide some prompts. Fundamentally though it’s a chance to share and help each other. "I have no questions and do not have any thoughts on the prompt" is not a credit-worthy Consultation post. Everything you do in completing the Experiment is useful for others to know. So, if you have no questions or responses to the prompt, please share what is working for you (which means you need to be working on the Experiment before posting.)

I have clear evidence from Reflections that comments in Consultations are valuable to students, so thank you for your continued efforts.

2021-11-17, 16:26 Closing 12 and Opening 13 Quizzes

Hugely different answers for the maps presented in questions 6. The strongest answers used both a SIFT analysis and attended to the period, geographic regions, and background history of the maps. An unusual number of "this map about subject X shows subject X" answers, which can be one sentence or three, but explain little and earn a 1.

Speaking of maps, if you ever need to put one map on top of another (we do this with historical maps on top of modern GIS maps), the tool Map Warper can help.

2021-11-16, 16:40 Reflections

Updated Reflection grades today. Some folks are at or near the max 60 points. There is no going over, but getting to 100 or close to 100% is fantastic. Several students wrote insightful Reflections on how rewarding working with math and statistics is for them. There’s a cultural shift that happened, maybe 5 years ago, from students expressing almost universal revulsion of math to math becoming joyful harbor from other disciplines.

2021-11-15, 16:16 Conversations

Lots of email communications today: thanks. I’m taking care of a sick kid, (non-Covid), today. Hope you are well.

2021-11-12, 15:31- Experiment 11

Assignments were uniformly well-written and with good linguistic analysis. Students did a nice job of pulling out significant words for analysis. The strongest paragraphs tied the word analysis to the societies that produced these texts, noting not just that a word was important but what that importance meant for, say, 1500 Mayan society.

As an FYI, the first part of the Bible is significantly older than the second part, called the New Testament. All of the events told in the chapters around the historical figure of Jesus were oral history for 35 years before being recorded, and the writers of these books did not know the historical Jesus figure while alive. Those facts shape our use of the New Testament, often privilege books with clearer provenance, like the letters of Paul.

Also, FYI, Jesus is an important prophet in Islam.

Stay warm, mask and vax up, and enjoy the weekend.

2021-11-9, 16:43 Reflections, Closing 11 and Opening 12 Quizzes

Reflections were the usual quirky mix of brilliant, insightful, and sometimes exhausted. Keep it up (not the exhausted part- please sleep.)

Opening 12 on the 12th century map was discouraging to grade. Many students only looked at the map and drew conclusions, all your SIFT training out the door. No reverse image searches, no diagramming the URL for the base website, no lateral reading. There were bright spots, but something about this map invited short and shallow answers.

Closing 11 was more typical with medium to sophisticated answers about word counts. The strongest answers addressed the "W’s" along with the possible symbolism of words. Crucially, full credit answers interrogated the source itself,: was it credible, how do we know?

2021-11-8, 16:33 I have faith in you

As a professor, I have faith that every single student can succeed in this class. Many of you have and will encounter obstacles, I’m privileged to know some of them. I was happy to welcome you to the class week 1, and I’m still glad you’re here. In case no one told you today: you can do this.

2021-11-7, 20:45 Opening Quiz 12 error

Section 03 had their opening quiz 12 set to close at 8 pm. A student alerted me to the error (thank you Ethan) and I corrected it at 8:33 pm. I’ve also extended the quiz to 11 pm for good measure.

2021-11-05, 17:07 Experiment 10

Varied paragraphs, with some fantastic analysis. The strongest paragraphs tied word counts to what the main points of the articles could be. Less strong analysis restated conclusions drawn from close reading the articles.

Section 3: 1/3 of folks wrote exceedingly short paragraphs. That is often two issues: students are slammed for time and trying to submit something. And, people saw an early example that was short and wrote based on that model. I’m highlighting these issues so you can address them as you chose.

2021-11-04, 10:37 Consultation 11

Wide quality of responses. I’m starting to see more "This is interesting, I look forward to the work, no questions" posts. Consultations are for working, not reflecting on work we are going to do. Please engage the Experiment substantially before posting, as most of you are. As well, please read others posts: "how do I sort stopwords" was a common question and several folks shared smart answers.

A couple students expressed reluctance to address religion, which is fair. Note that we, as historians, are not engaging modern or pre-modern beliefs as true or false: that’s theology. We are attempting to understand how beliefs were organized, passed on, and shaped past societies. We judge the reception of the ideas, not the ideas themselves. I do appreciate the push to relate why we’re studying what we are.

2021-11-2, 21:27 Closing 10 and Opening 11 quizzes

The closing 10 question about the Tang code invited you to ask questions about the Tang dynasty, the legal structure of the Tang empire, the motivation of the author, the context of the Code’s creation, and the nature of translation.

Opening question 11 regarding a religious text and a feast was looking for similar questions of context, authorship, provenance (where did the text come from and can we trust it was passed on faithfully).

2021-11-1, 22:23 Reflections

Many different trends in the Reflections. There is continue excellence in writing, both analysis and fullness of thought. A few are writing short (very short). And some have gone silent a week or more.


Reflections are the easiest of our assignments, and have the biggest payoff for your long-term learning. Also, I love reading them, so thank you.

2021-10-29, 14:24 Experiment 9

A range of answers to the Orbis questions. Clearly there was some student fatigue given the brevity of some answers. When I see students writing less and less articulately than in the pass I know we’ve reached that point in the semester where time gets tight. Keep going- the 3rd quarter is the most challenging.

The strongest answers gave examples for the open-ended questions, such as why was it faster to travel in the fall. For example, "longer periods of daylight facilitated safer travel combined with reduced snow in mountains during the summer and early fall" is a stronger answer than "weather was good."

A bunch of folks correctly copied the questions but forgot to answer the little "why?" question at the end. It happens.

Wishing you a restful and productive weekend.

P.S. Yes, I changed the site background just slightly to make it less glaringly bright. Better, worse?

2021-10-28, 16:08 Next week

We’re going to be inputting 3 bodies of historical texts into Voyant, so think about how you want to schedule your time. Distant reading takes time for the technical and analytical parts.

2021-10-27, 13:50 Cleaning Grade Book and Alternative Voyant Site

I’m spending today cleaning the gradebook, which involves comparing different parts of D2L.

If too many people use Voyant at once, the server can crash. Consider using a mirror site of Voyant.

For those with administrative control of their computers and comfort installing software, you can install Voyant on your computer.

2021-10-26, 15:05 Black Men in Teaching Program

If you are a Black man, please consider our Black Men in Teaching program. Black male teachers, especially in the k-5 system, are proven to have a disproportiately positive effect on the outcomes for all children.

Normandale’s program offers:

  • Full tuition
  • A cohort of other black men to take classes with.
  • A dedicated support system, including a program coordinator.

For more details, see:

Our reality in MN today is that Black men teachers are arguably the most potent force for social change we have. Want a better MN? Teach.

2021-10-25, 16:51 Reflections on Week 9

Lots of Reflections demonstrating outstanding critical thinking this week. Orbis generated high interest from many and yawns from a few. So much great analysis in the Reflections, wonderful to read.

2021-10-22, 11:02 Consultation 9 and Experiment 8

Both the above are graded. Strong answers to Experiment 8 noted that StoryMaps is an ESRI tool, and that tools on their own neither credible or not. Strong answers also noted that the Silk Road was a name for a trade routes, and thus maps that charted the Silk Road were always imperfect. I enjoyed the strong use of SIFT in attempting to locate an author for the second map- I chose an obscure map intentionally. As always, showing your historical process in details earns more points than telling me you did the process without showing your work. Have a great weekend.

2021-10-21, 15:39 Break

I don’t really have a break during MEA, but I am grading and email many of you. Please take care of yourselves.

2021-10-19, 14:50 Quiz 9

Opening Quiz 9 is graded. On question 6, strong answers relied on the background information provided by the Orbis team on how that team estimated travel times.

The Consultations are a bit slow this week. Looking forward to your questions and contributions.

2021-10-16, 12:50 Due date errors on D2L

There were multiple date errors in D2L: I’ve fixed them. Importantly, you still have an Opening Quiz due Sunday, 17 October for Week 9. Hat tip to Nathan for identifying the error.

2021-10-15, 15:20 Experiment 7 and next week

Experiment 7 had a range of answers. The strongest answers about our two child sculptures made specific reference to historical context. As well, strong answers paired claims such as "the female stature appears to that of an upper class teenager" with evidence "based on her abundant clothing and fancy hairstyle." Those who have long or wavy/kinky hair had somewhat of an advantage in this assignment as you likely understood what labor was involved in her hairstyle or in how the little boy’s hair grew. When we look at the past, we look at ourselves, yeah?

Experiment 9 will be smaller as there is a Break. I’ll leave the due date the same, but feel free to submit it early. Similarly, the Consultation and Closing quizzes will be abbreviated. DON’T FORGET that Opening Quiz 10 will still be due on Sunday night at the end of break.

2021-10-14, 16:28 Consultations Graded

Students are doing a great job sharing their expertise, sometimes based on family history sometimes based on their interests, in the Consultations. Looking forward to your Experiment 8s tonight.

2021-10-13, 21:42 Consultation 8

No grading today, but as you can see from this week’s Consultation board, I’ve been writing up a storm. So many folks found fascinating museum pieces and offered insightful analysis I felt I should match your efforts with peaks behind the historical windows. Thanks to all of you who found incredible museum pieces and shared your expertise.

No new positive Covid tests in my family, so hopefully we’ll move into the clear. Be well, stay safe, get vaccinated.

2021-10-12, 16:47 Experiment 6

Very strong technical skill demonstrated with uneven historical argumentation. I warned against weak arguments, such as "Alexander the Great was great," but there was still some of that. The strongest paragraphs had a clear theme that both tied the date things together and related something historically significant. For example, one student argued that four events influenced the life of Aristophanes, who used those events to connect with audiences.

Several students posted broken links. Email me and we’ll troubleshoot so I can review your actual work for regular credit.

2021-10-11, 14:44 Consultations

I’ve updated Consultations.

Study Away Opportunity

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My family remains in quarantine, though thankfully no one has developed symptoms.

I’m still trying to figure out what I can do short of taking the week off as I now have to manage illness, my kids education, and our course. For this week:

  1. Question 6 on the quizzes will be extra credit.
  2. Please be sure to refresh the Experiment 8 as I’ve modified one of the links.

2021-10-7, 10:08 Out of the office

With apologies, I need to take today and Friday off to care for a relative who tested positive with COVID. I’ll do my best to answer emails as I can and minimize disruption to the class.

Please get vaccinated. I am, but my family member is not allowed to be, yet. Vaccines, clean drinking water, and antibiotics are the three modern advances that have saved the most lives- and none was available to peoples in the pre-1400 world.

2021-10-6, 14:40 Closing 6 and Opening 7 quizzes

The strongest Question 6 answers on the Guptan sculpture attended to both the who, where, when, why, what and historical significance of the sculpture and asked questions that demonstrated knowledge of the Guptan period from the background readings.

Answers related to Lysistrata ranged wildly, from exceptional to exhaustingly wrong. A few background items:

  • Lysistrata was a play, by Aristophanes, a man. The women in the play are fictional, and were played by male actors. The action of the play was fictional.
  • The play was a comedy in part because it places women acting in ways women did not ordinarily act.
  • A female sex strike did not end the Peloponnesian war. The play was produced in 411 CE and the war ended in 404 CE.

From many answers, I can tell some students didn’t read, didn’t remember, or excluded information from the Lysistrata background reading.

2021-10-5, 14:47 Reflections and Consultation 7

I’ve brought Reflections up to date with grades. Two observations: most students are really hitting their stride, and writing better and longer Reflections as they grow comfortable with the assignment. In addition, those students who engage each other’s work, as commented on in the Reflections, are performing best on the Experiments. Paying attention to others really helps you understand on what you want to say.

If you are not regularly writing your Reflection by 10 p.m. Friday, let’s chat to brainstorm a better calendar system for you.

NOTE: Consultation 7 discussion board was mis-dated for February 21st. Thanks to Varon for noting the problem, now fixed. Thanks to all who share bugs: it earns you extra-credit and makes the course better.

2021-10-04, 14:51 Experiment 5

Overall, decent fusions of map, images, and analysis in the StoryMaps. The strongest assignments related their image with robust metadata to the geography covered in their maps, relating both to our background readings. Many folks discussed Hammurabi’s code, but never related to the actual image of the stele.

I’m enormously proud of the work y’all did on the Timelines for last week. Regardless of grades, I know how hard you worked- demonstrating outstanding resilience.

2021-10-1, 16:16 Experiment 5

Section 4 is graded. Will work on Section 3 this weekend.

2021-09-30, 13:19 Closing 5 and Opening 6 quizzes

Closing quiz 5, question 5 asked about historical connect when studying law. The w’s (who, what, where, when, why, how and the what was the historical significance) are always a good choice with context questions. An example from our week’s reading is also useful. For example, several students noted Hammurabi’s Code differentiated between classes in its application of law, highlighting the importance of class in Babylonian society. Overall a good quiz for our classes.

Opening quiz 6, question 6 addressed a Pakistani box lid. The W’s helped many again. Curiously, many students answered as if they had no knowledge of S Asia or the Guptas (where is this from, what religions were there). All the quiz questions have historical context, so "I’m going to react just to the picture without referencing what I’ve read" is a less-than-strong response.

Good luck with your timelines. Exceptional work from what I’ve seen thus far.

2021-09-29, 16:04 Reflections Updated

Lots of smart learning in your Reflections, and many compliments paid to your fellow classmate’s work. Still a disturbing few students who are not doing Reflections, which are 15% of the final grade.

I’ve answered loads of questions on the Consultation 6 discussion board: hopefully it will yield great Experiments.

2021-09-28, 20:49 Consultations guidance

I’m seeing several comments that indicated "I’ve read the Experiment and have no questions." That is not a credit-worthy post. The Consultation board is to help make the Experiments stronger. If you feel you are are succeeding in the Experiment, share something about what is going well for you. Everyone engages the material in different: when you have week in which you work well, share some insight into how you’ve progressed in your Experiment.

Thanks to the students I talked to over chat today: I’m glad you’re moving in the right direction.

2021-09-24, 13:26 Experiment 4

Section 3 had very strong responses and Section 4 had strong responses. Not including the title of your map or object was an issue for me to trace you object to its origin. The biggest challenge for all was integrating the background readings, map, and object all together in the paragraph.

Writing style remains strong across both sections. I am seeing some paraphrases that are too close to the original text of others. In history, we don’t paraphras. Quote the original or write your own words.

2021-09-23, 21:10 Onwards

Slow day of grading, but lots of non-grading work happening in the background. Looking forward to your Experiment 5 tomorrow. Experiment 4 grades will become available tomorrow.

2021-09-22, 14:34 Closing Quiz 4 and Opening Quiz 5

Closing Quiz 4, question 6- strong answers tied information from the readings on Harrapa to the information at the British Museum and your analysis of the picture. Weaker answers offered hypothetical interpretations of the seal, untethered to evidence.

Opening Quiz 5, question 6- Here’s a strong answer: "Although Hammurabi’s law that punishes murder with the death penalty is much like the modern death penalty in the U.S., there is not much evidence that links the two together. A law created around 2000 BCE is much too old to link to a modern day law that is current today." Well done Morgan.

2021-09-21, 20:52 Experiment 3 Graded and Consultations

I assessed Experiment 3 today. Most students did a great job including metadata. The strongest answers explained clearly and in a step-by-step way how their chosen metadata related to their articles. I wrote notes for many of you as feedback next to the grade, so look for that in the Gradebook.

Be careful if you use someone else’s post as a model that you don’t copy their thoughts. The whole class sees Experiments, and we can encourage academic integrity with our collective respect for others’ work.

Consultations are really slow to start, and I’m not sure why. Lots of folks wait until Wednesday night after 8 pm, all but guaranteeing no one can read their posts or respond to questions in a timely fashion. Please, post questions or thoughts about the Experiment as you go Monday through Wednesday.

Students with a grade of F currently should expect a contact from me: I want to understand what’s going on and how to help.

2021-09-21, 12:21 Reflections updated through week 4

Your Reflection grades are updated. As a reminder, you can earn up to 5 points a week, which add each week, totaling 60 by the end of the semester. The most points you could have is 20 right now, and there are 60 points still available (12 weeks x 5 points).

Your Reflections are much stronger, with good metacognition about how you are learning and how others are shaping your learning about history. Please always remember to include another student by name in your own Reflection. Humans are social creatures so by acknowledging others work, we build on our own.

2021-09-20, 16:45 Grading and Catching Up

I graded Consultation 4 today, and the questions, especially from my World 2 students, were great. More grading likely to happen tonight, but I won’t post on in until tomorrow.

If you haven’t done it already, please fill out this get to know you f0rm so that I can understand your better as a student. [Yes, I misspelled f-o-r-m with a zero: that’s on purpose]

2021-09-17, 16:23 Emails and meetings

That’s been my day. Grading on Experiment 3 will have to wait, until Monday. Good to chat with a bunch of you by Zoom, Teams, and phone this weekend. No matter how bad the news of the day, talking with students always improves my day: so thank you!

2021-09-16, 15:45 Quizzes updated

Closing 3 question about sources and Aboriginal peoples in Australia. The type of source (genetic, archeological, oral history) shapes our story of how people arrived in Australia. Strong answers made some mention of how different source types might shape our explanations.

Opening 4 question on the caste system and Vedas. Strong answer referenced the connection between the Vedas, Hinduism and the Aryan migration. Weak answer, and there were many, discussed modern remnants of the caste system or offered factually incorrect information. It was almost as if some students did not read all the Week 4 readings before taking the quiz. Looking forward to a stronger Week 4 closing quiz.

2021-09-15, 15:16 Reflection Boards back up

Your Reflections board should look about the same, but I’ve consolidated those student posts that were previously in several threads. Please always respond to your previous week’s thread.

2021-09-15, 10:01 Reflections Boards offline today

I need to take the Reflections Boards offline to fix them. You won’t see them for a bit, but I’ll have them back up by this afternoon.

2021-09-14, 16:29 Reflections 3 and Consultations 3

The Consultations were good and the Reflections were great. I love the honesty and analytical complexity of Reflections. For reasons I can’t explain, students demonstrate learning in wonderfully articulate, complex, and humane ways in their Reflections (with small drops of humor). Keep it up.

2021-09-13, 17:08 See you soon?

Looking forward to your questions and comments on the Consultation 4 discussion board.

2021-09-10, 13:59 Opening Quiz 3 and Experiment 2

The strongest answers related to "Why did humans adopt agriculture" used multiple, specific references from the readings to offer explanations. Weaker answers were a single sentence or offered an example with no reference to the readings.

Experiment two demonstrated a tremendous amount of thinking for most students: well done. Evaluating credibility is immensely important for explaining the past in an evidence-based way. It’s also important for caring for our fellow humans. To give three examples:

  1. Conspiracy theories spread on Facebook fueled a genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
  2. An immediate family member of mine in health care treats people dying of COVID because they believed vaccine conspiracy theories.
  3. A former student of mine is in jail for a long time partly because conspiracy theories convinced him of the need for gun violence.

Evidence-based history and thinking aren’t just important to accurately describe our past, they are important because history shapes the world and the choices we face today.

Wishing you a restful and fact-filled weekend.

2021-09-08, 14:24 Quesiton 6: Pine Calamari

Most students effectively used SIFT to find that the page I referenced was a hoax. The strongest answers showed their work. For example: "I searched wikipedia and found this. I then searches Snopes and found this. Finally, I attempted to trace this inoformation to a credible source and found this." Weaker answers referenced general processes "I googled it and found it to be a lie" which may be true but I can’t see your work. History, like math, needs to see the work.

Thank you to all who are scheduling Book It appointments to check in about their work. Little chats make big differences.

2021-09-8, 9:42 Reflections

I graded Week 2 Reflections. For those wondering on how to reflect or respond to another student in their own Reflection, I’m asking you to reflect on another student’s Experiment or Consultation, not their Reflection. I model this type of response in the prompt at the top of the Discussions page, so please review their.

Human learning is socially constructed. When you situate your learning in the context of someone else’s learning, you learning is stronger. This is why I want you to mention another student by name and their Consultation or Experiment work in your Reflection.

2021-09-03, 16:32 Experiment 1 graded

Overall, strong responses to the questions. A couple of folks only answered the questions in Lesson 1. Wonderful originality in answering some of the questions.

2021-09-03, 09:59 Question 6 on quizzes and grading guidance.

  • I only give zeroes (0) for work I can’t see. If you submitted work and it has a zero, it means I can not or did not see it. All work that I see gets some points.

  • Question 6 Grading

Out of 4 points.
0 points- Student gave no answer
1 point- Student answered something, often a single sentence
3.4 points- Basic understanding of historical skill
3.7 points- Developing understanding of historical skill
4.0 points- Competence understanding of historical skill

  • Opening 2 Question 6

Strong reddit/AskHistorians answers demontrated a credibility-checking process that used lateral reading, getting outside of reddit to check its credibility. Weaker answers relied on a reading of just the site, or relying entirely on prior knowledge of reddit. There was no right answer to credibiity: what I wanted to see was a process, preferably SIFT.

For your information, AskHistorians is reasonably credible as it is heavily moderated by historians, and removes known false information. Books and journal articles are better, but often less fun.

  • Closing 2 Question 6

"Explain in a few sentences any clues you have that indicated the source is credible or not credible."

Upon reflection, I find this question to be insufficiently precise in what it asks students. Therefore, I awarded everyone a 4/4.

  • I’ll grade Experiments this afternoon.

2021-09-02, 14:30 Tips for workflow and Experiment 2

Your fellow student, Li, has written out a workflow that you may wish to consider. I really like their notation.

Lab Consultation 2 -> Lab Experiment 2 -> Closing Quiz 2 -> Lab Reflection -> Read/Screen/Take Notes on Week 3 Materials -> Opening Quiz 3 -> Lab Consultation 3 -> Lab Experiment 3 -> Closing Quiz 3 -> Lab Reflection -> Read/Screen/Take Notes on Week 4 Materials -> Opening Quiz 4 -> …

The lessons in Check, Please! for Experiment 2 have "Questions for Reflection,"" typically in sections labelled "Discussion." Please answer all the questions, though I do not expect robust, paragraph-long answers for them. A couple of sentences is sufficient for most of the questions. For example:

  • "One of the understandings key to media literacy is "authority is constructed and contextual". Different communities (scientists, reporters, politicians, psychologists, car mechanics) have different criteria for authority (constructed) and the type and level of authority you need may depend on your context (contextual). What other types of expertise could this issue benefit from?"
  • Answer: I think the issue of global climate change could benefit from multiple experts on the topic, including Allen’s co-authors on the report. As well, indigenous peoples have climate knowledge that might help understand the issue.

2021-09-01, 11:35 Grades and grading

  1. Your opening Quiz 1 and Consult 1 grades are recorded.
  2. Two grades in each category (opening quizzes, closing quizzes, experiment) are automatically dropped. Four grades are dropped from consultations and reflections. After the first week of learning, I hold students to high standards for Consulations and Reflections, so expect some no-credit weeks if you miss a required element of your post.
  3. D2L automatically drops grades. It only drops what it can see, so until you have more than the minimum dropped grades, you’ll see "dropped" next to your grades.
  4. I grade as soon as a can, typically the week after an assignment is completed. I grade 500 assignments a week.
  5. If you are annoyed by this course, it’s working. I designed the course to require regular, medium level attention. That ensures no binge and purging of information.
  6. My pedagogy is rooted in decades of scholarship in teaching and learning, so I’m happy to explain why I did something: just ask.

2021-08-31, 08:19 Experiment 2: what to answer

Good question from a fellow student: should you answer the reflection prompts and the questions in what you post to Experiment 2? Yes, please answer both the Reflection prompts and the general questions in your submitted work.

2021-08-30, 16:05 Consultations thus far

I responded to a couple of your Consultations this afternoon. Great start! It’s normal to feel anxious as you navigate a new course. That anxiety means you care about your learning. Even if your anxiety emerges in uneven ways, I want to celebrate that you care about your education.

2021-08-28, 20:50 An apology

MOTHER@#$@#% Sorry, I just changed a setting in D2L, and in two of my courses it wiped out the Reflections. D2L is rubbish, so I can’t reverse the changes or check a database for where the Reflections went. I’m sorry.

Please check you Week 1 Reflection. If it’s there in your Reflection discussion board great. If not, please repost your Reflection for full credit.

My course, so it’s my fault. My apologies.

2021-08-27, 15:39: Keep those questions coming and a Quiz hint

I’m enjoying the questions coming in from email. Going forward, I hope we can focus those questions to the Consultation board so that others benefit from your wisdom. As well, "I’ve experienced a problem, tried to solve it in this way, and would appreciate some help" is a great email when asking for help.

Question 6 for Closing Quiz 1 refers to the article "Primary and Secondary Sources in History" you read this week.

I try to welcome every student in our opening Consultations. Check back to see my quick welcome to you.

2021-08-26, 20:56 Closing Quiz 1

A couple of y’all took the closing quiz before it’s start time of 10 pm, and were likely befuddled by old questions. I’ll restrict the quiz to its start date in the future. I’ve eliminated any attempts before 10 pm tonight, so everyone has the same 4 attempts (I want you get 100%, yeah) on the material for this week.

Quick quiz: If there were a quiz called Opening Quiz 463, what week’s reading would be on it? Very good, Week 463.

2021-08-26, 17:05- Navigating Our Websites

2021-08-26, 15:27: How to access

Lesson 5 of "Return to Enter" asks you to take notes on a article. Many articles are free, many are not. To access the Nytimes here are four options.

  1. If you enter the NYtimes through a google search, you get a certain number of articles a month free. So, if you know the article title, and you google search it, you should be able to click through to it.
  2. Many, many articles in the Times are free, depending on the topic. There’s not way for me to know which ones they’ll put in front of or behind their paywall, but just clicking on a couple other articles might give you a free one.
  3. If you have a Hennepin County Library card (free to anyone) you can access it here:

Easiest way:

  1. Sign up for a free NYtimes account through the Normandale Library with the following directions.
    How to Register for New York Times Website Access Courtesy of Normandale Community College Library
  2. Go to
  3. Click Create Account.
  4. Fill out account form. Use your Normandale email address. Uncheck the box to opt out of marketing emails.
  5. Click sign up.
  6. Your access is good for one year from date of sign up. (At the end of the year, re-visit the link above, click the Log in here >> link for people who already have an account, login, and request another annual pass.)
  7. Click Go to You are automatically signed in.
  8. To sign in on other computers, go to and click the login button in the upper right of the screen. Log in with your Normandale email address and password you set when registering.
  9. If you want, download the New York Times app from the iTunes or Google store and login with your email address and password for access on your mobile device.

2021-08-26, 09:19: Three things

  1. The Return to Enter lessons have five parts. Please post answers to questions in all five lessons to the Experiment 1 discussion board.
  2. I drop your lowest two grades for quizzes and experiments and you lowest four grades for reflections and consultations. Consider it paid time off. You don’t need to ask for grade extensions or exceptions, it’s built in to the grading system. Also, for Reflections and Consultations, this lets me hold you to a high standard, failing a couple of less-than-best-efforts, while not hurting final grades.

D2L will show all grades as dropped until you have more than the minimum. So, all your grades will be "Dropped" until you have 3 or 5 total grades, depending on the category.

  1. I’lll post a helper video later today to walk students struggling to understand the course. Stay tuned.

2021-08-25, 16:00: Discussion Boards tonight

I’ll be answering discussion board questions tonight.

2021-08-24, 13:48: Hint for Experiment 1

Hint: For the Return to Enter Lessons, all questions are marked with a pencil. "Experiment 1" is answering all the Return to Enter Lessons. I’ll post a model in the Experiment 1 discussion board.