Read this first- 1102

Welcome to World History 1102

Below you will find essential information for our course. Please read the entire document.

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 for our course to work. 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.

For the first two weeks of the course, there are required quizzes, and work that you must pass in order to participate in the course starting week 3. You have unlimited chances to complete the quizzes and work, but it must be completed successfully before moving on. After succeeding with the introductory materials for this course, you will be prepared to succeed in this course at Normandale and have an A in this course.

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.

We will spend a great deal of time making you information and digital literate, that is able to operate in digital spaces as a critical thinker.

So, we are going to use a bunch of new digital tools this semester. One advantage of this approach is that everything I want you to use is 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 to settle down. On that note, I’m a dad of a elementary-age kids. My specialties are Spanish women’s history and digital history pedagogy.

Course Design

The syllabus and grade plan have been posted to our course page. Grades will be recorded in D2L

I am hosting our course on my own server. Doing so allows you (and your friends, family, whomever) 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.

There are some things that I do need D2L, Normandale’s course management system for, mostly due to legal requirements. Anything having to do with your grades is protected by the Family Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA). So, you will submit assignments through D2L, check grades –and discuss readings for my online-only students- on D2L because all of those parts of our course need the extra security provided by D2L.

In addition to our course page, I’m also posting all of our class materials (assignments, syllabus, grading rubrics) on Github. Github is a repository, or file library. Should you ever wish to use what I’ve created for this class for your own purposes, you can get the original files on my Github page.

As a general road map of the class, each week , our class will have five components:

  1. Opening quiz. This quiz will be open book and include both multiple choice and a short answer question. The purpose of this quiz is to ensure your reading is done before we begin working on the Lab and to gage your learning of key historical concepts. I’m trying to understand what you know, not trying to grade the extent of your knowledge, so the majority of your score for the quiz is that you completed all of it with a good faith effort.
  2. Lab Experiment. These are mini-projects that structured around questions. The complete project (or a link to it) will be posted to the Lab discussion board. Please note that the discussion board is an open web space, so other students will be able to review your work.
  3. Lab consultation. As you do your lab, I will ask you to talk with other students about your process. You will share insights on what is working and what is not, ask questions of other students, and consider how best to accomplish the projects. Consultations are "how-do-I do this" conversations. The consultations will take place in class for face-to-face students and in the discussion board for online students.
  4. Lab reflection. Your reflections will be in the Reflection discussion board. You will respond to the original prompt each week. This is a private space that is not open to other students for you to reflect on your learning in an honest way.
  5. Closing quiz. This quiz is a short answer question with some open-ended questions and gages your learning of key historical concept.

I’ll open the opening quizzes on Thursday at 10 pm and it will close on Sunday night at 10 p.m. You can take the quiz twice and D2L will record the average of your two scores. I use quizzes to ensure you’ve read, not to ensure you’re a master of this week’s readings. If you can remember the main themes of the reading, you’ll be great. Looking up the answers to questions during the quiz will not allow you enough time to complete all the answers. Your lowest two quizzes will be dropped from your total quiz grade.

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT QUIZZES: Your opening quiz is for the readings for the following week! So, you will take the quiz on the readings for Week 3 at the end of Week 2. Much as you need to practice a sport or an instrument before a game or recital, so too do you need to read our materials before you can do the assignment for the week. Your closing quiz tests your ability to use historical thinking.

A note on technology:

I assume you are minimally digitally competent for this course. We will spend the first two weeks leveling up student digital literacies.

For the content of the course, we are going to cover from around prehistory to around 1400. All readings and films will be in English, although you are welcome to use other language skills if you have them. I designed the course to prevent any single grade from ruining a final grade. My experience is that students who stay up on the readings, participate in discussions, and turn their work in on time have few problems in my courses.

First assignments:
  1. Read the user manual for this course (AKA "the syllabus)
    • Tell me something about yourself in my get-to-know ya form.
    • Compete the Week 1 activities (see the schedule).
    • Log in to your email account. Normandale email account
    • Set up a new or review your private cloud account. This account should not be linked to any school in which you are enrolled, neither secondary or higher education. Most students attend two or more colleges, so you need to save your work in a private account.
      1. Private Microsoft OneDrive 5GB (
      2. Google Drive 15GB (
      3. Dropbox 2 GB (
      4. Self hosted (computer nerds only): NextCloud (
    • Review your use of Zoom if you have not used it before or have not used it recently.
    • Log in and review your Normandale Office 365 account
    • Log in to D2L, navigate to our class, and find the discussion boards.
    • Acquire a paper notebook just for this course. Upload a picture of you notebook to your introductory discussion post. I will ask for copies of your notes during the semester.
    • Take a screen shot of a history website you find interesting. Include the image in your introduction discussion board. on a Mac, on a Chromebook, on a Windows PC(Press the Windows logo key + Shift + S).
    • Check your grades on D2 (under the Assessments tab)

REQUIRED PICTURE: It would be useful to me if you could load a picture of yourself, or an avatar into D2L so that we can all get to know you. Please do not post pictures of multiple people, such as you and your friend, a parent, or child. It can be confusing (who am I looking at?) and posting others’ pictures should generally include their written consent. Your picture will be visible to other students and in your other courses. You can use for a wide range of people.

Looking forward to meeting y’all!