Syllabus – World History: 1102- Fall 2021

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Course Operations Manual (AKA, "the syllabus")

World History from 1400 to the Present with Jack Norton

“You can best serve civilization by being against what usually passes for it.” Wendell Berry

“Learning is always rebellion . . . Every bit of new truth discovered is revolutionary to what was believed before.” Margaret Lee Rubneck

Welcome to World History

We will be doing digital history for our course. That is, we will study the past by using computing technologies (mostly webpages) to create digital projects.

There are no prerequisites for this course, and you do not need any specialized knowledge. The class will be taught in English, with occasional cheesy jokes and mild vulgarities in Spanish.

Studying history has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. People today publish more lies about the past than evidence-based history. For your parents, finding historical information was the challenge. For you, sorting credible from non-credible information will be the defining feature of your historical work, and indeed your information life.

I want you to learn about the past, learn new skills about how to analyze and present about the past, and learn new ways of how to learn (called metacognition). The learning goals, or outcomes, fit in these three groups. The goals for this course are below. I may sometimes call these learning outcomes, or the stuff I want you to be able to do by the end of this course.

Learning Goals

You will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a broad understanding of World History from pre-History through the early modern era (thirteenth through seventeenth centuries CE).

  2. Make use of historical thinking.

  3. Analyze historical sources, distinguishing primary from secondary sources;

  4. Communicate effectively using historical evidence and methods.

  5. Analyze and understand the diversity of peoples within their distinctive historical contexts.

  6. Develop strategies for advancing your learning skills, such as effective reading, writing, acquiring new digital skills and critically analyzing historical sources.

  7. Demonstrate an understanding of the ethics of acquiring, using, and presenting historical sources, as articulated by both professional organizations and historical subjects.

Required Resources

  • Access to a computer that has multiple browsers.
    Tablets and smart phones will not work for most work we do in this course.

  • High-speed internet connection. You do not need to have home access- you can use Normandale’s computers. See the link for how to find free wi-fi hotspots

  • Critical Mind

  • There is no textbook to buy for this course. All materials are free ($0) to Normandale students.

Contact Information – Jack Norton

Phone: 952-358-8911.

Email: [at]
Email is the best way to reach me. I respond to emails and calls within 24-36 hours Monday-Friday (most of the time much faster). On weekends I respond by Sunday evening.

Office: I will not be on campus this semester. My student check in times will be online this semester. Book an appointment with me.

Student Checkins:

Student checkins are when I am available to chat, by phone or video. You can schedule a specific time to meet with me, or just call me. Book an appointment with me. Appointments available Monday 9-10 a.m., 12-1 p.m., Tuesday 1-2 p.m., Wednesday 12-1 p.m., 8:30 - 9:00 p.m., Thursday 12-1 p.m.

Course Policies

COVID Notice

The regular grading policies in this syllabus provide that a student could miss two weeks of class and suffer no grade penalty. If you or a family member you care for are hospitalized by COVID or any other debilitating disease, we can work on a schedule to allow you make up an additional two weeks of material. There will be no making up material beyond those four weeks.

Attendance- Attendance is required!
You need to check in with our course regularly throughout the week. For online courses, I expect you to read, post, and otherwise contribute to D2L at least five times a week. The course grades are set up to reward students who work regularly on our course. For example, there are no late assignments.

Assignments and Grades

Grade Items Weighted Percentages Due Day
Opening Quizzes 20 Sunday
Lab Experiment 30 Thursday
Lab Consultation 10 Wednesday
Lab Reflection 15 Friday
Closing quiz 20 Friday
Good Citizenship 5 Course end

Grades in this course are weighted. To understand how this works, see this explanation.

Each week you start by taking a quiz on the reading for the WEEK AHEAD, which is due by Sunday night at 10 p.m. You will then work on a history experiment Monday-Wednesday, consulting with another classmate, and turning in your mini-project and a summary of your conversation Thursday night. By Friday night you will reflect on what you learned in your project, and by Friday night you will take a closing quiz.

  • Quizzes will be open book, 5-8 multiple choice questions and one primary source analysis (short answer.)
  • Labs will attempt to answer a question about the past using digital tools that I will teach you how to use. The homework of labs is split into three parts: the experiment that attempts to answer the question, the consultation, that records you and another student talking about how to do the experiment, and the reflection, that asks you to consider what you learned and how well you did the experiment. All three of these assignments are turned in to a discussion board.
  • Consultations and Reflections are credit/no credit assignments.
  • You will note there is no mid-term or final. One of the organizing ideas of this course is that by increasing the weekly work load slightly and making it predictable, I can help students retain information faster by avoiding cramming or big crunches for major projects.
  • I drop the lowest 2 quizzes for both Opening and Closing quizzes and the lab experiment. I drop the lowest 4 consultations and reflections.

Bug hunt- If you find an error in any course materials that can affect learning (a broken link, an omitted word that changes the meaning of an assignment), please email me with "bug hunt" in the subject line. I'll give you an extra 1% on your next assignment. Reporting minor bugs, such as a mis-formatted web page or non-learning related spelling error, earn my thanks.

E-Learning- What you need to know

  • Please use your student email for all emails to me, as required by the Family Education and Rights Privacy Act.

  • Please recognize that written communication requires more careful word choice than oral communication. For example, sarcastic comments do not work because you can’t read sarcasm, only hear it.

If you need technology help, you may call our IT help desk at 952-358-8181. Even better, ask them a question on Normandale's “Ask Us” page, which will help track your request.

Late Work-
There is no late work. Instead, I drop scores (2 for quizzes and experiments, 4 for consultations and reflections), for no-fault grading.

Reading and Writing-
This is a reading and writing-intensive course. You will read up to 75 pages a week and write at least 16 pages of typed, doubled-spaced pages of text (total, not all at once). Writing guidelines for each assignment will be discussed in course and included on the assignment.

Written work will submitted to the the D2L discussion board. I strongly encourage students to keep a file of their work outside of D2L and not rely on the D2L composing windows for anything. When it comes to formatting your own writing, I assume you know how to turn on a computer, and open a web browser. Everything else I will teach you how to do with careful instructions and diligent follow-ups.

Assessment: Assessment means measuring your learning, I can do this by asking you questions, indicating if your answers are correct or not, and giving you a grade. Grades are the way I assess your learning. I can also assess you learning by teaching you the tools of historical thinking, having you build historical arguments, and then and then asking you to evaluate your work. Both grading and self evaluation will be key elements of assessing your learning.

Academic Standards

Students in this course will adhere to the rules of Normandale Community College’s Code of Conduct. Such rules prohibit plagiarizing other’s work (taking credit for someone else’s work or stealing work from the web) and creating a hostile academic environment for students or staff. Refer to your student handbook for the full Student Code of Conduct or see: here. We will work through how to properly cite material during the semester. Please be aware that the penalty for plagiarism is failure of the assignment, then possibly the course, and possibly dismissal from the College.

Support for you

Writing Resource- You are encouraged to use Normandale’s Writing Center as you create and rewrite your assignments. The Writing Center is online and face-to-face. Book an appointment with them- they can help at every stage of writing.

When Life Happens

To learn effectively we need our basic needs met, such as housing and food. If you need help with things like finding a stable place to live and getting enough food please visit Normandale's Student Resource Center and/or the Campus Cupboard. Normandale provides a broad range of support services for you. I strongly encourage you to use these resources as past student experience shows that students who use support services succeed.

Normandale's Student Resource Center helps students meet their current and long-term basic needs and goals. The center connects students to campus and community resources and services to help them overcome barriers that interfere with their academic success.

  • Connects students to resources related to childcare, food, housing, transportation, healthcare, and more to address specific needs.
  • Hosts resource fairs, workshops, and brings community organizations to make resources more available.
  • Provides a support system and increases knowledge of navigating systems on and off-campus.

The Student Resource Center is available to all students by appointment. To schedule an appointment, please email or call 952-358-9090.
Below are some resources that may also be of use:

  • Counseling- This department, located at the front of the College Services building provides personal counseling and can refer you to community services. For your mental health, they are there, including if you need an emergency mental health session. 952-358-8261.

  • In addition, enrolled students are eligible to see a licensed mental health provider on Normandale's campus free of charge. Services include mental health assessment, counseling, consultation and outreach/programming. To schedule an appointment, please call 952-358-8926.

  • Academic Advising- This department can help you chose classes, an emphasis, plan for your transfer to a four-year college, and offer career advice.

  • Veterans Resource Center- a one-stop shop for information and support. 952-358-8501

  • Tutoring Center- Houses the writing tutors along with math, science, logic, reading and EAP tutors. Free and walk-in hours. 952-358-8830.

  • Child Care- Here is a list of childcare providers nearest Normandale. You should also talk to the financial aid office about possible grants for childcare. Parents facing an emergency choice of missing class or bringing their children to class should bring the kids.

    If you are a parent, you should also talk to our Financial Aid department about the the MN Childcare Grant, which can pay for a portion of your childcare.

  • Office for Students with Disabilities-I welcome all students to this class, regardless of their different abilities. Normandale Community College is committed to providing equal access for students with disabilities through the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD). If you experience educational barriers because of a disability, please make an appointment for an intake/interview to discuss these needs and to implement appropriate accommodations for your Normandale courses. Appointments are available by calling the OSD staff at 952-358-8625, emailing This syllabus is available in alternate formats upon request.

  • Internet- If you have a student in your home who qualifies for free lunches, your household qualifies for a low-cost (\$10/month) internet connection from Comcast. See here for details.

  • Showers- The bathrooms in the lower-level of the Koop Student Center have showers, which can be used any time the Student Center is open.

  • Homelessness- Advising and Counseling Services, 952-358-8261

  • Immigration Legal Advice- Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, 651-641-1011,
    Available Food Shelves in Municipality – Student Resource Center, 952.358.9349,

  • Nursing Mothers There is a lactation room in the basement of the the Library building, adjacent to the women's bathroom and one in the Partnership building. You can get a key card from the security department that will give you access to the room for the semester. Security is located across from the theater.

  • Food

  • Normandale’s Campus Cupboard

The Campus Cupboard is Normandale’s food pantry. Students can visit the pantry once per day and can get up to 3 items each visit. The Campus Cupboard page also has links to other local food resources, including the mobile fresh food pantry that is on campus 2:30-4 the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month and a map of emergency food distribution sites near you.

  • VEAP | | 9600 Aldrich Ave. S. Bloomington, MN 55420 |952-888-9616

• Monday-Wednesday, Friday 9:00am-4:30pm
• Thursday 9:00am-6:30pm

VEAP offers food resources including a food pantry to residents in Bloomington, Edina, Richfield, and parts of south Minneapolis by appointment. They provide social services related to financial assistance, bus passes, and referrals. VEAP also has a Mobile Food Pantry located at:
• Southgate Apartments (8100 12th Ave S, Bloomington, MN 55425) on Wednesdays 2:30pm-4:30pm
• Dar Al-Farooq (8201 Park Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55420) on Fridays 12:30pm-2:30pm

  • Good in the ‘Hood | |612-440-7463

Good in the ‘Hood has two pantry locations and offers other food resources and programs.
Pantry Location and Hours:
Cedarcrest Church (1630 E 90th St. Bloomington, MN 55425)
• 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month from 5:00pm-8:00pm
Beacon of Hope Church (2827 Newton Ave. N. Minneapolis, MN 55411)
• 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month from 5:00pm-8:00pm

Hunger Solutions has an interactive map with locations of free dining sites, food shelves, farmers market, and more food resources and organizations.

This website can also be a helpful tool to search for food pantries by city.

Why are grades on D2L but most of the course material are on

The Federal Education Rights Privacy Act requires that all computer systems with access to private student data (like your grades) have a secure login. I'm not willing to create this type of system, so we use D2L for those items related to grades. For everything else, having the course available on the open web is a superior option. If you want to know more, please see me. The tl;dr is that the open web is better for access, accountability, and responsive teaching.

Changes will be announced on our course website.

Image of Comic About Credibility

I reserve the right to amend this syllabus to better facilitate students’ learning. Changes to the syllabus (if any) will be announced in the news section and an amended syllabus will be posted on the class website.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License