World History 2 – 1102 – Fall 2022

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2022-12-16, 09:36 Final grades and a note about caring for others

I’ve submitted final grades. If you have questions, please see my notes about grades below before emailing me.

As you turn your attention to break and next semester, please consider this last message. The biggest challenges I face as a professor is balancing the need to facilitate learning with the realities of student lives. I’ll use examples from previous semesters to illustrate this issue.

I received two emails, five minutes apart. The first email from a student apologized to me that their sibling died and asked if it was OK to not do an assignment so they could attend the funeral. The second email from a student noted that they were surfing on vacation in the Caribbean and the wifi on the beach was spotty, so could they have extra time for their assignment (I’ve changed many details here to anonymize the actual students).

That one student felt the need to apologize for the death of their sibling tells me we’ve failed as educators to create humane learning environments. As well, that one student was so privileged as to imagine their vacation was reason for me to give them extra attention and time is equally telling. I’ve gotten these shockingly juxtaposed emails for years, yet every year the gap between well-supported students and under-supported students becomes clearer to me.

As we head into break and next semester, please consider how we, as a members of a Normandale community, can support each other, whether we are struggling or thriving.

2022-12-15, 13:34 Major grading done

I’m now going back through my email and Assignment files for corrected links and open issues.

On the Citizenship grades, they universally helped student overall grades, minutely or moderately. Citizenship could be expressed many ways, from showing up in class and on Discord, to engaging my comments in a meaningful way in your Assignment files.

So we’re clear, good citizens show up and advocate for themselves and their community. They are not always pleasant. Students contacted me in class, in the hallways, by phone calls, text, Discord, email, office visits, and video calls. Every single communication mattered, because it was further evidence that you take your education and yourselves seriously. So, if I ever responded less-than-warmly, understand my need to be human (and sometimes grumpy) doesn’t mean I failed to recognize the importance or your outreach.

2022-12-14, 14:40 Final Projects Grade

A tremendous amount of research and writing evident in these projects and I’m proud of all that effort. The strongest projects focused on the historical significance of their person, place, object, idea, or event.

Up next I will review the final Reflections, and then circle through my email and Assignment files to clean up any missing grades.

2022-12-12, 11:28 Grading Rubric for final Project

Below is the rubric for the final project. I’ve shown the three levels (mastery, developing, lacking) in three different images. Your rubric will have rankings in some combination of these. Note that these grading criteria come directly from the assignment itself.

Final Project Rubric- Mastery

Final Project Rubric- Developing

Final Project Rubric- Lacking

2022-12-09, 13:52 Grading Guidance

  • 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 are easy to fix and I welcome your emails.
  • Technical errors (google ate my homework) will involve a longer discussion that goes beyond when grades are due.
  • Your class citizenship grades are based on your participation, the honesty in your reflections, and respectful behavior towards everyone in this class. Good citizens show up and make their communities better places. If you did that, you will score well.
  • I am willing to discuss individual assignments, but not the final course grade. Please consider your communication carefully when asking for regrading.
  • 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.

As a practical matter, I answer questions about current work (your final projects) before I answer questions about final grades.

I’ll post updates starting Monday as I grade your final projects.

2022-12-08, 00:20 Feedback on Projects and New Due Date

I’ve finished feedback on your projects. A number of students need to do serious work to include additional (or any) historical material in their podcasts. If I keep the scheduled due date, I fear a significant number of students will fail, having written wonderful projects about water that have no history in them.

So, your final project new due date is Monday at 8 am. (which is when I’ll start grading them.)

2022-12-4, 16:55 Feedback on Prepare for Final Project

I finished reading your Prepares. I used a three tier rubric that gave your one of three feedback items, phrased in different terms:

  1. Your topic, source, or project scope are fine.
  2. You need to narrow your focus, or find higher quality sources.
  3. Stop. Do something different. You are doing something that doesn’t fulfil the assignment.

That’s roughly green, yellow, red.

The biggest opportunity for students is to focus your projects down to single historical topics that are engaging and away from generic introductions of a topic. The assignment asks you to demonstrate your ability to do historical research and highlight an historical topic.

I’m encouraged by what I’ve read. Lots of hard work and smart pre-writing.

2022-11-30, 16:19 Podcasts and Reflections

I’ve listened to my online only sections’ podcasts. My Monday students are next.

The podcasts have largely been BRILLIANT. So many wonderful revisions to your scripts, reflecting hard work finding stronger sources and then folding that new information into the podcast. A couple of you deliver with the cadence and confidence of experienced radio reporters. No points for sounding cool, but a surprising bonus for this guy listening to hours of podcasts.

I bake and sometimes my bread is just way more than the sum of its parts. For many students you achieved that level of superlative on your podcasts. Some of my joy is hearing you explain something you’ve had to piece together from different sources. As many Reflections told me, this assignment was enjoyed by more students than every other.

Thank you for exceeding my expectations.

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

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, 15:32 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 Albania during the 18th century relied on on Turkish wheat, demonstrating the interconnection between parts of the Ottoman empire."

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

2022-11-12, 10:48 Reflections and Revision

On Revisions, the strongest projects included defined numerical historical data and explained its historical significance. Less-strong Revisions focused on explaining a contemporary issue, or did not clearly define a numerical data category or idea. This class had a couple of non-written submissions that I enjoyed as well.

Reflections continue to be your strongest writing. Thank you and keep the great writing coming my way.

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 Project

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.]

2022-11-3, 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, 21:28 Revisions reviewed

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.

2022-10-26, 21:12 Looking forward to your Revisions

Reading them tomorrow.

2022-10-25, 21:58 Prepare and Project

I graded Prepare and Project from last week mostly credit/no credit. There was some brilliant analysis of colonialism and its differing forms. In the post 1400 CE era, we’ve had two big periods: from 1450 to 1825 and then again from the 1850s to the post-colonial period of the 1960s.

As many of you noted, imperialism sought to grow imperial power while colonialism sought to exploit peoples and land to benefit the metropole. Imperialism and colonialism often went together, but not always in the same way. For example, colonialism is India from 1757 to 1858 used a private company (the British East India Company) and local elites to extract wealth. Colonialism in Africa in the period after the Berlin Conference of 1894 involved much more direct home country direction and extraction of local resources, with complicit but not directing private companies.

On the open web you may encounter some white-supremacists discussions about "the benefits of colonialism," particularly 20th century colonialism. I encourage you to use SIFT when encountering these statements as such claims do not stand up to scrutiny. Thankfully, given the sophistication of your analysis of the article from last week, I have strong confidence that you will Stop, Interrogate the Source, Find better information, and Trace the claims back to their origins.

022-10-20, 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.

2022-10-14, 15:19 Reflections and Revisions Assessed and Grading Guidance

Your Reflections are 98% great. A small number of folks are clearly stuck for time and wrote only two sentences, which I appreciate as effort but doesn’t rise to expectations.

Revisions were of uneven quality. Many students demonstrated lots of effort, that did reflect in their grade as they did not attend to the historical significance of their object or article. Most students continue to display strong mastery of StoryMaps tool.

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, 20:46 No grading today

Will grade your Revisions first thing in the morning. Looking forward to your Reflections.

2022-10-11, 17:22 Project GIS 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.

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

One student found an image of an idyllic scene in the Americas, then went back to last week’s slave database and found how many cities came through that port. The student noted the discrepancy between the idyllic scene and what must have been port of misery for many. I could’ve cried it was such good analysis. Rock on World 2 students: you are awesome.

2022-10-10 Nice use of Discord

THis class has made great use of Discord to ask good questions in or public server, benefiting everyone. I also welcome emails and calls! Hopefully your ArcGIS maps are coming along well with societies based around estuaries.

2022-10-7, 17:02 Revision StoryMaps posted

Have a good weekend.

2022-10-5 17:47 Prepare Spatial Data Assessed

A wide range of answers across our class. Students sometimes ask "Can you share an example of good work?" So, here’s exemplary work for this week’s Prepare assignment. It demonstrates comfort with the ideas of spatial data, the history in the readings, and fully-articates the ideas used to answer the questions.

I often encourage students to expand on their answers so that I can understand your thinking. For example, several students noted they would map "America" or the "U.S." for the article on gender relations in North America. Students likely had more complex ideas about what "America" or the "U.S." was, but without more specific language, such as "I would map the former British colonies that successfully rebelled against the British, culminating in the U.S. Constitution of 1788," it’s hard for me to know what US or America mean.

Many (many) students shared they use family sharing apps, or Snapchat to follow their friends. Others shared they worked with fictional maps in literature or gaming. One, friggin brilliant answer, noted that music is a map, which is true both literally and symbolically. Music is a map, but not GIS. All GIS are maps, but not all maps are GIS.

2022-10-3, 14:35 Project 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, 20:59 Reflections read

There was the usual mix of brilliance and pathos in this week’s Reflections. Several of you connected your Revision work with the weekly readings in fascinating ways. I love when students see new perspectives on the past and share those, especially when a particular idea or insight didn’t quite fit in the assignment.

Several students also noted their horror in coming to grips with the scope of the slave trade. That is one of our tasks as historians, to bear witness and give voice to those of the past, painful though it can be. Weirdly, I have the number 12,521,337 memorized, like the some macabre song from Rent that renders the evil of the past into a knowable form.

I have students write Reflections because the science of cognition says its a good practice. Also, and entirely selfishly, student Reflections demonstrate some of the best historical thought and metacognitive growth of the semester. It’s an honor to end my week reading these, even the ones by students who are struggling or don’t like the class.

2022-09-29, 22:05 Revisions assessed

Decent writing. Attending to the words I use in my questions will improve some answers. For example, I asked about the number of enslaved people who were sent to "the Americas" and several students answered with the number of peoples sent to what became the US. If you noted the category of your number, I gave full credit, the Americas is plural and the database includes North and South America.

The one element I’d like to note is that many students asked smart research questions that had only economic answers. As much as looking at numbers might suggest an economic analysis, much of the slave trade was not driven by the profit-motive, but by prejudice. As many contemporaries noted, there were many ways to make money- buying and selling humans required an enabling belief set, that of white supremacy. I note that only in that I sometime feel that by assigning a database on the slave trade I’m neglecting a fuller picture of that era.

2022-09-27, 12:49 Metadata project assessed

Great research: lots of fascinating articles found. The best assignments explained why they chose their metadata and how that metadata related to the article.

2022-09-26 Metadata project assessment coming tomorrow

This week my World 1 students got graded first: last week it was you folks. Sorry for the slight delay. Coming soon.

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, 21:51 Good questions from a classmate and 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.
Questions from a classmate:

  1. I don’t know how I’m supposed to find an article that discusses the country I picked, the freshwater object I picked, and the time period. Anything I type gets me weird results.

    • Answer: Jstor and Project muse use a fixed set of terms (metadata) to search. Learning how this search works is not intuitive when we are assotumed to algorithims that learn from us. Strong search techniques include using quotation marks for exact matches, such as "China" and "Han Empire." A typical search cluster would be region or country + century or empire + subject. For example "Brazil" + "early modern" + "fishing" Most professional databases (not web searches) have fixed metadata, so learning to search this way is important to any field you go into.
  2. . Every time I go and use Jstor to find an article, half the stuff on there doesn’t let me look at anything because it says I don’t have access to it.

    • Answer: Be sure to enter Jstor from our library website, not going directly to You can also use the advanced search to limit your results to only those things you have access to.
  3. Some of the timelines that you wanted us to look at give us articles that are based around that time period and country. Am I supposed to use those or am I supposed to use something through Jstor project muse?

    • Answer: Your article comes only from Jstor or Project Muse. The timelines are background sources for you to use before you get to the databases. I encourage students to click around and find a couple possible search options. For example, after exploring the timelines, I could have "Mali" + "early modern" + "salt" and "Latin America" + "colonial" + "mining" . You don’t have to use the timelines, but I assume no-one carries a world history textbook in their head, so I wanted to give student some resources to explore possible topics before sending you to the databases.

2022-09-20, 15:28 Video explainer of metadata work

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.

2022-09-16, 17:00 Revision, Reflection, and next week

I reviewed your Revision and Reflections for this week. Given the difficulty of the Revision, I was impressed with many students’ suggested artworks. The best answers attended to the historical societies that produced the works and acknowledged the incongruity of mash up arts styles from across time and place.

Reflections are my favorite assignment when written with honesty and attention to learning. What a joy.

Prepare for week 5 is up. Have a great weekend.

2022-09-14, 13:41 Art Analysis Project

I’ve read your art analysis. The best analyses tied a primary source clear to the secondary source and offered a hypothesis based on those sources. Less-strong paragraphs focused primarily on description, or offered vague conclusions, such as "this object tells us much about the past."

History, like law, is about evidence. So, we write in clear declarative sentences and we connect sources together to serve our arguments.

REMINDER: Zeros mean I didn’t see your work. So let’s figure out why that is (you didn’t do it, your links isn’t working?).

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.

2022-09-8, 14:01 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.

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, 20:26 A tip on regions

Several students asked how to identify what region(s) are not covered in the River chapter. One way to do this is with a map.

Here’s a map of the world. In the advanced settings you can turn on rivers. Every time the chapter mentions a region or country, click on the country and turn it a color. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have a map of regions that aren’t covered. You can use plain language, like SE Region X, or All of Continent Y? You can also do the same thing in an analog way by printing a black map and highlighting the regions (rivers) discussion in the chapter.

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, 21:50 Art Analysis Project Posted

2022-09-2, 11:15 Graded Project 1

Strong research and writing from most students. Two notes: we’re focussed on fresh water this semester, not sea water. You’ll have lots of chances to choose sources this semester, and you’ll have an easier time building history around our single theme of how people access, use, and make meaning out of fresh water.

Two: I’m still missing some assignment files. I’m going to double check my emails, but if you Assignment file is not linked on our Assignment page (see above) please resend so you and I can start sharing your work.

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, 13:56 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.

I’ll post your readings for Week 3 later today.

2022-08-25, 13:31 Good start- keep going

We’re at about 33% of students who have shared their Assignment file with me. I’ll be calling students Friday if they haven’t shared a file by then.

Great response thus far to the Prepare "Get to Know You" form 28/35 students have responded.

2022-08-24 Corrected "Home" Link

Thanks to Kareem for noting the "Home" link incorrectly pointed to World History 1. Link has been fixed. That’s a great example of a student-solved problem resulting in a bug bounty 🙂

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 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.

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.

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 to settle down. On that note, I’m a dad of two elementary-age 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 or jackhistorynorton at 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 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.