World History 1 (HIST 1101) Spring 2020

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2020-05-19, 21:16

Final grades have been posted. Please see the post of 2020-05-5, 16:19 for guidance on how final grades work.

Thank you for your dedication to this class and your future. I look forward to hearing of your successes in the future, and perhaps seeing some of you in World History 2 next fall. I'm spending the summer redoing my courses with new material (still all free to you!)

Stay stafe. Be well.


2020-05-15, 20:39

I had a busy day today for Normandale, but not with grades. I will submit them this weekend.

Stay safe.

2020-05-14, 14:46

I have one class left to grade for the final experiment and then the grades should be complete. I'll submit them sometime tomorrow. Please review the grading guidance below if you have questions.

As you've likely seen in an email from our president, Joyce Ester, Normandale is going to be mostly online this fall. This development will be welcome and bemoaned, depending on your preferred delivery. I take it as an opportunity to think about the best way I can serve you, my students. This summer I'm going to take feedback I've gotten this last year and redesign my world classes a bit. There are some useful interactive elements that do not involve Zoom that I think could mitigate the distance digital spaces can create.

In the meantime, if you found your experience in this course useful, productive, or interesting, please tell your friends. Student recommendations (not from that evil website that lets student comment on my appearance 🙁 ) grow the best new classes. I'm teaching World 1 and 2 next semester and we hired a fantastic new historian who is a leading expert in the teaching of history that I'm excited for students to meet.

2020-05-12, 13:24

All assignments are now in, so I'm in grading mode. Office hours technically ended last week, but I opened it up yesterday in case any one wanted some last minute guidance (no one did:) ) . So, I'm happy to chat on Zoom, phone, or email, even though there won't be regularly scheduled office hours. From what I've seen, there are some fascinating final projects.

2020-05-11, 21:02

A busy day of faculty meetings for me. Those done, I'm now grading the last reflections. Several students displayed grace and humility in abundance in their reflections, acknowledging their grades won't be what they desired. I saw wisdom and courage in those and many other reflections.

Good luck with your other finals. I'll keep posting daily Monday through Friday to keep you up-to-date on my grading and anything else going on at Normandale.

We're going to get through this: students have faced adversity before and overcome it. If you join me in office hours this week, I'll show you my grandmother's college report cards: from 1930 and 1935. She was poor, the child of immigrants, and an average student (no shade, and RIP grandma, but I'm a college professor and I can read a transcript), she nonetheless stuck it out and graduated, in the middle of the Great Depression. She did it: you can too. Keep going.

2020-05-7, 21:25

I've read (and graded) the last consultations for the year [for the originally online students]. Even if you didn't contribute this week, you'd do well to peruse the comments as students asked some useful questions about the final experiment.

And, in response our last consultation, let me write thank you for your patience, and persistance in this challenging semester.

I learned today of a student (not one of mine) who lost a relative to COVID. I am thinking of that student and their family tonight and wishing you and yours good health.

2020-05-6, 15:37

Are you reading this sentence, right now? Great. Thank you.

Why thank you? Well, I've been getting lots of emails and questions on topics that are covered in the syllabus or in the daily posts I write, which are below. I don't begrudge the odd, "I missed what your wrote, could you clarify" question, but I've seen 15 of them in the last 48 hours.

So than you for reading, both this post and those below, and checking our course materials before you send me a question. Clearly, you've got this reading the course page thing covered 🙂

2020-05-5, 16:19


  1. I haved switched D2L from showing blanks in the gradebook as null values (not calculated) to registering those as zeroes. This means that if you do nothing more, your grade right now (2020-05-5, 16:19) is accurate and will be your final grade. If you submit the last week's materials, you grade can only go up.
  2. 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.
  3. Technical errors (as in, "I know I submitted that to the Submission folder, 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.
  4. Your class citizenship grades are based on your participation with your fellow students, during discussions, consultations. Respect and engagement earns higher marks. I also look at attendance for face-to-face students. I'm privileging your activitiy before spring break with these grades.
  5. I am willing to discuss individual assignments, but not the final course grades. Please consider your communication carefully when asking for regrading.
  6. I round at .56. So, a 79.56 is a B and a 79.55 is a C.
  7. 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 grades are in 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.
  8. 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, my afinity for you or you for me. Grades reflect what you turned in, and only that.

2020-05-4, 12:51

Experiment 13 (old 15) is now graded. There were a significant numbers of students who did not submit work. That could be for a number of reasons. My main concern is if you submitted work but I couldn't see it. If you submitted annotations but have a "0," please email me the links to your annotations and I will assess them.

A variety of you learned this week that depending on a single browser can be problematic: thankfully y'all worked through that issue.

The overall quality of the annotations was as I expected and I'm glad to see continued curiosity about the past even as y'll work to finish out the semester.

2020-05-4, 9:15

Video from this morning's meeting on Experiment 14 (old 16)

2020-05-1, 8:39

I'm still not sure why some Reflection grades show as weird fractional grades, such as 38.539275. I have found that if I update the grade the error disappers, so that's what I'm doing. For most of you, when I grade Reflections, the added points reset the grade correctly. For some students who aren't doing Reflections (whyyyy?), I need to give you a zero and then add your grade back to reset the grade.

All in a days work! Have a great weekend.

2020-04-30, 21:02

I'm updating the Reflection grades and there's some oddness in the D2L recording. I'm seeing fraction grades, such as 28.1259353, which tells me some setting is off. All your individual post grades are correct, so it has to be something in the interface between the Discussion Board and the Gradebook. I'll keep you posted when I chase down the error.

2020-04-29, 21:01

Map Consultations 13s are still trickling in, and I've graded those that were posted by now. As a humorous response to how maps are arguments - the prompt for this week - consider New Zealand's ad for tourism with their Prime Minister.

2020-04-29, 13:14

Grade updates. I've made the gradebook in D2L look as close to what I've described in the guidelines as I could. The biggest change was the inclusion of 3 dropped grades rather than two for the categories.

For originally face-to-face students: I'm not dropping 3 consultations for this class because we stopped the consultations at Spring Break. Your grades will included 2 dropped consultations.

You'll also note the Reflections total points are down to 55. Recall that 80 points would be 16 reflections at 5 points each. Dropping 2 reflections took the total available points to 70. We missed two weeks of class and the associated reflections, which takes the available points to 60, plus another 5 points off for the third dropped grade in this grade category.

There are still idiosyncrasies of the D2L gradebook that I'm sure I'll need to sort out, but overall you should have a decent picture of your grade.

If you want to play with history, the British Museum just released 1.9 million images with a non-commercial license. So, you can expect my next Zoom meeting is going to have a historical background. This is the city I studied in graduate school, Valladolid, Spain.

2020_04_28, 21:21

Experiment 12 is graded. I am aware that the names for experiments in the discussion boards can be confusing compared to the grade book, so I'm working to clear that up.

After trouble shooting with several students on this week's assignment, we've found Chrome to be the best browser to give you all the annotation options.

2020-04-27, 23:44

I don't know if I will be able to open my 8:30 am office hour on Tuesday. Renovation of my office space and COVID means I only have two days to pack up my office, so I need the morning and early afternoon to do that. I will be available at the 3 - 4 p.m. office hour on Tuesday. I'll take a laptop to campus and hope that I can have Zoom on while I work.

2020-04-27, 8:59

Please note the updated link in the experiment:

Make sure you're annotations are saved to our Spring 2020 group, not another group to get credit.

Video explanation of this week's work

2020-04-24, 16:27

Experiment 11 is graded. The biggest challenges for students was question #4 about the 25 villager deaths. Most student correctly concluded that they need not be worried about dying at 34 even if the mean was 35ish. Most students noted the mode of 1. Four students correctly noted that mortality rates do not predict individual's chances of dying in a given year: it's an entirely separate statistics. As long as you said you weren't worried and referenced some element of averages you got full credit.

The GDP questions on the spreadsheet vexed some. For one, you should never represent a number in history without a title or label. So, if you're answers looked like this: "7. 12,345" I had a hard time telling what you understood. More importantly, most students correctly added zeros to the population numbers, but not to the GDP. Putting the $ signs on the number pointed to the problem with concluding GDP of Africa to be $12,322 . A good junk of you correctly noted the calculation in 1990 GK dollars with the appropriate zeros.

2020-04-24, 13:42

I've decided that the disruptions to work, life, and academic schedules justify a shift in my grading policy. Rather than dropping your two lowest grades from each of the five weekly assignments, I will drop your three lowest grades.

An increased number of students have emailed me for extensions, which I don't do. However, that increased number along with the content of the emails indicates to me that there is a bandwidth issue.

2020-04-23, 15:57

I've brought the Consultation grades up to date for the originally online classes. Next up I'll check on the Experiments and Reflections.

For those of you continuing at Normandale, there is excellent availability for courses right now for summer and fall courses. You can pretty much pick your perfect schedule- so take a look! At some point students who had planned on going to college away from home will start to rethink that and then classes could fill up quicker.

2020-04-22, 14:03

Normandale is offering students a pass/no credit option this semester. The default grade will be those of A through F. To learn more see Pass/No Credit Grading Option Document on our website.

2020-04-22, 10:02

Video of today's morning meeting, with transcript

2020-04-21, 21:04

Opening Week 13 (Old 15) Quiz is now available. If you took the old version, your attempt's have been zeroed out so you have the full two attempts that everyone does.

2020-04-21, 20:30

In my virtual room right now until 9. Drop in for a chat.

Office hour moved today (2020-04-21)

With apologies, I have to move my 3 o'clock office hour today. I'll be online tonight from 8:30 - 9 at my regular Zoom spot to answer any questions.

2020-04-20, 20:59

One of the directions for this week's assignment is: "Locate a credible news story, pinterest pin, tweet or wordpress post about a contemporary (2020) issue about an issue related directly to the Mongols, the black death, the Renaissance, or Mansa Musa. " That language here could be confusing, so let me elaborate.

Your subject is one of these four: Mongols, black death (14th century), the Renaissance to 1400 CE, or Mansa Musa. Within these subjects are many issues. For example, you could focus on the religious aspect of Mansa Musa and his famous hajj to Mecca and support of madrasass and libraries in Mali. Or you could focus on his wealth, which derived from gold and salt monopolies. A modern social media source will relate someone about your subject's issue with an issue today. For example, Mansa Musa benefited from monopoly power in the gold and salt trade. Today, certain companies have monopolies or near monopolies due copyright. The issue today is how companies create barriers for others to sell a product, just as Mansa Musa faced.

For the black death, one issue was how it spread. A modern issues on infectious diseases is how they spread. So, the issue of the past (transmissibility) is interpreted through the lens of today.

Several of you have asked about quizzes one or more weeks out. I'm editing the quizzes as I go. If you recall, the quizzes were originally Wednesday- Friday. If you take a quiz before it's ready that week, I'll zero out your attempt.

2020-04-20, 9:19

Video and Audio Transcript of today's morning meeting

2020-04-15, 15:22

The following is information sent to all faculty, for students.

The original deadline to withdraw from a full-term spring course was April 21, 2020 (or 80% completion of the semester). This deadline has been pushed back to May 4 (90% of the term) to give students more time to decide if they can complete the course.

Is this the right option for you?

• A W is not factored into your GPA. If you do not believe it will be possible to complete a course, a withdrawal may be a good option. You will not need to return any financial aid at this point, and it may allow you to focus on your other courses.

• Is it possible you will get a D? If so, you may want to stay in the course and keep it for a letter grade if your GPA will stay above 2.0. A course with a D grade will meet a requirement for the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) and many prerequisites and degree requirements. Consult with an advisor or counselor to determine the option that's best for you.

Other considerations:

• A Withdrawal (W) will be considered credits attempted but not completed when we calculate Satisfactory Academic Progress, which requires that you complete at least two-thirds of the total credits you attempt.
• A Withdrawal (W) may impact your student loan deferment status.In order to remain in in-school status (and not repayment status), students must be enrolled for at least 6 credits. Withdrawn courses are considered not enrolled and may change this status.
• You will not earn credit for withdrawn courses, and there is no refund.
• Withdrawn classes may delay graduation. Be sure to talk with an advisor or counselor to update your academic plan.
How Does It Work?
Students can withdraw in e-Services (and get a grade of W) in the “View/Modify Schedule" section of “Courses & Registration" until May 4.

2020-04-15, 10:47

Today's 8:30 am explanation of GDP experiment, with brief comment on a relaxing sheep video.

If you took a quiz that had a single question related to Thanksgiving, you were a) working ahead, and b) need to go back to take that quiz now that it has appropriate questions. I've reset you attempts so you'll have two tries, the same as everyone.

I'm changing the Week 13 (old 15) reading, which right now are repeats of next week. This is a heads up for in two weeks.

Great to chat with everyone dropping in to Zoom meetings.

2020-04-14, 21:11

Good evening. First, my apologies for getting to my 3-4 zoom hours late today.

Second, I've graded Experiment 10. There was a turn about 3 years ago when students went from expressing disdain for all things numeric to students expressing a love of numbers. In your reflections I read numerous, "So this week we did light math, and I love numbers, so this was easy."

That makes my heart sing. Your math skills are sound, with most correctly calculating absolute or relative changes correctly. The hardest grading issue I had was how to grade question #9 which asked you to find an article that eplained economic change in one of three societies. I gave full credit to any type of citation language, including full citations or "In this article on 12th century Cairo." Answers that offered only facts, as if you knew those facts without reference to where you got them (SIFT?) had minor deductions.

2020-04-13, 10:02

Video for this morning's meeting

2020-04-11, 9:26

Experiment 13 is more fun with historical numbers. Please pay attention to the bottom left hand part of the excel sheet as this has the tabs. Note as well that some of the numbers are in millions, but the last three zeroes (000) are left off for convenience.

2020-04-9, 21:09

Online original students
Consults for this week are graded. Outstanding grouping of articles with, unsurprisingly, many on COVID. Always ask "is this relative or absolute" when you see %.

Face-to-face original students
I cleaned up the grade book by removing Consults 10 to 16. I'm leaving Consult 9 as a placeholder (for now.) There was no Consultation assignment in week 9 just after our 3-week break.

2020-04-9, 15:43 - A Brief Message of Support

2020-04-8, 14:11

This does not apply to our course- yet it may be important information for your other courses.


  • Date: Monday, May 11, 2020 to Friday, May 15, 2020
  • Monday, May 18, 2020 to Friday, May 22, 2020
  • 7:30am - 4:30pm

Place: Parking Ramp--Lower Level by parking lot 3 and 4

Students that are not able to drop off textbooks during this time will be asked to communicate with us at to make other arrangements.

2020-04-8, 9:05

Here's the video of our 8:30 walk-through of Experiment 12 (week 10). Keep the email questions coming. Our next session is tonight at 8:30 pm. See you soon!

2020-04-7, 15:58

Experiment 9 Graded: In the first week back to class, in the midst of a state-wide shelter in place order, students performed outstanding work answering questions about the ancient Roman world. True, not all the final answers were correct: many students did not calculate two separate trips (Memphis to Melita and then Melita to Argentorate). Still, most students showed their work, and much like in math, when I can see how you arrived at an answer, I can give you credit.

Mostly I'm wowed that we've had little drop-off in assignment completion or quality when compared with the first half of the semester.

For those of you who didn't complete Assignment 9 (not many), expect an email from me checking in on how you are. If I don't hear from you by email in a day or so, I'll call if I have your number. I don't want to leave anyone behind.

Keep up the great work and remember to drop in to my Monday through Friday 8:30 am, Tuesday 3-4 pm, or Wednesday 8:30-9:00 pm sessions with questions or just to chat.

Be well: we can beat this virus with our disciplined distancing!

2020-04-3, 17:05

I've graded the online student Consultations for the week. As well, next week's Experiment is ready to go. You'll need a spreadsheet program for the file, such as Microsoft Excel, Apple Pages, GoogleDocs, or LibreOffice. LibreOffice is a free software suite suitable for almost all devices. Keep your questions, comments, and dropins coming on at our Zoom sessions and with emails.

And have a great weekend.

2020-04-1, 21:48

Experiment 7 is graded. If you recall, it related to depictions of Roman art. The strongest answers gave specific evidence about the historical context of the Hellenistic period of 323- 40 BCE. For example, students included information about the warring parties following Alexander's death, the fracturing of Egypt and Greece, or the trade the emerged.

The biggest historical issue (error) I saw was not recognizing that the Roman Empire starts with Julius Ceasar (or Augustus- as you like it), but the Roman Republic goes back 100s of years before that. This sequence of Ancient Greece - Alexander - Roman Republic - Roman Empire is central to eastern and norther Mediterranean history of the pre - 0 era.

Great talking to all of you who have joined for the 8:30 am or other (Tues 3-4 pm and Wed 8:30-9 pm) office hours.

2020-04-1, 9:28

Video of Morning Meeting with attention to how to do Experiment 9

2020-03-31, 16:44

Emergency Grants Students experiencing unforeseen and small scale economic difficulty that will impede their completion of their degree can apply for a Normandale Care's Grant.

Zoom drop ins

Several students logged on to the Zoom meetings today and immediately logged out. That's fine. Zoom is just a virtual room. You can pop your head in, stay for a 3 minute chat, and then leave. Monday and Wednesday mornings at 8:30 will be for going over the experiment.

Related to Zoom, I'm a competent user, but I've noticed that the sound features require careful attention. If you have multiple sound inputs and outputs (say earphones, an internal speaker and microphone, or external speakers), make sure you are using the sounds you think you are. The down carrot by the microphone will let you adjust sound settings.

2020-03-30, 9:16

Here is the recording of our 8:30 am Lab Experiment meeting.

20:42- One student experienced difficulty using Orbis today: it rendered background visuals incorrectly. The first solution should always be to try another browser. Failing that, privacy or security settings or extensions should be reviewed. If you click to the left of the "http" in any browser you'll site permission information that can help you figure out if you need to change one setting to allow a site to work.

Orbis should just work: it has for years, but sites change as does software. Keep those questions coming. Hasta mañana.

2020-03-29, 16:07: Weekly Schedule

We restart our course tomorrow. I've been posting regular updates to how the course will change. So, please review those posts below, especially the post on 2020-03-23.

I will post an update every day to our course page.

Below are the hours that I will be available through Zoom-

NOTE-- Neither face-to-face nor online students are not required to attend any Zoom meetings. The meetings exist solely to help you do your work and support your education.

Full details of these meetings, including the passwords for the meetings is on the first page of our D2L website under announcements and in an email.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
8:30 am - 9 8:30 am - 9 8:30 am - 9 8:30 am - 9 8:30 am - 9
- 3 pm - 4 8:30 pm - 9 - -

Topic: 1101 Morning Check In - 8:30-9:00 am

The Monday and Wednesday meeting will be focussed on reviewing the Lab Experiment for the week. Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday will be general student support meetings, which can include our course, discussions about Normanale, or just a chance to talk with fellow students.

General Office Hours, different times

Wednesday 3-4 p.m.
Thursday Night, 8:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

I'll be in room for office hours at these times. The password is the same as the other Zoom meeting, but the link is different. The meeting ID is my Normandale phone number.

You have the same access to Zoom as a computer app, iOS or Android, or browser login that faculty do. Feel free to use Zoom to connect with other students, as well as with me.

Your Normandale email is the most valuable communication channel you have right now, with me and the college. Please, please, please, check it every day.

I am going to be responding to students much faster going forward. My goal is within six hours, not because our subject requires that urgency, but because we all have less time, so quick replies alleviate anxiety. Reach out, email, phone call, Zoom chat, if you're experiencing difficulties or just to chat.

2020_03_27, 20:53

If you need technology help, the MinnState system has a one-stop phone number for you: 1-844-456-3876 .

You can also access help here:

2020-03-23, 21:36

Below are the changes I'm making in our courses. I've made these changes keeping in mind the principles I layed out on 3-22. For example, I pushed back the due date hour for assignments to 10 because parents have to care for kids more now.

Most of these changes will show in D2L now. Some will happen in the coming week before we start again.

Grade and Assignment Changes

  • Deleted two weeks (weeks 11 and 12), though I kept the code with the links for the material in the page for your reference.
    -When renaming, I've tried to include the week were are working in and the old week, such as Week 10 (Formerly 12).
  • Consultations will have clear instruction for credit.
  • Quizzes: No More Sixth Questions that is open ended.
  • Consultations and Reflections are credit/no credit
  • Experiment grades are A, B, or C. I'm not going to be offering nuanced rubrics. I want to be sure you are learning the student learning outcomes included in the syllabus.
  • Opened quizzes, consultations, and experiments so that you can submit them whenever you want
  • Bug bounties are suspended. I need to know where there are errors, but I don't have time to track and award credit. I'm going to extend as much generosity and grace as I can to students as we work in this difficult time.

Originally online students: Consultations will have specific guidance for how to complete them.

Face to face students: 1. Consultations are done. Your Consultation grade will be determined by the first 8 weeks. 2.

  • Why the concession to my originally-online students? Because they didn't sign up for an online course, and Consultations in a face-to-face course operate differently than in an online environment.

All students

  1. I will be holding Lab experiment sessions (30 minutes) twice a week. You are free to drop in for one or both sessions. I'll walk through the lab and answer questions. I'll also record the sessions and post the recordings.

  2. All your due dates are pushed back 2 hours to 10 p.m. The due dates (Experiment is Thursday, Quizzes Friday, Reflection Sunday) are all the same. (Consultations are the same as well for my originally online students.)

If you need to go out for work: be as safe as possible and thank you for your work. If you can stay home: thank you for doing your part to keep our world less ill.

Please, email me with questions.

2020-03-22, 13:40

Dear Students

I write to check in and give you an outline of what's ahead.

My primary concern is your health and safety and that of your family's. To that end, please do what you can to preserve that health and safety. Information on COVID-19 and Normandale's response can be found here: .

I know that some of you are able to shelter at home. Many of you can not. I can work from home with my kids, but my wife is a health-care worker who will be caring for COVID patients in the near future. Whatever we face, we will do it with courage and grace- you, me, all of humanity is in this fight.

I am still formulating how to rework the second half of our semester. Below are my broad principles.


  • When possible, switch grading to pass/fail.
  • Expand the time available for students to complete assignments while maintaining clear and consistent due dates.
  • Create a system that allows for disruption due to work/family/illness.
  • Reduce the work we will do from 8 to 6 weeks and reduce the total workload at least 10% to allow students to focus on other parts of their lives.
  • Create virtual spaces to allow students to engage me synchronously (live) and asynchronously (back-and-forth when we can).
  • Communicate Normandale information in a timely manner.


  • Alter as little of the structure of the course as possible to avoid disruption
  • Create additional opportunities to communicate with me


  • Create virtual space for students to receive guidance on the Experiments.
  • Support students new to the online environment, including securing hardware as necessary.
  • Trouble-shoot securing internet access for those without secure access.

If you haven't already, please login to , which can be a virutal meeting place for us.

There are many things I cannot answer. My read of the situation is that we will not return to campus for the face-to-face students this semester. I will communicate on our course page every workday (Monday-Friday) starting on the 30th.

Please email me with questions, concerns, or just to say hi. My kids are doing 1-minute audio postcards to their grandparents every weekday: just a little bit of humanity goes a long way to keeping spirits up.

KNOW THIS: Humanity has faced diseases far worse than this and persevered. We have it in our power to beat this: social distancing, washing hands, keeping each other's spirits up: these are not social graces, there are powerful weapons against our enemy. Should you chose to have them, your children and grandchildren will ask you of this time, and your story of perseverance in the face of stress and uncertainty will inspire them.

We can do this!

2020-03-19, 21:41- Changes are coming

  • Behind the scenes at Normandale there is a huge flurry of activity. We are working to get as much online as possible, while still providing robust support to all our students.

  • For our course, please check out . I'll use this for office hours, individual student meetings, and Experiment explanations.

  • I've pushed all the dates in our D2L course so it's clear there is nothing due until we start back on the 30th. There's still a great deal of reworking to do as we are not going to cram 8 weeks into 6. I have have central learning outcomes related to historical skills, and that is what we'll focus on.

  • Please email me at [at thingy] with questions, concerns, or just to talk. I'll have some Zoom (virtual) sessions next week just to get accostumed to the technology for those who are interested.

  • If you do not have the hardware (computer or internet access) to do online learning, please contact me immediately.

If you need low cost internet, here are some options:

Below are 3 options for accessing wifi.
(Continue to check for updated options in your area)

Free WiFi HotSpots

"Xfinity WiFi Free For Everyone: Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free – including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. For a map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots, visit Once at a hotspot, consumers should select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots, and then launch a browser."
Free Home Internet for 60 Days (Certain Low-Income Customers Only)

Comcast is also giving new customers of its low-income plan 60 days of free internet access.
"Internet Essentials Free to New Customers: New customers will receive 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service, which is normally available to all qualified low-income households for $9.95/month." New customers apply here:

A "qualified low-income household" is one that received Medicaid, Public Housing Assistance, SNAP, TANF, SSI, NSLP/Head Start, LIHEAP, WIC, VA pension, or tribal assistance.

Minneapolis Residents:
The Minneapolis citywide Wi-Fi internet is now open and free for everyone in Minneapolis. Folks can connect via: "City of Minneapolis Public WiFi".

Link dated March 16 with multiple Minn providers

Link dated March 16 with multiple Min. providers

From St. Cloud Times March 16:
Plus internet provider Arvig launched an education assistance program, and Charter Communications is offering free broadband and Wi-Fi for 60 days to households that have K-12 or college students.

CenturyLink offers application for low-cost/low income access:

2020-03-18: Free Wifi

The City of Minneapolis has made their WiFi Free. You can find it under City of Minneapolis Public Wifi or USI Wireless.
You'll be seeing some significant changes under the hood in D2L soon, mostly expanding when work can be done.

If you haven't yet, check out . We'll be using it for office hours, and perhaps drop-in help for the Experiments.

2020-03-17: Email and mental health support

Please check your Normandale email regularly. You can set it up to forward to your private email, but email is the best method to communicate to all students right now. I've sent a test email that I'd like students to respond to this week.

From Optum Health:
"Emotional-support help line. We are providing access to mental health specialists trained to support people experiencing anxiety or stress following the recent COVID-19 developments. Optum’s toll-free help line number, 866-342-6892, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for as long as necessary. The service is free of charge and open to anyone."

2020-03-15: D2L Due Dates Please ignore the D2L due dates for this week, the 16th of March. I'm going to be resetting grades, and I'll communicate any changes both here and by email. Please check your email every day to read of updates. Wishing you good health and 6 feet of social distance.

2020-03-14: Free Internet for Two Months for Low Income Students

Comcast, the owner of Xfinity, is offering high-speed internet service to low-income individuals. For details see their Staying Connected During the Coronavirus Situation page. As a reminder, PCs for People also sells low-cost 4g wifi hotspots and computers.

2020-03-13: Normandale's Covid-19 Page

Normandale has a page for updates on our college and COVID-19 planning. The Corona Virus Information page includes a FAQ section as well. The page will be updated daily.


As you may have read or heard, Normandale will have a second spring break week.

First, deep breath, we're going to get through this.

I'm going to spend next week figuring out some alternations to our course to facilitate your learning. Before we left, I shifted the one paper-based assignment, Lab Consultations, to online, so that's already done. My goal is to continue supporting you in this course as we consider that it will be online for several weeks. I encourage you to email me with suggestions or concerns. Here are some guiding principles for any reworking of the course that I do:

  1. People come first. If you or your family are facing a health or economic crises (COVID-19 or otherwise), please take care of that first. Everyone studied in our course has been dead for at least 600 years- they can wait. If you need to help the living, do that first.
  2. Disruptions should be minimized. For online students, I do not anticipate significant changes.
    • The week of March 16th through the 20th will be a second spring break, so no work for any student.
    • Deadlines will remain the same. I don't want you to have to learn new dates. I will consider how to open more time for you to do the assignments on the front end to give you more options, including time on weekends to work.
  3. A disrupted schedule means we will cover slightly less material. I'll have to think about how to cut about a week's worth of material.
  4. Plan to hear from me more often, both face-to-face students and online. We may chat by phone, online, in a video chat, through text, or in discussion boards.
  5. Clarity of communication is paramount. When emailing me, please always include course and section, tell me your question clearly, and sign your name. This information lets me respond to you accurately and quickly.
  6. When in doubt, be personally generous and flexible. I assume that you are full-committed to your education. Know that I am as well. If you are grumpy with me, I will assume you are stressed. If I don't answer your email immediately, know that I care about what you've written and will get back to you as soon as possible.

We will get through this pandemic together, successfully- of that I am confident.

The Chancellor's Message to Students. Please note that next week campus will open if you have needs.

2020-03-11: Grading at midterm

2:44 PM

I promise further communication soon about possible disruptions due to COVID-19. Right now, this is an ordinary grading communication. I've added zeroes, "0," where there is no work to give students a realistic sense of their grade. For about 2/5 of the students, this had significantly altered your grade. As long as you have above a 50% in the class thus far, you can still pass this class. If you have below a 50%, let's set up a time to talk so that you have the clearest picture possible of your options.

Whatever is coming next: we'll get through it. Deep breath: we can do this.

2020-03-11: Need a home computer or internet access?

Normandale's Chief Information Officer recommends PCs for People . This non-profit sells refurbished computers and low-cost internet access.

2020-03-5: Experiment 6 Graded

This assignment required significant technical skill and critical thinking, and student work reflected that effort. A couple of students' timelines did not publish correctly, and I noted that in their feedback. The strongest paragraphs clearly articulated an organizing theme for the timeline that related clearly to the objects chosen. Less-strong answers chose themes that did not relate well to the chosen objects. Several excellent essays listed a host of information about the past, but did not connect how the four timeline events related to each other, which was difficult to grade.

I am not traveling over break, but will be stepping away from email a bit. I will answer emails as soon as I can during the work week. Enoy the warm weather and WASH YOUR HANDS 🙂

2020-03-4: Zoom Training

Should we need to use Zoom video conferencing for my face-to-face students, here's a guide (MS word format).

2020-03-3: COVID-19 Information, Closing 7 and Opening 8 quizzes

  • As we are in the midst of a pandemic, I want to share accurate information. The Minnesota Department of Health's website on the coronavirus provides accurate information on what COVID-19 is and how to prepare for it. Alternatively, the Center for Disease Control webpage also has useful information. For common myths about COVID-19, see the [World Health Organizations' Mythbusting page.](COVID-19 Mythbusters webpage](
  • According to the MN Department of Health, the most important things you can do to fight against the spread of COVID-19 is to wash you hands robustly for 20 seconds, stay home if you get sick, and cover your cough.
  • For my online students, I don't anticipate our course will any sort of disruption, save if I get sick. For my face-to-face students, there's a possiblity that Normandale Community College could close for a period of time, which might require us to reimagine our course as online only for a period of time.
  • I will communicate on this page if there are any many changes.


For both the Greek statue head and the Celestial horse, the best answers made use of tiered inquiries. For the the Greek head, looking for a plaque next to the object, asking a museum person, searching the museum website, and doing a reverse image search all yielded strong results. A number of students launched into interesting discussions of analyzing the stone of the head, which I'm not sure is possible when visiting museums.

For the celestial horse, a simple search for "Celestial Horse 24-220 CE" would have yielded that the object is at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and produced in Han, China. Doing a reverse google search would have inaccurately turned out a result of a Zhou Dynasty horse as the heading, but clicking through to the results would have disabused a searcher of that conclusion. Noting the date of 220 CE would also have hinted, based on your readings, that the horse was Han. Prior knowledge that horses were Afro-Eurasian helped some exclude the Americas. Many, many students attempted to guess at the horse's origins based on what it looked like. I encourage you to remember the SIFT process, to open other tabs and search for corroborating information that is not just the source. That can be google reverse image searches, general searches, or just referring to other, better information. One of my favorite answers for the Greek head was something like "there's always a stupid plaque next to museum objects, so I'd start with that."

We are not at the part of the semester that I'm giving you actual historical work to do, identifying objects based on skills you've learned and then asking you what those sources can tell us about the past.

Of possible interest to y'all, you can 3D print this horse from public 3D plans.

2020-02-28: Experiment 5 Graded

Students use of ArcGIS seemed strong. ArcGIS is industry standard mapping software. For example, one of the big COVID-19 maps run by Johns Hopkins University is an ArcGIS web map.

The strongest Experiments clearly tied their object image to their meta-data and then to their paragraphs. The paragraphs varied in the quality of their analyses. The strongest paragraphs showed how historical objects directly related to the region covered and how object demonstrated something about the past. For example, several students noted the types of materials used in the object (stone, paint, gold, jewels) revealed the value of the object. A society willing to spend gold paint on the picture of a cat values cats.

The weaker paragraphs made broad or unsupported arguments. For example (and I read this frequently), some students argued that the the Code of Hammurabi stele demonstrates that Babylonians believed in the importance of laws. The sculpture was carved in stone and so making an argument that a single sculpture reflects the broad values of a society would need a great deal of supplementary documentation (evidence).

For face to face students, I've updated all the consultation grades and will pass them back on Monday.

2020-02-25: Refections graded

The weekly reflections are almost universally fantastic. There are two elements that impress me, one old one new. Students have, from the beginning, written honestly about their historical interests, their life and course struggles, and their triumphs or odd discoveries. New these past two weeks has been a remarkable degree of resiliency, especially with the GIS and Timeline assignments.

These assignments required more work, which students reflected on. The timeline was especially tricky, yet I students embraced the difficulty as worked incredibly hard to problem solve their challenges. I haven't read the assignments themselves, and I can't grade on effort, but the fact that students expressed comfort with difficulty in their learning and resolve to keep working leaves me buoyed. Well done!

2020-02-25: Closing 6 and Opening 7 quizzes graded

I'm seeing an increase in sloppy or very short answers. Question 6 asks you for an open-ended answer and I've noted that it should be in complete sentences. So, not punctuating or capitalizing your words, answering in fragments, or with only one sentence does not demonstrate a good-faith effort.

For closing 6, the strongest answers attended to the potential religions of the Guptan era (Janism, Hinduism, Buddhism) and the sculpture, the symbolic representation of the fitures - such as what did the clothing or gender of the characters tell us - and the nature of art in a society.

Opening 7 had incredibly uneven answers. The strongest answers situated the play in context of the readings. For example, from the readings you know that Lysistrata was published 20 years into the second Peloponnesian War. So, from the play itself, you can tell there was increased frustration amongst elite women to the continued conflict. Several answers were written in such a way that I couldn't tell if the student had read the background reading. The prompt did ask you to reference the play primarily, but it did not ask you to ignore what you knew.

As well, I'm seeing an increased reading of modern notions, sometimes aspirational and sometimes derogatory, of actions. For example, Athenian women did suffer from second class citizenship that afforded the few rights in law, property or family. That said, you'd need to offer significant evidence to show that this play (written by a man as a comedy) offers a vision of proto-feminist women demanding rights.

See the consultations for further information on the comedy of the play.

2020-02-17: Closing 5 and Opening 6 Graded

The sixth question for the Closing 5 quiz asked you about historical contexts for laws. The best answers referenced multiple historical contexts, such as the government, religious, marital, gender, or agricultural contexts along. As well, strong answered noted that how we read a law influences our interpretation. Some students used the language of descriptive and prescriptive readings of laws, and others simply referenced that laws are not always reflections of past realities.

Opening 6 included a 5th century Pakistani seal. Given your readings for the week, strong answers referenced the Guptan dynasty, the possibility of Jainist, Buddhist (Siddarth Gautuma- Buddha- was born circa 480 CE), or Hindu origins. Most importantly, noting that the seal could represent something real (such as an animal), and/or something symbolic (an idea) was key.

There were an oddly high number of answers that responded as if there were no background reading, with questions such as "Where is this from, what empire created it, what religion may have influenced it?" I'm not sure if folks had a brain fart and wrote only what came to mind first, or if students didn't connect the readings with the question.

Stay warm and shovel well. 2020-02-17 8:46 PM

2020-02-13: Reflection Grades Updated I took some time tonight to update your Reflections grades. As usual, some wonderful, honest thoughts on what and how you are learning, including some constructive criticism and self-criticism, both of which I addressed with notes to individual students.

One technique students use in their Reflections is to show, not tell, about their learning process. For example, rather than writing "I learned a lot," they will write "I learned how important geography and especially water sources were to the formation of empires." Another way to put this is to paint a picture of your learning landscape rather than tell me it has mountains and rivers (see what I did there with a geographic metaphor?:)

Keep up the good work.

2020-02-12: Prescriptive and descriptive readings of laws (and sources)

When reading laws, such as the Code of Hammurabi, we can read it as what happened, that is the law describes how people acted. For example, if someone robbed their neighbors house while it burned, then the thief was, indeed, tossed in the fire. Or, we could read the laws as what should have happened but didn't. To use a modern example, speed limit signs tell us the law. In 2000 years, will future historians imagine that was how fast we drove, or how fast our governments told us to drive?

When reading laws, and sources in general, always ask yourself: is this source describing what happened, or what the writers of the source wanted to happen? Noting that difference between prescription and description is fundamental to historical interpretation.

2020-02-11: Metadata explainer

After reviewing a variety of student work, including your consultations and reflections, I wanted to give you another (short) explanation of how metadate works. So here, in four short slides, is another example of how Target and the Minneapolis Institute of Art use metadata.

2020-02-10 Experiment 3, Closing 4 Quiz, and Opening 5 Quiz

Experiment 3 is graded. The best answer related why their choice of metadata related directly to our background readings and their article. Less strong answers focused on mimicking the metadata the article database gave and attending exclusively to personal interest.

Closing quiz 4 included the Harappan seal. Full points (4) went to those answer that articulated the limited things we know about this society. For example, we can't read its writing, so we don't know what the seal says. Weaker answers speculated without evidence about what they thought the seal indicated. Speculation that indicates it is speculation (the large animal suggests Harappa had domesticated pack animals) is fine. Speculation that is without caution (I see a unicorn! Unicorns were real!) is not [no one thought unicorns were real:) ]

Opening Quiz 5 revealed far more about students' opinions on the death penalty that it did on Hammurabi's code. I was impressed with the research many of you did into the modern death penalty. That said, consider this statement: What does the fact that ancient Babylonians ate a wheat-based bread tell us about our current consumption of bread? Very little, yes. They ate bread and we do now, but tying then and now together requires a great deal of historical evidence.

At least five of you responded with incredulity, on the order of "This ancient law tells me nothing about today" and you were, mostly, correct.

On the question of capital punishment, the only fact-check I need to offer is that today capital punishment does not appear to deter murder, although it is a highly-studied and contested question. The linked article reviews recent literature, and I'm sure studies will continue.

Turning back to Babylon, why do you imagine so many of the punishments are so harsh? What enforcement mechanisms that we see today do you not see 3750 years ago?

2020-02-5: Quizzes, Consultations, Reflections, and Experiment 2

  • Quizzes continue to be strong overall. Your sixth question will always be an open-ended one that focuses on a historical skill. I include feedback on that question so that you can consider the historical skill I intended to assess.

  • For online students, the first few weeks involved directed Consultations. In general, Consultations are the place to work through you work, share your working experience about the sources for the week, and ask questions of your fellow students and others.

  • Reflections styles vary greatly, which is largely good. The Reflections assignment is like a post-game analysis: the best analysis is honest analysis, regardless of how your game went. So, you could have turned in under-sourced and under-considered work, but if you reflect on that honestly, you'll demonstrate you have self-awareness about your learning (which we call metacognition).

  • I'm grading Experiment 2 now. Students generally demonstrate strong SIFT processes. The strongest answers came from students who started with one source, say, and then realized the failures of that source. As the semester progresses, we will work on moving you from using sources that pass a basic credibility test, to sources that are more robust and relevant for college-level history. For example, wikipedia and Britannica have a base-level of credibility, but often do not include experts or primary sources the same way professional history books do.

2020-01-30: Reflections Grades

I'm grading your Reflections and am pleased with the thoughtfulness and high-quality writing of your reflections. For those of you who haven't started, please go to "Communications - Discussions -" and click on the Reflections discussion board. Each student has their own board, and you cannot see each other's writings.

2020-01-28: Opening 3 quiz graded

I've graded opening 3 quiz. The sixth question asked about AskHistorians on Reddit. Many students applied what they knew of reddit, without applying the SIFT process at all. Others applied SIFT, but looking at Reddit, rather than the sub-reddit AskHistorians. Several students correctly applied SIFT and found [this wikipedia entry] that correctly identifies AskHistorians as a credible site. I was especially impressed who, building on their correct assessment that AskHistorians is credible, then evaluated how it is credible, noting that reddit pages have fewer citations than professional journal articles. You didn't need to note that for a full 4/4, but I thought it impressive.

On the Closing 2 quiz there were two major typos in an answer that I feel compromised the question's integrity. So, I've made that question a bonus, helping the 95% of student still answered it correctly and holding harmless those who did not.

2020-01-21: Reflection Grading

Unlike other assignments, Reflections are done in a single discussion board, responding each week to your previous post. For all of your grades I drop your two lowest grades. So, the gradebook shows you 16 different grade items, and the gradebook drops the lowest two. Because all of your Reflection grade is tied to one discussion board, it only shows as one grade. Each Reflection is worth a maximum of 5 points a week. 5 points x 16 weeks is 80, minus two weeks is 70. So, each week you do a Reflection you should see you grade go up a maximum of five points.

To calculate what you Reflection grade is, take the week we are in, multiply by 5, and divide your total reflection points earned thus far by that number. So, after completing week 4, you would have 4 x 5 = 20 possible points. If you had 19 points earned, that would be 19/20 = 95%

Is this convoluted? Yes. That said, having all your reflections in a thread is important to see your growth as a historical thinker, so it's worth some 9th grade algebra to gain that.

If you missed a week, that's ok. You have 15 more to go, and only 14 will count towards your final grade.

2020-01-21: Closing Quiz 1, question 3

I graded question 3 on Closing Quiz 1. The answer was "According to Check, Please! 'A claim is a statement that purports to express something about reality'" (Well done Robert). Most people answered with correct information but, surprisingly, without attribution. Any time you use someone else's words, put those words in quotation marks and give some type of a citation. It can be as simple as what Robert did, which was a natural language citation (As source X notes. . . ).

The key for a claim is that the statement is about reality. Lots of people make claims they know to be false or unreal, it's when people make arguments about what happened in the past that we need to evaluate their statements.

From here on out if you do not capitalize the first word of your sentence or use punctuation, you earn a "this is not a good faith effort" grade, which will vary depending on the assignment. There are very few that do this, and mostly do so because they are rushed, but a gentle reminder to listen to your better writing angels and proofread your work.

_EXTRA CREDIT:_I typically do not give it. Yet, we have an amazing opportunity of February 6th. Erika Lee, one of the foremost historian of immigration in the US, will be speaking about her book America First, Immigrants Last: Xenophobia in the US that is just out. See the flyer for her 12-1 talk here.

2020-01-21: Out today.

I have a sick daughter at home, and so my office hours are cancelled, today, Tuesday, 21 2020. I will answer emails.

2020-01-20: Closing Quiz One Graded

Grading Criteria: I include grading feedback for the sixth question of all our quizzes. Such criteria will indicate your ability to demonstrate historical thinking at a proficient, developing, or basic level. I award 4, 3.7, and 3.5 points respectively for these levels, out of 4. If you answer in a single sentence or do not give a good faith effort in answering the question, you will earn a 1 our of four.

You'll note that all three grades are "A" grades even though a 3.5 means you are not displaying the tested historical skill. I do this because I want to get a picture of where you are in your historical thinking, but I am not "testing" you in a final sense. Rather, the sixth question is what we call a formative assessment, a question designed to demonstrate knowledge without a high stakes grade.

For the Closing 1 Quiz, I expected students to note that the book covers an ancient period before 500 BCE, yet the book was published in 1900 CE. That gap means that History of Babylon and Nineveh is a secondary source and we would need to interrogate primary sources to verify its claim. Several students noted that the book was published in India, not the area that was Babylonia, and that we do history very differently in 2020 than was likely in 1900.

From your quizzes, I see we have a bit of work to do applying what you have read, such as the differences between primary and secondary source and the SIFT process, and your interpretation of sources. Most of the answers to the sixth question accepted the summary of the book without noting that it was written by the Library of Congress, and almost no attention was paid to any of the supporting information on the book, such as author, publication date, or language of publication.

I am heartened that the overall writing quality of answers, with strong deployment of sentences organized around and idea and spell-checked: well-done!

2020-01-17: The Weekly Schedule

Here's a graphic of the weekly schedule to help you understand it. Your read for the week ahead and take the Opening Quiz for the following week. You also take the Closing Quiz during the same Wednesday to Friday period for the reading for the current week. For online students, the Consultation is due on Wednesday, and for all the Experiment is due Thursday. The name of the week is mirrored in the name of the quiz. So, Opening Quiz 5 will cover the readings under Week 5. Closing Quiz 6 will cover the readings under Week 6.

Image of Weekly Schedule

2020-01-16: A tip on links in D2L

D2L often breaks links or attempts to open them inside of D2L, which rarely works. I will try to always give you the full URL to websites that I list in D2L (and this is one reason I code my own site).

Best practice for opening links in D2L is to right click on the link and open in a new tab or new window. You can try to copy and paste out of D2L, but punctuation, especially periods (.) will often get copied too.

If you ever get an error in D2L from links, try getting out of D2L.
2020-01-14: Grading Questions

D2L automatically drops your lowest two grades in every category. If you've only taken one quiz, D2L will drop it because it can only see that score. Once you have three scores in a category, you will see the lowest two dropped.

For quizzes, the first five questions are auto-scored. The sixth question I must grade, so until I do, you will see 5/9. Not to worry, I grade the quizzes weekly and post feedback here on the quizzes. Week 1 is atypical.

Welcome to our World History 1 course. On this website you will find most material that you need to prepare for our weekly work. Your grades and graded material will be housed on D2L.

Before you do anything else in our course read this first

Please watch this space as I will post class announcements here, along with tips on how to succeed in our course.

Here's my first tip: this course is annoying, by design. There is something due Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, and two things are due Friday. And you will be constantly reading for the next week while you review the readings for our current week as you complete work. You cannot stop doing history with this course design as there is always some new fun project, conversation, or quiz to take.

There's a great bit of cognitive psychology and education research behind this approach I can explain if you wish. For now, understand that you have five assignments due every week. No midterm, no final, and no tests is the benefit of all this regular work.

Looking forward to a great semester. I have confidence you can do well in this course.