Syllabus: History 1101: World History from Prehistory to 1400 with Jack Norton
“You can best serve civilization by being against what usually passes for it.” Wendell Berry
“Learning is always rebellion . . . Every bit of new truth discovered is revolutionary to what was believed before.” Margaret Lee Runbeck
Welcome to World History. We will be doing what is called digital history for our course. That is, we will study the past by using computing technologies (mostly webpages) to create digital projects. I assume you are able to operate a computer (turn it on, open a browser) and no more.
There are no prerequisites for this course, and you do not need any specialized knowledge. The class will be taught in English, with occasional cheesy jokes and mild vulgarities in Spanish.
Studying history has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. People publish more lies about the past than evidence-based history. For your parents, finding historical information was the challenge. For you, sorting credible from non-credible information will be the defining feature of your historical work, and indeed your information life.
I want you to learn about the past, learn new skills about how to analyze and present about the past, and learn new ways of how to learn (called metacongition). The learning goals, or outcomes, fit in these three groups. The goals for this course are below. I may sometimes call these learning outcomes, or the stuff I want you to be able to do by the end of this course.
Demonstrate a broad understanding of World History from pre-History through the early modern era (thirteenth through seventeenth centuries CE).
Make use of historical thinking.
Analyze historical sources, distinguishing primary from secondary sources;
Communicate effectively using historical evidence and methods.
Analyze and understand the diversity of peoples within their distinctive historical contexts.
Develop strategies for advancing your learning skills, such as effective reading, writing, acquiring new digital skills and critically analyzing historical sources.
Demonstrate an understanding of the ethics of acquiring, using, and presenting historical sources, as articulated by both professional organizations and historical subjects.
Access to a computer that has multiple browsers.
Tablets and smart phones will not work for most work we do in this course.
High-speed internet connection. You do not need to have home access- you can use Normandale’s computers. For a map of public free wifi spots, see here.
Yeah, that’s right, this course has \$0 textbook costs. Tell your friends.
Contact Information – Jack Norton
Office Phone: 952-358-8911.
Cell Phone: 612-208-3723 – Please do not send me text messages. No calls
after 7 p.m.
Email: jack.norton [at] normandale.edu
Email is the best way to reach me. I respond to emails and calls within 24-36 hours Monday-Friday (most of the time much faster). On weekends I respond by Sunday evening.
Office: Fine Arts Building, F 2204 (In the little hallway connecting Science and College Services) of this map.
Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday 10:00 a.m. to noon. Tuesday from 11-12. Also, by appointment: we can always set up a time to chat 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. by phone or video (skype, zoom, facetime).
Attendance- Attendance is required! You need to check in with our course regularly throughout the week. In my face-to-face courses I take attendance. For online courses, I expect you to read, post, and otherwise contribute to D2L at least five times a week. The course grades are set up to reward students who work regularly on our course up and penalize students who do not. For example, there are no late assignments.
Assignments and Grades
|Grade Items||Weighted Percentages||Due Day|
|Good Citizenship||5||Course end|
Grades in this course are weighted. To understand how this works, see this explanation.
Each week you start by taking a quiz on the reading for the WEEK AHEAD, which is due by Friday night at 8 p.m. You will then work on a history experiment Monday-Wednesday, consulting with other classmates, and turning in your mini-project and a summary of your conversation Wednesday night. By Friday night you will take a closing quiz for the current week's material and then you will reflect on your learning for the week by Sunday night.
- Quizzes will be open book, 5-8 multiple choice questions and one primary source analysis (short answer.)
- Labs will attempt to answer a question about the past using digital tools that I will teach you how to use. The homework of labs is split into three parts: the experiment that attempts to answer the question, the consultation, that records you and another student talking about how to do the experiment, and the reflection, that asks you to consider what you learned and how well you did the experiment.
- You will note there is no mid-term or final. One of the organizing ideas of this course is that by increasing the weekly work load slightly and making it predictable, I can help students retain information faster by avoiding cramming or big crunches for major projects.
BONUS: Bug hunt- If you find an error in any course materials that can affect learning (a broken link, an omitted word that changes the meaning of an assignment), please email me with "bug hunt" in the subject line. I'll give you an extra 1% on your next assignment. Reporting minor bugs, such as a misformatted web page or non-learning related spelling error, earn my thanks.
E-Learning- What you need to know– You must use your student email for all emails to me. Despite the digital methods of this history course, this is NOT a learn at your own pace course. The due dates for assignments are final, though I do drop your lowest two scores in each category. Online-only education allows you to learn without coming to campus, but it is in fact a more demanding form of college. Online-only students need to be a reasonably skilled keyboardists and comfortable with computer technology. If the words upload, download, install, or "As Fatima mentioned in her post on technology. . . " are foreign to you, an online-only course might not be the course for you. I want you to succeed, which is why I want you to be honest with yourself about your abilities. Face-to-face courses let me offer real-time support and are generally easier (or so report my students).
For all my students, to succeed in this course you will need to:
Turn on a computer and open a browser.
Watch streaming video from pgs.org and other websites.
Navigate the Normandale Library website successfully.
Spell check everything.
For online only, you need to be able to:
Download and install software on your computer.
Recognize that written communication requires more careful word choice than oral communication. For example, sarcastic comments don’t work because you can’t read sarcasm, only hear it.
If you need technology help, you may call our IT help desk at 952-358-8181. Even better, ask them a question on Normandale's “Ask Us” page, which will help track your request.
Late Work- There is no late work. Instead, your lowest two scores are dropped in each category.
Reading and Writing- This is a reading and writing-intensive course. You will read up to 75 pages a week and write at least 16 pages of typed, doubled-spaced pages of text (total, not all at once). Writing guidelines for each assignment will be discussed in course and included on the assignment.
Written work will be in the D2L discussion box and submitted using outside websites. I strongly encourage students to keep a file of their work outside of D2L and not rely on the D2L composing windows for anything. For one of your assignments I will train you to use plain text in the Markdown syntax. When it comes to formatting your own writing, I assume you know how to turn on a computer, and open a web browser. Everything else I will teach you how to do with careful instructions and diligent follow-ups.
Assessment: Assessment means measuring your learning, I can do this by asking you questions, indicating if your answers are correct or not, and giving you a grade. Grades are you way I assess your learning. I can also assess you learning by teaching you the tools of historical thinking, having you build historical arguments, and then and then asking you to evaluate your work. Both grading and self evaluation will be key elements of assessing your learning.
Students in this course will adhere to the rules of Normandale Community College’s Code of Conduct. Such rules prohibit plagiarizing other’s work (taking credit for someone else’s work or stealing work from the web) and creating a hostile academic environment for students or staff. Refer to your student handbook for the full Student Code of Conduct or see: here. We will work through how to properly cite material during the semester. Please be aware that the penalty for plagiarism is failure of the assignment, then possibly the course, and possibly dismissal from the College.
Writing Resource- You are encouraged to use Normandale’s Writing Center as you create and rewrite your assignments. It is located in the central hallway between College Services and Fine Arts buildings. All good writers revise their work. Writing tutors can help you at any stage of writing. The Writing Center is in the College Services Building on the 2nd floor: no appointments necessary- walk in and ask for help.
When Life Happens
To learn effectively we need our basic needs met, such as housing and food. If you need help with things like finding a stable place to live and getting enough food please visit Normandale's Student Resource Center in A 2530 and/or the Campus Cupboard in A 2503. Normandale provides a broad range of support services for you. I strongly encourage you to use these resources as past student experience shows that students who use support services succeed.
An up-to-date collection of resources are available here, and Normandale has a Student Resource Center in the Activities Building (A2530). Below are some resources that may also be of use:
Counseling- This department, located at the front of the College Services building provides personal counseling and can refer you to community services. For your mental health, they are there, including if you need an emergency mental health session. 952-358-8261.
In addition, enrolled students are eligible to see a licensed mental health provider on Normandale's campus free of charge. Services include mental health assessment, counseling, consultation and outreach/programming. To schedule an appointment, please call 952-358-8926.
Academic Advising- This department can help you chose classes, an emphasis, plan for your transfer to a four-year college, and offer career advice.
Veterans Resource Center- a one-stop shop for information and support. 952-358-8501
Tutoring Center- Houses the writing tutors along with math, science, logic, reading and EAP tutors. Free and walk-in hours. 952-358-8830.
Child Care- Here is a list of childcare providers nearest Normandale. You should also talk to the financial aid office about possible grants for childcare. Parents facing an emergency choice of missing class or bringing their children to class should bring the kids.
If you are a parent, you should also talk to our Financial Aid department about the the MN Childcare Grant, which can pay for a portion of your childcare.
Office for Students with Disabilities-I welcome all students to this class, regardless of their different abilities. Normandale Community College is committed to providing equal access for students with disabilities through the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD). If you experience educational barriers because of a disability, please make an appointment for an intake/interview to discuss these needs and to implement appropriate accommodations for your Normandale courses. Appointments are available by calling the OSD staff at 952-358-8625, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or stopping by the L2751 office. This syllabus is available in alternate formats upon request.
Success box- I have the following items available outside my door to students who are facing economic hardship and need a bit of help: toothpaste and brush, soap, shampoo, and deodorant. I also have warm weather hats and t-shirts and snacks inside my office.
Internet- If you have a student in your home who qualifies for free lunches, your household qualifies for a low-cost (\$10/month) internet connection from Comcast. See here for details.
Showers- The bathrooms in the lower-level of the Koop Student Center have showers, which can be used any time the Student Center is open.
Homelessness- C 1032, Nath Advising Center - Advising and Counseling Services, 952-358-8261
Immigration Legal Advice- Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, 651-641-1011, https://www.ilcm.org
Available Food Shelves in Municipality – Student Resource Center, 952.358.9349, Amy.Soeun@normandale.edu
Nursing Mothers There is a lactation room in the basement of the the Library building, adjacent to the women's bathroom. You can get a key card from the security department that will give you access to the room for the semester. Security is located across from the theater.
Normandale’s Campus Cupboard | campuscupboard | Activities Building A2503 | 952-358-8119
• Monday-Thursday 8:00am-6:00pm
• Friday 8:00am-2:00pm
The Campus Cupboard is Normandale’s food pantry. Students can visit the pantry once per day and can get up to 3 items each visit.
- VEAP | veap.org | 9600 Aldrich Ave. S. Bloomington, MN 55420 |952-888-9616
• Monday-Wednesday, Friday 9:00am-4:30pm
• Thursday 9:00am-6:30pm
VEAP offers food resources including a food pantry to residents in Bloomington, Edina, Richfield, and parts of south Minneapolis by appointment. They provide social services related to financial assistance, bus passes, and referrals. VEAP also has a Mobile Food Pantry located at:
• Southgate Apartments (8100 12th Ave S, Bloomington, MN 55425) on Wednesdays 2:30pm-4:30pm
• Dar Al-Farooq (8201 Park Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55420) on Fridays 12:30pm-2:30pm
- Good in the ‘Hood | goodinthehood.org |612-440-7463
Good in the ‘Hood has two pantry locations and offers other food resources and programs.
Pantry Location and Hours:
Cedarcrest Church (1630 E 90th St. Bloomington, MN 55425)
• 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month from 5:00pm-8:00pm
Beacon of Hope Church (2827 Newton Ave. N. Minneapolis, MN 55411)
• 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month from 5:00pm-8:00pm
- Hunger Solutions | http://www.hungersolutions.org/find-help/
Hunger Solutions has an interactive map with locations of free dining sites, food shelves, farmers market, and more food resources and organizations.
- Foodpantry.org | https://www.foodpantries.org/
This website can also be a helpful tool to search for food pantries by city.
Why are grades on D2L but most of the course material are on jacknorton.org?
The Federal Education Rights Privacy Act requires that all computer systems with access to private student data (like your grades) have a secure login. I'm not willing to create this type of system, so we use D2L for those items related to grades. For everything else, having the course avaiable on the open web is a superior option. If you want to know more, please see me. The tl;dr is that the open web is better for access, accountability, and responsive teaching.
Changes will be announced on our course [website]().
I reserve the right to amend this syllabus to better facilitatestudents’ learning. Changes to the syllabus (if any) will be announced in the news section and an ammended syllabus will be posted on the classwebsite.
This work and all teaching materials are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License