World History 1102, Spring 2017

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Welcome to our World History 2 (HIST 1102) Course page. All the "stuff" (readings, assignments, syllabus) of our class is here. We'll use D2L to submit assignments, discuss, and view grades. Read this first.

2017_05_11 What I'm grading right now can by found on my blog http://jacknorton.org

Please read the following before viewing your grades or emailing.

  1. Final grades are due by faculty on May 16th at noon to the Registrar. I will submit your grades sometime before that.
  2. I will soon switch D2L from showing blanks in the gradebook as null values (not calculated) to registering those as zeros. I do this after I've complete the major grading (see above).
  3. Data errors (as in, "I submitted that assignment and can see it in the Assignment Submission folder, how come there's no grade?") are easy to fix and I welcome your emails.
  4. 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.
  5. Your class citizenship grades are based on your participation in discussions and respectful behavior towards other students.
  6. I am willing to discuss individual assignments, but not the final course grade. Please consider your communication carefully when asking for regrading.
  7. My grading scale is a standard 60-69 = D, 70-79 = C, 80-89 = B, and 90-100 = A. D2L will only allow me to round at .51, so that's what I will. 89.51 is an A, 89.50 is a B.
  8. I own all the grades (it's a weird college thing) 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 form to change it, and I can change it 5 minutes, 5 weeks, or 5 years after it's been submitted.
  9. 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, ability, or my afinity for you. Grades reflect what you turned in, and only that.
  10. Thank you for a wonderful semester. I will continue responding to emails, I just wanted to get this grade post up before the weekend.

2017_05_10 Peer reviews are graded. I thought most advice was actionable and honest. The biggest holes in the outlines were called out, so I hope folks took those suggestions seriously. Good luck finalizing your exhibits!

2017_05_08 Class citizenship grade

One of your last grades in the course is called "Class Citizenship." I assign this grade based on my evaluation of your actions in our course. In public, a good citizen is courteous to others, contributes to community efforts, and shows up for community events. In our course, a good citizen treats others in the course with respect, participates fully in our discussions, and turns in work that honors her/his own intelligence. So, I reflect on your discussions, your treatment of others, your attendance in person and in assignments, and I then assign a grade. Overall it's a small grade, yet it allows me to give credit to those who do the hard work of citizenship.

2017_05_05 The Survey of Instruction (sometimes called the student evaluation of the course) is avaialable now under quizzes on D2L. It is available until next Friday at 8 p.m.

2017_05_01 Feedback and grades for all the outlines are done.

Here is the most common thesis: The Industrial Revolution/Slave Trade/Religion had a major impact on world/U.S. history. That may be true, but you couldn't prove that thesis with six sources. For history, a thesis needs to be provable (you can argue that chocolate is the best ice cream, but it's not provable); non-obvious (the sky is blue when there are no clouds and the sun is out), and chronologically and thematically specific (arguing that socks are an important force in world history doesn't tell us when or help us understand a theme).

So, while the grades for this assignment were strong, students have a lot of work to do to get stronger theses. Chose one, interesting part of your topic, and look for sources on that. Nicholas is look at railroads in the Industrial Revolution. Joel is looking at one campaign in a larger war.

On sources, let's review that all sources must have all four characteristics to be credible. There must be a credible publication (no material for children, including high school students- it excludes sex and violence); have been published by a credible institution (an institution is an organization that is has a specific mission); have cited, credible sources (pictures and quotations needs full citations), and have named, credible authors. PISA. If you learn nothing else in this class, learn this test for how to tell CREDIBLE from NONCREDIBLE sources. PISA, PISA, PISA! (Serioiusly, you won't remember my name in 5 years, but if you can sort credible information, your family, your coworkers, even your neighbors will like you more).

2017_05_01 Maps 2 is graded. Students did a uniformly good job with the assignment. Accurately representing the thesis of a map challenged some, though most were up for the challenge.

Your peer review will be in our discussions this week. You can claim a partner that has not already been claimed. Put your partner's name in a post in Week 16 and return to post your review when you've complete it.

So that those who were not able to finish by Friday at 8 pm, I've reopened last week's discussion. An outline submitted after the due date will still be late, but you will be able to participate in the peer reviews.

I will give feedback on outlines today.

As the final week of the semester rolls out, be kind to yourself in your work, life, and family.

2017_04_26 I’ve been fielding emails and discussion board questions over the past week, and am pleased to see students working hard to find good topics, sound thesis, and useful sources. A question I get at the end of the semester (and have for many years, regardless of textbook, essay, or exam) is: why is putting together the final project so hard?

Every writer answers this question in their own way. From my perspective, there are two big issues. One, original, critical thought that results in an intellectual interesting project is hard. There are stops and starts, pauses for clarifications, frustrations. That is all part of the writing and creating process. Very little worth doing is easy. See also love, marriage, careers, service to others, parenting, playing music or sports.

My second thought, and this is distinctive to the last two years of my courses, is that digital history requires mastering three areas: the content (knowledge about the past), the digital tools (how to use websites, databases), and historical argumentation (how to read, criticize, and create historical arguments). An average Minnesotan may think history is just dates, people, and places. As you’ve seen, history is much more. We have to find and interrogate sources, often with digital tools. Those same tools are used across the work world.

When it comes to the digital, people often believe they are wizards and witches—capable of conjuring the right combination to produce fantastic results— or complete dunces-- convinced that computers hate them. My experience is that students display uneven expertise with digital materials, great with some tools and skills, challenged with others. Certainly this current generation of students must learn to navigate a greater number of tools and skills than previous generations did. You may be feeling frustrations your parents did not because the work you have to do is harder. (And yes, you can send you folks to me and I'll argue that to them face-to-face:)

And there’s the rub: at the end of the semester, having done so much work, you are being asked to do one more thing that demonstrates you know about the past, how to use tools, and how to argue a point. In contrast, AP history courses the country over spend the last week’s reviewing just content, and how to create an essay that will earn a 5 on the AP exam. As those of you in the workforce know, no one is going to pay you to write an essay comparing and contrasting the economic blah, blah, blah of country X, Y, and Z. You’re ability to find credible information, analyze it, and present it will define your career, not your ability to recite the dates of the Muslim invasion of India or the fall of the Aztecs.

I’m proud of the work you have done and are doing, and I want to keep hearing your constructive questions. Several students have asked why I teach history as I do, and that’s a different post. I will write this: I teach on the open web. Every typo, every failure, the good, the bad, even this post, is public. I do that for reasons I’ll tell you about later. That said, I do not take my willingness to share my materials or to acknowledge needs for clarification or outright failures as weakness. Being open to criticism (within reason) is a sign of respect to those I teach, not an indication I am doing something wrong.

See you on the discussion boards!
2017_04_21 Conversations 2 graded. I missed my 10 day limite for Conversations 2, so that grade is curved by 6% (3 days late). I was impressed with many of the analyses in conversations 2. Several folks encountered temporary or long-standing difficulties with logging in. At the first sign of a problem, let me know. Sometimes I can trouble shoot, sometimes I just reset or resend something.

I've graded the colonialism in Africa discussion as well. My only comment is that historians, while valuing nuance, are not Dickensian in our approach. Dickens wrote in a A Tale of Two Cities that "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . . " For historians, we have to make an argument based on the evidence. To take an "all sides are equally valid" approach, as Dickens did, does not serve us well. In the example of colonialism, pointing to the overwhelming problems of colonialism (coerced labor of native groups, usurpation of native government systems, systematic destruction of religions and cultures, theft of natural resources) while pointing to the minor benefits (railroads) was strong analysis. Noting "there was some good to colonialism and some bad" skips over some huge issues of exploitation.

Many of those issues of exploitation are being taken up this week in our discussion, which has been fairly robust. Well done!

2017_04_10 Conversations 1 is graded. Reviewing what is credible as a source for this class is worth doing now. A credible source has a credible publication. That is, the form and format of the source is of a type we would expect to find credible information. A blog post by a middle schooler on the industrial revolution (the most commonly cited site) is not credile because the publication is not credible. Neither would a blog by the Met Museum targeted at children be credible. Credible publications can produce sources that are not credible for this class.

I: A credible institution is means there is some organization that is willing to stand behind a source as say this is legitimate. One the primary failures of social media is the lack of credible institutions, as so much is self-published. Without an institituion's backing, we often must rely on the institution of the author.

S: Sources. For a source to be credible, it has to be cited (where did it get its information, when, what museum) and be or use primary sources, which are cited. Lots of blogs have pictures of kids who look like they're woking in factories. When, where, under what conditions? Pinterest and twitter are filled with fokls throwing up pictures. Finding folks who properly cite is tough, but worth it.

A: Credible authors have expertise. They have degrees in the relevant subject matter. You wouldn't trust a doctor without knowing their credentials, don't trust people's writing unless their credentials line up with their expertise. This is important with history because a person who can't read the historical language is relying on another's interpretation.

That's the PISA crediblity test. If you memorize and apply it to this class and when evaluating information, you'll never fall for fake news (or bullshit in general.)

A bunch of students found wonderful sources and almost all summarized sources well.

2017_04_03 I am away from Normandale and won't be able to hold office hours today. I will respond to emails as usual.

2017_04_02 Numbers 2 is graded. On the whole, very strong work. More than half the class included some sort of statement indicating they condemned slavery as practiced in the 16-19th centuries. Yes, I agree slavery is a moral evil, but as a historian, I don't start my analysis from a moral statement. To understand slavery, or any morally repugnant practice, we need to acknowledge it evil and create a parallel analysis that is not driven by the immorality. As an exteme hypothetical, if I wrote a paragraph and stated that I had no idea the scope of the mortality issues, or the numbers of slaves transported and that I was saddened by this new knowledge, that is not analysis. Not knowing something and then reflecting on new knowledge is useful as a learning process, but it doesn't help us understand knolwedge in a new way.

Building on new knowledge, as many did, can be useful. For example, most noted that the American Civil war resulted in a dramatic but temporary lull in the slave trade. As a result, we might conclude that the slave trade did not depend on the colonial system, as new states in the Americas (both north and south) all embraced the slave trade with equal zeal.

For this coming week, I'll be away from campus on Monday, so there will be no office hours. Your invitation from WordPress will come tonight to you Normandale email. You must accept the invitation, create an account, and then go to our common Normandale History blog to post. If you create your own blog, I can't see (or grade it).

2017_03_27 Numbers 1 is graded (just under my self-imposed 10 day rule). Two quick notes: the drop in mortality world-wide in 1917 was the result of an influenza pandemic. Bullets and bombs only kills locally: a world-wide population dip has to be disease related.

On the question of mortality in a hypothetical village, the correct answer was no, you did not need to worry. You could draw this conclusion in a couple of ways. Some students noted the mode of 1, which dragged the mean down. In a more sophisticated analysis, some noted that by surviving to 34, the ages of people to that age no longer mattered. So, to get your possible life span, you'd average all of the remaining mortality ages (above 35). One student correctly identified the start difference between the median and the mean (18 and 35.) as an indicator of the mean's value.

On to Numbers 2 for my grading. See you on the discussion board.

2017_03_22 With apologies, my office hours are cancelled today as I am home with a sick kid. I am on email and encourage you to contact me with any questions.

2017_03_21 A quick note on last weeks Gapminder work. The dip in 1917 is NOT deaths from combat, but due to a world wide flu pandemic. Bullets can only kills locally, but pathogens kill globally. Now go wash your hands 🙂

2017_03_14 A few notes on grades:

Time 1 The best answers for this assignment followed some version of this format: "I believe X for the following specific reasons that I tie directly to the timelines." In general, the more you can show me of how your reach your conclusions, the easier time I have for giving you credit for your analysis.

Time 2 A couple of students did either the Knight Timeline or the paragraph analysis, but not both. That hurt some grades. The best answers tied the paragraphs to the Knight Timeline theme to the prompts in the assignment. A couple of students shared links to timelines that I could not access because the spreadsheet hadn't been published.

Images 1 Some rippingly good analysis in these assignments. The best analysis offered a conclusion (I believe this museum's collection could support a book because of its wide-ranging collection of relgious paintings) followed by an example. "For example" and "such as" are historians go to words to demonstrating what we know. For example, "1492 CE included a variety of historically important events, such as the expulsion of Muslims rulers from Spain, the expulsion of Jews from Spain, and the arrival of Cristobol Colon in the Americas."

Images The analysis was mostly good in these assignments. There is a tendency of almost everyone to rely on what they know of a religion, rather than investigate what images actually reveal about historical religious practice. Relying on existing knowledge can be tricky because that often leads to ill-supported arguments, such as "this image shows Buddha being venerated, so it must be orthodox because people practiced Buddhism." Relying on existing knowledge can also lead to theological arguments that aren't historical. For example, any argument that starts with "religious figure X helps us understand God's love for us" is theological not historical. Historians don't claim to know god. It's not that historians as professionals do not believe in god. Rather, the way we look at change over time across socieites means we ask questions of how people at the time thought events progressed. If people at the time thought god did something, it's our job to document that belief, not confirm or deny it.

There were also a bunch of students who treated artwork created in the 16-18th centuries as a primary source of of before the common era (BCE). Generally, we use art to tell us about the period in which it was created. Rarely, and very carefully, we can use art to consider the period depicted, especially if the period depicted is close to the period in which the art was created. For example, a picture of Mary and Jesus in the 17th century tells us about what that Christian painter in the 17th century thought of the Mary/Jesus relationship, not what Mary or Jesus looked like or how they interacted (we have no primary source accounts of Jesus talking with Mary).

Rough semester? (me too) So, I took Spring Break to catch up with grading. From here until the end of the semester, I'll grade your big assignments in 10 days or fewer. For every day beyond 10, I'll curve the score 2%. I do this both as self-motivation, but also so that you know you'll be getting regular and consistant feedback as we get closer to the end of the semester. As a reminder, a "0" means I can't see your assignment, not that I thought your submitted work was worth a "0."

On a personal note, one disadvantage of online education is that you can't see me and I can't see you. If you're having a particularly hard time, I don't see it in your face. Likewise, in this, arguably the hardest semester I've had didn't include the birth of a child, I am struggling. By my count, my household has had 7 separate head colds, two cases of norovirus, and one case of the flu- in two months. I got most of the illnesses, save the norovirus and flue, but couldn't take more than a day away. I look forward to a less ill and more robust second half of our semester. 🙂

2017_03_08 A brief note on discussions (check back later this week for a longer post on the rest of the semester). Overall discussions are going well. Most students offer sound analysis, citing historical sources and respond to others fully and respectfully. There are a couple of great posts practices I'd like to hightlight:

  • Many students start with an idea/opinion, tie that idea to the readings, and then draw a conclusion. This process generally takes at least 4 sentences, meaning readers get a strong understanding of what the writer is thinking.
  • Likewise, finishing a post with a call out to another student or a question that is open ended and historically specific is useful. For example "I found the evolving notions of property ownership in country X to show how property was tied to gender and class. Are there other ideas that are tied up gender and class the way property rights are?"
  • Posting each post individually. By posting each of your posts as a separate post, you enable students to respond to one idea. Much like someone asking you four questions, posting too much in one entry can exhaust the reader.
  • Posting once early in the week, checking in midweek, and then conclusing on Friday yields the best conversations. Jumping in Friday and dropping three post in 20 minutes generally yields, well, less-than-well-considered entries.

2017_03_02 My apologies for my limited presences on the discussion boards this week. My wife was sick in bed last weekend through Monday, and no sooner did she return to health, but my son came down with norovirus. So, I'm awash in bleach and pepto-bismal.

On a more pleasant note, next week is Spring break. So, your quiz will not be this weekend, but in a week. I hope to take the week to return my family to health and catch up on all my grading.

Stay healthy friends.

2017_02_16 A video explainer of how to do the Knightlab Timeline assignment.

2017_02_13 I created a "How to create a Knight Lab Timeline" document. The instructions at Knight Lab are equally as good, only they don't include how to post to D2L. PLEASE NOTE: The Knight Lab Timeline can be finicky. You may need to switch browsers or turn off adblock or pop-up blockers for it to work. Knight Lab is a Northwestern University project and a trustworthy website.

2017_02_08 Gettings your attention: a significant number of students still have not done the plagiarism assignment. If I don't have an email from the site or from you indicating you've completed the quiz, you now have a "0." If you don't want a zero, please do the tutorial. If you've done the tutorial and have a zero, send me the email the site sent you indicating your score. This is the last notice I will post on this assignment. You can still get full credit, and I want to give it to you, but I need evidence you've done the tutorial.

2017_02_06 A minor edit: I fixed the wording on the when the quizzes are do to consistantly read "(Open Thursday at noon until Sunday at 8 p.m.) in the Schedule. I've also decide to launch a bug bounty, to reward students who find bugs in the course.

2017_02_06 Bootcamp II graded. I'm impressed by the work ethic of most of the class. Lots of well-considered and well-written answers. For your information, Ghiselin made lots of arguments about merit in the Ottoman empire because he felt, as the out-of-wedlock child of a noble, he had been excluded from his rightful positions of power. I hinted at this in the prompt, but didn't spell it out.

One caution: agreeing with a viewpoint is not the same as understanding the historical viewpoint. We are all foreigners in the land of the past. Proceed with caution.

2017_02_02 Crap. Nicholas pointed out that the D2L Assignment Submission Folder indicates that Words II is due next Friday. That's wrong, it should read this Friday, in keeping with our one assignment a week schedule. I don't know why the date is wrong, but it's my fault. So, to give everyone time to turn in the assignment, I've adjusted it to Sunday night at 8 p.m. I don't want the assignment to bleed into next week, but I do want to give everyone enough time to do it. My apologies.

2017_02_01 My apologies, but I will not be at school or able to answer emails until tonight. I'm sick, my daughter is sick, and our nanny is sick and out. I will answer emails and discussion board questions tonight once the household has gone to bed.

2017_01_31 I graded the plagiarism tutorials of those who submitted them. If you haven't completed the tutorial, or completed it and didn't include my email, please go here. Completing any of the quizzes (and including my email) gets you full credit.

On the discussions, please atttend to the total posts required. I list the total number of posts you need to get full credit right up top and then give prompts. I'm not always going to script the whole discussion, so I might ask for a specific 1st post but your remaining posts are your own, to respond to others or second your own thoughts.

One last logistitcal note, there is an assignment submission folder with a date for every week. I put those folders there for three reasons. One, so students can see an exact time and date for all assignments. Two, as a place to submit some but not all assignments. Three, as a backup place to submit assignments. D2L date stamps everything, so if you submit something before the due date, I can see that it's on time. You might not get credit for correctly doing the assignment (Omeka assignments for example only require you save your work) but I can at least see what you've done when you've done. I think of it as a safety mechanism for assignments.

2017_01_30 I'm a bit behind in grading, mostly as my kids keep getting sick- nothing dramatic - but dads don't get days off. I hope to catch up tomorrow. For your information, I changed the art work link in week 5 discussion 2. It previously had a picture of George Washington and I found something more chronologically suitable.

I have been honored to get to know many students during my time at Normandale, including many students from Somali families (more than half our students of color at Normandale are from Somali families). If you are Somalian or from one of the other countries affected by the recent presidential executive order and would like to talk, I am here. I can just listen or connect you with support services. For the record, Normandale and MN State do not discriminate on the basis of religion or national origin. Whatever else is going on in the world, in my courses, the most important identity is student.

2017_01_19 Our nanny is out today so I need to be dad for most of the business day. That means no office hours today. I will respond to emails and participate in the discussions tonight.

2017_01_16 A note on grading and D2L. The D2L gradebook is how I record your grades. I do this mostly with rubrics, which are grading score sheets with a range options, much like a survey (How well did you like your recent latte at Starbucks, 1 = Yuck, 5 = Dreamy). Only our rubrics will focus on you learning (Student demonstrated an understanding of the role of religion in Ming Dynasty (1 = Still working on it, 5 = Totally nailed it).

The gradebook in D2L has a tons of settings and features and I've dealt with 97% of them before. That said, there are going to be times that the gradebook doesn't reflect your grade perfectly. For example, when I grade an assignment, I may have time to only grade half a class, or half and assignment. If you check in at a moment when I'm only 1/2 done with something, it's going to look wrong. My pledge to you is to keep the gradebook up to date. What I need from you is a good faith effort to recognize that the gradebook is a dynamic document, not always-perfect reflection of all-things related to our class grades. It is both a spreadsheet for me, and the checking-in place for you, and there are times when need to work in the spreadsheet, which compromises the checking-in nature of the tool for you.

It's better that you can check your grades, rather than you and me keeping grades separately and comparing during the semester. That said, please note the dual nature of the gradebook (grading tool for me and grade displaying tool for you) makes it complicated.

Video Intro to our Course

2017_01_05- Your quiz, which opens Thursday and closes Sunday is for the reading for the week to follow. Thus, I quiz you on your reading for the week ahead, not the week we just finished. Why? I want our conversations and work to be informed by the evidence. If I quiz at the end of the week, some students won't read until just before the quiz, making our discussions, well, less-than-useful. So, week two's reading is that which I will grade on for the quiz that closes Sunday. Make sense?

Plain text and using Markdown: I ask that you write your papers in a plain text format. Whatever software you want to use is up to you. Every piece of writing software can save as .txt , which is plain text. Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, Wordpad, Notepad, Scribe, Markdown Editor, dilinger.io all save as plain text.

If you want to format your text (bold, itallics, insert a link or a citation) I ask that you use what is called Markdown. Markdown uses several common marks to format. There is no "extra" code behind your document, which is unlike almost all other software. In MS Word, there's a huge amount of code behind your document that includes the font, font size, margins, page width, color, spacing, and even language. For 98% of what you do for this class, you don't need all that stuff. I'm asking you to write words, and using plain text with Markdown lets you do that. You can also write a text file on any device, using any software meant for writing, including lots of good free apps.

This system has two other benefits: A: plain text files (which are sometimes saves as .md or .markdown but are still just text) are as close to future and past proof as we have. Every computer since 1960 could read a .txt file and every computer until we die will be able to read it. So, we're writing as historians in a format will be durable. B:. Writing in Markdown allows you to publish to the web easily and without knowing how to code. Most of the web is in a code called html (hyper-text markup language). Given the importance of the web, I want to train all my students in skills they can use beyond my classroom, regardless of their careers. Using a writing format that lets you pivot from college writing to writing for the web just makes sense given how important the internet is to modern life (and jobs).

To get you up to speed on how to use Markdown, please read this (very) brief intro and complete a 10-minute tutorial.

When you write your Bootcamp II assignment, save as .txt or .md (also called .mdown or .markdown). You can use whatever software you have on your computer to write, or explore other options. Dillinger.io show you what your Markdown document looks like instantly, much like the tutorial. Other apps (such as Markdown Edit for Windows or MacDown can also show you your finished document as you compose.

Dates I use dates in the year.month.day format. It's called the ISO 8601 standard. I use it because you can't mess it up (is it month first, year first?, is this paper I'm reading written by a Candadian?) and it corresponds with how most digital history tools that we'll use measure dates. Should you wish, you can add hours, minutes, seconds and miliseconds. 2016_08_23_20_45_23_12 is the 23rd of August, 2016 at 8:45 PM 23 seconds, 12 miliseconds past the minute. Geeky?, yes. Better than other systems- you betcha.