World History 2 (1102) Online

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2019-12-20: All grades submitted
Please read the following before viewing your grades or emailing me.

  1. Final grades are posted and accurate in D2L.

  2. I haved switched D2L from showing blanks in the gradebook as null values (not calculated) to registering those as zeros.

  3. 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.

  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 consultations, reflections, and respectful behavior towards other students. I also look at attendance for face-to-face 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. I round at .56. So, a 79.56 is a B and a 79.55 is a C.

  8. 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.

  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, effort, ability, or my afinity for you. Grades reflect what you turned in, and only that.

  10. Thank you for a wonderful semester. My out-of-office email reply is on, but I will respond to students as soon as possible.

2019-12-20: Experiment 16 Graded

There were a range of topics and strengths in this assignment. The strongest assignments tied a clear, non-obvious thesis to specific evidence with two, carefully organized paragraphs. Less strong assignments did not mention specific periods, or use credible sources. Several students chose topics outside our course period, and those assignments earned as many points as could be given, but grading something that is not our course is taught.

I'm still pushing to finish grading well before the December 24 deadline, so stay tuned.

2019-12-17: Experiment 15 graded

The quality of the articles chosen and summaries you provided was very high for Experiment 15. I particularly appreciated the analytical distance that the class maintained, allowing the secondary source authors to speak for themselves. Well done.

2019-12-17: Experiments 13 and 14 Graded

Experiments 13 and 14 have been graded. The biggest issue with 13 was students posting to the correct group and using a name I recognized. If you have a "0" for Experiment 13 and did it, please contact me so we can discuss your work.

Experiment 14 was largely good. The strongest answers to the AfricaMap questions had specific examples, such as "I note that large portions of the Mediterranean sea switched from Ottoman to Western European control between 1800 to 1900 CE."

I'm doing nothing but grading now, so I hope the rest of your finals are going well. Final grades must be posted by December 24th at noon and I leave my D2L courses open until Normandale deletes them in two years, so you'll have access to both your grades and your work.

2019-12-10: Closing Quiz 15 and Opening Quiz 16 graded

For the Qing emperor print question, the fact that the emperor commissioned the print calls into question its reliablity. Note: this question was bonus on this quiz.

For the quiz, the site name is a humorous reference to the fact that many people think Africa is a country. The left-leaning perspective could be found in the "About" page. I chose this page because your basic SIFT analysis won't work, you need to trace sources deeper. Many students did, to accurate effect.

NOTE: If I had evidence that the readings change messed with your quiz score, I zeroed out your first attempt.

2019-12-6: Experiment 12 graded and next week

Students universally summarized well. Many students cited websites created for National History Day projects or blog projects by high schoolers. While those blogs may have cited sources, they were still written by high school students, who are not experts. More concerning were the blogs that had sources but no authors. Unsigned work is almost always not-credible only because we can't evaluate the author's credibility.

Your final assignment will be available on Monday and will be due the following Monday at 8 p.m. It will about the same size of an assignment as you normally complete, but you will have atypical control over the topic and tools you use.

2019-12-5 Opening Quiz 15 graded

I am thrilled that so many students have sophisticated and accurate SIFT processes. The image of Baartman, Sheridan, and Heath could have multiple historical significances. Students argued that the picture illuminates the continuing racism of the British at a time their parliament was debating the end of the slave trade. Others noted that the racist depiction of Baartman was actually in the service of a political commentary on the rise of George IV following George III's mental health failures. Many of you found professional writings to support your SIFT process.

2019-12-5: Reflections grade

Reflections are up to date. Recall that the highest grade you can receive is 70/70.

Perhaps like you, I am tired at this point in the semester especially as my support for students takes on urgency for those who are close to failing. Please be kind to your fellow students (and faculty) as we all make the big push to finish out the year.

2019-12-2: Experiment 15 Available

Experiment 15 is available. Please post questions in your consultation as this assignment is different than others your have done.

2019-11-29: Experiment 11 Graded

Strong answers to questions that asked for facts from the database. In contrast, the analysis in the final question was generally weak. For example, many students restated answers to questions I had asked in the assignment, such as the total number of slaves. As well, a number of students spent a couple of sentences condemning the atrocity of slavery. Perhaps this was the first time you'd considered the awfulness of the slave trade: I can imagine that would be a situation that generates strong feelings. It's true that slavery was/is an atrocity, but that simple conclusion doesn't advance our knowledge of the system, nor is that conclusion based on the database: we (historians) knew slavery was terrible before looking at the numbers. There were great answers mixed in, such as answers that placed the database numbers in context, such as what the slave trade meant to a region (such as the Caribbean or the U.S. South) or in the context of global capitalism.

I did not grade on the following, but I need to call it out so you can recognise this problematic argument when you see it again. The argument runs that slavery was bad morally, but great for the U.S. economy. This argument only works if you exclude enslaved peoples as relevant historical actors, and part of the "U.S. economy." If everyone is included in a common economy then no unfree labor system - including chattel slavery, labor taxes as existed in the Spanish empire, serfdom in Eurasia, or peasants tied to their land in Asia - will be considered "doing well." That argument that the economy is divorced from the people producing the value of the goods and service in the economy is a failed idea from multiple sectors, including the fields of history and economics.

If you'd like to read more about attempts to address this issue, a quick search on "Gini Coefficient" will yield useful readings from the early 20th century (subject to your usual SIFT process- of course).


Reflection grades are up to date. Students who have earned a 5 each week and contributed all the entries will see a 100% as they have earned the full 70 points possible.

2019-11-20: Experiment 10 Assessed

Overall a very strong assignment for the class. A couple of notes on the questions:

  1. The dip in life expectancy in 1917 is due to the influenza pandemic. Generally wars, in the pre-nuclear era, aren't big enough to produce a world-wide dip in the life expectancy rate.

  2. Logarithmic scales increase exponentially, linear scales increase arithmetically. So, the spread of disease is logarithmic, first one infection, then 2, then 4, then 8, then 16, then 32, 64, 128 . . . Linear scales are just 1 + 1 + 1 + 1. Some data displays better with linear, some data displays better with log scales: it depends.

  3. You should not be scared of dying at 34 based on the example. One, death rates of a particular year are not probability rates of death. Two, you can best understand that death rates are not probability rates by considering how the mode (all those 1s).

Please note that next week's due dates are all pushed back to Friday to account for the holiday.

2019-11-20: Link for

The link for our online group is .

2019-11-19: Reflections grade updated

Reflection grades are up-to-date. I encourage your continued robust reflection on your learning. Your reflection helps cement learning gains you make during the week and offer me useful insight into what is working and not working for you.

2019-11-14: Closing Quiz 11 and Opening Quiz 12

For question 6 on Closing 11, proficient answers included both the correct facts (2 and 4) and explained how the argument of a slave owner who represented slave owners might make not be credible. The slave trades end in 1808 is not relevant to the reliability of his argument, which was Fact 1 as he does not mention it.

For question 6 on closing 6, students are doing a great job of starting with the W's and then asking contextual questions that tie the source to the larger history of industrialization. It was not clear from the answers that all students looked at the link. If an answer asked "when was this picture created" that indicated to me a student may not have been done a full analysis.

2019-11-8: Experiment 9 Graded

Pretty wildly diverging assignments, but overall some concerning analysis. Those students who attended to what was happening in history either when the art was produced or when the subject in the art lived did best. Not referencing actual historical events (with dates) makes it hard for me to assess you historical thinking. For example, a 17th century painting of the death of the historical Jesus is likely a poor reflection of the material conditions of the first century eastern Mediterranean, where Jesus lived.

Several rhetorical errors cropped up; see if you can spot them in this hypothetical example: "Religious figure X is depicted in this painting, therefore this painting tells us that religious figure X was important to all people who practiced this religion in exactly the same way at all times." There are millions of different ways to depict humans, so the presence of religious figure, especially the founder of a religion, in art is not in itself terribly historically significant. As well, people expressed themselves religiously in different ways at different times, partly because the art techniques changed. The best answers to this experiment attended to that change, referencing, for example, how a particular artists background influenced his choice of his subject.

Monday is Veteran's Day: please thank a veteran (and please recognize that active duty service members are not veterans.) Veterans have volunteered to stand between citizens and harm, and one needn't espouse a particular politics to recognize the sacrifice of the service.

2019-11-1: Experiment 8 Graded

I've assessed Experiment 8. Overall, strong reviews of museum collections. In the summaries of the collection I was looking for students to note the geographical, temporal, and (if relevant) thematic organization of the collections. For example, this museum had many 12-14th century coins from India and China, but very few painting from those countries. When it came to evaluating historical significance, I was looking for an evaluative statement about the collection, such as "this collection contains mostly small devotional materials that everyday people used, that may not reflect the larger beliefs of the time." Anything that indicated you evaluated how the collections is historically significant earned higher marks.

On the question of using your collection for a book, student answers that included specific examples were the strongest. General statements, such as "yes, this collection contains a lot of information for a book" were less clear than "a writer could use the paintings in this collection to understand different Buddhist sects in India during the 18th century."

2019-10-25: Still sick(but trying)

I'm still pretty sick, but am trying to grade and post as much as I can. Thank you for your patience as I climb out of this illness.

2019-10-24: Reflections

I brought the reflections grades up to date. This class is largely crushing this assignment with thoughtful, full-expressed considerations of what you are learning, struggling with, and interested in. There's a minimum of "I understand everything" and a great deal of "I knew x and y but z got me thinking about whether or not all religions had mythic river stories, which led me to investigate. . . " Keep up the great, honest, work.

2019-10-24: Closing 8 and Opening 9 quizzes graded

For closing 8, the sixth question centered on religious intolerance in 1700 CE. Attending to the "w's" (who, what, where, why, how) was the first step. Missing from many students' answers was any reference to actual history in the world in 1700. You know about the Protestant/Catholic/Orthodox split and the Sunni/Shia split from your readings. Any mention of actual history, including the early American colonial period, struggles in S. Asia between Muslims and Hindus or struggles between colonial groups (Spain, England) and native groups in the Americas all earned higher scores.

For opening 9, your research should have turned up that the pictures is from 1600, not 1595, that it is from Afghanistan, not Ankara, and that there is no Christian element to the painting. You might also have noted from your quiz that this painting includes human figures, which is controversial in some western Islamic art traditions.

On opening 9, you now have the research and credilibty skills to investigate primary sources that I show you. You can expect similar types of questions in the future as this type of question draws on your knowledge of history, your ability to apply the SIFT process, and your ability to draw conclusions.

2019-10-23: Continued absence

I beg your further indulgence as I am still a bit feverish. Minneapolis public schools ask kids not to come back to school until they are 24 hours post-fever, which seems like a good model.

I will be absent Thursday, 2019-10-24, from Normandale.

The Closing quiz 9 and Opening quiz 10 are now posted. Apologies for the 4 hour delay. There will be no 6th question this week as those take significant time and effort to find relevant sources and craft brief but illustrative questions.

2019-10-22: Out sick

With apologies, I am home sick with my son: we're both sick. I've lost my voice all together so email is definitely my friend. I'll try to return to campus Thursday.


2019-10-18: Experiment 7 Graded

Some fantastic posts this week: I encourage you to go back to the Experiment 7 discussion board to see some of the strong historical thinking evidenced there. The best pieces tied their themes tightly to the chosen sources, showing specifically how source A, B, C, and D related to the theme. Some chose to talk about sources without specifically tying those sources to the argument, which is less effective.

Students made similarly strong arguments in arguing for being a girl in 1600 or 1800 India or China. Again, showing why based on your specific sources showed a stronger command of the material.

2019-10-14: Opening Quiz 8 did not have feedback

Basic: Student searched internet for the words, and related the words to some theological teachings.
Developing: Student searched the internet for the words, and related the words to a specific theological idea related in the readings.
Proficient: Student correctly identified the words as song lyrics, and offered a tie between specific words and a specific religion.

The original song is from a group known as The Indigo Girls who use abundant metaphors. There was no right answer, only those that made stronger or weaker arguments tying the lyrics to specific religious beliefs as articulated by your readings. Several students seemed to take the lyrics personally, wrting about how the words revealed something about their personal belief, using first person plural "we," or "us." As we are discussing historical religions, contemporary belief is not terribly useful and can obscure the nuance of historical belief.

2019-10-12: Experiment 5 graded

Wow was that a great assignment: students produced fantastic analysis. The questions students asked of the texts showed strong historical thinking. Some of the conlcusions drawn from the word choices were less strong, which is to be expected given the introductory nature of this assignment. Voyant is a new tool and I don't expect you to build beautiful new knowledge structures with tools you just learned. In contrast to the uneven word-based conclusions, the research that students did with articles was outstanding. Asking authentic and interesting questions of the texts and finding articles to ground your hypothesis was inspiring for me to read.

A number of folks did not indicate they had filtered out stop words. You likely did it, but if I can't see it, I can't give credit for it. The "grading criteria" in the assignment are all in the rubric, but the analysis and writing is given greater weight (points) and the technical skills receive fewer points.

2019-10-9: D2L Housekeeping

I did some late-Wednesday-night D2L housekeeping with quizzes. Scores should be accurate through today now.

For music fans, I learned of a conert festival and industry workshop series calle A3c. The tickets are spendy (and I'm not here to have fun), but there's some interesting sessions on hip-hop journalism and music marketing. FYI for folks going into music or hospitality.

2019-10-7: Closing quiz 6 and opening quiz 7 graded

The question on rural life in India had answers of various strengths. The strongest answers asked "W" questions (who, what, when, where, how, and historical significance). For example, referencing the 1876 of 1899 famine and whether it was before or after 1858 when the British government took over direct colonial rule.

The question on The Tale of Genji resulted in weaker answers. Answers seemed to indicate that students did not look up what The Tale of Genji was, or when it was published. All of the responses only focused on what was in the picture, and did not apply any of the SIFT techniques we used in the first couple weeks. Adding wikipedia would have told you that The Tale of Genji was published around 1000 CE, and remains a formative novel in Japanese literature. Answers that incorporated the 700 year difference between when the painting was created and when the story was written were stronger. Answers that recognized that the painting was responding to a story, and not attempting to capture realistic view of Japanese life, also demonstrated competence.

A student asked me how much one needs to answer to get full credit for quiz questions. I cannot imagine an answer that would get full credit with fewer than three sentences and that references the prompt, the historical context of the prompt, and the readings for the week (even if implicitly.)

2019-10-4: Week 7 For Your Information

On Wednesday, October 9th I'll be heading to Atlanta to present at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. You can see my a description of my talk here.

All of your grades will be the same, and the due dates for your assignments will not change. I will continue to answer questions and converse with you on the discussion boards as usual.

My face-to-face course will not meet on Thursday, but will turn in their work normally.

I have made the assignment for this week straight forward technically.

I am adding an office hour on Tuesday from 1-2 p.m.

2019-09-27 I'll get next week's Experiment up asap. The end of this week has found me bringing our grading to current. Great reflections being submitted: good writing and careful thought on what you are learning.

2019-09-26: Experiement 4 Assessed
I've assessed Experiment 4. Overall, the paragraphs were strong, more in their writing than in their argumentation. Please note that I give you the learning goals for the assignment, and will grade you on what I identify as learning goals.

The biggest analytical challenge students faced was drawing a tentative conclusion without overstating their evidence. For example, Shakespeare used the words for kings, lords, and ladies far more than peasants, serfs, and indigent (poor). The difference between the two word sets suggests he focussed his plays on the elites. The differences between the two words sets does not give us evidence that Shakespeare hated the poor, or he himself was rich or poor. Word counts can hint at possible explanations, but are rarely conclusive evidence.

Gloria's post is very strong if you're looking for a model.

I plan to be most rigorous in grading with your experiments, so you should expect your experiment grades to be lower than your other grades.

2019-09-23 Closing Quiz 4 and Opening Quiz 5

I've graded question 6 on both quizzes. Closing Quiz 4 had relatively strong answers, with students clearly identifying some combination of historical issues, such as the context in which fiction is produce, the motivations of the author, the sources the author used, and the author's life experience that shape how to use fiction when studying the past. Answers that included something like "it's fiction, so it can't be totally trusted, but it's written in the past, so it tells us alot" needed more evidence.

The opening quiz 5 had a wider range of answers. The relative differences between the selected words doesn't provide us great evidence. Students that used phrases such as "the evidence suggests," or "these word patterns might point out" had stronger answers. Students that made hard conclusions, such as "China in the 16th century cared about food, England cared about emotions," needed more evidence.

The other issue to consider is that not all nouns are used to refer to real objects. Food can be a metaphor or sybmol of something else, especially in a text that includes religious discussions.

Congratulations to the student who correctly noted that Don Quijote and Journey to the West are both travel narratives. As anyone who has ever taken a long trip before can relate, "what are we going to eat next" can be a recurring conversation.

2019-09-18 Experiments 1,2, & 3 graded
Experiments 1 and 2 were graded credit/no credit. Students did strong work with robust answers for those two assignments. Experiment 3 had two levels: 9.5 and 9. Those who earned a 9.5 included significant metadata, including metadata that was not originally included in the article, and gave a robust answer to why they chose their metadata. Those who earned a 9 had a minimal number of metadata and less clear explanations for why they chose their metadata. As with your reflections, how you feel about a topic (I really found this interesting) is less useful that statements about what you are learning or how you organize a particular answer.

2019-09-17 Closing 3 and Opening 4 Quizzes, Consultations, and Reflections Both have been graded. You can review the feedback I posted on question 6 for each. Overall, students are grappling with question 6 and writing well-considered responses. Your answer might not display perfect organization, flowing from thesis to points, but overall students have exhibited sound historical thinking.

In a small minority of cases, students write answers that do not display what I consider a good faith effort. Writing one sentence is not showing historical thinking. I don't presume to know why students write short or with little atttention to detail, it can be stress, time constraints, or lack of interest. Still, I feel it unfair to give a 90% to a response does not display a good faith effort. So, starting this week, I'm giving responses that do no display a good faith effort a 1/5. This is a very small number of responses, yet it warrants explanation.

  • Consultations: the consultation discussion board is for working out you thoughts about the week's experiment. I've provided specific prompts thus far. In addition, you can always add your questions, or respond to others there.

  • Some reflection writing have focussed, week after week, on interest or engagement. For example "I found this week's readings interesting." That has the advantage of being true, but does not tell me a great deal about your learning. Giving me examples of what you found engaging, why, and how it helps you ask better questions about the past would help me better understand your learning. You may enjoy or detest certain week's readings and activities, and what you are learning is my central concern.

2019-09-11: Reflections graded

I've read and graded your reflections. I'm impressed by the thoughtfulness of most reflections. You will earn 5 points for each reflection. Over 16 weeks, that sums to 80, but I am going to drop the lowest two, so your total in the gradebook is out of 70 points. As of today, 2019-09-11, you should have 10 points for two weeks of reflections. A very few of you will have 15 points as you already turned in your week 3 review.

Here are some things to consider in your reflection:

  • This assignment is to reflect on your learning. Some weeks you may focus more on new knowledge you gained, other weeks you may focus on a new skill. I find it all fascinating and useful, just keep those groups (knowledge and skills) in mind so you aren't writing excursively on one.
  • Honesty works best for these. If you had a rough week, didn't understand something, or struggled with motivation, it's better to write that as you discuss your learning as it will shape my next week's teaching.
  • Comments about what you think should or shouldn't be in this course can be honest reflections, but they are not reflections on your learning. As the professor, it's my job to include relevant information, and I have. Reflecting on your interests and how some subjects engage you or turn you off is great. Telling me how to do my job reveals little about your learning and doesn't help me help you learn.
  • Students did a great job copy editing their reflections. I found almost flawless capitalization, punctuation, and language usage: keep it up.
    2019-09-9 Closing quiz 2 and Opening Quiz 3

The quiz that asked you to evaluate the Tree Octopus (Closing 2) revealed most students are using SIFT to evaluate sources. Please continue to use SIFT as you evaluate sources, remembering that you cannot evaluate a source based on the source alone: opening new tab is your research super-power.

The quiz on Busbecq revealed our class has widely-different understandings of "historical context." Several students attempted to quote extensively from Busbecq, but did not reference what else was going on in 16th century Turkey and the Mediterranean.

Thus far I've graded credit/no credit on Experiments. Going forward I will include learning goals on which you will be assessed using a rubric.

2019-09-4: Grades for Quizzes and Feedback on Opening Quiz 2

For your quizzes, you will typically have 6 questions: 5 multiple choice questions at one point a piece and one open ended question. Multiple choice checks your comprehension of the reading. The open ended question lets me gage your ability to think historically. I want you to consider how you are developing as a historical thinker as well, so I'll always include an explanation of what basic, developing, and proficient answers look like after you've submitted your answer.

My experience is that students demonstrate learning better when they know they'll receive immediate feedback and they learning is not high-stakes in terms of a grade. So, there are four grades for the open-ended quiz question:

0 = you wrote nothing
3.5 = you demonstrated basic historical thinking skills
3.7 = you demonstrated developing historical thinking skills
4 = you demonstrated proficient historical thinking skills

95% of students wrote in complete sentences with formal language and appropriate capitalization and punctuation, as expected, when answering the open-ended questions.

Because I need to grade the open-ended questions, your immediate grade will appear as an F, such as 4/9, until I grade the open-ended question. I will grade quizzes within one week of when they are submitted so we stay in conversation about where you are as a thinker.

I graded the Opening Quiz 2 and my feedback is here: . Please read carefully as most students did NOT accurately evaluate AskHistorians (which I expected and is normal for this early in the semester).

The lab experiment and consultation will be posted Monday before noon. FYI.

For students looking for help navigating D2L, here is a video playlist of how to do things. Playlist is on youtube

The closing quiz is for after you have completed the other assignments for the week. I did not put a start gate on it, as I did not think students would try to take it before completing the rest of the work. I will revisit that assumption. Closing questions will be available by 3 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon. The closing quiz for week one is live.

I updated the schedule to reflect oour schedule and to eliminate an error on when things were due. I'll post changes to our website that are not part of the usual administration of our course.

Welcome to our World History 2 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 anouncements here, along with tips on how to succeed in our course.

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