Read this first – 1102 – Spring 2017

Welcome to History 1102!

This document is long, but essential reading if you want to learn about the past (and pass this class). We are going to be doing history, digital history, in ways that are both familiar and foreign to you. As a course in 2016, we can take advantage of new ways of doing history. Much of the basics of history haven’t changed: we still look at sources from the past, draw relationships between those sources, and then make arguments about why things happened to different people at specific times.

What has changed is our way of getting at the past, our toolbox of history. Before we had books, and museum objects, and pictures, and letters and all sorts of other physical stuff. And all that stuff was in museums and archives. Now, we have all that, and new digital tools that give use greater access to the stuff we had before, and new ways of understanding it. For example, go here. 10 years ago we simply couldn’t do this type of analysis. Now you can read a letter from a ruler to his wife in which he says it took him 15 days to go from Constantinople to Rome and you can ask "was the noblemen telling the truth?" We can ask different questions with different tools.

So, we are going to use a bunch of new digital tools this semester. One advantage of this approach is that everything I want you to use is: free, web-based, and user-friendly. As long as you can use a web-browser, you can use this semester’s digital tools. I assume you can successfully navigate a web browser: that's it.

Our course begins officially today. I'll walk you through the course design below and encourage you to poke around our course page and our D2L page and get comfortable with the two. You can also start posting to our opening introductory discussion board.

By way of introduction, my legal name is David, but everyone calls my
Jack. If you feel the need, you can address me as professor, but I'm not
terribly formal. I'll address you by your first names, unless otherwise
directed and, most importantly, always respect you and your commitment
to your education.

So, I'm Jack Norton, and I've been teaching at Normandale since 2009.  I
taught at the "U" while getting my Ph.D. in history, and have since
taught on the south side of Chicago for two years before returning to MN
to settle down. On that settling note, I'm a dad of a two kids, one boy
and one girl.

I am hosting our course on my own server. Doing so allows you (and your friends, family, whomever) open access to our material. Putting our course on the open web also lets me design a web site that includes only that which is useful for learning.

There are some things that I do need D2L, Normandale's course management system for, mostly due to legal requirements. Anything having to do with your grades is protected by the Federal Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA). So, you will submit assignments through D2L, check grades --and discuss readings for my online-only students- on D2L because all of those parts of our course need the extra security provided by D2L.

In addition to our [course page]http://jacknorton.org/courses/world-history-1102-spring-2017-working/), I'm also posting all of our class materials (assignments, syllabus, grading rubrics) on Github. Github is a repository, or file library. Should you ever wish to use what I've created for this class for your own purposes, you can get the original files on my Github page..

The syllabus has been posted. Please read it and then take your first quiz, a scavenger hunt to familiarize you with the syllabus. You can take the quiz as many times as you need to: your best score counts. 

As a general road map of the class, you will read something for the week
(most of the time a selection from our library databases), and take a quiz on that reading. I'll open the quiz on Thursday and it will close on Sunday
night at 8 pm. The quizzes will be timed (10 minutes) or 90 seconds a question if I add more questions, at it will tell you how much time you have left on a timer. I use quizzes to ensure you’ve read, if you can remember the main themes of the reading, you’ll be great. Looking up the answers to questions during the quiz will not allow you enough time to complete all the answers. You lwest two quizzes will be dropped from total quiz grade. 

In addition, we'll generally have around two or three discussions a week
on the Discussion Boards. Your discussions will be graded (more on this
later), mostly based on the thoughtfulness of your contributions. The
discussion boards replace what we'd normally cover in a lecture, so be
sure to read through them as I'll drop tidbits of info along the way
that will be useful come the midterm and final.

Discussions will sometimes be in response to a reading or a video we'll
watch. I use youtube and pbs.org quite frequently, which is why you'll
need access to high-speed internet. I'll discuss discussions more in a
later post.

A note on technology:

For reasons of economy, future-proofing, and personal preference, everything your write for this course will be in in plain text in the Markdown syntax. I assume you have no experience using either, and so will train you in our first two weeks of class. You will be shocked how fast and easy writing in plain text is and how much easier your life can be without dealing with fancy writing software.

In addition, you’ll need to sign up for accounts with a number of web pages, such as google, to complete work for this course. I’ll walk you through it slowly and with plenty of time before you need to use the accounts. All the web services we’ll be using are free, such as google, twitter, or wordpress. I assume you know nothing about any website we’re using, and will train you accordingly.

The past

For the content of the course, we are going to cover from around 1400 to the 1914 . I assume you've had no college history and no world history, so this is a true introduction to both subjects.  All readings and films will be in English, although you are welcome to use other language skills if you
have them.  I designed the course to prevent any single grade from
destroying a student.  My experience is that students who stay up on the
readings, participate in discussions, and turn their work in on time
have few problems in my courses.  Those students who check out for even
a short period struggle.  **I cannot emphasize this enough: you must
submit regular work and check in regularly in this class or you will
fail. Please see here if
you are unsure if online education is for you. **

First assignments:
  1. Read the syllabus.
  2. Tell me something about yourself in my get-to-know ya form.
  3. Read the History Bootcamp Readings and Assignments and work through its activities and readings in the first two weeks.

It would be useful to me if you could load a picture of yourself, or an avatar into D2L so that we can all get to know you.

For your opening discussion introducing yourself and in all future
discussions please:

  1. Write in complete sentences.
  2. Use your fellow classmates names when responding to a post, or
    posting a new thought.
  3. Read others' posts - even if you've already posted for the week. This
    is particularly important if we want to have a conversation rather than
    a collection of people with blogs to which I respond.

For discussions, this week is just practice.  Starting next week, I'll
grade posts.  More later this week on the rubric I'll be using to grade
discussion.

Looking forward to meeting y'all.