(Tue-Thu) World History 1: Syllabus

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Course Operations Manual (AKA, "the syllabus")

World History 1 (1101) from Prehistory to 1400 with Jack Norton

“True peace required the presence of justice, not just the absence of conflict.”
― N.K. Jemisin, The Killing Moon

“Learning is always rebellion . . . Every bit of new truth discovered is revolutionary to what was believed before.” Margaret Lee Rubneck

Welcome to World History

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 today 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 metacognition). 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.

Learning Goals

You will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a broad understanding of World History from pre-History through the early modern era (thirteenth through seventeenth centuries CE).

  2. Make use of historical thinking.

  3. Analyze historical sources, distinguishing primary from secondary sources;

  4. Communicate effectively using historical evidence and methods.

  5. Analyze and understand the diversity of peoples within their distinctive historical contexts.

  6. Develop strategies for advancing your learning skills, such as effective reading, writing, acquiring new digital skills, and critically analyzing historical sources.

  7. Demonstrate an understanding of the ethics of acquiring, using, and presenting historical sources, as articulated by both professional organizations and historical subjects.

  8. Demonstrate effective digital history skills, including file management, GIS usage, podcast production, metadata usage, data literacy, and historical image analysis.

Required Resources

  • 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. See the link for how to find free wi-fi hotspots

  • Critical Mind

  • There is no textbook to buy for this course. All materials are free ($0) to Normandale students.

Contact Information – Jack Norton

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 Phone: 952-358-8911

  • Discord: https://discord.com/ – Chat with me or others in the class.

  • Google Voice Number for text: 612-208-3723
    I cannot communicate about grades or personal information over text, but if you have a quick question or just want me to know something, please write using full words. I have a disability that makes texting language, for example, brb for "will be right back" almost impossible to understand. Text like I’m your grandpa and we’ll be fine.

Student (Office) Hours:

Monday and Wednesday, 1-2 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 11 – Noon. Additional phone and video chat times are available by scheduling an appointment with me.

Phone and Video Student [Office] Hours

Student check ins are when I am available to chat, by phone or video. You can schedule a specific time to meet with me, or just call me. Book an appointment with me.

Course Policies

COVID Notice

I expect (but cannot require) all students in face-to-face classes to be vaccinated.

If you feel any symptoms, please do not come to campus.

The regular grading policies in this syllabus provide that a student could not turn in two weeks of assignments and suffer no grade penalty.

If you or a family member you care for are incapacitated by COVID or any other debilitating disease, we can work on a schedule to allow you make up an additional two weeks of material beyond the regular schedule. Missing more than four weeks of the course and passing the class is not realistic and we should talk about your options.

Assignments and Grades

Every two weeks you’ll do four assignments for each learning module:

  • Preparation: A series of questions about our sources for the week and an opportunity to identify your expertise and experience with the week’s subject.
  • Project: The major history project you’ll complete for the week using historical sources and digital tools.
  • Revision: A major improvement to your Project with new material from the second week of the teaching module.
  • Reflection: A paragraph of writing reflecting on what you learned from the week’s assignment and from your fellow classmates.
Assignment Module Grade Value Weeks
Leveling Up 15% 1-2
Art Analysis 10% 3-4
Metadata 10% 5-6
Podcast 10% 7-8
Distant Reading 10% 9-10
GIS 10% 11-12
Data Literacy 10% 13-14
Portfolio 20% 15-Final
Citizenship 5% 16

Grades in this course are weighted. To understand how this works, see this explanation.

You will evaluate how well you contributed to this course with your Citizenship grade, in conjunction with me.

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 tell me about the bug on Discord with "#bughunt" as the tag. I save up the bug hunt bonusses and apply them to final grades that are very close to the next letter grade. Reporting minor bugs, such as a mis-formatted web page or non-learning related spelling error, earn my thanks.

E-Learning- What you need to know

  • Please use your student email for all emails to me, as required by the Family Education and Rights Privacy Act.

  • Please recognize that written communication requires more careful word choice than oral communication. For example, sarcastic comments do not work because you can not 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, I drop the equivalent of two weeks of work, or a 12% curve. This means you can miss assignments for two weeks, for any reason, and it will not affect your final grade.

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 submitted to your own cloud-based (web backed-up) file using Office 365 or google docs. Instruction for setting up your own Assignment Fils will be on our course page.

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 the way I assess your learning. I can also assess your learning by teaching you the tools of historical thinking, having you build historical arguments, and then asking you to evaluate your work. Both grading and self evaluation will be key elements of assessing your learning.

Academic Standards

Students in this course will adhere to the rules of Normandale Community College’s Code of Conduct. Such rules prohibit plagiarizing another student’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. All sources of your work, inlcuding Artificial Intelligence such as ChatGPT, should be cited.


Do you need help, with food, mental health, housing, a shower, computers, disability, health, or a place to nurse or pump?

See our student resources page.

Why are grades on D2L but most of the course material are on jacknorton.org?

The Family 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 available 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.

Image of Comic About Credibility http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/pyramid_honey.png

I reserve the right to amend this syllabus to better facilitate students’ learning. Changes to the syllabus (if any) will be announced in the news section and an amended syllabus will be posted on the class website.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License