World History 2 – HIST – 1102- Fall – 2020

Syllabus – Assignments – Schedule – D2L - Home - Book it!

2020-12-21, 11:23: Grades Updated on D2L- preparing to submit final grades

I'm updated Reflection grades and added Good Citizenship grades. You final grade is now accurate. Please remember that Normandale uses straight 4,3,2,1 GPA, with not pluses or minuses. So, your grade will be an A, B, C, D, or F, earning 4, 3, 2, 1, or 0 GPA points respectively.

I am coming through grades with my email open to noted errors and bug bounties. Of particular note for me are people that are within .5 of the next grade. If you are safely in a particular grade, you can email for clarification or to correct an error, and I'll do it, but most of my energy is going to double checking close grades.

I'll submit final grades this afternoon, and please remember to read the note below about final grades before emailing.

2020-12-18, 14:46: Experiment 16 Graded

Huge range of responses, from tightly written and argued, to meandering book reports. Challenges for me included students citing secondary sources as primary, say an article, without telling me what primary source in the secondary source was used. As well, my Section 00 class had numerous thesis that were facts. The writing on theses fact assignments was fine, but history doesn't argue over facts, such as the fall of the Ming dynasty led to a new dynasty, the Qing.

My favorite argument of the bunch (and there were lots of great one):"The Revolutionary War (1775-1783) brought the issue of women’s rights to the forefront of American society."

Next up is filling in individual errors (incomplete quiz grades mostly) and assigning citizenship grades.

2020-12-17, 16:31: Continued grading update

I continue to grade. My apologies for the delay. There have been a couple instances of plagiarism across my courses and it is vital that I address those issues in a timely, respectful, clear - and to the extent that I can- supportive way. I'll start your Experiment 16 grading tomorrow am.

2020-12-16, 20:17: Consultations and Quizzes Batch Completed

I've finished grading the last Consultations and Quiz 16. Thank you for all your advice to future students: I incorporate it into the next iteration of the course.

I'm in the process of grading Experiment 16 and assigning Citizenship grades.

Good luck with any remaining finals. I will continue to update grading progress here as I go.

2020-12-11, 16:35: Experiment 15

A host of great analysis. Strong assignments dissected the context of the 19th century source on white supremacy and offered an analytical comparison with a modern issue. For example, attending to legal fights over black rights in the 19th century parallels with legal fights today over black rights to vote. Less strong answers tacked a general sentiment about how racism is still around and needs to be countered, which is true but not a historically-rooted parallel.

As a professor, I'm wowed by much of your analysis, especially as you, a racially diverse class, publish you analyses in pain sight of the rest of your classmates. There are some assignments that the public aspect of writing on our discussion boards brings out the best thinking and writing in students, and this was one of them.

I'll hold an open office hour on Monday for any last minute questions. See your email later tonight for details and for the course survey of instruction. Thank you and gird yourself for the final semester push. You can do it.

2020-12-09, 15:28: Closing 15, Opening 16 Quizzes, Experiment 14

The closing 15 question related to a picture of the Qing empire. The picture's sponsorship by the emperor should call into question its credibility. Opening 16 asked you to evaluate Africa is a Country. Strong answers recognized how the authors were attempting to present a more nuanced picture of Africa, which many non-Africans treat as a country.

Experiment 14 questions were varied, with direct references to specific maps or readings scoring better than general comments.

2020-12-08, 22:00: Ongoing grading

I've finished quizzes and Experiment 14 for Section 10 and will do Section 00 on Wednesday. Grades should be in great shape by Friday so you can see what you have going into finals week.

2020-12-07, 13:23: Final Weeks FAQ

As we approach the final weeks of the semester, please consider the following answers to frequently asked questions.

  • I will switch from D2L showing ungraded items as null values to showing ungraded items as zeroes after I have completed all but your final experiment and good citizenship grades.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Your class citizenship grades are based on your participation in consultations, reflections, and respectful behavior towards other students. I also look at attendance for asynchronous.
  • I am willing to discuss individual assignments, but not the final course grade. Please consider your communication carefully when asking for regrading.
  • I round at .56. So, a 79.56 is a B and a 79.55 is a C.
  • 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.
  • The final Experiemnt is your culminating grade. It asks you to use the historical thinking, credibility sorting, and digital humanities skills you've learned in this course. There is no other final exam. Please note that your final experiment is due next week, on Tuesday.

2020-12-04, 15:45- Consultation 15

One week to go. Staying focused on the material, the history, will help mitigate stress. Final Experiment coming soon posted.

2020-12-4, 10:34: Closing 15 Quiz Correction

There was a multiple choice error on Quiz 15. If you took it before just now, and got less than 5/5 on the quiz, I'll give you credit for the error question (which had a, b, c, all of the above and none of the above as options.) Hat tip to Jessica H. for alerting me to the error.

2020-12-4, 8:52: Experiment 13- feedback

The strongest annotations connected historical information/inquiry to their notes, questions, or context annotations. I was surprised at the expressed ignorance about opioids, tobacco, and other stimulants given their popularity in modern times, though it may be that folks weren't connecting Oxycontin and the opioid crises to the Opium Wars. Sometimes we get so focussed on the past we don't consider what we already know or can find out quickly with searches. Add wikipedia isn't just for crediblity πŸ™‚

Tagging annotations with metadata was uneven, though those who did it, did it well.

Most of the questions about pictures revealed strong historical thinking skills about how to use visual sources.

Reminder: if you have a "0" it's because I didn't see any work by you. A handful of students gave themselves clever usernames that I have no idea who you are. Please email to clarify so that I can give you credit.

2020-12-3, 20:47: Experiment 13

I finished section 00 and will do section 10 tomorrow. Thus far students are annotating correctly, and I'll comment on the quality of the annotations once finished.

2020-12-3, 13:10- Working through it

I'm trying to catch up on grading, but to be honest I'm struggling a bit. MN State blocked on my work laptop, which is aggravating but only forces me to switch to my less-than ideal personal computer. More frustrating is some work I have to do as department chair and a faculty member, which is outside of this class, but makes me feel terrible even when I do it well.

I did respond to many comments last night on the Consultation board, so check that out for tips on this week's experiment.

2020-12-02, 09:13- Baartman Image

The strongest answers on the Baartman image question identified her, Grenville and Sheridan. Strong answers identified that the racist satire of the image was to associate Grenville's political coalition with the degrading image, using racism and misogyny to paint a political party as weak and stupid. Most students identified that the image is housed at the British Museum. Several students got a little turned around in their answers and reproduced the language of the 19th century image, rather than interrogating that language, which can happen. For example, students frequently say "when we discovered the Americas" despite the fact that the "we" in the sentence are not 15th century Genoese sailors.

Image analysis requires careful attention to rhetorical, linguistic, and historical context. If images "are worth a thousand words," analyzing historical images require us to unpack all those words and make them clear.

Good luck with this week's work on 19th century racism.

2020-12-1, 20:33 Reflections and Quizzes in progress.

Continued good work on the Reflections. Amazing work on last week's closing quiz πŸ™‚

2020-11-30, 16:10- Consultations graded

Welcome back. Keep up the good work.

2020-11-25, 10:01: Closing 13 and Opening 14 quizzes

Question 6 on Closing 13 was robustly answered by most students, with specific references to the motivations of the photographer and the possibility of coaching or posing of the photographed subject.

Opening 14 had wide spread of answers. The strongest answers noted that England was industrializing (not China or India), partly fueled by money from the opium trade which forced Indian farmers to produce opium to be sold in China. Very strong answers noted the three country relationship while also acknowledging the class issue of a government official and a farmer.

Mask up, stay home, and stay safe πŸ™‚

2020-11-24, 16:29- Maps

There are some historical map overlays that don't work with the Africa Map. As far as a I can tell, the website asks for a picture overlay, bu the supporting database doesn't have the correct picture.

NOTE: After discussion with several students today, due dates are pushed to Friday this week for the Experiment and Consultation.

2020-11-23, 13:43: Scholarship Opportunity

For those who plan to have a STEM major, even if you will start as a liberal arts major, consider applying for the PRISM scholarship. It's really good money, and Normandale only.

2020-11-20, 15:25- Consults 12 and 13 graded

I will offer more conversational prompts for Consult 14.

With the exception of what you turned in last night and today, grades are up to date. I'm going to start sweeping the gradebook and my email for incomplete data, such as individual quizzes with a Question 6 un-graded. If you've emailed about one of these incomplete grades, I've your flagged email and will email you back when I can have answers about what's going on in the gradebook for your issue.

2020-11-19, 20:21- Experiment 12

The strongest assignments included clear summaries of their social media sites, including where and when their event/topic/person took place during the Industrial Revolution. More than six students cited as a credible website: it is designed for children, as were a couple other websites. Sites for kids leave out adult content and often skip material in favor or a unified narrative. A couple sites (libcom and Cato Institute) are activist organizations, and therefore present historical evidence that advances their causes in suspect ways. Most students found credible sources to analyze.

More than six students dunked on this assignment. That is, students found not just credible but academically reputable sources. After brief but pithy summaries, the evaluations of credibility transitioned to evaluations of historical importance flawlessly. In basketball, there are many ways to get 2 points: dunking demonstrates you are so confident in your abilities that you can literally throw the ball down into the hoop. That's the confidence and skill several of you demonstrated, and it was just spectacular to read.

Please be safe, stay home when you can and mask when you are out, and plan for household-only Thanksgivings next week. I'll try to keep the assignment short, so you can finish it and enjoy break.

2020-11-11, 14:08: Closing Quiz 11 and Opening Quiz 6

Question 6 on Closing 11 related to Downs' 1850 speech. Most student identified his holding of slaves and his position as senator of a slave state salient facts.

Closing 12 related to the image of a women in a factory in a Japan. Many students asked strong questions about what was in the image. Fewer students asked strong questions about who created the image, why, was it an accurate picture or not, and if not, why not? One very smart student asked if the artist hand painted it or if it was reproduced by a machine, because a machine-produced image would give us evidence of an industrialized Japan. That analysis was so clever I did a little dance.

Stay warm, stay masked.

2020-11-10, 15:12: Experiment 10 graded

Most students made reasonable arguments with the historical statistics. The dip around 1919 is due to the Influenze Pandemic of 1918-19, not World War 1, which was geographically isolated.

You do not need to worry if you are 34. The mode of 1 indicates a (historically accurate) high mortality rate for infants. Some students also wisely noted that a list of ages of people who died in a given year is not a predicitve statistic of when someone living will die, nor is it a robsust data set.

2020-11-10, 09:45- Veteran's Day

Tomorrow is Veterans Day. I recognition of this holiday, the Consultation due date is moved to Thursday.

If you know a veteran, please thank them for their service. Please note that active duty personnel are not veterans.

2020-11-09, 13:39- Reflections Grade

Continued excellence across all students. We have now turned the corner in our student culture that math has become popular, based on your Reflections. I used to get more than 50% of my students writing that "they hate math," but now I have more than 50% of my students say "thank goodness we are doing math this week, I enjoy and am good at it." I don't know what caused this this math-happy switch, but it's such a joy to read.

Several of you mentioned the stress of the election, and I share that. With the election concluded candidates looking to take up their terms in January, I hope you reflect on all the skills you are learning this semester that could be deployed in politics. Think of all the numbers and projections (statistics), the maps (GIS), and the reporting (research and communication) that has gone into the past week. And, this week in the midst of a massive misinformation campaign that is primarily on social media, let's not forget the usefulness of the SIFT process in evaluating the credibility of sources.

I just wanted to point out that the skills of history are the skills of an informed citizenry.

2020-11-06, 10:46: Consultations Graded Week 11

It's been a a rough week for many students. So, if you showed up, wrote anything as a consultation, this week only I'm giving full credit for just that. Ordinarily if I read "This assignment is neat, and I have no questions" I give a participation point and encourage more robust engagement with the work. But just doing the work given all the other demands on student attention is commendable and I'm grateful to you for your perserverance. I also like to thank those of you who respond to your fellow students with suggestions, examples of your work, and re-directions back to things I've posted.

Constructive comments not only help your fellow students' work, they demonstrate care for other human beings. As a historian, I study the darkest and brightest chapters in human history and all the in between. Caring for others defines where we are on that spectrum, so thank you sharing your time and talents with others.

2020-11-05, 20:59: Experiment 9

I tried to be as generous in my grading as possible on Experiment 9, mostly because I'm exhausted from all the election news. That said, Experiment 9 displayed some challenging historical thinking.

  1. As I've mentioned, no religion is timeless, or placeless. So, when analyzing religious art, you need to understand and mention the time and place in which it was created. An Islamic painting in the midst of a country that practices mostly Buddhism, say Japan, means something different than an Islamic painting produced in 1650 Iran.

  2. When writing about religion for history, do not assume you reader believes as you do. To be honest, no-one but Christian students ever make this mistake, and I don't think it is done with ill intent. The main problem with including your belief in analysis is that you live now, and you're trying to analyze what someone in the past believed.

  3. Hinduism is older than Buddhism and shares many beliefs. Islam is a faith that builds on Christian traditions, which in turn build on Jewish traditions, with Judaism dating back 5000 years, Christianity dating to around 37 CE and Islam dating to 610 CE.

  4. Jesus and his family were Jewish. Christianity does not theologically start until Jesus dies. The major books of the Bible about the life of Jesus, Mark, Mathew, Luke, and John, were written approximately 35-100 years after the death of Jesus, and therefore are not first person accounts of the action of Jesus' life.

  5. All of the holy texts, and people, and names of the religions are proper nouns and capitalized. So, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism.

Students in past semesters have struggled with this assignment, though the struggles this semester have been higher. Both sections (10 and 00) had similar issues. Then again, past students didn't have a pandemic or this election:

There could be many explanations, including uneven religious literacy, which like digital literacy needs to be taught. Art history as well may be too complicated a subject, so I'm going to give a hard think to what I can do to make this more meaningful to students.


2020-11-04, 13:22: Discussion Boards and Processing

I've answered lots of questions on the Consultation board, so as you have questions, please consider those.

If you are like me and still processing what's going on in this country, please talk to trusted friends, family, and colleagues. As well, Normandale Counselors are available. From the Counseling web page:

This is a challenging time and many of us are feeling stress or anxiety, and Normandale counselors are here to offer support. You can book an appointment online, email or call 952-358-8261. In addition, United Healthcare is offering a free emotional support help line for all students through Optum. This 24/7 helpline, 866-342-6892, is free of charge and open to any student.

2020-11-03, 15:13- Closing 10 and Opening 11 Quizzes

Questions 6 on Closing 10 about census data was fairly well answered. Strong answered included information about the data gathered (what were the questions), along with questions about the motivation of those who gathered the data and how that information may have been used or passed on. We can't talk about counting things without interrogating why those things are being counted and who wants to count (or not) those things.

Question 6 on Opening 11 was weekly answered. Many students wrote just one sentence. I suspect two things: 1. The question was awkwardly phrased and required rereading to understand it. Two, some students are nervous talking about slavery because it relates to racism.

For your experiment, I assume you believe slavery was a terrible moral, political, economic, and human failure- you do not need to spend any of your analytical sentences attesting to the evilness of slavery. Only white-supremacists defend slavery. Having acknowledged that, turn your analytic eyes on how the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database can reveal aspects of the past that close readings of primary sources cannot.

2020-11-3, 13:42- Experiment Update

I've updated the experiment to include "is at least" "30%" in the direction for the Portugal, Portugal/Brazil ships.

2020-11-3, Before 8 p.m.

2020-11-02, 16:39: Consultations?

Not a lot of chatter on the consultation board yet. That's ok, but please review the Experiment and start playing with the database. This is not an assignment that can be done quickly.

Keep breathing. Whatever happens, keep breathing.

2020-10-30, 15:39: Note on Experiment 11

This week's assignment asks you to use a tool that documents the slave trade. As you know, this topic is brutal both in its historical execution and in its continued relevance to world governments. We will be approaching it through the study of a database, which will allow us to see the scale of the trade. With that noted, studying mass abduction, torture, and murder requires mental and emotional preparation, so please practice self-care as you do your work.

As a historian, I know an infinite number of atrocity stories, and have developed clear emotional coping strategies for dealing with these topics. You likely have some strategies of your own. Given that, I feel the need to prepare you for this week's work, much as a surgeon prepares a med student before entering the surgery theater.

2020-10-29, 09:33- Consultation 10

I reviewed all the consultations. The strongest Consultations gave a preliminary read on your work, highlighting interesting evidence. Many students noted surprising findings.

History, like science, is counter-intuitive. We ask questions of evidence, to test a hypothesis, and often we reject our hypothesis upon encountering data. All historical analysis should generate more questions, and we often must turn to non-quantitative information to find those answers. Why is cell-phone usage higher in poorer countries, why do countries with similar GDPs have dissimilar mortality rates, why does Norway have sooooooo much money per capita?

I look forward to you answers. NOTE: the interface on Gapminder regarding data has changed a bit, since I made this lesson. All the same data is there, and easily findable, but it has different icons.

2020-10-27, 16:43- Experiment 8 Graded and a note on finishing.

Lots of work reviewing museums went into this assignment. The strongest assignments summarized the collections accurately (within reason- I did not expect you to look at entire museums), and made clear arguments for why their collections should or should not be used in monograph (history book) on religion. One area for improvement was evaluating the importance of the collection. For example, one student noted that in her museum their were Buddha sculptures that were likely venerated, in contrast to Islamic and Christian art that was likely only viewed and appreciated.

I run marathons, and there's this point just past the halfway point (13.1 miles) that your feel a mix of accomplishment and anxiety. We are now just past that point in our semester, and while we are still doing the same type of work you've already done (mile after mile if you will), it may start to feel harder. Reach out, share the load with your fellow students and me. There's a reason spectators line Summit Avenue in St. Paul to cheer the last 5 miles of the marathon: we get there together or we don't get there at all.

2020-10-26, 13:59- Reflections Reviewed

I've reviewed your Reflections today and continue to find them fascinating. I'm particularly struck at how many of you are reviewing your previous Reflections and building on, tearing down, or experimenting with new forms of expression. Deep breath. All gas, no brake- keep going.

2020-10-25, 20:41

Sorry for the later-than-average posting of the assignment. Some weekends I'm regular dad/husband, and some weekends I need to be more, like this weekend.

Looking forward to your explorations this week.

2020-10-23, 15:26: Like a boss

Students sometimes wonder what you can do with a history degree. Well, apparently history majors can moderate a debate like a boss, because that's what Kristen Welker did last night.

I'm catching up on emails and hope to do some grading this afternoon. Stay warm, stay safe.

2020-10-22, 11:06- Consultations and Election 2020

Consultations for this week are graded. This week's consultations were especially productive for asking questions of me and others: well done.

If you are interested in elections, historical or this years, the Department of History and Political Science is hosting a webinar on three historic elections (1824, 1876, and 1968) along with an election primer. The invitation is below. It starts at noon today.

When: Oct 22, 2020 12:00 Central Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Election Lunch and Learn

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 929 205 6099 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799
Webinar ID: 985 9275 6325

2020-10-20, 15:17- CLosing 8 and Opening 9 quizzes grade

The question on this image ( bedeviled many of you. On a technical level, I encourage you to copy links and learn to turn down security settings (the shield icon to the left of the URL) if an image doesn't appear. At least one student emailed between quiz attempts 1 and 2 and I was able to walk her through the issue.

The title "Shaykh Baha'al-Din Veled teaches the Christian Gospels in Ankara, 1595" was incorrect. It was Veled, but he was not teaching about Christianity, nor was he in Turkey in 1595. He was lecturing a Muslim audience in Afghanistan in 1600, which many of you found using SIFT. Key to this search was both a reverse image search and breaking apart the caption.

Did I deceive you? Yes, because the internet is full of lies and it's my job to teach you to spot them.

Question 6 on a religious text for a paper on religious intolerance in 1700 had varied answers. Strong answers paired the W's (who, what, why, where, when, what) with historical context questions. The strongest answers recognized that the 1700s are a period on which you've done reading, and can offer context.

2020-10-19, 16:24: Healthy Relationships Seminary

No big grade updates today, but you may be interested in a healthy relationships seminar held this Thursday on "healthy relationships, consent, and sexual violence prevention"

Experiment 7 is now graded for Section 00: Exxxxxcelllent.

2020-10-16, 15:22: Experiment 7 (Section 10)

I've assessed Section 10 and the arguments, sourcing, and citations were almost universally excellent. Submission revealed clear engagement with primary and secondary sources. The only minor quibble I had was students tying their strong work in the first paragraph to their thesis regarding being a girl in 1600 or 1800 Japan or India. On the whole, OUTSTANDING. Hoping Section 00 is as good.

2020-10-15, 16:36: Timeline (Experiment 6) Assignment Graded

This assignment asked you to answer questions about timelines. The strongest answers were at least a couple sentences and used specific examples to evidence their answers. For example, many students pointed to specific historical events that one timeline covered and another did not.. Explaining with clarity and detail why you chose one timeline over another demonstrated your understanding of both the material and how format shapes access to knowledge.

2020-10-15, 09:36: Reflections and Consultations Updated

I enjoyed reading your Reflections yesterday afternoon and the Consultations this morning.

The best part of reading these assignments are the displays of authentic curiosity, joy, and frustration, going beyond "this is interesting" to "I love Japanese art prints and wondered what else I could find at the MIA?" Alternatively, I also read "I struggled with this assignment as I don't find the subject interesting, and the directions confused me, but after a lot of effort I'm pleased I figured out how to make it work." Students taking their intellectual selves seriously is one of the great joys of this work- so keep it up.

2020-10-13, 15:53: Closing 7 and Opening 8 quizzes graded

The song lyrics are from an Indigo Girls song called "Secure Yourself." The Indigo Girls have famously opaque and abundant metaphors, which is why I used this lyric. There was no correct answer, only answers that demonstrated understanding of the historical belief systems of Christianity, Buddhism, or Islam. Several students used their personal beliefs to explain the lyrics, which may be meaninful but also not tied to our readings.

Lady Murasaki was an 11th century author and The Tale of Genji is required reading in Japan. If you see a picture of a woman writing on scrolls with long hair in an idyllic setting, it's probably a depiction of Murasaki. Strong answers acknowledge some part of this history, especially the divide between when Murasaki wrote and when the painting was made. There were some exceptionally well-researched answers to this question.

2020-10-09, 16:23: Consultation 7 Graded

Continues excellent questions and dialog on how to build evidence-based history. Keep it up!

2020-10-09, 11:37: UPDATE: Questions answered in Consultations 7

Section 00 consultations posts were spread out over multiple threads. I've now gone through each thread to answer each question. If you plan to revise or submit your Experiment 7, please check out my responses.

Section 10 already had my answers in a single thread.

2020-10-09, 09:58- Experiment 7

Well, this week did not go well by my measure. There was a typo on Experiment 7 that indicated it was due Friday. A student identified the error and I corrected it Wednesday morning. After that, things went to hell. I posted to the Consultations discussion board about the change in Section 10, but not in Section 00, which led to confusion. Going forward:

  1. The weekly assignments are always due at the same time unless there is some obvious Holiday-related change (and I note those in the schedule).
  2. Please ask when you see discrepancies, and don't assume that the discrepancy that works in your favor is now your right.
  3. Please reload web pages if you think something does not look right. I received 4 emails on Thursday about the Friday typo after I'd fixed it, and it was clear students were working from a cached (saved) version of the website.
  4. I'm not trying to trick you, or hurt your final grades, so please don't write emails implying as much or telling me what I "have to do" with this course.
  5. When there are errors, we'll fix them in a reasonable manner that is fair based on the syllabus and good teaching and learning practices. Communicating about the issue in a respectful way is how we figure out a fix. Thank you to those that particapted in this process.
  6. Due to the typo, and my failure to communicate to all students about the error once fixed, I've opened the Experiment 7 discussion board until tonight at 10 p.m.

A gentle reminder: please do not write your assignments in D2L. The page can/will reload and you lose all your work. Write your assignments/posts outside of D2L and copy and paste into the discussion boards.

2020-10-08, 13:45: Experiment 5

A host of insights, from simple to astute in this assignment. The strongest answers tied Voyant word counts to background readings with a clear argument. Many students implied they had removed words. Full points went to those students who explicitly mentioned removing stop words.

As you've likely deduced, Experiments are the most rigorously graded of our assignments. Students average half to a full letter grade below their average for the other four grade categories. The rubrics, grading charts, are taken directly from the assignments.

Stay safe and keep plugging away πŸ™‚

2020-10-07, 21:01- Working through Experiment 5

I've graded one class and am thus far impressed with the ARCGIS maps. If you did not publish your map, your link will only show me the ARCGis homepage. I grade that map as a "0" and leave a note so you know what I saw. You can can put a revised link in your Reflection for the week and I'll grade it for full credit.

2020-10-5, 21:01: Closing Quiz 6 and Opening Quiz 7

The usual mix of strong and under-evidenced answers. Question 6 on 17th century India asked you to tie example from your readings to your historical thinking skills to frame questions. Revisiting the historical thinking chart will perhaps help students write strong answers. Several students asked brilliant questions that fell just shy of a 4 point answer as there was no clear tie to history.

Question 6 on the Tale of Genji saw huge gaps in historical thinking. The strongest answers noted the difference in time between the original novel and the painting, the elite and ideal representation of human actions, and the deployment of symbolism (though I didn't expect you to understand the symbolism). Less strong answers offered emotional impressions of the painting without any connections to the history.

2020-10-2, 20:17- Closing quiz 5 and Opening quiz 6 graded

Closing quiz 5 asked you about the Ngram with taxes, famine, poverty, hunger as terms. Most students noted the rise in the use of the term "taxes" from 1740 on. Some students noted that the use of the term poverty also rose, while hunger and famine stayed about the same. The strongest answer offered any historical or linguistic explanation for these trends that was not causal. For example, the rise in the use of the term "taxes" could be tied to the increasing frustration of colonies in the Americas in the 18th century to tax policy. This frustration, with others, results in the age of revolutions, from 1776-1825 in which North and South Americans lead revolutions. Alternatively, students suggested that the rise and fall in numbers had more to do with the popularity of certain words in publishing, and didn't reflect historical circumstances. Less strong answers took trends in word usage in books, which is what Ngrams are, and concluded that real-world conditions rose and fell at the same time.

Opening quiz 6 asked about the picture. Oddly to me, many of you imagined asking long-dead children in a picture questions, rather than asking questions about what was in the picture. So we're clear, we never get to go back in time and ask our sources questions, which is why history can never prove a hypothesis in the way science can. Regardless, the best answers narrowed in on specific historical contexts based on your readings.

2020-10-02, 13:57: Consultation 6 and Reflections Graded

Decent attempts on both these assignments. Reflections continue to be fascinating reading and reflect well on your learning process. I'm concerned there are students who are not doing the Reflections, as this assignment can be done quickly and well (200 words in 15 minutes) and yield learning and grade benefits easily.

2020-10-01, 22:23: Trouble shooting and a bug

The company that makes D2L has acknowledged a bug in our grade book that has been causing the Reflections grades to revert to zero. I've been advised on a procedure that should allow me to continue adding to your points without tripping the zero bug.

2020-10-01, 10:33: Experiment 4 and a note

These assignments ranged from ok to fantastic, with no bad submissions. The strongest assignments paid attention to historical context, the limits of what Ngram and Voyant data can and can't tell us, and the way in which language works. For example, several students noted increased use of particular words throughout the 16th century and offered tentative explanations for those rises, but cautioned that the lack of books in the 16th century makes drawing hard conclusions difficult. As well, using Voyant, many students noted how the word count for a particular word could indicate a particular issue and then tied that issue to the context of one of our authors. At the same time, many of you noted that words can be used multiple ways, so the lack of popularity of a word is not evidence that the subject of word didn't matter; it might have indicated only that Shakespeare, Cervantes, or Wu used different synonyms.

Most of the struggles I observed were from students drawing firmer conclusions form their analysis than they demonstrated in their paragraphs.

I did notice a string of assignments that all investigated the exact same words and all came to similarly under-evidenced conclusions, which was odd.

NOTE: Please continue to schedule chats with me through Book It! I have had a half-dozen chats this past week which (I hope) left the students with a better sense of their place in this class, how to succeed, and how much I value their participation. The quick conversations left me with a stronger sense of how I can support those students. I'm happy just to talk person to person as well, if you just want to talk about your life as an exercise in normalcy in disrupted times.

2020-09-30, 21:30- Long day

Evening. I spent 7 hours on Zoom meetings unrelated to our course today. So, I've answered lots of your emails and your questions in the Consultation, but not updated any grades. Tomorrow looks good so look for updates tomorrow. Keep going folks. We get there together or not at all.

2020-09-29: Experiment 6

A good question from the synchronous class today was about the questions for this week's assignment. Historically this assignment has produced dramatically different student work. A large group of students answer the questions robustly, especially the "why" questions. A smaller group of students write as little as possible. This is one case when you want to go with the crowd.

I've graded half the Experiment 4 assignments and may get the rest done tonight, if I skip watching the debate :() .

2020-09-25, 14:15: Consultations 5 (and 4 for Section 10)

It's clear I need to set strong expectations for consulations, as this assignment remains the one that has the widest range of answers. For the record, you finding something interesting does not constitute a substantial contribution, unless you give an example the helps us understand the history we are working with for this week. I read a great many "I found this intersting, and I've read it before" which I believe was true but not useful to students looking to better their Experiment. Without clearer guidance from me, I see how some students responded this way, so let me own that part of it- and note that I was liberal with points.

Going forward, please always focus on your work for the weekly Experiment in the Consultations. I'll give clearer guidance to help us all do that.

95% of the writing remains strong, with good editing and paragraph structure. There's a couple "i"s where it should be "I," but overall there are few writing issues: keep it up.

--- A privacy thought.

For those of you who wonder why I run this website outside D2L, consider the following privacy reports from my website and from Normandale's homepage.

Normandale is in the midst of redoing our website. You can politely register any thoughts you have on tracking by sending an email to .

2020-09-24: Last Minute Voyant Help

For those last-minute folks who are experiencing difficulties with the original Voyant website, here are two other instances that should work.

You can find another instance of Voyant here:
A third instance can be found here:

2020-09-24, 14:31: Closing Quiz 4 and Opening Quiz 5 graded

Answers to question 6 on both quizzes varied wildly. The strongest examples used clear references to the evidence, and the historical context. For example, on the Voyant question, a strong answer both noted the different word counts, but also noted the historical context of the texts and authors. For example, Journey to the West is a travel story: it makes sense in the 16th century that the characters would discuss food as there was not enough of it. Journey to the West is also the most religious of the three texts, and food is often used as a theological or spirtual metaphor.

For Closing 4, question 6, I was looking for specific references to the author's lives or to the countries in in which they lived. General statements, such as "Fiction tells us so much about the past, what they thought and how they lived" lacks evidence. Many students pointed out the Shakespeare's familial poverty likely influenced his writing: great example.

Answers of only one sentence or that lack all reference to history will continue to receive a "try again" 1 point.

2020-09-23: Reflections and Stress

I've graded the Reflections to date. D2L seems to have an error that periodically wipes out all my Reflection grades, causing me to have to regrade all the Reflections.

As you can imagine, this causes me stress. You likely exprience stress as well, perhaps over this class, or college in general, or some combination of family, life, work, and our world.

Please reach out to others to help manage your stress. That can be me for a chat about whatever you'd like, or the Normandale counseling team or friends and family. Our counselors can offer a quick mental health tuneup, or provide multi-session personal counseling or referrals.

This morning I experienced stress related to our national elections, this afternoon I experienced stress related to the Breonna Taylor case, and then D2L ate my students Reflections grades. What history does teach me is that the sun will rise and I'll keep going. Let's do that together.
2020-09-22, 15:49- Experiment 3

Experiment 3 was an example of how examples matter. Section 10 (synchronous) included a great deal of information about the article they read and wrote well, but included much less about why they chose the metadata they did. Many students did identify which type of metadata they included, which indicated to me they were thinking about the metadata. Section 00 (asynchronous) included almost no details about the content of the articles they chose, and focused on why they chose particular metadata. Given the parameters of the assignment (if you look at the learning goals) you'll find that the latter strategy did a better job of what the assignment asked. That said, the writing from section 10 was especially strong.

Both groups sometimes described metadata in a circular logic way. For example, "I chose the century because that tells us when things happened and I chose the city because that tells us where it happened." Yes dates and places tell us dates and place. More importantly, why did YOU include dates and places as metadata as opposed to what ruler governed the area or what the dominant food was? Being explicit and deliberate in writing is key. Other students used the metadata supplied by the publisher, which was fine if you explained it. As with all historical writing, examples are key. For example, one student noted that the publisher metadata could help establish credibility, but only up to a point. Beyond that point, the credibility of the author mattered more.

2020-09-21, 21:46: Voyant

This week will challenge you, tying together distant readings and secondary sources. To the extent you can, give yourself time to work, reflect, and then work again on your experiment.

2020-09-17, 21:09: Closing Quiz 3 and Opening Quiz 4 Graded.

The multiple choice scores were decent on both. Question 6 had a many types of answers. On the question of the Ottoman empire and Busbecq, I was looking for some sense that a secondary source summarizes material and provides analysis. A primary source is created at the time and therefore does not have a broad perspective. A single example from one of the readings of these ideas earned full credit (4 points).

On the question of Cervantes, Shakespeare, and Wu, the strongest answers tied the specific historical context of one of the author's lives to his writings. There were multiple answers that included lots of words, but no actual history. Here is my attempt to explain that type of answer:

"We learn a lot about the past from the lives of authors because their context tells us about their lives, which are different than our lives today. Many things influenced what they wrote, and how they thought about their world. I feel I know so much more about these books having learned about the context of the authors' lives."

The two most powerful expressions in your history writing are "for example" and "such as." For example, "Many things influenced what they wrote, such as the time Cervantes was a prisoner of war and then included some of that experience in Don Quijote." Or, ". . . context tells us about their lives, such as Shakespeare writing so many comedy plays in order to keep 16th century London theater crowds happy." Little examples of history can make a big difference in demonstrating your learning.

There was one student who just dropped a brilliant bomb of analysis on the Cervantes, Shakespeare, Wu question. You know who you are and, bravo- very well done.

2020-09-16, 20:37: Consultations

I may need to give better guidance on the Consulations. This week's consultations read a bit more like reflections. Many students engage the material, but many others simply reflect on what they enjoyed or learned (which is appropriate for Reflections). Consultations are all about the material of the class and how to do the assignment. Given how many students wrote similarly, its clearly on me to provide stronger guidance for this assignment.

I am heartened by how many students went down personal-interest rabbit holes in their Experiments thus far.

2020-09-16, 10:32: Experiment 2 Graded
UPDATED: 2020-09-17, 10:22

I've graded both 1102 course only graded the synchronous class, but thus far, the work is pretty minimal. Not bad, but not strong. I'm reading mostly short paragraphs with only quick checks of wikipedia for credibility. Or, students write that they did more credibility checking, but do not document that in either prose or citations. I'm not seeing students concluding non-credible websites are credible, so I'm heartened by that.

Many students referenced That website does have factual information on it. It is NOT credible however because it does not published its authors, nor does it distinguish its entertainment material, such as a history of the fictional city of Atlantis, from its legitimate history. The lack of signed authors is huge. If someone handed you a note saying you had a fatal disease, but it was unsigned, would you trust it? It could be true. Still, in most of our work lives, we rely on experts, whether that's the stocker at Target who knows where the toothpaste is located, or the historian, who knows the language of the originating culture.

Britannica is fine, as I may have mentioned before. That said, it's not strong as it is written at an 8th-grade level. Getting off the open web, as many students have done in their subsequent work, is important. Our Normandale Library databases make research much easier. And, so you understand, checking the credibility of one encyclopedia, Britannica, with another, Wikipedia, and doing nothing else, is pretty weak lateral reading. If you ever have to do research for a job, please don't stop your lateral reading at the two most-popular encyclopedias. Many of you investigated the linked sources, and checked the authors: good. That's following information upstream to more credible sources.

2020-09-15, 16:58: Voyant alternative sites

Here are two alternative Voyant servers if the main site is not responsive:!/guide/mirrors

2020-09-15, 11:25: Help at Normandale

Normandale has a licensed psychologist on staff to help students work through their mental health concerns. See her appointment page to schedule a mental health tune-up, or to learn more. From her website:

Contact Information:

  • For individual mental health appointments with me, please call 952/358-8261 or proceed to scheduling below.

  • In the case of emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.

  • In crisis, please text MN to 741741 – available 24/7/365

  • National Suicide Prevention hotline – 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) -available 24/7/365

2020-09-14: Lots of emails and a few calls.

I"ve been answering lots of emails and had a few Zoom calls today. Please use the Book it! link to schedule time with me, if just to check in. We don't need to do video: audio is fine.

2020-09-11: Remembering

I was teaching at the University of Minnesota on September 11, 2001. I brought a radio into class, turned it on, and we listened for 20 or so minutes before I told students we couldn't proceed.

I now have students who volunteered for armed service and sacrificed their physical and mental health for the wars that the US government pursued after 9/11.

If you have a professor over 40, they were likely teaching on that day, and have similar experiences with veteran students.

2020-09-10, 12:46: Consultations Week 2 Graded

NOTE: I mis-posted a note to my World 1 students here earlier. Below is accurate text.

Overall the consultations were ok. A number of students didn't comment on someone else's post, which cost a point. Please read the consultation prompts carefully: I try to clear guidance on expectations for your work.

2020-09-09, 22:23: Consultations Week 3

I just finished reading your Consultations for Week 3. I found some fantastic analyses of how results come up. One student speculated that searches for "Christianity" might be higher because it would grab "Christian" results as a root word where searches for "Islam" would not necessarily pull results from records with "Muslim" unless the metada fields were connected. Thus, someone could conlcude there are thousands more articles on Christianity than Islam, when in fact the metadata skewed the results.

Several students noted the abundance of sources on Europe, even when compared to North America. That is both the product of cultural bias and real historical source absence: we don't have as many written sources about the Americas in general and the Native American source base was systematically erased during the genocides of the modern era. There's also a language issue. If you read Chinese, you would find a staggering quantity of scholarship on China that won't turn up in our English language sources.

By and large, well done on the consultations.

2020-09-09, 21:23: Reflections Grade

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, 2020-09-09, you should have 10 points for one week of reflections. You're Reflections grade will look odd in the grade book as we are adding points to an eventual total. To calculate your % Reflections grade, take your earned points (5) / # of weeks x 5. So, in week two, 10/10 = 100%. Week 5 might be 23 / 25 = 92%

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 exclusively 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. If you found something fit nicely with your existing knowledge, which let you take your learning beyond the expectations, that' also great.
    -Students did a great job copy editing their reflections. I found almost flawless capitalization, punctuation, and language usage: keep it up.

2020-09-08, 20:38: Experiment 1 Graded

Two different pictures based on the section. The synchronous class tended to under-answer the questions, writing minimal responses. Of note, the response questions had multiple parts, so only answering one part didn't generally earn full points. The asynchronous class answered at sophistication and length I expected. The best practice was clearly to post the questions and interlace the answers as that ensured students did not forget a question.

Both classes did outstanding in the quality and editing of their writing. Keep it up.

2020-09-08, 14:50: Quiz Grades

Quiz grades are now up to date. Please continue to read laterally, that is to evaluate credibility of sites not based on the site itself, but what other sources tell you about that site. Everyone concluded that the Tree Octopus site was not credible, but a few started by evaluating if they thought the site "looked professional." Site appearance is not part of the SIFT process: we need confirmation from other sources. As I like to say, you can't tell a liar is lying by asking them if they are lying.

Curiously, while employing SIFT for the Tree Octopus, many students didn't use SIFT for evaluating AskHistorians. Many students lookup up reddit itself, or proceeded in their evaluation based on their existing knowledge. Those that added Wikipedia or did general searches found that the strict moderation of the site along with its popularity with experts make it a credible site. As many of you noted, being a credible place to start research does not make it a high-quality research site. I gave full credit for many different types of answers, all of which walked me through their evaluation process.

Students have paid greater attention to copy editing for spelling and capitalization this week: well done!

2020-09-04, 15:41: Reflections

Your Reflection assignment is submitted in the Reflections discussion board on D2L. Only you and I can see your Reflections, so you will not see other student posts. It is easiest if you respond to your first post, which allows you to see all your previous reflections in one thread as the semester progresses.

2020-09-03, 13:54: Reflections on your Week 2 Work

Overall I found the consultations to be useful, thoughtful, and occasionally witty working through your websites. Many students are finding credible websites that, nonetheless, do not provide high quality historical information. Encyclopedia Britannica, which comes up at least a half-dozen times, has information that is credible. That said, the Encyclodpedia is written at an 8th grade level and rarely recognizes the last ten years of research on a topic. So, my first reflection is to encourage you to think about the difference between credible and high quality. As a metaphor, it's the difference between edible and delectable food.

My second reflection is to be mindful of how different groups encountered each other during our period (1400-1900). It's false to imagine one group "discovered" another group or that a particular group of explorers went into unknown territory. There have been indigenous groups in almost all parts of the world for 10,000 years. People today often use the language of, say the 16th century, and talk about how "we discovered the Mississippi." History is about the past, so the use of first-person for pre-1900 events is inaccurate. More importantly, Native Americans had been using the Mississippi for thousands of years, so it can't be discovered so much as newly recognized, much like I might "discover" that beating egg whites before adding them to pancakes makes for better pancakes. Our language should reflect what we, people in the 21st century, accurately know about the past.

2020-09-2: Move done

My family is back in our house (we were in an apartment for a while) and I am grateful for all the hard work y'all did today. I'm back at it tomorrow in the A.M.

2020-09-02- Moving

I am moving from one home to another today. I am officially not working (I took a personal day), but I will check in as I can to answer questions. I would appreciate it if you could hold any grade-related or D2L questions until Thursday, unless it impacts your ability to turn in work. Thank you!

2020-08-31, 16:56

I have received at least 10 emails asking me to open a quiz or discussion board up again. Per the syllabus, except in the case of hospitalization or deployment, there is no late work. Please read the syllabus to review the grading guidelines.

There are basic issue of fairness at play in grading. I find it ethically impossible to weigh student difficulties against each other. I have had students give birth to children, lose friends to car accidents, break ankles, deploy overseas and in country, attend weddings, go to Vail for Spring break, take care of younger siblings, and oversleep. Rather than say "student A has an honest reason but student B is an untruthful slacker" I build two weeks of grade slack into the course. You don't have to ask for it: it's there. If you never need it: great. If you do need it, your grade benefits from the two drops and you can stay focused on moving forward in our course without other assignments hanging over your head.

2020-08-28, 10:58

A couple of notes on grading. Per the syllabus, your lowest two grades in each category are dropped. D2L only drops what it can see, so your first two grades are going to display as dropped or zeroes in every category. Once you have three grades in a category, D2L will drop the lowest two, even if those are high grades.

For question about 5/9 on quizzes, see my post of 2020-08-27, 10:05 below for an explanation.

Grading Criteria for Quizzes: I include grading feedback for the sixth question of all our quizzes. Such criteria will indicate your ability to demonstrate historical thinking at a proficient, developing, or basic level. I award 4, 3.7, and 3.5 points respectively for these levels, out of 4. If you answer in a single sentence or do not give a good faith effort in answering the question, you will earn a 1 out of four.

You'll note that all three grades are "A" grades even though a 3.5 means you are not displaying the tested historical skill. I do this because I want to get a picture of where you are in your historical thinking, but I am not "testing" you in a final sense. Rather, the sixth question is what we call a formative assessment, a question designed to demonstrate knowledge without a high stakes grade.

2020-08-27, 11:24

Of my 105 students this semester, 60 have filled out the Get to know
'ya form
that helps me understand you as a learner. If you haven't done so, please do fill it out. And thank you!

As well, we have around 60% of student who have added a picture or avatar to D2L. Having an image helps me an everyone using D2L think of you in a humane way, so please upload a picture of yourself or an avatar. Click on the grey figure in the upper-right of D2l to access your profile.

2020-08-27, 10:07

On the quizzes, you have 5 points for the multiple choice questions. The final question is worth 4 points, and I need to hand grade it. As a result, immediately after taking the quiz you will have a grade of a maximum of 5 out of 9. Once I've graded the last question, you will receive full credit for your answers.

2020-08-27, 09:43

Several students emailed about the gradebook on D2L. Your lowest two grades for each category are automatically dropped, so the term "dropped" will appear next to you lowest to grades. If you only have one grade, regardless of the grade, D2L will drop it. Once you have three grades in a category, say 76, 84, 98, D2L will drop the lowest two going forward.

I'm seeing some responses in Experiment one that are minimal. For example, "Do you know someone who believes in conspiracy theories." If you answered "Yes." that doesn't help me understand what you've learned about the SIFT process. History is about using evidence to explain, so showing me more evidence enriches your explanation. There are many fully- explained answers as well. Please use the more robust answers as you models.

2020-08-25, 11:54

Join today's classroom at
Password is in your email. Scroll down.

2020-08-24, 20:14

Office hour zoom meetings will be held in my individual Zoom room. The meeting id is my phone number (952 358 8911) or you can join the room here.. The password will be mailed to your Normandale email.

Team meetings will be in Microsoft Teams, and phone calls I will initiate using the number you've given me.

My synchronous section (1102 10) has their own zoom room and instruction were sent today inviting you to join that room every Tuesday at noon. Our syncrhonous sessions are a required part of the 1102 10 section course.

2020-08-24, 13:22
An introduction to our course websites (captions available)

Please read this first before looking at the rest of the course.

Schedule a 15 minute chat with your professor, Jack Norton.

A terrible thing happened? Are we going to talk about it?

I've been teaching for 20 years, and this question comes up frequently. I am happy to discuss current events with students one on one. In face-to-face class or virtual class settings, the need to address a contemporary event varies. I taught on 9/11, and was the person from whom 19 students learned of that event. We talked about it a lot that semester. I've also taught through 18 years of the U.S. deployment to Afghanistan, the Syrian civil war, the Arab Spring, and now the 2nd civil rights movement following the killing of George Floyd.

There are two sometimes competing forces in a history course: the need to better your historical thinking skills as laid out in the syllabus and the need to help you make order of your right-now world. History can provide deep insight into why things happen, but not if we let contemporary events drive all our investigations. Whatever our feelings about a contemporary event or person, that feeling is not necessarily relevant to the study of a period at least 100 years ago (and all my courses end by 1914 at the latest).

So, will we talk about contemporary events? If students bring events up in office hours or virtual rooms, we may address modern events, briefly in group settings. As an employee of the state of MN, I do not advocate on behalf of any political candidates, although I do reaffirm the values of Normandale Community College and the MN State system if politicians speak against those values in ways that disrupt student learning. I am open to many viewpoints, but I am not neutral. I am for all my students, and therefore I am anti-racist, and feminist, and many other versions of anti-prejudice. Or, put another way, I'm pro-student. It is not my job to teach students what to think about historical or contemporary events. It is my job to give you the skills to draw evidence-based conclusions about why events happened.

So, "are we going to talk about it?" Maybe. If you want to talk about it, I'm here.