Course Requirements and Policies:

History as a field requires considerable reading, writing, discussion, and analytical thinking, but it also requires you to do “Historical Thinking.” This online course will focus on how historians learn about the past, both through scholarly readings and through hands-on inquiry into historical sources. You will, I hope, discover that history is a massive, crowd-sourcing project as we all attempt to understand better the past. This will mean learning what scholars already think they know (through lectures and readings), followed by your own adventures with a variety of primary sources on key topics from the period.  Your journey, to be its best, demands that you keep up with the course readings and media, visit the web site regularly, participate actively on class forums and blogs, and complete assignments. However, doing an online course can be a different experience, and this is a very traumatic period in US history, so if you  ever feel overwhelmed or disconnected, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact your instructor and/or your fellow students.  We are all here to learn together and the following materials and policies will help us to do so.

Required Readings:9k=

  • The Battle Cry of Freedom
    By James McPherson (see resources for purchase options)
  • A Short History of Reconstruction
    By Eric Foner (see resources for purchase options)
  • All other readings and media can be found on this site in the Units.


  1. Introductions: introduce yourself to the class.
  2. Blog Posts:  Part 1: “How Historians Know?” video assignment.
  3. Project Proposal: decide upon and write about your final project.
  4. Blog Posts:  Part 2: “How Historians Know?” video assignment.
  5. Project Research: collect together and explain your final project research and research findings.
  6. Blog Posts:  Part 3: “How Historians Know?” video assignment.
  7. Final Project: submit your final project.

Check the schedule regularly for assignment due dates.  See the Assignments page for more details about each assignment.


Note: While all assignments will be graded on a point scale (i.e., 15/20), final grades will be given on a 4.0 scale. The final grade will be calculated using the following scale:

  • 90 – 100 = 4.0
  • 85 – 89.99 = 3.5
  • 80 – 84.99 = 3.0
  • 75 – 79.99 = 2.5
  • 70 – 74.99 – 2.0
  • 65 – 69.99 = 1.5
  • 60 – 64.99 = 1.0
  • <60 = 0

One problem we do face is that the final project will be the largest percentage of your grade.  To guard against getting an unexpected grade at the end of the session, we will be grading assignments 3 and 5 to give you a snapshot of how you are doing in the course.  However, we do know that doing an historical project is a process, one in which we often stumble and fail on our way to a successful end.  Thus if your final project grade is higher than the project proposal (3) and the project research (5), we will go back and adjust these grades.  In short, it is always good to try harder and that a good grade is never ruled out (we will not lower earlier grades if your final project has a lower grade).

The Introduction and Blog Posts (assignments 1, 2, 4, and 6) are your chance to participate and engage others in a virtual course.  The grades for these will be a simple all or nothing.  In short, an easy place to gain points (or lose them if you don’t keep up).  We realize that summer is a time for adventures and travel and that you take an online course for its flexibility.  That is, if you know you will be away or life events get in the way of a deadline, contact your instructors and keep them informed.

Each assignment will have guidelines that explains in detail how it will be evaluated.  Go to the Assignments Page for more information.

Late Assignment Policy

In general the policy is simply that late assignments will not be accepted.  Many of our assignments require interaction.  While all of the students in the class do not need to be online at the same time (synchronous meetings), our course is asynchronous allowing 3 to 4 days for responses.  Being late thus may mean getting no responses.  However,we realize (as noted above, but good to repeat) that summer is a time for adventures and travel and that you take an online course for its flexibility.  We also know that life events happen, technology fails,  and sometime thoughts don’t come together.

Thus 4 rules to follow:

  1. Everything up to the final project is drafting, so don’t worry about being perfect.  Turn in what you have.
  2. You have the complete schedule.  Plan now to spot conflicts and when you may need to turn things in early.  Talk to your instructor if you know you may be away and may need an extension for a particular assignment.
  3. In general with online courses, it is always good to plan on turning things in 12 to 24 hours early to avoid last minute tech and life snafus.   That is, you have the schedule but put earlier due dates into your calendar.
  4. Don’t give up.  If last minute tech or life problems do come up, don’t think all is lost.  Talk with your instructor. Lateness can be negotiated.

**Note that the key rule to successfully negotiating an online course is to Contact Your Instructor.


Academic Honesty:

Article 2.3.3 of the Academic Freedom Report states that “The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards.” In addition, the History adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations. (See Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide and/or the MSU Web site:www.msu.edu.)

Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work you completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course. Also, you are not authorized to use the www.allmsu.com Web site to complete any course work in this course. Students who violate MSU academic integrity rules may receive a penalty grade, including a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. Contact your instructor if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your course work. (See also the Academic Integrity webpage.)

Limits to confidentiality:  

Essays, journals, and other materials submitted for this class are generally considered confidential pursuant to the University’s student record policies.  However, students should be aware that University employees, including instructors, may not be able to maintain confidentiality when it conflicts with their responsibility to report certain issues to protect the health and safety of MSU community members and others.  As the instructor, I must report the following information to other University offices (including the Department of Police and Public Safety) if you share it with me:

–Suspected child abuse/neglect, even if this maltreatment happened when you were a child,

–Allegations of sexual assault or sexual harassment when they involve MSU students, faculty, or staff, and

–Credible threats of harm to oneself or to others.

These reports may trigger contact from a campus official who will want to talk with you about the incident that you have shared.  In almost all cases, it will be your decision whether you wish to speak with that individual.  If you would like to talk about these events in a more confidential setting you are encouraged to make an appointment with the MSU Counseling Center.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:

(from the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD): Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Requests for accommodations by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at 517-884-RCPD or on the web at rcpd.msu.edu. Once your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined, you will be issued a Verified Individual Services Accommodation (“VISA”) form. Please present this form to me at the start of the term and/or two weeks prior to the accommodation date (test, project, etc.). Requests received after this date may not be honored.

Drops and Adds:

The last day to add this course is the end of the first week of classes. The last day to drop this course with a 100 percent refund and no grade reported can be found on the Academic Calendar. The last day to drop this course with no refund and no grade reported found on the Academic Calendar. You should immediately make a copy of your amended schedule to verify you have added or dropped this course.

Commercialized Lecture Notes:

Commercialization of lecture notes and university-provided course materials is not permitted in this course.*


Any information posted to the web site can only be viewed by other members of the course.  Your materials will be removed from the course after the conclusion of the course.  It is always a good idea to retain a copy of your work.

Never work in the online environment and in online forms.  Always do your work in the wordprocessing program and then cut and paste your work into the forum or blog post.

Disruptive Behavior:

Article 2.III.B.4 of the Academic Freedom Report (AFR) for students at Michigan State University states: “The student’s behavior in the classroom shall be conducive to the teaching and learning process for all concerned.” Article 2.III.B.10 of the AFR states that “The student has a right to scholarly relationships with faculty based on mutual trust and civility.” General Student Regulation 5.02 states: “No student shall . . . interfere with the functions and services of the University (for example, but not limited to, classes . . .) such that the function or service is obstructed or disrupted. Students whose conduct adversely affects the learning environment in this classroom may be subject to disciplinary action through the Student Judicial Affairs office.


Students whose names do not appear on the official class list for this course may not attend this class.

This course is designed so that you finish one unit each week.  Try not to get behind.  You may work ahead but do not expect feedback until after the official due date for the assignment (check schedule regularly for due dates).  You should log into the site several times a week to do your work;  if you will not be logging in for an extended period of time, notify your instructor.

Now that you got to the end, go to the top and read again.  Ask about anything you don’t understand.