Course Structure


The first aspect of this course you should be aware of is that it employs a hybrid instructional model. The role of the instructor is not only to lead seminar-type discussions, but to also help students reach their goals as a coach and facilitator. It is imperative that instructor and participants work together to meet the objectives of the class, foster a collaborative learning climate, and help guide each other when necessary. Presentations by the instructor will only take place when they are necessary in order to move group discussions forward.


It is Spring semester, and expect weather issues early on. In case of extreme emergencies, attendance expectations may be flexible. For specific absence policies (number of days), see “Grades” below.


HIS 5595 does not require any books to purchase; it would be odd to order physical copies when we have access to so much relevant and smart literature on digital history free online.

Everything we read will be accessible through our shared Zotero group folder (App State HIS 5595). See the next section for week-by-week reading topics; see this Google Doc for a week-by-week list of readings. All readings have links in Zotero, and are grouped by week in the HIS 5595 folder.

Always bring your preferred computing device (laptop, tablet, phone). In case there are any issues, we have access to departmental laptops in case you need it. Most importantly, though, bring your imagination and work ethic to every meeting.


Session 01 (January 14): Introduction & Learning in a Digital World
Session 02 (January 21): Evolution of Digital History
Session 03 (January 28): Publishing Historical Scholarship Online
Session 04 (February 4): No class – Individual Meetings (scheduled times)
Session 05 (February 11): Content Management and Exhibits
Session 06 (February 18): Data / Visualizing the Past
Session 07 (February 25): Sharing Your Research in Academic Circles
Session 08 (March 3): In-Class Individual Meetings (Lab Work ABH 240)
Session 09 (March 17): Teaching Audiences
Session 10 (March 24): Establishing Your Digital Identity
Session 11 (March 31): Digital and Public History
Session 12 (April 7): Ethical Issues to Consider: Copyright, Ownership, Manipulation
Session 13 (April 14): The Problem of Abundance/Lab Work
Session 14 (April 21): Making History Personal: Gaming, Mobile Devices, Mashups and Convergence Culture
Session 15 (April 28): Poster Sessions

*Every effort will be made to cover the topics identified in the syllabus; however, occasional changes may be made for pedagogical or scheduling reasons.


This course uses contract grading. There are no points or letter grades during the semester, but I will need to enter a final letter grade at the end of the semester per university guidelines.

A contract grading system does not mean there are no expectations, nor does it mean there is no feedback. Instead, I will offer helpful feedback as you progress with each assignment and we will meet for one-on-one meetings at various points in the semester. Before these meetings, you will be expected to submit a reflective feedback form that allows you to record your thoughts each week in a journal section. At the end of the semester, we have a final meeting to discuss your grade. Before we meet, you should bring a separate final grade analysis with justification for each assignment; I will share my own analysis as well. Our discussion will provide context for the final grade.

Why Contract Grading?
Too often, students work for “points” that impact their GPA. Naturally, the grade – not the learning – becomes the focus. Contract grading redirects your focus so that learning is intrinsic and flows out of your learning journey. Another reason to use contract grading is that this is a graduate level course focused on digital history, which, for most participants, means developing a new set of skills and practices. Thus, even “final products” are works in progress. Assessments should reflect both the learning objectives and the nature of the work itself.

To Pass (“C”)
Attend class regularly (no more than 3 absences for the semester); submit your Final Reflection form, and complete at least 3/4 of assigned work (journals, blog posts+comments, product assignments, etc.). In terms of participation in class discussions, you offered some input but the quality of your participation suggests minimal-to-moderate effort outside of class.

To Earn a B
Attend class regularly (not missing more than 2 classes in a semester); submit your Final Reflection form (with honest and reflective comments throughout); complete all assigned work in a timely manner, with sincere effort, and attention to detail [work shows you read texts closely and kept up with journal entries]. In terms of participating in class discussions, be fully present and engaged in class readings and discussions.

To Earn an A
Do all of what is required for a “B” but also show excellence in your work. That means putting extra effort by stretching yourself intellectually: strong critical thinking (including the ability to understand and respond to other views, especially those contrary to your own); evidence of problem solving; writing that shows critical analysis, careful re-reading, and original thought; ideas uniquely your own (not just repeated from the readings or class discussions); risk taking that reflects creativity in your learning (trying a new technique or a more challenging approach).

If at any time you’d like to discuss how your academic work is measuring up to these standards, stop by my office or schedule an appointment. I’m always glad to talk with you. Our periodic one-on-one meetings will also provide opportunities to discuss your learning and growth (so make good use of your journaling).


Distribution (Points / Grade)
93+ / A
90-92 / A-
87-89 / B+
83-86 / B
80-82 / B-
77-79 / C+
73-76 / C
70-72 / C-
69- / F.