Course Requirements & Policies

Technical requirements:

1. Computer and internet access. This is an online technology course, and we will use and reflect about the use of technology. You will need to have regular, reliable access to a computer and a stable broadband Internet connection. I realize that Internet access can be spotty, and we’ll discuss this issue in our course. If you don’t have regular computer access or a stable Internet connection, I will accommodate your needs, of course.

We’ll use a variety of platforms: In addition to Blackboard, we’ll use Zoom for my office hours and small group meetings and Slack as a discussion board. I will distribute further instructions in our virtual classroom.

Please do make sure that you use the most up to date version of your preferred browser, whether it’s Firefox (92 or above), Chrome (94 or above), or Safari (15 or above), Edge (95 or above).

2. As part of our course, you will set up a blog. If you don’t already own your own web domain, you will need to create one for our course. You’ll have several options, two of which are free.

Option 1: You caninstall a free blog on There are some limitations to the free version and you won’t be able to install the podcasting plug-in. However, the free version is perfectly fine for our course. If you decide to do a podcast, you can publish it online on a free platform outside of WordPress. I’ll share detailed instructions about this. While free, setting up WordPress has become a bit more complicated in recent years. A bit more straightforward is the setup for the free blog offered by google on the Blogger platform (option 2).

Option 2: Blogger: This is a particularly good option for those of you who already have a google account, or who don’t mind setting up one for our class. Setting up a blog on Blogger/Google is easier than on WordPress (see my instructions).

Option 3: Reclaim hosting: You can also use Reclaim Hosting, a hosting service developed originally at the University of Mary Washington especially for students and faculty:

The total cost for the student/personal plan is $30. Reclaim Hosting is popular among Mason Hist 390 faculty (and beyond) because of its pricing, services, and customer support. You’ll use Reclaim to install Word Press and will have the option to install a podcasting plug-in if you plan to produce a podcast. The Reclaim/Wordpress option might be particularly attractive for those of you who are planning to set up your own websites and blogs, either for personal or professional use.

Option 4: You are free to use other blogging platforms that you’re familiar with (Weebly etc.) as long as you’re OK with using your own blog for the course and don’t need any tech support from me since I may not be familiar with the platform as with WordPress or Blogger.

I will distribute a step-by-step guide on how to set up your blogs early in the spring – this won’t be due until mid February.   


Setting up your domain and blog (5%): You will set up your free blog.

Blog posts (15%): You will write two blog posts. In one blog post, you will feature an oral history interview, and in the other blog post, you will write a review of a podcast or an online exhibition. I will provide you with detailed instructions via email (blog post 1: 10%; blog post 2: 5% =15% total).

Quizzes (25%): There will be three quizzes, which you can complete in the course of one week each (quiz 1: 5%; quiz 2: 10%, quiz 3: 10%).

Skills & tools exercises (15%): I will offer you several optional small tools & skills exercises throughout the semester. I will grade a total of three of these small tools & skills exercises (pass/fail). You may tailor these exercises to your own interests and needs – in addition to the options provided by me, you may also propose your own small tools & skill exercise(s). So, if there is a specific application that you want or need to learn in the course of this semester, you’ll have the option to do this after consulting with me (5% each = 15% total).

Final project, including proposal (20%): You will plan, produce and present an analytical historical presentation incorporating primary as well as secondary sources, including oral histories. The presentation can be a podcast, or a blog post including images and links to videos. While you may also plan, produce and present your own oral history interview, this is not a requirement for the course. Instead, you may work with existing interviews that are available online. (The final project includes 5% proposal, 5% bibliography, 5% about page).

Participation and peer review (20%): This will be an important part of your grade, and I expect you to engage in our asynchronous online discussions on Slack throughout the semester. I will break you up into smaller groups where you will discuss specific questions and discuss working drafts of your final project proposals.


Your grade for the semester will be based upon the following criteria:

Your grade for the semester will be based upon the following criteria:

* Setting up your domain on Reclaim/setting your blog on WordPress or Blogger: 5%

* Blogs: 15% (10% blog 1 and 5% blog 2)

* Quizzes: 25% (5% quiz 1, 10% quiz 2, 10% quiz 3)

* Exercises: I will grade three of the optional exercises offered throughout the semester (5% each, 15% total)

* Final project: 20 % (including 5% proposal, 5% bibliography and about page)

* Participation: 20% (including project peer review, and participation in virtual classroom)

Grading scale

  • A: 90-100%
  • B: 80-90%
  • C: 70-80%
  • D: 60-70%
  • F: <60%
  • Extra credit: You will have the opportunity to get extra credit for the quizzes, skills & tools exercises, discussion board, and final project. When you complete all assignments and have gained extra credit in at least two other assignments, in addition to the final project, you will upgrade your final grade (for example A plus rather than an A).

Course policies:

* My first priority if for you to enjoy the coursework and succeed in class. In order to do that, please keep up with your classwork, including:

* Attendance and engagement: Please keep up with the coursework and complete assignments by the deadline. If you need an extension, please let me know. Because the skills and knowledge you’ll acquire in our class advance progressively toward the final project, it is important that you keep up with your readings and coursework and stay engaged.

* Collaboration: While we are not doing any formal group projects, I encourage you to help and learn from each other.  

* Help me to learn from you: Please ask questions, and let me know if anything we do is unclear, and if any assignments could be improved.

* Ethics: We will discuss ethical guidelines for the digital environment throughout our course, and will implement these guidelines in our classroom and in all components of our work.