Orientation to the Course

This has very rough screen prints of the course, but I will find a better technology over summer.

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          Blackboard Learning_Modules_and_This_Course












Welcome to Class!

This section provides very important information regarding how this course will function and what will be expected of you. So, please take the time to read all of the material provided. 

 After you have read the material in this section, you will be required to complete several introductory tasks. If you have additional questions after completing this section, please post them to the 'Course Questions' discussion topic on the discussion board. Don't be shy about asking your question(s). Remember, if something is not clear to you, it is probably not clear to others as well!  Also, if someone posts a question for which you have an answer, feel free to help out!

 With thanks to WCJC’s Director of Distance Education, Professor Michele Betancourt, for her permission to use her Getting Started documents (including her exact words) in the Getting Started sections of our WCJC courses.


 About Your Instructor—and the Value of Learning History

Welcome to this online section of United States History II. My name is C.J. Bibus, and I will be your instructor this semester. I have been teaching online history since 2003 and both on-campus and online history for WCJC since 2004. My experience is that history is interesting but more than that it is useful for survival:

·        Helps us develop a repertoire of solutions to different kinds of problems.

·        Shows us that history changes and what were the major forces that made the pattern change. What people do can make a difference.

·        Shows us essential concepts useful in many other field—business, economics, government, literature, science, sociology, and technology.

·        Provides essential practice of rules for evidence (not just having an opinion). Having verifiable proof is not unique to history—evidence is essential to understanding biology and business and anything that is real.
Write your history answers the way you would answer a question about biology or business—all three are real.

I am a native Texan who attended a community college. I moved to Virginia for a master’s degree in history and then later returned to Texas to earn my doctorate. My doctorate emphasized teaching in the community college and the history of the early junior college just after 1900.

I also worked in industry before returning to teaching in the community college in 2003. Much of my emphasis on evidence and accuracy comes from my experience in industry. I found that getting or keeping a job that paid well required skills with evidence and factual accuracy.  I also know that evidence and accuracy are essential for citizenship, in part because history reveals what happens long-term and what happens when people  do not act or act only for short-term interests.

If history is not your favorite subject, it may still be very useful to each of you. My life in industry taught me that learning history helped people learn how to think about real things—from biology to business. History is about how things work.

I have a perfect daughter—all parents should feel that way about their children. My daughter “brought me up as best she could.”

I am always trying to improve the course each semester. At the end of each semester, I take a survey to see what would help students. I also wanted to take advantage of the efforts of WCJC’s Director of Distance Education, Professor Michele Betancourt. I have copied her work in the Getting Started section in hopes of helping each of you. If anyone has suggestions to improve this course, feel free to let me know. I value and appreciate the input.


Course Communications

As this is an online course, our primary means of communication will be through email and discussion board areas.

Online and On-campus Office Hours

Each semester I will post my virtual office hours. These will be posted as an announcement during the first week of the semester. During my virtual office hours I will be available to respond to student questions. Additionally I try to log in each day when you are taking Unit Exams.

I also am glad to have a phone conference or meet with any of you on campus during my office hours. My office is at the Richmond campus where I have a phone and voice mail and teach on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I also teach at the Sugar Land campus on Tuesday and Thursday—where I hold office hours in an area without a phone that is reliable.

Because I teach in both Sugar Land and Richmond, it is clearer to show where I am during the week than write about it. This link shows you in weekly calendar format how to reach me when you need me.

Email and Telephone

Reaching me through my Blackboard email (Messages on the left menu) is the BEST way to reach me. I can rarely check my WCJC email except at the beginning of the day. If you mail me within Blackboard email, I will generally respond within 24 hours (holidays and weekends being exceptions). At a minimum, I check the course messages at least after my last class on campus.

If you want to talk by phone during my online office hours, then the fastest way is to use Blackboard email to tell me your phone number and ask me to call you.

Blackboard’s Learning Modules, Differences in Students, and That This Is a Reading Course

Blackboard’s Learning Modules and Which Ones Are in This Course

Blackboard provides a tool called Learning Modules and—like the model for instruction that the Distance Learning Department provided to faculty—we use it in this course. Learning Modules let students have access in one place to everything they need for the current jobs they have to do. In each of our Learning Modules for this course, we cover a time period where history changes a lot. The nation starts out one way and becomes something recognizably different. This instructor’s view of everything you would see if you clicked on Learning Module (on the left menu) shows you the learning modules for the 3 Units—and the date in the title and the “It will be available after…” tells you when you will see them.

Click here for a brief oral explanation of this section.


How All Learning Modules Are Organized

Each of our Learning Modules for Units is organized in exactly the same way. All Units are split in Parts so that the content is a manageable size. What resources are in each Unit (each Learning Module in for learning a period of history) and in this order:

Click here for a brief oral explanation of this section.



A Reading Course That Helps You Read Less—and Better

Because reading and writing are challenging, I provide in the Learning Modules things to reduce your time and increase your success in reading. There are several but these two are most important:

1.     A way to know every possible Unit Exam Essay question that Blackboard might display at the beginning of the Unit plus tips on where to find the information for that question and tips in the event students before had trouble understanding it.
What do you look for to take advantage of this? 
* Either look for the link to the list of all possible essay questions provided in each Learning Module in a link called “Everything You Need for This Unit (except the maps)” – visible in the right part of the screen above.
* Or click on Essay Topics (on the left menu or in each Unit learning module) –visible in the right part of the screen above.

2.    A way to identify before you read and before I test you at the end of the Unit, the things you know and those things you don’t know (but may think you know). This lets you read very efficiently—read what you don’t know.
What do you look for to take advantage of this? Look for the Check Your Knowledge quizzes.

Because the results from a Check Your Knowledge quiz tell you what you don’t know, but those results don’t show the whole question so you really can’t learn efficiently (but only memorize), I provide printable versions of Check Your Knowledge quizzes without answers. I try to take the busy work out of learning so you have a pre-built place to record which ones you missed.  I also provide a version of the links to the quizzes with tips.
What do you look for to take advantage of this? Look for these resources in each Learning Module in a link called “Everything You Need for This Unit (except the maps).”


Click here for a brief oral explanation of this section. – The Check Your Knowledge quiz on the left and the link on the right showing the questions available from "Everything You Need for This Unit (except the maps)" are the same.



Two Steps in Using Check Your Knowledge Quizzes

Click here for a brief oral explanation of this section.

FIRST, after you take the Syllabus Acknowledgement Quiz, you begin with the Check Your Knowledge quizzes for each part of the Unit. You see a box similar to the one at the top telling you when the Unit Exam occurs. If you want to know why, click Why you can’t see exams and why the boxes of information shown at Quizzes& Exams (whether on the left menu or in Learning Module).


SECOND, after you take Check Your Knowledge quiz for Quiz A, you click on the shortcut to Quizzes & Exams (or use the one on the left menu). You now see the other two versions of Quiz A. You begin with the Check Your Knowledge quizzes for each part of the Unit.



These tips may also help you. Ask if you have some question that needs tips:

How to find all possible objective and essay questions

How to prepare for objective and essay exams

How the printable quiz  works with the 3 versions of each quiz

Before you click on a quiz, why you want to decide your answers on paper first

About the confusing prompt and what to do – the one saying you can return to a quiz or exam

Why you do not want to study the results and what’s the alternative

About the Percentage of Your Grade That Requires Reading For Evidence and Writing With Evidence

There are some things, however, that all students need to do if they want an A. All have to read. Essays (short, evidence-based answers to specific questions) and the Major Essay and your Discussion Working Groups count for 250 points out of 1000. That is the minimum percentage that the History Department uses.

If you were perfect (and few of us are) at everything else, you’d score 750 points and that is a C. Having a substantial part of the grade for history be from writing is a departmental requirement and a WCJC requirement.

How is it a WCJC requirement? History is classified as a “gateway” course (not a gatekeeper—a whole different word) and in history we are expected to try to prepare you for what it is like after community college. Now I don’t grade you at a junior and senior level, but I use the traditional rules for evidence and use them at a freshman level. What you will see as you go forward is that my intent is not to hurt your grades over the essays, but to help you safely have the experiences that you need to practice for the future you are choosing. Community college teachers did that for me and I am glad to do that for you.

Reading and writing are hard—and they are hard for me as well. Reading for evidence and writing with evidence (not just opinion) are harder, but they will help you learn history and that’s my job. My experience in industry says that the skills it takes to learn history can also help you in jobs that will pay well. The Getting Started task of introducing yourself to the Good Habits for Evidence deals habits that will help you succeed.


Discussion Boards

The Discussion Section of the course is used for a variety of purposes. With this course, you can use the Discussion Board to get help or give it. You also can communicate with other members of the class—and not just in the graded area. I hope this section will help to create a sense of community for people learning history.

Everyone is encouraged to answer questions if they know the answer. One thing I learned in academics—but more in business—is to always double check anything you are about to say is true. It is a good habit that takes a few seconds but always pays off.

I regularly read through the questions and answers. If there is any particular area of confusion or "bad" answers, I may remove the posting or may send out the correct information as a general email.

Types of Discussion Boards in This Course

Discussions – Class

The Discussions topics on Discussions - Class are ones that can be seen by anyone in the class. They are:

·        Course Questions: You should post general questions that you have related to the course in this area. This is generally the fastest way to receive a response. I will review and respond frequently. Students are welcome to post responses to questions if they so choose. Your participation in this discussion topic is optional.

·        Technical Questions: You can post questions about computer related problems here. I used to know a great deal about WebCT and the Blackboard version we used here at WCJC before May, 2012. I am a novice at this Blackboard because I have only used it since May, 2012. If you have a problem, I do want to know about it. I may know a solution. If I don’t, I will tell you that. Also, many students have taken several online courses and have experienced similar technical issues. Remember that you can always click on the help button at the top of the course page.

·        Student Lounge: A place to discuss issues not related to the course. Your participation in the Student Lounge is optional. I rarely go into this area. If you have a question for your instructor, post in Course Questions or email me.

·        Student Introduction: A place to post a little bit about yourself so that other students and the instructor can know a little bit about you.

·        Shareables from the Working Groups: The purpose of this topic is covered in the syllabus. It is graded as an extra credit activity.

Discussions – Groups

The Discussions topics on Discussions - Groups are ones that can be seen only by a person in a group. Each of you have been randomly assigned to a group. I have seen some real benefit to random assignments to groups. Once the purge rolls are available I will make adjustments so the groups are about the same size and so that everyone is anyone in the class.

This is very new to me so help me by telling me if you see a problem. I also expect to be building you quick instructions (with ugly screen prints) on getting to your groups and what you do.  After Unit 1 starts, you will see a Unit 1 topic for your working group. You are to help each other learn history and practice Good Habits for Evidence.  These working groups let you ask or answer questions about the current content, current essay questions, and about current quiz questions. You can earn those points in several ways.

Points to Remember about All Postings

This link provides guidelines for posting, including politeness. It also has a section on the value of threads. These guidelines are necessary for:

·        students posting in the general types of discussion boards

·        those  posting in the graded Unit topics


Grading and How Long It Takes

I know everyone is always anxious to receive feedback on your completed work, so I will make every effort to give you prompt feedback. I review your posting in the Discussion Working Groups  as you work and sometimes I will reply or make suggestions. I generally post:

·        Getting Started grades on the weekend at the end of the first week. During the week itself, I try to give feedback and get inexperienced students on track by conferences (both phone and face-to-face).

·        Extra credit grades for quizzes the next morning after the date in the Course Schedule.

·        Grades for submitted assignments and essays and I frequently can’t begin grading until Friday.
I admit I am very slow at grading essays. I try to give students the kind of feedback that my history teachers gave me. That feedback made a great difference in my success, not just in academics but also in my work in business and industry.

Also, be aware that if everyone waits till the closing date, closing hour of a unit to submit assignments, discussions and exams, there will be a delay. In most cases, I do provide feedback until after the due date for the assignment.


Success in the Online Environment


 Although this is a distance learning course, it is NOT a correspondence course; nor is it an independent study course. Specific deadlines are provided and must be met. Your remaining current in your work is required—and measured. While I try to build in a great deal of flexibility for you to work ahead in each unit, you cannot complete the course in a single weekend, but are expected to be part of the course for the whole semester.

This online version of United States History is designed to require roughly the same amount of time a student would spend in a 3-credit-hour, on-campus class. You will be expected to complete all of the learning activities and maintain an active presence in the class.

 General points to remember:


Introductory Tasks


Great! You are almost finished. Before you get started with the content for this course, I would like you to take care of some "housekeeping" items. 

Two things to keep in mind as you work:

·        Be careful in following instructions—it’s a good habit for life. If you are not careful and you submit something I can’t use, then I will only record points if you fix the problem.

·        Tasks 1 to 4 are due before the end of Getting Started in the Course Schedule. Task 5 you may complete as late as the first day (Monday) of next week.

  1.  I want you to provide me with some additional contact information. I rarely use it unless there is something that might result in your having a lower final letter grade and I need to reach you quickly.
    E-mail me through course messages.
    First, select the Messages link from the left hand menu or within the Getting Started Module.
    Then choose “Create Message.”
    Under recipients, click on "To," and then scroll down to C.J. Bibus (Instructor). Be sure you choose the one with the word (Instructor).
    On the subject line, please put "Emergency Contact Information."
    In the text of your message, please provide me with an emergency e-mail address and a good contact phone number. Please let me know whether or not it is OK to leave messages at that phone number.

    Feel free to also provide me with any other information that you would like to share with me.


2.        Go to the Discussion Board and post a personal introduction. First, select the Discussions link from the left hand menu or within the Getting Started Module. In about 150 words, you should post a personal introduction. Eventually the class will begin posting to the various discussion topics and it is always nice to know a little about the people that you are "conversing" with.  Be sure to post your introduction in the Student Introductions topic.  Please do not attach a file to the discussion board as it makes it difficult for others to view.

Notice the other discussions topics such as Course Questions and Technical Questions.


  1.  WCJC has a new resource. (You can read more in the box below.) I took this assessment myself, each time pretending to answer using the answers that I thought that two of my students would use. The results matched my understanding of these two students’ strengths and weaknesses. I think this assessment would have let these two students be more successful. It is long, but it can help you—and me. You can stop and resume it if you save it. The summary page of the report has graphics that are helpful. The report also has additional information on learning.

You can use the URL in the box to go directly to the Readiness Assessment. To quote the words in bold below, you are to take the assessment and to “save the final report and submit it” to me.
This is how you will submit it.
First, look at the report on you. Find 4 to 5 statements that are recommended changes you can make to help you succeed. If I can help you succeed with any of those, then tell me.
Second, when you finish, select “Print/Download the Report” from the left-hand menu . (FYI: I do not want just the Summary. I need the whole report—and so do you.)
Third, save the file in a location you can find again.
Fourth, using the instructions above for how to email me in Blackboard Messages, attach the file and place those 4 to 5 statements in the message box. Be sure to type in the Subject: Your Name – Readiness Report.

More information about the Readiness Assessment if you want it.

Distance education has recently updated our website to include an online assessment “Is Online Learning For Me?” 

The SmarterMeasure Readiness Assessment is a tool which helps determine the level of readiness for taking online courses. Students will be asked questions on topics in a variety of areas including: computer proficiency, motivation, organization, and self-direction; learning preferences; typing speed and accuracy; and on-screen reading speed and comprehension.

SmarterMeasure is provided to help students understand their strengths and weaknesses better as they prepare to learn online. After completing the SmarterMeasure assessment, they will view a webpage showing their scores in easy to interpret graphs and text, as well as resources to assist them in any “trouble” areas.…

Faculty might also consider using the assessment as an opening week task/assignment in their online courses. Students are able to save the final report and submit it if desired.   

Students can access the Readiness Assessment through the Distance Education Page on the WCJC website  by directly going to http://wcjc.smartermeasure.com/


  1. If you have not already done it, take the Syllabus Acknowledgement Quiz. First, select the “Quizzes & Exams” link from the left hand menu or within the Getting Started Module. Then click on the Acknowledgement quiz and choose True. If you do not understand something, ask now. You can post in the Course Questions discussion topic or email me.


  1. The last task is to click on the link in the Getting Started Learning Module: “Getting Started Introduction to the Good Habits for Evidence.” You then follow the steps stated in that link. 
    It is a larger task so it has more time and it is worth more points – 20 points – than the other Introductory Tasks.  The Course Schedule lists the date.

    If you want to use the other resources on the Good Habits for Evidence, you can also earn 20 points extra credit.

    Caution: You will only see the Unit Essay exams if you follow the steps in this link. That includes your doing the REQUIRED acknowledgement (as a quiz). That quiz also tells you that you must send an email saying you have done that acknowledgement.


 Remember that these tasks are a graded component of the course.  Please complete them as soon after logging in as possible so that I know a little about each of you enrolled in the course. (If you are enrolled in two of my online sections at the same time, you may use the same information for both courses - BUT it MUST be posted in both areas to receive credit. If you were in my online class in the last 8 weeks, you may use your prior Readiness Assessment. – But it MUST be emailed again to receive credit and you must list 4 to 5 statements.)


I am looking forward to a great semester.  If you have any general questions, please go to the discussion board and post it under general course questions section.  If the question is of a more personal nature, feel free to email me.

 And always, if you need help, just ask.



WCJC Department:

History – Dr. Bibus

Contact Information:

281.239.1577 or bibusc@wcjc.edu

Last Updated:


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