Orientation to the Course

To try to make this where you can give feedback on the plan even though it is NOT yet in SoftC:

·         [ ] is note to me OR description of visual

·         --- and New Page marks planned breaks

·         Visuals are in here even though not in proper position.

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Welcome to Class!

This document, along with the syllabus, 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 graded introductory tasks. If you have additional questions after completing this section, please post them to the “Course Questions” discussion forum 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 them 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.



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 Introducing Your Instructor

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.

I am a native Texan who attended a community college. I received my MA in history at the University of Virginia and completed an additional year of work in history and in an internship in community college teaching. I taught in Virginia community colleges for several years and later returned to Texas to earn my doctorate at Texas Tech University. 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 have a perfect daughter—all parents should feel that way about their children. To quote the family joke, my daughter “brought her Mom up as best she could.”

I am always trying to improve the course each semester. For those of you who have taken my classes in the past, I hope you like the changes this semester.  If anyone has suggestions to improve this course, feel free to let me know, I value and appreciate the input.



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About History As an Investigation into Real Life Events[need better heading]

Sometimes a discipline needs an introduction as much as an instructor. The word discipline means a field that people study. Disciplines usually have rules, including for what is considered evidence. The etymology of the word history is a clue to history's rules for evidence. The word history comes from "to inquire" or, to use a more current word, to investigate. In a freshman course, inquiry into real life events in the past can help you learn history as a useful discipline that is about how things work. As the cartoon shows, basing your plans on investigations of real life is safer than basing them on "REAL MOVIE EVENTS."


If You Want More: If you would like more on history as a discipline (including the etymology used above) and on professional associations for teaching and researching history, click on Resources for History on the Course Menu.



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How History Will “TURN UP IN REAL LIFE” [need better heading]

History is not only an investigation into real life events in the past that will help you plan and understand and a discipline that requires evidence, but—to quote the cartoon—history will "TURN UP IN REAL LIFE." First, history shows you the vocabulary of the nation and basic terms of other disciplines from economics to science so you can catch on faster when you take other classes, when your boss is talking, or when you hear the news or a campaign speech. Second, history shows how things change so you can observe the major forces that have made those changes and what strategies succeeded and failed so you can anticipate and act. History is about real life events of the past so it is useful in living in the real world of today.


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[This one got weird in SoftC—have screen prints. I have no idea what I did here.

Expect text must be shorter. Text for this is above the illustration until I can get help.]

General Layout of the Course

Above Course Materials

Read Me First opens the course in the first week; Homepage, after that.


Course Materials – last 3 are also IN the Learning Modules

Learning Modules – The “classroom section of the course”

Comparison Topics – All possible writing topics
Videos – Excellent videos with archival footage so you see history

Working Groups – Where you can get and give help in locating information in our textbook and our sources


Course Tools: This section gives you quick access to the main communications tools in the class—Messages, Discussions, Announcements, and My Grades. (Some of these are more fully discussed in the later sections.)


Web Resources: History Resources where you find a reliable online dictionary and atlas, the Constitution with definitions and other aids to help your understanding, and information about the discipline of history and its professional organizations. Above that, you have links from WCJC; below it, links from Blackboard. 




















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[The one below one worked more as planned—have no idea what I did…]

Layout of Each Unit


< Two of the navigation tools in a Unit




< “Everything… (except the maps)” – At the top, has links to general information such as the Unit Overview (including How-to Videos). In the table, has links to required and optional information

< Part A and its maps and

           its Check Your Knowledge quiz

           its PRACTICE ONLY quiz

           its Quiz for the 10 points


< Part B with its resources and quizzes




< Part C with its resources and quizzes




< On the date in the Course Schedule, Unit 1’s objective exam < Begins the Shortcuts to the same resources on the Course Menu – Comparison Topics, Videos & Assignments, and Working Groups

[Make video links below]

If You Want More: If you want videos on How to Use "Everything You Need for This Unit (except the maps)," How to Use Check Your Knowledge Quizzes As Interactive Study Guides, and How to Make the Quizzes Visible, click on the links. You can also find these videos (and more) in each Unit Overview.



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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 Course 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.


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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 forums located in Discussions 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 forum is optional.

·         Suggestions For Improvement: About halfway through the semester you will see a new forum appear called "Technology Feedback / Suggestions for Improvement." I am constantly trying to improve the navigation and design of the course to provide a better learning environment for students. Please feel free to offer constructive feedback or suggestions for improvement in this area. Anonymous posts are allowed.

·         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 if it is a private question.

·         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 forum is covered in the syllabus. It is graded as an extra credit activity.

Working Groups

Working Groups use Blackboard’s Discussion tool, but the only ones who can see your group are members of it.  Each of you has been randomly assigned to a small 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 in a Working Group.

After Unit 1 starts, you will see a Unit 1 forum 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 Comparison Topics, and about current quiz questions. You can earn those points in several ways.

You can see examples of how you can post to ask or answer a question in the forum Shareables from the Working Groups. It also used to share information and to earn extra credit. When I see postings in your Working Group that can help other groups, I do two things:

1. I copy and post your work into the Shareable forum for each Unit (available at Discussions).

2. I enter 2 extra credit points for each posting that can help the other Working Groups and for each person involved in that posting.

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 forums


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 with a score of 9 or 10 - the next morning after the date in the Course Schedule.

·         Grades for submitted Video Assignments and Working Group postings – done with rubrics and frequently not started until the weekend

·         Grades for Comparison topics – done with rubrics, but I admit I am very slow at grading this kind of written work partly because
* 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.
* I sort the answers and grade all answers to the same question and using the same version of the textbook (such as all who used the 4th edition paperback or all who used the 2nd edition hardback) at the same time.

To make it easier for you to estimate your current letter grades for a Unit until I can finish the Comparisons, I provide an Announcement so you can temporarily estimate your Unit letter grade without the Comparison


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. The first to third tasks are due before the end of Getting Started in the Course Schedule. The fourth task you may complete a bit later. See the Course Schedule for the exact time.  There is also a recommended task, but it is not graded.

I’ve tried to include in these steps preventions for every problem students have had. The steps make it long. If you’d prefer a 1-page version as a PDF, here is a link. Leave the link open until you finish all the tasks.

First (5 points), provide how to contact you in an emergency. Example of an emergency: there is something that will result in your having a lower final letter grade and I need to reach you quickly.

1. Select the Messages link from the Course Menu or within the Getting Started Module.

2. Choose “Create Message.”

3. Under recipients, click on "To" and select C.J. Bibus (Instructor). Note: (Instructor) is essential.

4. On the Subject line, please put "Your Name – Emergency Contact Information."

5. In the Message box, provide an emergency e-mail address and phone number. Please say if it is OK to leave messages at that number. Also add any information that you would like for me to know about you.


Second (4 points), introduce yourself to the other students.

1. Select Discussions from the Course Menu or within the Getting Started module.

2. Click on the forum Student Introductions

3. Choose “Create Thread.”

4. On the Subject line, type “Your Name” or a short phrase that identifies you. If you write the short phrase, remember Discussions are a public place, so don’t get yourself (or me) in trouble, OK?

5. In the message box, type about 150 words to introduce yourself to the class. Eventually the class will begin posting to the Working Groups and it is always nice to know a little about the people that you are working with. Please do not attach a file in Discussions (or in an email). It makes it difficult to read.

6. While you are in these forums, check postings in other discussions forums, such as Course Questions.


Third (1 point), if you have not already done it, click on the Syllabus Acknowledgement Quiz in the Getting Started module and choose True. Note: Required to continue in the course. If you do not understand something, ask now. You can post in the Course Questions forum or email me. Glad to help.


Fourth (20 points), complete the task in the 1st link in the Good Habits for Evidence folder.

1. Click on the folder “Good Habits for Evidence,” and then click on the 1st link inside the folder.

2. Use the 1st link and, if needed, use the definitions and The Bedford Handbook pages in the folder.

3. Follow the directions on the last page of the link on what to write and how to send it to me. You then earn 20 points. Note: You will not be able to see the Turnitin Assignments that you use to submit your Comparisons throughout the course until you do this task.


Recommended: Use the Readiness Assessment to find out about yourself in online classes and to find ways that you can improve your skills for each of the weaknesses that it identifies.

I was first impressed by the Readiness Assessment when I took it twice—each time pretending to be 2 different students I had known well in the prior term. The results and recommendations were completely different and amazingly accurate. Based on students’ feedback, if you have never taken this, I would try to find time to take it. Obviously, first complete the required assignments.


The Assessment is long, but you can click on the button that lets you save and resume later.

1. Click http://wcjc.smartermeasure.com/ You will see the user name and password WCJC’s students use.

2. When you finish, select “Print/Download the Report” on the left side of the screen and be sure to download it to a location you can find again. Note: You do not want the Summary. Only the Report has recommendations for you and the resources to help you act on those recommendations.

4. Identify 4 to 5 recommended changes that you believe you should make. If you need help, just ask. FYI: fast typing is the only thing in the assessment that you don’t need for this online class.



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.  I am looking forward to a great semester. If you have any general questions, please go to Discussions and post it in the Course Questions forum. 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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