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HIST 3035 Syllabus

Course Syllabus

HIST 3035 - Technology and Culture in American History

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course describes and analyzes the history of technology in the United States from the colonial period to the present.  It focuses both on the "nuts and bolts" of technology and the interrelationship of technology, culture and society. Technological change is a social process, both affecting and affected by the society in which it takes place. This course will explore this process, noting the influence of technology on households, businesses, government, and other institutions. The course will look at how these institutions shaped technologies and technological development during that last 300 years of American history.

Course Outcomes:

Upon completion of this course students should have:

  1. Developed the ability to assess and think critically about technology, technological systems, and how people have interacted with and understood technology in U. S. history.
  2. Gained a basic factual knowledge of the history of technology, technological systems, and the historiographical issues involved in their study.
  3. Developed skills in analyzing technology and technological innovation and learned how technology has shaped American culture and how American culture has, in turn, shaped technology.
  4. Developed skills in analyzing historical data, reaching informed conclusions about these data, and sharpened their ability to present their analyses in written essays, online discussions, and a collaborative, multimedia project.
Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

Completion of HIST 2010 and HIST 2020 is strongly suggested, but not required.

Course Topics:

In the first half of the summer semester, weeks 1-5, students will complete a sequence of modules that cover the history of American technology from the Colonial era to the present, addressing topics and technologies that will include: the Transportation Revolution, the American System of Manufacturing, the mechanization of farming, Taylorism and Fordism, the automobile, aviation, radio and television, computers, and other topics. In the final half of the course – weeks 6-15 for the Spring and Fall and weeks 6-10 for the Summer – students will complete a formal research paper proposal; the final examination for this course; and lastly the final research paper project that will pertain to some topic of importance to the history of technology. 

Specific Course Requirements:

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:

The course textbook reading(s) will be supplemented with peer-reviewed journal articles taken from academic journals, and are provided with the course; the student can but will not be required to download these. As the caption says, these are supplementary materials and are provided as a help to the student so they can better understand the Module with which they are connected. To read or not to read? As these are supplemental readings, this is totally up to the student whether to do so or not. 

Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Testing Procedures:

Final Examination

The Final Examination for this course will be written in essay format and is open book and open notes, meaning that developing your ideas logically and in depth is of the utmost importance. Within the limits of the exam due dates - you will be given an entire week to complete the exam - you may take the exam at a place and time of your convenience and submit your work in the Dropbox. Students may submit their examinations in Microsoft Word (.doc), Microsoft Works (.wps), Rich Text (.rtf), or Libre (.odt) file formats. You will find more specific instructions for this assignment in the Course Content. 

Grading Procedures:

Final Examination Grading Procedure

The exam's essay questions will address overarching concepts. Facts are important for essays, but more important is how you organize and present these facts and what conclusions you draw from them. Your essay should begin with a clearly articulated thesis, which you then support with factual information presented in a clear and logical manner. A good essay anticipates counter-arguments and deals with these as well. In other words, if you wish to argue that government funding is critical to technological innovation and the development of new technologies, you need to address the work of inventors and the spread of technologies that (at least on the surface) lacked government support or funding. 

An excellent exam essay will:
1) . . . directly address the question;
2) . . . present a clearly defined thesis or main point, which is stated at the beginning of the essay;
3) . . . support this thesis with sound logical arguments that cite relevant facts and data.
Remember that the prime concern of history is to analyze change or changes through a period of time. History is not a mindless collection of names, dates, places, and events. When, why, and how changes occurred, and the significance of these changes to the history of technology in the United States are the concerns at the center of each question you will be asked in this course. As you study through the semester, try to use this framework. In other words, you need to understand why and how things happened, not simply that they did. Since these exams are open book, simply providing a summary of the basic events and facts will not earn you a good grade. Strength of analysis, ability to integrate diverse information and draw conclusions, depth of understanding, and your ability to communicate your ideas clearly will be critical for earning a good grade. Any plagiarism will, at minimum, result in a zero for the assignment and probably an 'F' for the course. 

Finally, the Final Examination must be submitted to the Dropbox as one (1) complete file. In the past, students have submitted their examinations as two (2) separate files, making it difficult to read, grade, and provide appropriate feedback for the entire examination. If a student submits their examination as two (2) separate files, that individual will automatically be reduced ten (10) points for each separate file submitted! 

Grading Scale:
AssignmentsTotal Points 
Assessments/Quizzes (6 assignments @ 20 pts each)120 pts12%
Discussions (9 assignments @ 30 pts each)270 pts27%
Research Paper Proposal110 pts11%
Final Examination250 pts25%
Final Research Paper Project250 pts25%
Total1000 pts100%

A=900+, B=800+, C=700+, D=600+, less than 600 points will result in an F. Any plagiarism will, at the discretion of the instructor, result in an F for this course. 

Assignments and Projects:

There are nine (9) discussions, six (6) Assessments/Quizzes, and three (3) major writing assignments scheduled for each semester.

All writing assignments in the course can be submitted using Microsoft Word (.doc), Microsoft Works (.wps), Rich Text (.rtf), or Libre (.odt) file formats. Any other format, however, such as Word Pad or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf), will be returned to the student for resubmission. Also, for the purposes of this course students will only utilize MLA Rules for writing their papers. The following is website that is useful in working with MLA: 9TPurdue OWL - MLA Formatting and Style GuideT9

Below, you will find a rough schedule for both the Spring and Fall semesters while the Summer semester, because of its compressed nature, will differ by approximately five (5) weeks. A more exact schedule will be made available on the Course Content page of the particular semester.

Module Schedule

Week #1 - Course Introduction: Read "Getting Started" & "Important Course Information" materials and purchase required course textbooks.
Week #2 - Module I, Introduction to the History of Technology 
Week #3 - Module II, Colonial America
Week #4 - Module III, Early Industrialization
Week #5 - Module IV, Technology at the Turn of the 19th Century
Week #6 - Module V, 20th Century Technology, Part I
Week #7 - Module VI, 20th Century Technology, Part II
Week #8 - Module VII, Into the 21st Century
Week #9 - Module VIII, Research Paper Proposal
Week #10 - Module IX, Final Examination
Weeks #11 thru #15 - Module X, Research Paper

  • Research Paper, Discussion I
  • Research Paper, Discussion II
  • Research Paper

Other Important Dates: (Specific dates will be provided from the Term Calendar for the given semester.) 

Class Participation:

Students must participate in the various online discussions (topical weekly discussions, book review discussion, and final project discussions), since these discussions form the central part of this course. 

Late Policy:

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on July 12, 2021