HIST 427/627: Digital Public History

HIST 427/627: Digital Public History: “Three Minute History Professor”

Spring 2022

Professor Terry Bouton
Phone: 410-455-2056
Email: bouton[at]umbc.edu 
Office Hours: By Email or Online Appointment

Course Webpage: https://terrybouton.wordpress.com/hist-413-the-american-revolution-sp-2022/
*I would advise book-marking this page since it has links to all the documents and assignments*
Course Meeting Place: Fine Arts 303
Course Meeting Time: M 6:00pm-8:30pm

Course Description: The goal of this course is for students to gain relevant public history experience by producing short videos that bring subjects covered in college-level history courses to a non-college audience through YouTube and TikTok. Social media is increasingly central to professional life and creating digital video and building an effective social media presence is something many students will want or need to do one day, either for yourself or your employer. In this course, students will develop a wide array of video-production skills: researching, scripting, storyboarding, filming, and editing (all equipment and software will be provided). You will also learn “best practices” for creating social media brands, content, and marketing strategies. The goal is to have this course be a resume-building experience with skills and a tangible product to show potential employers.

To give the course real-world experience, we will create videos for a continuing series I am producing under the name “Three-Minute History Professor.” This is a new project, so we will be building the brand and social media platforms from the ground up. I intend this to be the start of an enduring series that puts today’s issues and controversies in historical context by revealing their deep historical roots. The series is based on the idea that you cannot understand the American present without understanding the American past. Each video will be a short, fast-paced, edgy, compelling, and thought-provoking lesson about some aspect of that historical theme.

Spring 2022 will have two separate (but clearly related) themes: the history American racism and the right to vote in the US. I chose this semester’s theme because of their timeliness and importance. Across the US, state governments and local school boards are attempting to remove teaching the history of racism from school curricula. They are banning books and firing teachers and school administrators who continue to teach about the nation’s racist past. At the same time, the right to vote in the US is under systematic attack, with many states considering legislation to make voting more difficult. The videos we create will put the current moment in historical context, showing how the efforts to censor the teaching of racism and suppress the vote represent disturbing trends with long histories.

You will be helping me bring my teaching to a short video format. I have been teaching about the histories of American racism and democracy for twenty-five years. I have designed all the lessons and have a clear vision for each individual video. I have planned out the components of most of the episodes: the big-picture message the video imparts, the “hooks” to draw-in viewers, and some of the facts, quotes, and visual evidence to use. Your job will be filling out the story through research, finding additional visual imagery (in the public domain), and putting together the video. You will have some creative freedom, but I will be heavily involved in each phase of each video to make sure that the videos all do what I need them to do and fit within the brand style as far a look and “feel.” (I’ll have a sample episode for you to view at the start of the semester to get an idea of what I’m looking for).

The win-win scenario I imagine here is that you help me create content and I help you gain a resume-building experience. I’m going to ask each of you to imagine yourself as a freelancer or new hire at a museum, historical society or some other kind of public history venue. You are given a project by your client or boss and your job is to help them realize their vision, checking in frequently to make sure you’re doing what they want. The result will be an experience you can put on your resume—and something tangible and professional-looking that you can show to potential employers. If this whole concept takes off, then you might even end up with a resume line that will get noticed.

We will also learn about the technical side of social media. The course will cover the best practices for successful video creation, brand-building, and marketing across platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc)—and you will gain experience implementing those practices on a real-world project. We will even plan a marketing campaign to see if we can trigger the algorithms to elevate our content. My dream is for each of you to be able to put “Helped Launch a Popular YouTube History Series” on your resume.

Learning Objectives:

  • Develop skills in critical analysis of historical ideas, arguments, and evidence
  • Research historical topics in secondary and primary sources to find the scholarly consensus on a topic
  • Locate visual imagery in the public domain
  • Capture an historical point and evidence in a 500-word script
  • Become proficient at basic video filming and production
  • Master video-editing software enough to create a three-minute video that incorporates live video with visual imagery and text
  • Help build a social media platform from the ground up
  • Develop a marketing strategy to build an audience for the video series

There are no required books for the course. All readings will be included through links or on Blackboard.

I reserve the right to make changes to the requirements or to the schedule.

(I reserve the right to make changes to the requirements or to the schedule.)

ASSIGNMENTS:100 pts. (25% of grade)
FINAL SCRIPT:100 pts. (25% of grade)
FINAL VIDEO:200  pts. (50% of grade)

At the end of the semester:
360-400 points will be an A
320-359 points will be a B
280-319 points will be a C

240-279 points will be a D
Below 240 points will be an F

Final Course Grade Bump Extra-Credit Option:
Undergraduates who complete two videos (the topics list identifies the best options) will receive a grade bump of an entire grade level. For example, if your assignments, scripts, and videos receive a B grade, I will bump your final course grade to an A by completing two videos.

Assignments: (10 assignments, 10 points each, 100 total points)
There are weekly assignments listed below. The assignments are due by 11:59PM on Sunday nights and we will discuss your findings and submissions in class the following day. Each assignment is worth ten points.

Final Script: (100 points)
Each student will produce a 500-word script (graduate students and undergraduates doing the extra-credit option will produce two 500-word scripts). Prior to submitting the Final Script, you will have submitted rough, revised, and re-revised drafts and you will have received comments from your classmates and from me. As much as anything, your grade on the Final Script reflects your ability to incorporate feedback (especially mine!) and the work you put into revisions. My goal is for everyone to submit A-level scripts.

Final Video: (200 points)
At the end of the semester each student will submit at least one three-minute video formatted for both YouTube and TikTok (graduate students and undergrads doing the extra-credit option will submit two videos). The formatting is different for each platform: YouTube is essentially landscape, TikTok is portrait. This means that, while you will use the same video cuts, you will need to arrange the some of the visual elements differently to work with the particular format. We will workshop the videos twice before the Final Video is due to try to get the best possible final products.

Workshop Etiquette:
Workshopping can be a challenge for many students and I want to establish rules and class culture that will make our workshops as pain/worry-free and useful as possible. Students are not in competition with one another for anything in this course: we are all in this together. Individual and collective goals are the same: we are all trying to make as many great videos as we can because we all benefit from each other’s success by improving the “brand” we are all a part of. The goal is help each other improve, not slam another student’s work. Producing quality scripts and videos means expressing your opinions and hearing the opinions of others. It also means accepting criticism calmly and maturely and trying not to get defensive. This is a creative process and there is no one “right” way to do things. A lot of workshopping involves identifying what works with videos and offer suggestions about how to improve the areas that aren’t as clear or effective. Everyone’s honest participation is the key to a successful workshop. The more we can create a collegial and collaborative atmosphere, the better the whole project will be.

To that end, I expect everyone to be mature, kind, and civil when dealing with one another and critiquing each other’s work. If there are issues, please bring them to my attention ASAP and I will address them immediately.

Late Postings:
I will accept late postings for each unit for reduced credit. If you miss multiple postings, it’s best to start with the most recent one and work your way back to the older ones since I stop deducting points once you have reached 10 points off out of the 20 total points for the assignment (so, after a few weeks being late, you start out with a max potential of 50%).

Legal Issues/Waivers:

Whether we get hundreds of views or thousands, I need to deal with some awkward legal stuff up front. If you want the video you work on to be part of the Three Minute History Professor series, then you will need to assign me copyright for your part in making it. I have been advised by the university to hold copyright myself to avoid any legal issue related to the use of the videos or liability for their content. I don’t want to be in a situation where I have to track people down years after graduation, or pull content, or remake a video because of copyright issues. That’s why I will only host videos to which I own full copyright. Realistically, I don’t expect the videos to make any money. The viewership threshold to start earning on YouTube is pretty high and, let’s face it, videos about the history of American racism aren’t likely generate much income even if they do happen to go viral. On the unlikely chance the videos make money, I will simply use those funds to create more episodes. This is a labor of love, and while I would be thrilled for this project to make enough to pay people to create more content, I don’t think that’s a realistic expectation. That said, I still need to address copyright upfront and let you know that getting a waiver from you is a make-or-break issue as far as including your video in the series.

If you are uncomfortable signing over copywrite, you can still take the course, but I won’t host your video and I will give you an alternate assignment rather than one of the hand-picked lessons I have developed specifically for the series. If you opt out, you will not be at any disadvantage as far as your course grade goes. The course will still be a fun and creative. But your video won’t be part of the larger project and you will miss out on exposure your work might get. I’ll need to know during the initial class meeting if you want to opt out, so we can develop an alternate project for you.


Save a personal copy of all of EVERTYING on your home computer, thumb drive, or whatever other storage device they have. I am looking into cloud storage options for this course, but you need to make sure you have your stuff backed-up in some way to avoid disaster.

Getting started on Blackboard: Blackboard is relatively easy to use and will allow you to have access to course materials 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through the Internet.  If you have registered for the course, you should automatically be registered on Blackboard. As a UMBC student, you have a personal email account and access to the Internet and through the school’s many on-campus computer labs.  You can also access Blackboard off campus through a personal account or from the UMBC dial-up.  BEFORE you do anything else, check to see if you are enrolled in the course by going to http://blackboard.umbc.edu.  If you have been automatically registered, take some time to explore the Blackboard site for the course.  If Blackboard indicates that you are not registered, follow the directions at the main Blackboard site for new users.

I will send all email messages to your UMBC email account through Blackboard 
(yourusername@umbc.edu). If you do not usually check this account, have messages forwarded to your preferred email address (such as yahoo, gmail, etc.). For help with this procedure, or if you have other questions about UMBC’s Office of Information Technology services visit the OIT helpsite at http://www.umbc.edu/oit/. Helpdesk personnel in the on-campus computer labs can help with most questions. The helpdesk phone number is 410-455-3838.

Academic Integrity:
By enrolling in this course, each student assumes the responsibilities of an active participant in UMBC’s scholarly community in which everyone’s academic work and behavior are held to the highest standards of honesty. Cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and helping others to commit these acts are all forms of academic dishonesty, and they are wrong.  Academic misconduct could result in disciplinary action that may include, but is not limited to, suspension or dismissal.  To read the full Student Academic Conduct Policy, consult the UMBC Student Handbook, the Faculty Handbook, or the UMBC Policies section of the UMBC Directory. To read the policy online, see: http://www.umbc.edu/integrity/.

See the UMBC resources on Academic Integrity: https://academicconduct.umbc.edu/plagiarism/

The penalty for academic dishonesty –including plagiarism and other forms of cheating– in any UMBC History Department course is an “F” for the course. In addition, cases of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Academic Conduct Committee.

Trigger Warnings:
This course deals with lots of difficult material both in the classroom and your individual research that some people may find hard to read, hear, and see. The history of American racism can be deeply and violently disturbing. Although our purpose is not to sensationalize violence and horrific imagery, we will be dealing directly with many awful episodes from the nation’s past and stories and images can be difficult and unsettling. We will explore such difficult topics as: racism, genocide, slavery, rape, and endemic violence. Given that our target audience is middle and high school students, we will avoid graphic language and imagery. That said, we won’t be soft-pedaling this history because you can’t understand how awful and damaging racism and white supremacy have been without dealing with often chilling stories, quotes, and images. I believe it is important to expose the full range of bigotry of various kinds translated into policy and action so that students can appreciate the deep, ugly roots of today’s problems and conflicts. To help students deal with this difficult material, I will include trigger warnings at the start of each lecture when we deal with potentially disturbing subject matter.


Class and Assignment Schedule

Week 1:
Mon., Jan. 31:

Course Introduction: “Three Minute History Professor”: The Truth Fights Back

Selecting Topics for Videos

Discussion of Sources Primary, Secondary, and Visual

ASSIGNMENT #1: Copyright, Fair Use, and the Public Domain (Due Sunday, Feb. 6 by 11:59PM)
What do the legal concepts of “copyright,” “fair use” and “public domain mean? How are we likely to encounter copyright issues in the creation of our videos? What do we need to watch out for when it comes to copyright? Every student in this course needs to become a mini-expert on copyright. We need to be INCREDIBLY conscious that everything we use in the videos abides by copyright laws and the terms of service for YouTube and TikTok. That means reading the terms of service and educating ourselves about copyright. For this assignment, I want you to read over the YouTube and TikTok terms of service and summarize the potential problems they present for us. Then I want you to find trustworthy resources on the kinds of copyright issues we will face (mostly involving visual imagery and licensed video clips we might use) and summarize their main points. Record your findings in a Discussion Board post and include links to the resources in your posting.

We will discuss our collective findings during the Feb. 7 course meeting.

Week 2:
Mon., Feb. 7:

Making Videos: Tonight’s class gives an overview of each stage of the process and the issues you will encounter as you move from topic, to research, to script, to screen. We will break down the process of video creation into its individual parts: conducting research, amassing stories, quotes, and visual imagery, finding the “hook” to draw in the audience, We will also discuss creative, technical, and legal issues (like copyright) and how to approach them.

ASSIGNMENT #2: What’s the Hook?: Capturing Attention (Due Sunday, Feb. 13 by 11:59PM)
Studies show that most people who watch YouTube and TikTok videos decide whether they want to watch the whole video or move on within the first five seconds. That means that, to hold viewers’ attention, each video needs to start with a “hook” that will catch them right from the start. For this assignment, I want each of you to propose several different possible hooks for your video based on the research you have done on the topic and your initial findings. Post your hooks to the Discussion Board. I also want you to post the visual images you have compiled thus far.

We will workshop the hooks and visual images as a class during the Feb. 14 meeting.

Week 3:
Mon., Feb. 14: Hooks Workshop!
Tonight we will review everyone’s proposed opening hooks and visual images and workshop them together. Workshops will start with a peer review session where students will work in pairs or groups of three to comment on each other’s hooks and images. Then we will review them as a class. I will assign groups/partners after the Feb. 14 class.

Assignment #3: First Draft of Scripts (Due by 11:59PM on Sunday, Feb. 20)
Submit the first draft of your 500-word script to the Discussion Board and your visual images. We will workshop the first drafts of the scripts during class on Feb. 21.

Week 4:
Mon., Feb. 21: First Draft of Scripts and Visuals Workshop!

Assignment #4: Second Draft of Scripts (Due by 11:59PM on Sunday, Feb. 27)
Submit the second draft of your 500-word script to the Discussion Board and your revised visual images. We will workshop the second drafts of the scripts during class on Feb. 27.

Week 5:
Mon., Feb. 28: Second Draft of Scripts and Visuals Workshop!

Assignment #5: Third Draft of Scripts (Due by 11:59PM on Sunday, Mar. 6)
Submit the third draft of your 500-word script to the Discussion Board and your revised visual images. We will workshop the third drafts of the scripts during class on Mar. 7.

Week 6:
Mon., Mar. 7: Third Draft of Scripts and Visuals Workshop!

Assignment #6: Adobe Premiere Rush Tutorial (Due by 11:59PM on Sunday, Mar. 13)
Download Adobe Premiere Rush (free through MyUMBC) and complete tutorial to familiarize yourself with the software. You’ll save that sample project as an MP4 and upload it to a google drive I’ll provide.

Week 7:
Mon., Mar. 14: Video Editing with Adobe Premiere Rush Workshop!
Tonight we will meet at a computer lab and I will lead you through an introduction to video editing with Adobe Premiere Rush. I’ll provide a sample folder with the different kinds of video elements we will be using for our videos and walk you through a how-to with tips on how to handle each part of the process. DON’T MISS THIS SESSION!!

Assignment #7: Progress Report (Due Monday, Mar 28 by 11:59 PM)
Everyone will complete a brief progress report to inform me what they have completed, what remains to be done, what’s working well, and what issues have arisen that need to be worked through. These reports will form the basis of our check-in meetings the week of March 28.

Week 8:
Mon., Mar. 21:


Wed., Mar. 23:


Week 9:
Mon., Mar. 28: Individual Check-Ins/Filming/Progress Reports Due!
We will not meet as a class this week. Instead I will hold individual meetings this week with each student on WebEx to assess where things stand and plan next steps. I will also begin filming with students.

Week 10:
Mon., Apr. 4: Filming
We will not meet as a class this week. Instead I will meet with individuals and groups this week to start filming the live portion of the videos.

Assignment #8: Marketing and Social Media (Due by 11:59PM on Sunday, April 10)
We are not just creating videos, we are building social media platforms on YouTube and TikTok and developing ways to integrate those platforms with Twitter and a separate website. Our goal is to get viewers and build an audience and we want to use every available tool to make that happen. We will be developing a marketing and social media plan in class on April 11. To be successful, we need to be aware of best-practices for such a plan and to come up with ideas about how best to market our videos, reach an audience, and build a following of subscribers. There’s a lot of information on these topics on the internet. For this assignment, I want you to summarize the best practices for our kind of platform-building project and to come up with three ideas for how we can best market our “product” and “brand.” We will discuss your findings and suggestions in class on April 11.

Week 11:
Mon., Apr. 11: Marketing and Social Media Workshop!

Assignment #9: First Cut of Your Three-Minute Video(s) (Due dates vary)
Complete a first cut of your three-minute video. The due dates vary according to whether you are completing one or two videos. Those completing one video have a due date of 11:59PM on Sunday, Apr. 17. Those completing two videos have a due date of 11:59PM on Sunday, Apr. 24)

Week 12:
Mon., Apr. 18: First Cut Workshop! (Round 1, Part 1)
I’ll divide the class in two groups, one half will present the first cut of their videos this week; the other half will go next week. Everyone needs to attend: the goal is offering comments and suggestions and it’s important to have as much input as possible. Tonight will feature students doing just one video

Week 13:
Mon., Apr. 25: First Cut Workshop! (Round 1, Part 2)

Assignment #10: Second Cut of Your Three-Minute Video(s) (Due dates vary)
Complete a second cut of your three-minute video. The due dates vary according to whether you are completing one or two videos. Those completing one video have a due date of 11:59PM on Sunday, May 1. Those completing two videos have a due date of 11:59PM on Sunday, May 8)

Week 14:
Mon., May 2: Second Cut Workshop! (Round 1, Part 1)

Week 15:
Mon., May 9: Second Cut Workshop! (Round 1, Part 2)

Week 16:
Mon., May 16: LAUNCH PARTY!

Final Self-Assessment
Provide a candid assessment of your progress this semester discussing your work, progress, and the issues you worked through this semester. This is also a time to reflect on what worked well with the course and how you think I could improve it in the future.