As the new school year draws near and enthusiasts continue to push the benefits of #OER, let’s also take  a moment to remember and celebrate the ability of students to choose their own educational resources and books.

Teachers need to do a better job of providing options, flexibility, and guidance in the panoply of choices available to students of all income levels and abilities. Increased choice at the student level will drastically improve both the literal and proverbial marketplace of ideas.

Here’s some additional detail I wrote on this day a few years back:

Reply to Bryan Alexander

Replied to a tweet by Bryan AlexanderBryan Alexander (Twitter)
When I was at a major talent agency selling to studios/producers, their mantra was “keep executives busy reading our material/meeting our clients; they won’t have time to think about hiring/using our competition.” I suspect the same applies here.

🔖 Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science from Rajiv Jhangiani, Robert Biswas-Diener (eds.)

Bookmarked Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science by Rajiv Jhangiani, Robert Biswas-Diener (eds.) (Ubiquity Press)

Affordable education. Transparent science. Accessible scholarship.

These ideals are slowly becoming a reality thanks to the open education, open science, and open access movements. Running separate—if parallel—courses, they all share a philosophy of equity, progress, and justice. This book shares the stories, motives, insights, and practical tips from global leaders in the open movement.

It’s not just the book about which there’s so much to find interesting, but the website that’s serving it is well designed, crafted, and very forward thinking in what it is doing.

🔖 How To Code in Python: Using Manifold to Deliver an Open Educational Resource | Building Manifold

Bookmarked How To Code in Python: Using Manifold to Deliver an Open Educational Resource (

Recently, my eBook on Python programming, How To Code in Python 3, was made available as a Manifold publication. I would like to offer my perspective to the Manifold community to give some background on the work and how I believe the Manifold platform provides additional layers of value to the text through providing a place for learning and idea exchange in both university communities and broader publics.

An interesting article about OER relating to a book that looks interesting to read.

👓 OER 18: Reclaim Video & Cloudron | Lauren Brumfield

Read OER 18: Reclaim Video & Cloudron by Lauren Brumfield (
Now that I’m on the tail end of this trip, I feel like I can finally wrap my head around the last 10 days and gather my thoughts for a blog post. Last week, the Reclaim team met in Bristol for the OER 18 Conference. The entire experience was definitely a mix of ups and downs, but that’s not a result of OER’s doing; I got sick and had to back out of the second day of the conference & my presentation slot. (Ugh, talk about timing.) It was a huge bummer to prepare so hard for something to then not have a chance to share it, but I’m incredibly grateful to be apart of such a solid team that was able to step in for me. Apparently, they rocked the house!

🔖 actualham tweet about interactive glossary/encyclopedia for challenging technical/academic jargon that can be layered into textbooks

Bookmarked a tweet by Robin DeRosa on TwitterRobin DeRosa on Twitter (Twitter)

Following Doug Belshaw

Followed Doug Belshaw (Open Educational Thinkering)

I’m Doug Belshaw, Open Educational Thinkerer. I help people become more productive in their use of technology.

Recently, I’ve joined Moodle to lead an innovation project currently entitled Project MoodleNet. From January 2018 this takes up four days, or 30 hours, of my working week.

I’m also a consultant through Dynamic Skillset, where I help people and organisations become more productive in their use of technology, and I co-founded a co-operative known as We Are Open which exists to spread the culture, processes, and benefits of working openly.

In previous guises I’ve worked for Mozilla and Jisc, and before that was a teacher and senior leader in schools.

I write here mainly about education, technology and productivity. Other places I write include (commentary), (new literacies-related), and (more philosophical).

I’m following him via his own website, since he’s “off Twitter” and primarily publishing in his own space:

For others I’m following in Open Education:

Following Paul Hibbitts

Followed Paul Hibbitts (Hibbitts Design)
Exploring and Building Open [Source] Software for Learning Ecosystems
Educator and interaction designer. Building #FOSS for distributed learning ecosystems/#DoOO/#OER. Using @getgrav + #CanvasLMS as open & collaborative platform.🚀

👓 The Troubled Trail from CC-BY to CC-BY-NC #OpenEdMOOC | Jenni Hayman

Read The Troubled Trail from CC-BY to CC-BY-NC #OpenEdMOOC by Jenni HaymanJenni Hayman (
This week in Introduction to Open Education I was introduced to the course materials on the 5R’s, Creative Commons, and Open Licensing. This is territory that I’m comfortably familiar with, but there’s always something new to learn. One of the ideas that emerged for me, and admittedly it’s been brewing, is the need for a change in how I choose to license and share my work. I have wrestled of late with the ever-growing phenomenon of “open washing” particularly among panicked for-profit publishing companies. I have a less-than-generous view of what publishers are playing at regarding OER.

👓 OER: The Future of Education Is Open | Educause Review

Read OER: The Future of Education Is Open by Lisa Young, Una Daly and Jason Stone (
The OER movement continues to have a significant impact on students, faculty, and the way teaching is occurring. OER can overcome barriers to students

Latin Pedagogy and the Digital Humanities

I’ve long been a student of the humanities (and particularly the classics) and have recently begun reviewing over my very old and decrepit knowledge of Latin.  It’s been two decades since I made a significant study of classical languages, and lately (as the result of conversations with friends like Dave Harris, Jim Houser, Larry Richardson, and John Kountouris) I’ve been drawn to reviewing them for reading a variety of classical texts in their original languages. Fortunately, in the intervening years, quite a lot has changed in the tools relating to pedagogy for language acquisition.

Jenny's Second Year Latin
A copy of Jenny’s Latin text which I had used 20 years ago and recently acquired a new copy for the pittance of $3.25.


The biggest change in the intervening time is the spread of the  internet which supplies a broad variety of related websites with not only interesting resources for things like basic reading and writing, but even audio sources apparently including listening to the nightly news in Latin. There are a variety of blogs on Latin as well as even online courseware, podcasts, pronunciation recordings, and even free textbooks. I’ve written briefly about the RapGenius platform before, but I feel compelled to mention it as a potentially powerful resource as well. (Julius Caesar, Seneca, Ovid, Cicero, et al.) There is a paucity of these sources in a general sense in comparison with other modern languages, but given the size of the niche, there is quite a lot out there, and certainly a mountain in comparison to what existed only twenty years ago.


There has also been a spread of pedagogic aids like flashcard software including Anki and Mnemosyne with desktop, web-based, and even mobile-based versions making  learning available in almost any situation. The psychology and learning research behind these types of technologies has really come a long way toward assisting students to best make use of their time in learning and retaining what they’ve learned in long term memory.  Simple mobile applications like Duolingo exist for a variety of languages – though one doesn’t currently exist for classical Latin (yet).

Digital Humanities

The other great change is the advancement of the digital humanities which allows for a lot of interesting applications of knowledge acquisition. One particular one that I ran across this week was the Dickinson College Commentaries (DCC). Specifically a handful of scholars have compiled and documented a list of the most common core vocabulary words in Latin (and in Greek) based on their frequency of appearance in extant works.  This very specific data is of interest to me in relation to my work in information theory, but it also becomes a tremendously handy tool when attempting to learn and master a language.  It is a truly impressive fact that, simply by knowing that if one can memorize and master about 250 words in Latin, it will allow them to read and understand 50% of most written Latin.  Further, knowledge of 1,500 Latin words will put one at the 80% level of vocabulary mastery for most texts.  Mastering even a very small list of vocabulary allows one to read a large variety of texts very comfortably.  I can only think about the old concept of a concordance (which was generally limited to heavily studied texts like the Bible or possibly Shakespeare) which has now been put on some serious steroids for entire cultures. Another half step and one arrives at the Google Ngram Viewer.

The best part is that one can, with very little technical knowledge, easily download the DCC Core Latin Vocabulary (itself a huge research undertaking) and upload and share it through the Anki platform, for example, to benefit a fairly large community of other scholars, learners, and teachers. With a variety of easy-to-use tools, shortly it may be even that much easier to learn a language like Latin – potentially to the point that it is no longer a dead language. For those interested, you can find my version of the shared DCC Core Latin Vocabulary for Anki online; the DCC’s Chris Francese has posted details and a version for Mnemosyne already.

[Editor’s note: Anki’s web service occasionally clears decks of cards from their servers, so if you find that the Anki link to the DCC Core Latin is not working, please leave a comment below, and we’ll re-upload the deck for shared use.]

What tools and tricks do you use for language study and pedagogy?

Read Vocabulary Study with Mnemosyne by Chris Francese (Dickinson College Commentaries)
Learning any language involves acquiring a large amount of vocabulary. For this reason, I think it is very useful for Latin and Greek students to put time and effort into systematic vocabulary study.
I’ve added a copy of the DCC Core Latin Vocabulary to the Anki platform for those interested in utilizing it there instead of on Mnemosyne. The cards can be found/downloaded at: My personal thanks to the DCC for posting and sharing the results of their research and work in this manner. This is a brilliant example of the concept of digital humanities.