HTML5 semantic sections with markdown

I’ve written a second extension for python markdown that will work with MkDocs. This one will let you put HTML5 semantic sectioning elements into the generated HTML. So, instead of just having <div>s in your generated HTML you can have, for example, an <article> or <chapter> divided into <sections>. Each of these can have an id attribute, and so can be identified, described in metadata (for example using embedded YAML) and linked to as a part of the page.  You can find the OCXSect extension on github, and you can read more about the development of it in some pages generated by MkDocs (that incidentally use the extension).

markdown that will generate HTML5 with semantic sectioning elements

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Quick Notes: Defining Textbook Structure and Elements

Yesterday I joined an Office Hours session run by the Rebus Community, which was a presentation by  Dave Ernst, (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and  Executive Director of the Open Textbook Network). He spoke about  Defining Textbook Structure and Elements, essentially summarizing a chapter on developing text book structure from guide by the Open Textbook Network for teachers who are creating open textbooks. That resource, and the Rebus community look like they are well worth a look if you are not already familiar with them. Here are my notes mixed with my own reflection & comment.

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Using the WordPress REST API to post a book from WikiSource to PressBooks with python

I am using Pressbooks to build an online edition of Southey and Coleridge’s Omniana. I transcribed the text for Volume I on wikisource. This post is about how I got that text into pressbooks; copy and paste didn’t appeal, so I thought I would try using the WordPress REST API. You could probably write a PHP plugin that would do this, but I find python a bit easier for exploratory work, so I used that.

Getting the data from Wikisource is reasonably trivial. On wikisource I have transcluded the page transcriptions into a single HTML file of the whole book. This file is relatively easy to parse into the individual articles for posting to Pressbooks, especially as I added <hr /> tags before each article (even the first) and added stop at the end.

In the longer term I want to start indexing the PressBook Omniana using wikidata for linked data. This will let me look at the semantic graph of what Southey and Coleridge were interested in. Continue reading

Cycle route planning for Garmin eTrex Vista on Ubuntu 18.04

Obviously, this is a summer holidays post, not work related. One of my long-term popular posts on this blog is about Using Garmin eTrex Vista HCx with Ubuntu 14.04LTS & QLandkarte GT. That post has the info about how my eTrex is set up to connect to Ubuntu and to use OpenCycleMap, which still works for me. This post is just about the route planning, which has moved on. In short I use Google Maps in cycle mode plot the route, to download a GPX of that route, gps babel to simplify and transfer the GPX file to the eTrex, and QMapShack to view and manage the various GPX files on Ubuntu. For navigation en route I follow a planned track on eTrex and/or on my phone using OSMAnd.

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#CMALT Certified Member of the Association for Learning Technology

On Monday afternoon a notification popped up for an email

Congratulations on achieving Certified Membership of the Association for Learning Technology

CMALT badgeI was very happy. I was also busy on something, so didn’t immediately open the email. When I did go to open it, the email had vanished. It took me long enough to find where it have got to for me to begin to doubt my sanity; but no, it was real, I really had #CMALT.

This post is mostly to say thank you to the people who helped me. Especially Lorna Campbell, who buddied me in the writing process, Steve Bentley (@sdb) and Susan Greig (@SusanMGreig) who helped me with feedback when my first submission fell short, to the assessors, whoever you are, who also provided useful feedback and encouragement. To all the certified members who provided their portfolios online for inspiration and guidance, and to the other CMALT applicants who shared their progress, and to my friends and everyone in the learning technology community whose ideas I continually mine and whose comments continue to shape my thinking: thank you. Continue reading

Progress report for Educational and Occupational Credentials in

[This is cross-posted from the Educational and Occupational Credentials in W3C community group, if you interested please direct your comments there.]

Over the past few months we have been working systematically through the 30-or-so outline use cases for describing Educational and Occupational Credentials in, suggesting how they can be met with existing terms, or failing that working on proposals for new terms to add. Here I want to summarize the progress against these use cases, inviting review of our solutions and closure of any outstanding issues. Continue reading

#OER18 Open to all

I spent the last couple of days in Bristol, a city I know well: I went to University there (undergrad, PhD and post doc in physics and materials science), my wife’s parents live there. I’ll be honest, meeting my friends from the OER community in a city of which I am very fond was part of what attracted me to this conference. The theme of the conference, “open to all,” with discussions about OER in the context of colonialism, was less attractive to me. Look at the rest of this blog, you’ll see I am much more comfortable talking about technical specifications, APIs and infrastructure to support the creation and dissemination of OER. Continue reading

PressBooks and ePub as an OER format.

PressBooks does a reasonable job of importing ePub, so that ePub can be used as a portable format for open text books. But, of course, there are limits.

I have been really impressed with PressBooks, the extension to WordPress for authoring eBooks. Like WordPress it is available as a hosted service from and to host yourself from I have been using the latter for a few months. It looks like a great way of authoring, hosting, using, and distributing open books. Reports like this from Steel Wagstaff about Publishing Open Textbooks at UW-Madison really show the possibilities for education that open up if you do that. There you can read what work Steel and others have been doing around PressBooks for authoring open textbooks, with interaction (using, and h5p), connections to their VLE (LTI), and responsible learning analytics (xAPI).

PressBooks also supports replication of content from one PressBook install to another, which is great, but what is even greater is support of import from other content creation systems. We’re not wanting monoculture here.

Open text books are, of course, a type of Open Educational Resource, and so when thinking about PressBooks as a platform for open text books you’re also thinking about PressBooks and OER. So what aspects of text-books-as-OER does PressBooks support? What aspects should it support?

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Using wikidata for linked data WordPress indexes

A while back I wrote about getting data from wikidata into a WordPress custom taxonomy. Shortly thereafter Alex Stinson said some nice things about it:

and as a result that post got a little attention.

Well, I have now a working prototype plugin which is somewhat more general purpose than my first attempt. Continue reading