Cheery Friday greetings to our Learning How to Learners! Dec 23, 2016

4th January 2017

Cheery Friday greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

A New “Cheery Friday” Book App!

We’ve gradually realized that our book recommendations are among the most popular features of our “Cheery Friday” emails. We’ve gotten a lot of requests for access to our list. Your wish is our command! Our Learning How to Learn course designer, Kevin Mendez, has created a “Cheery Friday App,” updated weekly, which shows all of the books we’ve recommended. If you have any comments or suggestions (or “attaboys!”) for Kevin, please email him directly at Download now—highly recommended!

Computational Aspects of Deep Learning

For those of you who are interested in deep learning from an analytical perspective, an important new book has just come out: Deep Learning, by Ian Goodfellow, Yoshua Bengio, and Aaron Courville. As Elon Musk notes: “Written by three experts in the field, Deep Learning is the only comprehensive book on the subject.” Deep Learning can be used by university students or software engineers who want to build aspects of deep learning into products or platforms. A recommended related volume is Advanced Analytics with Spark: Patterns for Learning from Data at Scale.

War and Peace and War

If you find yourself wanting to learn more about the interwoven strands of “big picture” history, you will find Peter Turchin’s War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires to be fascinating reading. Turchin offers a bold new theory about the course of world history, growing in part from the ideas of Ibn Khaldun, a North African Arab historian and one of the greatest philosophers of the Middle Ages. On a side note, Ibn Khaldun was held in such high esteem that Central Asian empire builder Tamerlane temporarily paused his attack of Damascus to meet with the famed historian. City residents lowered Ibn Khaldun over the walls in a basket so that he could give Tamerlane a series of lectures on the theory of history. (We love learning about details like this!) Ibn Khaldun’s concept of asabiya—group cohesion—does much to help us understand the common strands of empires as different as Rome, Russia, and the United States. On a side note, Turchin is doing important work with his mathematical analysis of these ideas—his work has been published in such top journals as Nature, Science, and PNAS.

Oh yes, and Turchin’s book begins with a reference to the great science fiction classic by Isaac Asimov, Foundation—one of our favorite books while growing up. (Don’t be fooled—the link says it’s book 3 of the series, but this is the book to start with.) Who couldn’t be beguiled by such an unexpected “sci-fi” start to a book on history!

Our Popular Article on How to Create a “Sticky” MOOC

We’re pleased to announce that our article “Creating a Sticky MOOC,” in the Online Learning Journal by our Mentor MaryAnne Nestor, psychologist Deb Poole, and Barb, and was the journal’s 7th most downloaded article in 2016. Way to go!

McMaster University Honors Barb

McMaster University of Hamilton, Ontario—one of the world’s top 100 universities—recently honored Barb with the designation “Ramón y Cajal Distinguished Scholar of Global Digital Learning.” McMaster journalist Wade Hemsworth wrote an article about Barb’s recent talk on MOOC-making at McMaster—”MOOCs are Like Dating, Classes Are Like Marriage: Lessons from Teaching the World’s Largest MOOC.” (If you’d like Barb to keynote on learning for your institution or with your organization, reach out Phil at

Good Tools for Learning at Oregon State University

We’d like to bring all learners’ and teachers’ attention to the well-designed set of learning tools available at Oregon State’s Academic Success Center Learning Corner. [Hat tip, Senior Mentor and Amharic Lead Marta Pulley.]

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

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