Open Thinkering


Tag: calendar

What’s your favourite month?

I reckon my favourite month is probably Prairial, and my least favourite the one we’re entering right about now ⁠— Frimaire.

For those scratching their heads, I’m referring to the French Revolutionary Calendar (also called the ‘Republican’ calendar) which divided the year up in the following way:

The Republican calendar year began the day the autumnal equinox occurred in Paris, and had twelve months of 30 days each, which were given new names based on nature, principally having to do with the prevailing weather in and around Paris. The extra five or six days in the year were not given a month designation, but considered Sansculottides or Complementary Days.


When you think about it, although it’s useful to have everyone in the world using the same calendar, doing so is almost an act of cultural violence.

I live in the North East of England, a place that historically has been known as Northumbria. What would a Northumbrian calendar look like? I don’t think it would be so different to the French Revolutionary one, except we’d probably use month names like ‘Clarty‘:

  • Autumn:
    • Vendémiaire (from French vendange, derived from Latin vindemia, “vintage”), starting 22, 23, or 24 September
    • Brumaire (from French brume, “mist”), starting 22, 23, or 24 October
    • Frimaire (From French frimas, “frost”), starting 21, 22, or 23 November
  • Winter:
    • Nivôse (from Latin nivosus, “snowy”), starting 21, 22, or 23 December
    • Pluviôse (from French pluvieux, derived from Latin pluvius, “rainy”), starting 20, 21, or 22 January
    • Ventôse (from French venteux, derived from Latin ventosus, “windy”), starting 19, 20, or 21 February
  • Spring:
    • Germinal (from French germination), starting 20 or 21 March
    • Floréal (from French fleur, derived from Latin flos, “flower”), starting 20 or 21 April
    • Prairial (from French prairie, “meadow”), starting 20 or 21 May
  • Summer:
    • Messidor (from Latin messis, “harvest”), starting 19 or 20 June
    • Thermidor (or Fervidor*) (from Greek thermon, “summer heat”), starting 19 or 20 July
    • Fructidor (from Latin fructus, “fruit”), starting 18 or 19 August

This post is Day 63 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at

Productivity 101: calendars (nouns) and reminders (verbs)

My parents upgraded their iPad last week so I spent part of the weekend showing them some of the newer features. My Dad decided he wanted to get to grips with using the Calendar and Reminders apps so I verbalised for the first time something I’ve only known implicitly.

Calendar items are for events and therefore should be organised around NOUNS.

Calendar items should be organised around NOUNS

The advantage of this approach is that you can enter specific times for the event. This can then generate ‘remind me 30 mins before’ functionality, etc.

Reminders or To-do list items are for actions and therefore should be organised around VERBS.

Reminders or To-do list items are for actions and therefore should be organised around VERBS

The thing I tried to get across to my Dad is that if you need to include a time in your to-do list or reminder then it should be a CALENDAR item.

Personally, I use Google Calendar (events in blue) and the Tasks functionality (in red):

Google Calendar screenshot showing events and to-do items

Hopefully that all makes sense. Separating out your verbs from your nouns can help enormously with productivity! 🙂

A quick rundown of what I’m up to until Christmas.


Whilst I no longer have six-week summer holidays or, in fact, nearly as much holiday time as I did when working in schools, I much prefer my current arrangements. Flexible working hours and being able to book my holiday for (pretty much) whenever I want make for a fitter, happier Doug.

I’m using up my remaining annual leave for this academic year by making this weekend a long one. Last December, for my 30th birthday, my wife bought me a ‘Supercar Fantastic Four’ track day that I’ve finally booked in, so I’m heading down to York today to drive a Ferrari 360, Porsche GT3, Lamborghini Gallardo and Suburu Impreza WRX. I hope this isn’t my last blog post… 😉

Stepping out the stream is a good time to reflect on what I’ve got coming up in the next few months. This overview post, then, is as much for my own benefit as to give readers a heads-up on some stuff I’m involved in.

Here goes:

16 August – 30 September: Semester of Learning on ‘Open badges and assessment’ at

6-8 September: ALT-C conference (delegate; launching Mobile Learning infoKit)

20 September: JISC infoNet Planning meeting

21/22 September: Scottish Learning Festival (delegate)

23 September: JISC OER Phase 3 meeting

28 September: Mobile Learning Symposium (presenting with Steve Boneham)

4/5 October: JISC Digital Literacies and Assessment and Feedback startup meetings

6 October: JISC Digital Literacies workshop (participant)

7 October: Future of Technology in Education (FOTE) conference (presenting)

19 October (provisional): JISC RSC Online Conference (presenting)

24-28 October: Annual Leave (Malta)

8 November: Century Challenge meeting with Prof. Keri Facer, et al.

14 October: JISC OER Phase 3 startup meeting

16 November (provisional): Google Apps workshop with DoDigital and Vital

19 November (provisional): Purpos/ed event

22-25 November: JISC Online Conference (presenting)

6-7 December: JISC infoNet planning meeting

Ongoing: #openbadges weekly IRC meetings (Saturday evenings, 20.00 UK time), EdTechRoundUp Weekly (Sunday evenings, 20.00 UK time)

To plan: #purposedassess meeting (September, with Tom Barrett), November Purpos/ed event (open planning model)

Hopeful about attending: Mobility Shifts conference (10-16 October)

In addition, I’m hoping to submit my Ed.D. thesis by the end of August and then defend it in September/October at my viva voce. Interest in working with me through Synechism Ltd.  is increasing; having worked with Greg Perry and Future Behaviour, I’m now meeting regularly with Zoe Ross and DoDigital to work on digital development as well as doing some work with Stephen Haggard for a faith-based organisation on digital futures (they wanted to remain anonymous).

I’ve got plenty to be getting on with until the end of October, but do get in touch if you want me to speak, write or advise you or your organisation. My main fields of interest continue to be Open Educational Resources, Mobile Learning and Digital Literacies. 🙂

Image CC BY DafneCholet