Laura Gibbs

Aesop... and a Canvas-Creighton Connection!

Blog Post created by Laura Gibbs on May 24, 2017

I made an exciting Canvas connection yesterday: this Fall, I'm going to be making a trip to Creighton University in Omaha to help Father Greg Carlson teach a class on Aesop's Fables where the students will be working with his AMAZING Aesop Fable Collection (over 8200 books!), and it will culminate in the students curating an exhibit for the Lied Gallery there on campus (how cool is that???). Plus, there will also be an Aesop exhibit at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha. I feel so honored to get to participate in all of this, and it is going to be such a thrill to finally meet Greg Carlson in person, and also to meet his students as they begin their explorations of Aesop.


And here's the Canvas connection: from the class syllabus, I found out that Creighton uses Canvas, which gives me an incentive to develop some Aesop widgets for Canvas, and it also makes me confident that I'll be able to interact with the students during the whole semester, not just for my visit to Omaha. They are using my book of Aesop's fables English translation as a textbook for the class, and I will be able to make myself available via Canvas to answer any questions they have at any time during the semester! As for the widgets: my Canvas Widget Warehouse does not have any Aesop widgets yet... but I can promise that by the end of the summer it will! And, given the timeless popularity of Aesop's fables, I am optimistic that the widgets can be useful to lots of teachers, in addition to being a good resource for the Creighton class.


world's classics book cover


I've been working on Aesop's fables ever since I was in grad school back in the 1990s, and I'm just as thrilled and fascinated by the fables now as I was all those years ago. Previously, my focus was on Aesop's fables in Latin (I even wrote a book: Mille Fabulae et Una, 1001 Aesop's fables in Latin), but for this project I will be focusing on English-language materials.


So, as with all new projects... I set up a blog: Aesop's Books. This will be a great way to collect and share the literally hundreds of full-text Aesop books that are freely available online, along with the illustrated fables that I will be publishing as blog posts. A perfect opportunity to harness the power of public domain and OER!


I also set up a Google Sheet that will help me simultaneously generate blogs posts along with javascript widgets. I've already got two widgets up and running in the sidebar of the blog! Here's what the sidebar widgets look like — I loaded up the illustrations from two Aesop books, and they appear at random each time the page reloads:


sidebar screenshot

And here's a blog post: The Obstinate Goats. This is what the content looks like (the HTML comes from the spreadsheet; I just copy-and-paste). By keeping all the content (text, links, image URLs) in a Google Sheet, I hope to create a system which will allow for lots and lots of reuse, such as widgets with text, widgets without the text, fat widgets, skinny widgets, etc. etc.


The Obstinate Goats

Yeah, that fable is pretty harsh. A lot of the fables are harsh. Life is harsh! But the moral is a good one: be kind and courteous. Especially if you're trying to cross a dangerous torrent!


Anyway, I started working on this yesterday just as soon as I found out Creighton was using Canvas... and I am so glad to have this excuse to reacquaint myself with the joy of Aesop all summer long. I'll write up another blog post about this project when I have the first Canvas Aesop widgets ready to go! :-)