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CO 84.1 [Fall 2006], pp. 26-27: CIRCE (Classics & ICT Resource Course for Europe) Manual published, distributed at Institute; 2006 pre-Institute workshop: Julian Morgan, "Seeing is Believing: Making the Most of Digital Images"; Multimodis Latina Ltd.'s Revise Latin: Verbs; Abram Ring's Lector Latinus; Altair 4 Multimedia's Com.Hera: Agrigento & Eraclea Minor.
CIRCE Shows Up at Institute
In my last column I announced the launch of the new CIRCE manual in London (CO 99.3 Spring 2006 87-88). Those who came to Institute in Philadelphia were able to get a good taste of what CIRCE is all about, as well as getting first crack at a free copy of the new manual. To recap, CIRCE is the “Classics and ICT Resource Course for Europe,” and its partners from all over Europe have been working under a grant from the EU to compile a manual of resource listings and curriculum recommendations, as well as to design a 5-day training course which will be taught every summer in a different EU country.
The first course was held at Oxford University in August 2006, and the next one is scheduled for Denmark in 2007. Since the UK partner on the CIRCE project is Julian Morgan, a member of the ACL’s Committee on Educational Computer Applications, we are developing plans to try to extend parts of the CIRCE model to an American context, including similar course programs during the summer. Keep an eye on this column and the committee’s web page for more information as time goes on.
In the meantime, there are a limited number of extra copies of the new CIRCE manual available to those who have a strong interest in computer-based tools for teaching the Classics. Centaur Systems has agreed to act as the American distribution point for these, and the ACL Computer Committee will help to fund the mailing costs, while supplies last. If you are interested in receiving a copy, please send me an e-mail (or snail mail) indicating so and include your mailing address.
Institute attendees also had a chance to get a couple of sneak previews on what the courses will be like, as Julian Morgan gave two different presentations there. His pre-Institute hands-on workshop (Figure 1) was called “Seeing is Believing: Making the Most of Digital Images,” and it covered both introductory and intermediate methods of manipulating and storing all of those digital photos that we are rapidly accumulating with our new cameras, online downloads, and purchased photo CDs. This is a major part of the CIRCE curriculum.
His second talk was more of a general overview of the project, its successes and failures, and its concrete results—in the form of the manual and the course syllabus. For more info on the CIRCE project, visit their slick new web site, www.circe.be, or contact Julian Morgan, 65-A St. Helen’s Gate, Pocklington, E Yorks YO42 2JW; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Down Under Comes Revise Latin: Verbs
There were also a few fun new programs to try out in the Computer Corner this year. Revise Latin: Verbs is a new release from Multimodis Latina Ltd. of New Zealand. If that wonderful Latin company name did not peak your interest right away, the program itself certainly will (Figure 2). The multimedia approach comes through clearly in its use of audio, visuals, and a nice variety of interactive exercises, both typed and “moused.”
The graphic design is elegant, yet simple. A centaur is fittingly assigned to be the teacher of a class of four students, whose head and shoulders we see from behind. When a student signs in at the start, he or she can even choose to be one of the four, including what look to be a young nymph and satyr. Medusa leads the students into the exercises, which can be attempted at any time during the lesson, and in any order.
The program, as its name implies, concentrates on verb forms. (The British use of ‘revise’ is more akin to the American ‘review.’) It provides animated exposition and exercises on the basics of verb grammar, the meaning of tenses, and the acquisition of forms. The vocabulary used is not tied to a particular text, and meanings are always provided, so that the program could be used in almost any syllabus at the middle and early high school level.
Exercises vary in length from 10-16 items. On the more difficult form drills, the centaur-teacher asks one of the other students to answer first, and then asks you to critique their response and correct it, if necessary. This is a nice variation on the normal drill routine. Although the scores are not recorded, each summary gets an appropriately wry Latin comment from the charming snake stick holding up the score scroll.
Besides the few “Britishisms” and the New Zealand accents, the only thing that might confuse Americans using the program is a slight inconsistency in Latin pronunciations. For some reason, third person forms ending in ‘at’ and ‘ant’ get pronounced as English short ‘a’, instead of the Latin ‘a’ (ah) of other forms.
Revise Latin: Verbs runs on Windows computers only and requires 200 MB of hard drive space. For more information, contact Multimodis Latina Ltd., P.O. Box 24-723, Royal Oak, Auckland, New Zealand; web: www.reviselatin.com.
Lector Latinus Assists Readers of Latin
For a more advanced group of Latin students and aficionados, a new program to provide dictionary and reference support for the reading of Latin literature has been created by Abram Ring, a grad student at the University of Virginia. Lector Latinus first offers automatic look-up in William Whitaker’s Words list, which includes both parsings and basic meanings for over 40,000 Latin words.
Second, it offers convenient links to several online dictionaries and references. And third: it’s LatnLink utility will automatically create an HTML (web-browsable) version of any Latin text file with hyperlinks on every possible word to the Words list.
For more info on this program, contact Centaur Systems Ltd., 407 N. Brearly St., Madison WI 53703; tel. (toll-free) 888-236-8287; web: www.centaursystems.com.
Altair 4 Rebuilds Ancient Agrigento
You may recall the 2003 release of the Ancient Rome program, in which Altair 4 Multimedia created beautiful reconstructions of a dozen buildings in that city, which could be actively explored on virtual tours (CO 80.3, Spring 2003, p. 115). Now the same artists and programmers have tackled the “Valley of the Temples” in Sicily, on behalf of the provincial government of Agrigento. The single DVD, called Com.Hera: Agrigento & Eraclea Minoa, contains versions in Italian, French, German, and English. It runs only on Windows PCs, and the fancy graphics require at least a 300 Mhz processor with 128 MB RAM.
There are wonderful reconstructions of the Temples of Olympian Zeus, Heracles, Concord, and Hera, as well as 3-D virtual tours of the current sites and animated reenactments of some of the Chthonian rituals performed there. They even include a Google Earth-style zoom out to an outer space view of Sicily to show a real-life overview of the locations of the major ancient sites there. In between those special effects is a wealth of textual and visual information about the history, development, and culture of the sites over a great expanse of history and pre-history, concentrating on the classical era.
For more info on this program, contact Centaur Systems (above).
Finally, let me add a reminder now about my entreaty from the last column for anyone’s personal stories of successful applications of computer technology in the Classics classroom at any level. Just as the CIRCE project has collected such “case studies” into their printed manual for teachers, the ACL’s Committee on Educational Computer Applications would like to do something similar in an American context. I know I have heard plenty of anecdotal accounts at Institutes and other workshops, so now we just need to collect and compile them. All contributions will be accredited to their sources, so here’s an extra chance to get your name and school out there in the public eye, besides just providing useful advice to your colleagues around the country—and the world!
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