Return to Random Access Archives List

CO 74.1 [Fall 1996], pp. 24-25; ACL on the Internet; Technology Task Force; Latin Night on AOL; Basic Latin Drills: Latinitas, Verbarium, Substantarium, Liberation Philology; Univ. of Penn. Museum CD-ROMs: Ancient Theater, Parthenon; Vergil Reference CD-ROM; Software Directory for the Classics on the Web

Institute Goes Internet

It was another exciting Institute adventure in June--this time in the rolling, wooded hills of Maryland, with some rather fine weather for summertime in the DC area. The Univ. of Maryland has gained a strong reputation as a role model for campus networking and computerized outreach throughout the state. This expertise proved very useful to the computer-based workshops at our Institute, since four out of the six were also Internet-based. On top of that, the ACL used this opportunity to showcase its own growing cache of Internet-based resources by way of two networked computers--one Mac, one PC--in the Teaching Materials Display area.

John Muccigrosso, a doctoral student at the Univ. of Michigan, has been implementing many of the new resources sponsored by the ACL and available to anyone with Internet access. First, an announcement service is available; to be included on its mailing list, send an e-mail message of your own wording to a.c.l.@umich.edu. Second, a discussion list for ACL members only is now in operation; to join the list, send the e-mail message, "subscribe acl," with no subject to majordomo@rome.classics.lsa.umich.edu. Third, and most importantly, there is a growing Web site (http://www.umich.edu/~acleague), which has a wealth of information for our profession. For more about any of these resources, contact John (jmucci@umich.edu).

Technology Task Force Gets Boost

Cindy Pope and Leslie Noles Flood have been overwhelming audiences at previous Institutes with their demonstrations of the cutting-edge sound-and-graphics shows that they create for their distance-learning classes on the TI-IN Network. They have also been serving as co-chairs of the new Technology Task Force since its inception last year. After the initial brainstorming sessions at the 1995 Institute, the Task Force has gained a new infusion of energy to carry out some of the many ideas proposed over the last year. These projects include: 1) a new survey on computer usage in our profession to update the previous 1991 survey; 2) a referral list of "peer coaches" available to answer questions, perhaps organized by region and/or computer type; 3) a "Computers & the Classics" FAQ list (Frequently Asked Questions--with answers) on the ACL Web site; 4) coordination of extended pre-Institute workshops on technical topics, tracked by levels of experience; and 5) an increased number of software reviews by teachers.

If you are interested in contributing your own resources and energy to any of these projects, please contact Cindy (cindyp@tenet) or Leslie (ljnflood@memphisonline.com).

Latin Chat Night Gets New Room

One of the most well-attended and fun-filled workshops at the Institute was given by LeaAnn Osburn, Josephine Garmer, and P.A. Magee. LeaAnn and Josephine act as co-hosts of the Latin Chat Night on America OnLine (AOL), and P.A. is the official greeter for the group. (You may have read about them in the Spring issue of the ACL Newsletter.) Latin Chat Night is an online conversation among Latin teachers and others interested in classical pedagogy. They meet on Tuesday evenings at 8:00 pm Eastern Time. You must be an AOL member in order to participate in the discussion, but you can use a free 10-hour trial membership to find out what's going on. Call America OnLine at 800-827-6364 to get a free installation disk.

There is an e-mail newsletter sent out weekly to announce that week's topic for discussion and other related issues. If you are interested in receiving it, contact Josephine (msmagistra@aol.com). The last Tuesday of every month is an all-Latin session. Last year several of the discussion members organized a group project with their classes in which a novel about Roman life was written in Latin. Each class took their turn writing a chapter and e-mailing it on to the next group, and each chapter tended to move the story to a new and interesting location.

As the Latin Chat Night moves into its second year, it is also moving into its own "space" (or, should I say, "cyberspace"). (Previously, the group met in the Italian Chat Room.) To find them now, you first go to keyword "International Cafe," then "One World, Many Voices," and finally "One World Cafe"--at the appointed time.

Basic Latin Drills from Abroad

Before I start talking about CD-ROM disks again, there are a number of basic Latin drill programs that have appeared in the last year or so--one for Mac, one DOS, and one for both--that I think you should know about. Coincidentally, they are all from outside the U.S.--a sign of the new global economy, perhaps.

Latinitas was written by Bruce Robertson at the Univ. of Toronto using HyperCard on the Mac (figure 2). It is a very efficient and easy-to-use parsing drill for nouns, adjectives, and verbs; and it is keyed to four different textbooks (Ecce Romani, Cambridge, Oxford, and Wheelock--4th ed.). Right now it includes all four text versions, but future editions may become more specialized. It is an open-ended drill, so you can practice to your heart's content, but it does not keep any kind of score. You can even change levels in midstream, if you want.

A Latin form is randomly generated, based on the level chosen, and you must first identify it by part of speech. Once this is done, you are given all the appropriate parsing categories and asked to choose parsing labels from pull-down menus. Then, you are asked for the main dictionary form and a single English meaning. You can ask to be "marked" or corrected at any time; then you can try to correct your mistakes before being marked again. You can also "cheat" and ask to be given the answers. This process continues until you decide to ask for a new form.

The author is always working on new embellishments to the program and sending them out to licensed users. Plans are now being developed to add a printed evaluation of some kind. The program requires HyperCard 2.2 and 2MB RAM on a Mac. A single-user license costs $25 (with quantity discounts available), a single-computer dept. license is $50, and a site license goes for $250. There are free downloadable demos available on the Web (http://www.chass.toronto.ca:8080/~brucerob/Latinitas/intro.html). For more information, contact Bruce Robertson, 88 Bernard Ave. Apt. 303, Toronto, ON M5R 1R7, Canada; e-mail: brucerob@chass.toronto.ca; (also available from the ACL's TMRC).

Dutch DOS Drills in Color

A similar type of parsing drill for DOS is contained in a pair of programs from Holland that have been converted for English users. Verbarium is for verbs, and Substantarium is for nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. These programs are not tied to any particular texts, so you must select your level of proficiency (by declension, conjugation, tense, etc.) from a menu before starting a drill. As in Latinitas, a form is randomly generated, and you must make appropriate selections from the lists of parsing categories provided. In Substantarium, you are given a list of several meanings to choose from, but Verbarium does not require a meaning. However, both programs do provide helpful, context-sensitive feedback when errors are made. Once again, scores are not kept, and the drilling session is open-ended.

These programs are used by a majority of schools teaching Latin in Holland, so they are very well-tested. Three other programs of greater complexity are also in the process of translation. Each of these programs is distributed in site license form for approximately $95 (depending on the current exchange). For more information, contact: Edwin Bos, SOS Nijmegen, Nijmeegsebaan 156, 6564 CN Heiliglandstichting, Netherlands; e-mail: bos@nici.kun.nl; Web: http://www.willamette.edu/~tjones/languages/latin-software.html.

Can Philology Drills Be Liberating?

Finally, there is a program called Liberation Philology from Canada, which has both a Mac and a DOS version for Latin. It also has versions for a number of other uncommon languages, such as Sanskrit, Catalan, Dutch, and Portuguese. There are three main sections to choose from: 1) nouns, adjectives, and pronouns, including agreement; 2) verbs; 3) vocabulary. This program is also not tied to a particular textbook, but it uses 1900 vocabulary words on the elementary level; and it is one of the very few which offers optional macrons. These are marked with carets(^) over the vowels, and they can be created by the user with the shift key or several other methods.

The format of the forms drills can be straight parsing, "reverse-parsing" (create a specified form), or a randomized combination of both. It will include all correct possibilities in the parsing format. Once again, this is an open-ended drill: you decide when it's over. When you do quit, you receive a comprehensive, percentage score for your work, but it is not recorded.

You can download a free demo of this program from the publisher's Web site (http://members.aol.com/libphil). It is sold only in a single-user package at $19.95 each. For more information, contact Liberation Philology, 453 Duke St., Cambridge, ON N3H 3S9, Canada; e-mail: libphil@aol.com.

Museum Publishes Classical CD-ROMs

Now we can begin the CD-ROM update! The Museum at the Univ. of Pennsylvania has jumped into the CD-ROM publishing business, and two of their early offerings are classical titles: The Ancient Greek Theater and The Parthenon. Both titles have been written by Philip Betancourt, and they use a straightforward, menu-driven interface which offers 8-12 "chapters" of material with 6-16 pages each (except for a 65-page "Picture Gallery" on Parthenon). The pages are very well designed, with plenty of color graphics and photos, and music is used sporadically to add a multimedia dimension. There are no quizzes involved, though, making the programs merely expository in nature.

These disks are both part of a series called "Introduction to Greece," and they do an excellent job of providing just that--an introduction--to their respective topics. They are reasonably priced, at $29.95 and $39.95 respectively, and would serve well in a school's software library as reference works or as required reading at the start of a special unit. They could, however, do a bit more to distinguish themselves from an electronic textbook.

Both titles are available in PC-Windows format only. For more information, contact Univ. Museum Publications, Univ. of Pennsylvania Museum, 33rd & Spruce Sts., Philadelphia, PA 19104; tel. 800-306-1941; e-mail: publications@vax.museum.upenn.edu; Web: http://www.upenn.edu/museum_pubs/GreekCD.html.

Vergil Reference CD-ROM Has It All

This CD-ROM program is exactly what it says it is: an extensive Vergil reference work (figure 3). Among the resources it provides are: 1) a complete text of Vergil's major works (Aeneid, Eclogues, Georgics) in both Latin and English (electronically cross-linked); 2) Distler's Vergil and Vergiliana, 3) Murray's Manual of Mythology, 4) Duff's Literary History of Rome, and 5) grammar paradigm charts. There is also a word list linked to some parts of the text.

Sally Davis is acting as editor for the Romanitas series, for which this disk is the initial entry. She has created a set of assignment guides and search strategies to assist teachers and students in making good use of these materials. Also, the Folio Views software framework which organizes the materials and facilitates searches provides a number of tools for creating "shadow" files, containing personalized sets of bookmarks and notes.

The Vergil Reference CD-ROM will run on a Mac or PC-Windows system with at least 4MB RAM. Single copies for personal use are $99 each; school purchases run $179 each, with additional copies available for $79 each. For more information, contact Paratext Inc., 1409 Newport Springs, Reston, VA 22094; tel. 800-600-TEXT; e-mail: sales@paratext.com.

Software Directory Now on the Web

For a long time people have been asking me to create some kind of condensed listing of the Software Directory for the Classics that could be made available online. The Web has finally made this extremely easy to do, so it was one of the first projects I tackled after learning how to set up a Web site for Centaur Systems. The online version of the directory (figure 4) contains titles and brief descriptions, is organized by computer and software type, and includes direct links to the publishers directory, which also has Internet links to e-mail addresses and Web URLs wherever available. (http://www.centaursystems.com/soft_dir.html)

On another page at the same site is an archive of all past "Random Access" columns with a table of contents listing topics covered in each issue. You can use the search tool in your Web browser to find information on a specific topic. As I have been adding more complexity (and assuming more knowledge) since the column began in 1989, I hope this resource will make it easier for anyone to bring themselves "up to speed" or find that crucial bit of information that appeared "way back when."

And, finally, a humorous note from Debby Borg of Oak Hill Academy: "According to one of my students, the ancient Roman household gods were the Lares and the Pentium."

Return to Random Access Archives List