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CO 74.3 [Spring 1997], pp. 107-109: Perseus 2.0 released; Greek instructional software: Greek Tutor, Gramma, Electronic Workbook (for Mastronarde's Intro. to Attic Greek); VRoma and Roman Perseus get NEH funding.
What Goes Around Comes Around
A look at the calendar tells me that there are a couple of perennial promises to fulfill. The biennial update of the ACL's Software Directory for the Classics is due in 1997, and it should be released by the time you read this. While the new online version provides basic information about titles, costs, and publishers by category (http://www.centaursystems.com/soft_dir.html), the printed version includes full verbal descriptions, more technical information, and critical details on each program and category. Contact the ACL Teaching Materials & Resource Center to get your own copy (Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056; tel. 513-529-7741; $10 non-member, $8 members, plus $5 shipping & handling--no royalties involved!).
The other update whose time has come is a review of software available for Greek. The last time I discussed this area (CO 70 [Spring 1993]:106-109), Perseus 1.0 had recently been released to great acclaim (including my own). Well, it just so happens that Perseus 2.0 has, after the usual release date pushbacks, recently made it into concrete, public form--all four CD-ROM disks of it! The general response I've heard so far is very positive, mainly due to the enormous expansion of materials included in the package (24,000 images, 3.4 million words of Greek literature, 179 archaeological sites).
Julian Morgan of JPROGS Software in England did a grand presentation at Oxford for the UK release of Perseus 2.0 in January, and he will be doing the same show at the ACL Institute in Ann Arbor this June. Speaking of the Institute, please note the new pre-conference workshops this year. These will be intensive sessions on topics that have been selected by the new Task Forces initiated by President Glenn Knudsvig. There will be a couple sets of workshops conducted in the Michigan computer labs by the Technology Task Force. Check your registration materials for more information about specific topics.
Greek Programs Come and Go--and Morph!
Unfortunately, two of the Greek programs that I have mentioned in the past are no longer available. Brown Publishers of Dubuque, Iowa, seems to have been bought up by McGraw-Hill (Which publishers haven't merged lately?), and somewhere in the downsizing-merger process Greek Practice and Paidagogos have been dropped from the roster. HyperGreek is still available from Intellimation, but they are in the process of re-evaluating their catalog right now and could give me no guarantees about what would survive the cut. Also, Matt Neuberg's JACT Reading Greek Stacks (see CO 72.3 [Spring 1995]:98) are still available for downloading from a new site (http://www.tidbits.com/matt/default.html).
Parsons Technology has also dropped their Greek Tools program for IBM-DOS, but they have replaced it with a much better program, Greek Tutor for IBM-Windows on CD-ROM. The new program is still geared toward reading the New Testament, from which the vocabulary and sample phrases are taken. However, there is also an abundance of reference material, tutorials, and drills on grammar that could prove useful to any beginning student of Greek. The benefit of hearing any word (or letter) pronounced aloud is a real plus, too. The program costs $49; for more information, contact Parsons Technology, PO Box 100, Hiawatha, IA 52233; tel. 800-779-6000; Web: http://www.parsonstech.com.
Greek Practice Begets Gramma
Even though Greek Practice may no longer be with us, it may be reassuring to know that it was one of the inspirations for another newer program for the Mac, called Gramma. Peter Burian and Chris Blackwell are the authors of Gramma; Burian teaches at Duke, and Blackwell was working on his Ph.D. there (now teaching at Furman Univ.), when they collaborated on the creation of Gramma, which is actually a set of three programs, providing basic drills on forms and vocabulary. Originally designed to accompany Oxford's "new" Greek text, Athenaze, they have now added data files that are also correlated to JACT's Reading Greek text and Harvard's A New Introduction to Greek (Chase & Phillips).
The first part of Gramma, called "Mnemonika" (fig. 1) drills students on Greek vocabulary. There are a number of settings which can be adjusted before starting a drill. First, the student can determine whether to drill from Greek to English or vice versa. (The authors refer to the these methods as tests of "passive" and "active" knowledge, respectively.) Gramma has its own Greek font, called DukeGreek, built into the program; and it uses a keyboard layout similar to the SuperGreek format. A handy, laminated chart of the keyboard correlation is provided to help those who are new to typing Greek on a standard keyboard.
The second option for the user is the range of words to include in a drill, based on the chapter numbers for the appropriate text. Besides the three textbook files mentioned above, it is possible to create your own vocabulary lists with a standard wordprocessor and your own font. Actually, you can use this facility to make lists in other languages, too, if you like. Detailed instructions are provided in the manual.
The last, and most unique, option allows the user to determine how many times she must answer an item correctly before it is considered "learned" and the percentage of drill items which can be drawn from the words that have been tagged as "learned." Because the program keeps track of these details, each user must keep his own copy of the Vocab and Settings files. A running score is presented during the drill, and the user is given a chance to record it to disk when finished.
"Onomata" and "Rhemata" (fig. 2), the other two parts of Gramma, are a bit simpler to deal with. Onomata drills substantive (noun, pronoun, and adjective) forms, while Rhemata does the same thing for verbs. These drills offer formats for both parsing and "reverse-parsing" (creating a specified form), using checklists of the appropriate morphological categories; but they do not keep score. There are a total of 59 substantives and 18 verbs from which to choose; all of these model words are taken from the Athenaze text (and can be grouped by chapter, if desired), but many will be common to other texts, too.
Gramma is a HyperCard-based program available in Macintosh format only at this time. It requires 4MB of RAM and 1.5MB of hard drive space. A school site license costs $95; a single-user, home license $60; and a demo disk $10. For more information, contact Centaur Systems Ltd., 407 N. Brearly St., Madison, WI 53703-1603; tel. 888-236-8287; Web: http://www.centaursystems.com (where you can find a free downloadable demo version).
The New Textbook-Software Combo
Many teachers may have heard of other subject areas in which new textbook editions have recently been released with accompanying software from the same publisher. Not all book publishers are amenable to the idea of becoming software publishers, as the copyright issues and economics work a bit differently; but the pressures of teacher demand have pushed some of them into it, especially the ones with widespread adoption figures. In a smaller field like ours, we currently have supplementary software for many texts created by specialized software publishers under licensing agreements with the text publishers.
Now we have our first instance of an almost simultaneous publication of a new Greek textbook and its own accompanying software from the same author and publisher, namely Donald Mastronarde's Introduction to Attic Greek (1993) and its Electronic Workbook (1995), published by the Univ. of California Press. The software is an impressive collection of tutorials and drills which are quite flexible both in style and in the material covered during each session. Its ability to accept user-created data files makes it adaptable to other textbooks, for those willing to put the time into doing so.
There are six main sections in the program: 1) pronunciation, 2) accentuation, 3) noun forms, 4) verb forms, 5) vocabulary, 6) principal parts. The amount of attention and detail devoted to the first two sections is unique and quite useful for any Greek student. Although there is no way to drill performance on pronunciation, the tutorial provides numerous examples of audio recordings tied to words from the text; and there are detailed linguistic explanations and charts presented to clarify the practicalities of spoken Greek. Accentuation is also explained carefully, and plentiful exercises are provided for practicing its applications.
The forms drills for verbs and nouns (including all substantives) use a parsing checklist format (fig. 3). There are many variables that the user can adjust, both before and during a drill, such as the chapters included, the range of forms covered, and the amount of assistance provided (principal parts, meaning, paradigm charts). These choices will, in turn, determine the number of appropriate items available for a particular drill. The vocabulary section offers similar options, but it is more of an electronic flashcard format (no typing of answers), which can be timed or user-controlled in its pace. It does, however, allow drilling in both directions: Greek to English or vice versa. The principal parts section has two drill formats: a flashcard format for any number of principal parts and a match game for principal part pairs (fig. 4).
Although none of the drills in this program offer a scoring option, the design of all the screen layouts is quite elegant and attractive, and the audio component is well-executed, too. The software is sold in a single-user package ($29.95), but site license arrangements are negotiable. It requires a Macintosh computer (68030 or better), 4MB of RAM, and 15MB of hard drive space. For more information, contact the Univ. of California Press, 2120 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94720; tel. 510-643-7154; Web: http://www.LS.berkeley.edu/dept/classics/dept.html (free downloadable demo and updates).
VRoma & Roman Perseus Get NEH Funding
In 1995 the NEH announced a new priority in their funding directives, called Teaching with Technology. Once again, the Classics field has demonstrated its prominence in the forefront of technological applications in the humanities, by successfully applying for the funding of two major projects during the first funding cycle of this program.
One project, temporarily known as "Roman Perseus," is a new endeavor for the Perseus Project group, in which they hope to duplicate the success of their first collossal effort by creating electronic tools and resources for the study of ancient Rome which will be comparable to those provided by Perseus for ancient Greece--no small task, indeed. For more information about this project, check the Perseus Web site (http://www.perseus. edu).
The second project, initiated by the APA's Committee on Technology and Small Classics Programs, is called "VRoma." Its goal is to assist teachers at the high school and college level in creating a new Web site of pedagogical tools and resources organized within a simulated "virtual Rome" environment. This would give students a chance to experience a taste of Roman culture, as they interact with teachers and each other and pursue research topics on their own. For more information, you can visit their initial demo Web site (http://www.colleges.org/~vroma).
Classicists are certainly making their mark in the brave new world of computing!
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