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CO 84.3 [Spring 2007], pp. 120-121: Centaur Systems' Latina 4.5 (Latin Flash Drill & Latin Vocab Drill); J-PROGS' Greek Gods; Latin Dictionaries for Palm Pilot; Cambridge University Press' Lectrix.
I am happy to announce that there is now an extra reason to submit your stories about successful uses of computer technology in the Classics classroom. Due to the generous help of Altair 4 Multimedia of Rome, I can offer a copy of their wonderful virtual reality tour of ancient Agrigento on DVD to anyone who submits such a written (or e-mailed) document (250 words or more). Everyone needs a little incentive to take time out of a busy day for an extra chore. Remember that all contributions will be accredited to their sources and published with the ACL Software Directory, in both its online and print versions.
I also still have a number of free copies of the new CIRCE manual available to anyone who would like to see how some of their European colleagues are using computer-based tools to teach Classics. To receive a copy, just send me an e-mail (or snail mail) indicating so and include your full mailing address.
Latina 4.5 Offers Better Recordkeeping
Centaur Systems is releasing a major upgrade on their Latina programs, Latin Flash Drill (Figure 1) and Latin Vocab Drill (Figure 2). There are no big changes in appearance and updated compatibility, as there was in the version 4.0 release in 2005, but there are significant improvements in scorekeeping and interesting new additions in the way of diagnostic review.
The Scores page is now completely redesigned into neat columns for all of the same categories of score data (Name, Date, Time, [Drill] Type, [Number] Done, [Time] Spent, and Lists (LVD) or Forms (LFD) covered). Scores can then be sorted by any of those categories. Only those scores belonging to the current user are visible, until the teacher enters a password to see all scores and may then select any particular user to concentrate on. A separate ‘Details’ page allows anyone to select a visible score record and see all the details for that single drill at one time for easy review and/or printing. The full Score page can also be printed, if necessary, and the entire score file can always be imported into a spreadsheet program for further review and manipulation.
The new diagnostic review options in Latina 4.5 are customized for each program. In Latin Vocab Drill, a user can select any group of word lists from the menu and deposit them into a personalized review list, which is saved under their username. Then they can work on that review list over successive sessions and “whittle away” at it until they have gotten every word in the list right. The list of remaining words can always be reviewed on the ‘Reference’ page.
In Latin Flash Drill the review list option provides an ongoing personalized checklist of each user’s performance on all of the forms attempted. By adjusting the settings for the required ‘Minimum Done’ and ‘Minimum Score’, one can determine proficiency levels, and the program will use those settings to ‘check off’ the form categories in which those standards have been met. It is also possible to use that check list to set the drill menus to include all remaining unfulfilled categories, or one can now reset the drill menus to the same categories used in the previous session.
These upgrade improvements have been made in response to ongoing feedback from students and teachers using Latina. The version 4.5 upgrade is available as a free download to licensees of version 4.0 or later. Site licenses for each Latina module are $65 (based on program and textbook), and personal licenses are $10 (plus nominal shipping and handling). The software runs on both Windows and Mac (OS X & Classic) computers, using 16 MB RAM and 5 MB of hard drive space. For more info, contact Centaur Systems Ltd., 407 N. Brearly St., Madison WI 53703; tel. (toll-free) 888-236-8287; web: www.centaursystems.com.
Greek Gods Provides Tour of Heaven & Hell
J-PROGS has released a new title which is sure to please those who have enjoyed their other multimedia programs on classical topics, like Roman Gods, and were looking for something more on the Greek side of things. In Greek Gods (Figure 3), Julian Morgan again makes use of his amazing photo collection of the Classical World to provide an extremely thorough introduction to the entire range of Greek deities, both major and minor.
The topics covered include: Origins, Heroes & Monsters, the Gods, Temples & Worship, Festivals, and the Oracle at Delphi. A new ‘Quizbuilder’ system allows each user to create their own customized quiz based on type (multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank), number of items, and one or more topics to be included.
For more info on this program, in the U.S., contact Centaur Systems Ltd. (above); in the U.K. and elsewhere, contact J-PROGS, 65-A Helen’s Gate, Pocklington, E Yorks YO42 2JW, Great Britain; web: www.j-progs.com.
Over the last few years I have gotten periodic requests for information about Latin dictionaries that might be available to run on the popular Palm Pilot PDA (personal digital assistant) and compatible devices running the Palm OS (operating system). Finally, I took a moment to do some searching on this topic and quickly found a few of them. However, I do not think either of them is very powerful.
Beiks LLC is responsible for a couple of different versions of varying size. Version 1.0 of their English-Latin Dictionary costs $8 and uses only 150K of RAM. Version 2.0 costs $19 and uses 212K of RAM. Both are compatible with Palm OS 3.5 or higher and can be purchased from palmsource.palmgear.com.
AbsoluteWord makes the largest English-Latin Dictionary for Palms, it appears, and theirs will also work on Pocket PCs or the Windows Mobile OS. Containing 11,655 entries, this English-Latin Dictionary uses the RoadLingua dictionary shell. It costs $19.95, runs on Palm OS 4.0 or higher, PowerPC 2002/2003/SE or Windows Mobile 5.0, and can be purchased from www.absoluteword.com.
There are a number of good technology workshops coming up at Institute this summer. Be sure to take advantage of them if you can!
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