CO 69.1 [Fall 1991], pp. 26-29: Hypertext, multimedia, and authoringsystems discussed; Transparent Language, Tutrix, Perseus,Dasher, Prompt, HyperMyth, de Italia
That may seem like a mouthful, but don't let the big words scare youtoo much! After all, they're just a couple of nice, classically derivedcompounds created to label some new concepts in the world of high technology.
First, using our wealth of etymological knowledge, we classicists can immediatelydecipher "hypertext" as "text (or that which is woven) aboveor beyond." Ever since words have been written down, they have beenrestricted to the two-dimensional surface of the paper (or papyrus). Computershave recently given us the capability of weaving into a textual passagean unlimited number of textual layers, which can offer meaningful extensionsto any part of the passage when their appearance is requested by the reader.Until that time they are kept out of sight--but always on call.
Such a tool is most applicable to any of the text-based fields of study,including the Classics. What it means for us is that it is possible to tieall kinds of textual references (notes, commentary, vocabulary listings,etc.) to each and every word in a piece of literature and make them accessibleto a student at the touch of a button, as he or she reads.
"Multimedia" can refer to any method of presentation that utilizes"more than one means of communication." Most commonly it suggeststhe addition of audio or video-based materials (either on tape or disk)to the standard repertoire of computer text and graphics. When the two conceptsof "hypertext" and "multimedia" are merged, we end upwith something known as "hypermedia." This extends the range ofhypertext references to include such things as audio recordings on compactdisc or photographic slides on videodisc. The designers of the Macintoshcomputer have even tried to include all of these options within the samemachine, so that their newer models offer sophisticated voice and musicproduction, as well as high-resolution, color video images projected righton the same screen as the text.
These ideas may still seem like science fiction to some of us, but thereare some real programs available now or in the works that will let you findout for yourself if they can be useful to you in the classroom or not.
Transparent Language is a new program that demonstrates the hypertextconcept by providing entire stories in a foreign language, including Latin,with several types of reading assistance, such as: word and sentence translation,word grouping by highlight, and notes on special points of grammar or vocabulary.All of these forms of help will appear automatically in labeled boxes atthe bottom of the screen when a student selects a word in the text. Fora greater challenge, some types of help can be restricted from appearinguntil requested. Audiotape voice recordings are provided to assist in pronunciationdevelopment, but they are not electronically connected to the text as hypermedia.
The three Latin modules now available are "Selections from Ovid's Metamorphoses,""Twenty Four Poems of Catullus," and "Fendricks' Rumpelstultulus."The program runs on IBM-compatibles and costs $99 for a package includingthe master program, all three Latin text modules, three short non-Latinmodules, and audiotapes of all six modules. Site licenses are negotiable.Contact: Transparent Language, 9 Ash St., Box 575A, Hollis, NH 03049, tel.(800) 752-1767 or, in NH, (800) 244-8952. The publisher is also lookingfor teachers who are interested in creating new modules for them.
Tutrix is a program which uses hypertext to provide a tutorial type ofassistance in the reading process. Using short text modules of 30-40 linesof text, the program provides vocabulary listings for every word in thetext, as well as grammatical, literary, and historical notes. Multiple-choicequestions are asked of the student on three levels: translation, syntax,and morphology. Incorrect answers will lead automatically to lower levelquestions; correct answers lead back to higher level questions. The studentcan either follow the guidance of the tutorial protocol or choose to movealong independently. A performance record is kept on disk and can be printedout after a session or anytime later.
Tutrix was developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to assist studentsin making the transition from elementary grammar and vocabulary acquisitionto the literate reading of authentic Latin. It is now published by: CentaurSystems, P.O. Box 3220, Madison, WI 53704, tel. (608) 255-6979. The twomodules now available are: Vergil's Aeneid I:1-33 and Cicero's In CatilinamI:1-34. A site license for the program, including one module, is $95; thesecond module is $45; a demo disk of either module is $10.
Certainly the most impressive application of hypermedia in the fieldof Classics is the Perseus Project (CO 67 : 23, 42-48). Developedover the last five years at Harvard University with major funding from theAnnenberg Foundation, the Perseus program now contains the entire corporaof Aeschylus, Sophocles, Herodotus, Thucydides, Pindar, Pausanias, and aportion of Plutarch. The Greek original can be viewed side by side withthe English translation from the Loeb Library. Word searches can be performedon either side. The abundant multimedia references include a historicaloverview text, a Greek lexicon and parser, an atlas of geographical andarchaeological site maps, satellite photos, and a huge collection of artworkand landscape slides--all on disk. Students can roam freely through thewealth of material to research a chosen topic, or teachers can prepare aspecial "path" or sequence of material for students to peruse.
Perseus 1.0 is due to be published this fall by Yale University Press. (Contact:Charles Grench, Yale Univ. Press, 92A Yale Station, New Haven, CT 06520;price not yet available.) The program package will be distributed on onecompact disc (or CD) and one videodisc, requiring an Apple-compatible CDplayer and a Macintosh SE or better with a hard disk and 2MB of RAM (optimalconfiguration: Mac II, SE/30, or better, and 4MB of RAM). The video imagescan be accessed with a videodisc player (Pioneer/Sony) and video monitoror an Apple high resolution color monitor with 8-bit video card.
In response to a number of requests I have received in workshops, I thoughtI should mention a few authoring programs for those who might be interestedin putting together their own customized drills without having to learna programming language. Authoring programs provide a skeletal structureinto which a teacher can enter questions and answers or vocabulary wordsfor drilling.
First, for the Apple II crowd, there is the tried and true Dasher program,first published in 1983 and specifically designed for foreign language applications.It has a fairly strong capacity to correct even short sentences and phrasesby noting missing words and misspellings. Teachers may enter brief instructionsand an example for each drill set along with an indefinite number of drillitems (usually less than ten per set).
When a student is running a drill, there is no limit to the number of chancesto answer a question. Command options are available to return to the menu,skip to the next drill set, quit the program, or get the answer to the currentquestion. The student is always required to type in the correct answer,even if it has been provided.
Dasher is published by Conduit, an educational software press affiliatedwith the University of Iowa. The full Conduit package contains disks forFrench, Spanish, German, and English (price: $150). At the instigation ofJudith Lynn Sebesta, chair of the ACL's Methodology Committee, a Latin authoringdisk (with macrons) was created soon after Dasher was introduced. SinceConduit does not include the Latin disk in their package, they have givenme permission to distribute copies of it to any interested parties who havealready purchased the full program from them. To order the Dasher programor get more information, contact: Conduit, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City, IA52242, tel. (800) 365-9774. To get the Latin disk, send me (address above)a proof of purchase (invoice copy or colored cover page from user manualbinder) and either a blank 5 1/4" disk with a self-addressed, stamped($0.98) floppy disk mailer or $3 to cover the costs of same.
On the IBM-compatible side of the table, there is PROMPT, an authoringprogram which provides a format to test reading comprehension with eithermultiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank drills. Teachers enter the text passageof their choice and may provide as much vocabulary assistance as they like(via hypertext). When creating a multiple choice drill, it is possible toinclude feedback specific to each wrong choice, as well as a general hintor clue for each question. The fill-in-the-blank drill is really a cloze-typeexercise in which the teacher blanks out certain critical words in the passageto be filled in by the student.
PROMPT comes with a dozen sample exercises in English, Spanish, French,and German ($99; demo disk: $5). Accents are available for those languages,but there is no macron for Latin, unless you care to use the carat or circumflex(^) for that purpose. Contact: Gessler Publishing Co., 55 W. 13th St., NewYork, NY 10011, tel. (212) 627-0099.
Gessler also lists two other authoring systems, which I have not had anopportunity to try yet. The Linguist appears to be a flashcard drill forvocabulary or phrases, running on Apple II, Commodore 64, Atari (exceptST), and IBM-compatibles ($44.95). Passport runs only on Apple IIs and enablesthe use of color graphics to complement lessons and tests ($125; demo disk:$5).
As far as Macintosh goes, I know of only one authoring system specificallyadapted for foreign language use, and that is the MacLang program, whichI referred to in my first column (CO 67 : 23). There is now a newversion of the program (4.0) which provides multimedia capabilities (exerciseslinked to audio or video images), available from: Intellimation, P.O. Box1922, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1922, tel. (800) 346-8355; single copy: $89.95;lab pack: $359.80.
Please note: Most of these publishers will be happy to put you on theircatalog mailing list, even if you just want to keep abreast of new developmentsfor future consideration.
A recent and welcome addition to the Macintosh software offerings for theClassics is a new HyperCard-based mythology program, appropriately calledHyperMyth. This program is meant more as a reference tool than a methodof instruction or practice. It makes excellent use of HyperCard's abilityto provide fast cross-referencing between different sources of information.Each major mythological character has their own descriptive story, includingthe usual cast of other notorious characters. If a character's name appearsin bold print, it has been cross-referenced to another story or a familytree, and its appearance there may be seen merely by clicking on the namein bold.
There is also a small collection of maps (Attica, the Peloponnese, the Aegean,and the Mediterranean), which will pinpoint the location of various placenames appearing in the stories. A special adaptation on some of the mapsallows one to see the voyages of Aeneas, Theseus, and Jason chronologicallydrawn for you. All of the names included on the disk are listed under twomain indexes, which are themselves labeled with appropriate icons: godsand demigods appear in the Parthenon index, while place names appear inthe Atlas index. Two other icon-labels refer to the search utilities: Cadmuswill help you find a personal name, while Apollo will locate a place namefor you. The icons or names of these indexes and utilities appear at alltimes for easy access.
HyperMyth 2.0 requires HyperCard 2.0, Macintosh System 6.0.5, a high-densitydisk drive (FDHD), and either a hard disk or a second floppy drive to runHyperCard on. Contact: Hermes Publishing Co., P.O. Box 58063, Salt LakeCity, UT 84158-0063, tel. (801) 581-7753; price: $29.95.
Returning to the hypermedia theme that I started with, I am happy toannounce the recent public release of a videodisc called de Italia. Producedby the Fondazione Giovanni Agnelli, with accompanying access software writtenby the Voyager Co., this collection of 50,000 slides covers a broad spectrumof Italian culture and history, from the founding of Rome to the present,including many of the ancient ruins and artifacts. Probably 10% of the materialis directly connected to the classical period, but much of the later materialalso has classical allusions and useful contextual information.
Prof. Jeffrey Wills of the University of Wisconsin-Madison took the initiativeto persuade the Italian foundation to extend the publication of their videodiscbeyond its originally planned limited release. Wills and grad student GeoffreyRevard wrote additional HyperCard software to make it easy for studentsto create their own programmed slide shows. By selecting, ordering, andwriting captions for shots of their own choosing from the videodisc, studentscan avoid some of the problems that would be caused by using a departmentalset of loose slides which are easy to lose and hard to share or replace.With the de Italia setup, students each create their own list of slide numbersand captions and can later run their presentations consecutively from thesame videodisc. Preparation time still has to be coordinated around thesingle videodisc and its equipment.
The de Italia videodisc makes a nice complement to the Greek collectionprovided on the Perseus videodisc. Both run on Pioneer or Sony videodiscplayers ($900 and up), connected to a TV-type video monitor ($300 and up).Wills is distributing the de Italia videodisc, a printed index book, and12 diskettes of software on a non-profit basis for $245. The software willrun on any Macintosh computer with 1 Mb of RAM and a hard disk with roomfor 3-10 Mb of HyperCard stacks. Contact: Videodisc Project, Dept. of Classics,910 Van Hise Hall, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, tel. (608)262-9755 (or -2041).
SEE YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS!
Finally, the ACL Committee on Educational Computer Activities is solicitingdocumented examples of computer applications in the Classics classroom atall levels. Ideally, this would entail videotapes of actual demonstratedusage, following some kind of enunciated plan or format. A variety of environments(classroom, library, computer lab), applications (lesson, remediation, enrichment),and software types (drill-and-practice, simulation, tutorial) are sought.If your communication arts department is seeking ideas for class videotapeprojects, why not suggest this one? You can do the profession a great service,have a little fun, and get your name in the credits! Your students willprobably enjoy the thrill of getting on camera even more than you will!Contact me at the address above if you are interested.