CO 72.3 [Spring 1995], pp. 95-98: Update on Software Directoryfor the Classics; Athena, History Through Art: Greece/Rome,World History Illustrated: Greece/Rome, Rome, Iter Romanum;Nestor: Perseus support tools; FTP discussed; Lingua Latina,Scriba, JACT Reading Greek Stacks
By the time you read this, the latest edition of the ACL's Software Directoryfor the Classics will have hit the streets! The 1995 update includes over100 pages of detailed information about all kinds of software with educationalapplications in the Classics. There are descriptive reviews of over 60 instructionalsoftware programs for Latin, Greek, etymology, and classical civilization,along with brief listings for research and productivity software tools,such as text-search programs and wordprocessor fonts. New entries coverthe expanding world of CD-ROM software and Internet resources. The new editionwill still cost $10 (20% discount to ACL members) and is available fromthe ACL Teaching & Materials Resource Center, Miami Univ., Oxford, OH45056; tel. 513-529-7741.
If you are on any of the major software companies' mailing lists, youwill undoubtedly have noticed the veritable tidal wave of CD-ROM offeringsto hit their pages. There are whole catalogs now devoted only to CD-ROMlistings. Many home computer sales these days are in the form of multimediaPCs (or MPC, for short) and Apple AV (audiovisual) Macintoshes with built-inCD-ROM drives. The new MPC standard generally requires a sound device ("card"and speakers or both built-in), a 14" (or larger) color monitor, anda respectable amount of RAM (8MB+) and hard drive space (200-500MB, to holdmore than just a few programs!). These setups are trying to prepare us forthe coming days of interactive television and downloadable multimedia (movies,databases, and games), all via the good old telephone and cable lines (orrooftop satellite dish)--and each carrying a price tag of its very own.
Unfortunately, many of the hundreds of CD-ROM titles that have appearedrecently demonstrate the age-old phenomenon of rushing a product to marketjust to cash in on a trend. Some of the things showing up on CD-ROM maylook eerily familiar to experienced teachers; and that's because they maybe recycled photos and audio from those nice, old filmstrips you used toshow to your classes in the '60s and '70s, before they got put on to videotape,if they were really good. Some of these new recycled versions have, indeed,been turned into more challenging, interactive presentations that can trulyengage a student (or a whole class, perhaps) with their expansive diversityof resources and periodic evaluation.
A program called Athena, published in 1994 by Macmillan, is a good exampleof a CD-ROM program that just doesn't take full advantage of its medium.The unique characteristic of CD-ROM is its immense amount of storage space,making it suitable for memory-intensive tasks, such as slide-quality photosand audio samples. Athena is largely text-based. It presents an impressiveamount of mythological information in appropriate hypertext style (push-buttonconnections between one story and another based on a common reference).But there are no evocative, color illustrations of the characters or theatricalreadings of a story to be found--only a representative, black-and-white,engraving-style depiction or family tree here and there. It is merely alarge, traditional, encyclopedic database for the searching.
The only advantage I can see to its simplicity is that it does not requireall of the standard MPC hardware. The DOS version can be run on an IBM/286with 2MB RAM; the Windows version requires 4MB RAM; and the Mac version8MB RAM. Unfortunately, the pricing is not as "simple" (or accessible).A single-user copy costs $295, and a multi-user version runs $395. It comesin a large binder with just 12 pages of user manual. (The extra empty spaceis reserved for future newsletters.) For those who are looking for somethinglike this, contact Macmillan Publishing Co., 100 Front St., Riverside, NJ08075; tel. 800-257-5755.
Bringing Alive History Through Art
One CD-ROM series that does seem to offer a better "bang for the buck"is called "History Through Art," published by ZCI Publishing andClearvue/eav. (Thanks to CO Associate Editor Ken Kitchell for the lead onthis one.) This series includes a total of nine disks, with two of thoseentitled Ancient Greece and Rome. The shell program offers a wealth of accessibilitybuttons for movement and searches through the material. Each "chapter"presents photos of representative artworks with explanatory captions arrangedin a sequence which highlights the unique contributions of that artist,piece, or style to the progression of artistic development. There is a glossaryof names and terms available for reference and short quizzes for each section.One can either follow the consecutive presentation of material or jump aroundto find descriptions of particular artists or works. A surplus of buttonsmake it very easy to move around and find what you need. The size and qualityof the photos is perhaps the only drawback to this series. It is more appropriatefor a simple introduction to this topic and not for a serious analysis ofart history.
The series is marketed to schools by CLEARVUE/eav, 6465 N. Avondale Ave.,Chicago, IL 60631; tel. 800-253-2788; the cost is $75 for a single-usercopy and $225 for a lab pack (5 copies). You might find a single-user, homeversion available in discount software catalogs on occasion, but these listingsare always changing.
One more CD-ROM series that I ran across recently seems to "takethe cake" as far as trying to become a full-feature, multimedia textbook.This series is called "World History Illustrated," with separatedisks covering Ancient Greece and Rome. The disks offer a chapter-styleprogression through history with photos of artwork and artifacts used toillustrate each significant point or event. Audio narration of the captionscan be turned on or off. Instead of summary quizzes, a brief set of comprehensionquestions arise after each short set of "pages."
What sets this series apart from others is its wealth of supplementary materialsthat are provided on disk for printout and use by the teacher for relatedactivities and testing. The photos on these disks are also of much bettersize and quality, too. One extra surprise bonus is a section on the Celtswhich is based on Caesar and includes narrated passages in Latin!
Unfortunately, the cost may discourage large scale use and limit it to specialresearch projects or enrichment. Single-user copies of each disk run $195,while lab packs can be had for $290 (Mac or IBM/DOS). It is published byQueue, Inc., 338 Commerce Dr., Fairfield, CT 06430; tel. 800-232-2224. Again,you may find better deals in discount catalogs with a little searching.
After I reviewed Wrath of the Gods in my last column, I discovered anotherprogram with classical connections, simply called Rome, in the same publisher'scatalog. It purports to be a multimedia, interactive-fiction-style game,along the same lines as Wrath of the Gods, but probably a "generation"earlier on the software development timeline. This means that it will runon older machines (to be exact: IBM/286, 640K RAM, VGA monitor, mouse, 5MBhard drive space--and a sound card helps). A cursory look at the programsubstantiates one's expectations: it uses a limited amount of cultural backgroundas setting for the typical, adventure-style video game. The setting is Herculaneumat the time of Vesuvius' eruption, and the lead character is a slave inthe house of Habeas Corpus. One unique trait of this program is the factthat it is available in French, Spanish, and German, as well as English.The cost is reasonable ($29.95), and it can be ordered from Maxis, 2 TheatreSq., Orinda, CA 94563-3346; tel. 800-336-2947.
If you're still working with Apple IIs or older PCs (You are definitelynot alone!), I want you to know that I have just received a copy of a funprogram called Iter Romanum, which I first saw demonstrated by its co-author,Joanne Gascoyne, at the 1990 ACL Institute in Los Angeles, when it was stillunder development. The shell for this program, called Let's Go, has beenused for other languages, and Joanne created a Latin version. It looks likea board game on-screen with some creative graphics. All instructions formovement must be given or chosen in Latin; and, in order to complete a movesuccessfully, the player must answer a classical quiz question presentedin Latin! The most valuable part is the editor module, which allows youto create your own questions and answers, providing an open-ended expansionof the program. Iter Romanum is available in both IBM and Apple II formatsfor $39.95 from Gessler Publishing Co., 55 W. 13th St., New York, NY 10011;tel. 212-627-0099.
Many of us have been overwhelmed with the wealth of resources for Greekliterature and culture available in the Perseus CD-ROM and videodisc fromYale University Press (see CO 70.3 [Spring 1993]:106-7). After getting anopportunity to play with it for a while, many teachers are often dumbstruckby the sheer variety of materials available and the complexity of navigatingthrough them. Well, someone has now made a full-time job out of creatingteacher's guides and other instructional materials based on Perseus, aswell as offering hands-on workshops for more personalized instruction. WendyOwens has already conducted many such workshops for the Perseus Projectand the NEH. She is now making her experience and expertise available ona broader basis, in the form of publications and presentations. If you arelooking for such assistance, you can contact her at Classical TechnologySystems, Inc., 50 Clark St., Medford, MA 02155-4474; tel. 617-396-7582.
This might be a good time to talk about the idea of downloading softwareon the Internet. (Last time I talked about some of the basics of gettingstarted on the Internet; see CO [Fall 1994]: 33.) There is a growing bodyof material for Classics that can be freely retrieved once you have accessto "the Information Superhighway:" worksheets, fonts, bibliographies,and even instructional software.
The most long-standing method of downloading Internet files is called FTP,which stands for "File Transfer Protocol." To connect with anFTP site, just enter the first line of the command set (FTP address or %ftp.address,depending on your server). You will usually be asked for a "username"when you log in. Just type "anonymous" to get access to the "public"files. For a password you will be asked to type in your Email address. Thenyou will have to get yourself to the proper directory and find the rightfile, using IBM/DOS-style commands, like "cd" (change directory)and "dir" (list directory). First, get to the right directoryby using the command "cd directory." (Some servers will let youinclude a whole "path" with several directories, separated by"/"; others will require you to "step down" one directoryat a time.) Then enter "dir" to verify that the files you needare there. Finally, enter "get filename" in order to retrieveeach file. If a file is marked as "binary," then you will needto enter that as a separate command before "getting" that file.
If you are communicating through a server, the software will be downloadedto your directory on your server (very quickly), and then you will haveto download it from there to your computer. Be aware that the time it takesto download whole programs to your own computer will vary dramatically dependingon the size of the file and the speed of your modem. (It can take 5-20 minutesor more, so be prepared for a wait!) Also, these files are generally storedin a compressed format in order to save storage space and downloading time.Macintosh files are usually compressed with Stuff-It (if they end in ".sit")and will decompress themselves automatically when they are started up. IBMfiles are usually compressed with PKZIP (if they end in ".zip")and will need to be decompressed with PKUNZIP, which is usually availablefrom your own Internet server.
You should also be aware that there is a handy little FTP search programcalled Archie available on most servers. If you know the name of a fileor a partial name, you can ask Archie to find it for you anywhere on theInternet by typing "Archie searchname." Sounds too easy doesn'tit! Well, the easy parts are what sell people on the Internet, but therecan be all kinds of little glitches sometimes--and it can take a littlelonger than you might expect, too. Of course, that pretty much comes withthe territory when you're dealing with computers at all.
In order to give you a good chance to try the FTP transfer method out,I would suggest a few of these new shareware and freeware programs for Latinand Greek. First, there is set of basic paradigm chart drills for Latin,developed by an English professor at the Univ. of Connecticut. Bill Hasenfushas written an IBM/Windows-based program called Lingua Latina 4.1, whichis stored on the Internet as "WinLatin.zip." I used Archie tofind it residing at a site in Spain! (address: asterix.fi.upm.es, directory:/pub/msdos/windows3/misc)
John Gruber-Miller of Cornell College has authored an IBM/DOS-based programfor Latin which is correlated to the Oxford Latin Course. The program iscalled SCRIBA, and it was created using the CALIS authoring system fromDuke University. The system provides a particularly nice facility for respondingto expectable errors. You can FTP it from cornell-iowa.edu in its own directory(scriba); there are two text files (aareadme.1st, aareadme.txt) and thebinary program file (scriba10.zip). If you don't have Internet access orthe time to download it, you can send $5 for a disk copy to the author atthe Dept. of Classical Languages, 600 First St. W, Mt. Vernon, IA 52314.
Finally, there is also a program for Greek, correlated to the JACT ReadingGreek text and written in Mac/HyperCard format by Matt Neuberg of the Univ.of Canterbury in New Zealand. There are three programs files (jactgreekpt1.hqx,jactgreekpt2.hqx, gkvbhelp13.hqx) to be found in the /mac/classics directoryat cantva.canterbury.ac.nz (address).
Downloading software from New Zealand has to one of the more exciting, cheapthrills of "surfing" the Internet.