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CO 74.3 [Spring 1997], pp. 107-109: Perseus 2.0 released; Greekinstructional software: Greek Tutor, Gramma, Electronic Workbook(for Mastronarde's Intro. to Attic Greek); VRoma and Roman Perseusget NEH funding.
What Goes Around Comes Around
A look at the calendar tells me that there are a couple of perennialpromises to fulfill. The biennial update of the ACL's Software Directoryfor the Classics is due in 1997, and it should be released by the time youread this. While the new online version provides basic information abouttitles, 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 TeachingMaterials & Resource Center to get your own copy (Miami University,Oxford, OH 45056; tel. 513-529-7741; $10 non-member, $8 members, plus $5shipping & handling--no royalties involved!).
The other update whose time has come is a review of software availablefor 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 releasedate pushbacks, recently made it into concrete, public form--all four CD-ROMdisks of it! The general response I've heard so far is very positive, mainlydue to the enormous expansion of materials included in the package (24,000images, 3.4 million words of Greek literature, 179 archaeological sites).
Julian Morgan of JPROGS Software in England did a grand presentationat Oxford for the UK release of Perseus 2.0 in January, and he will be doingthe same show at the ACL Institute in Ann Arbor this June. Speaking ofthe Institute, please note the new pre-conference workshops this year. These will be intensive sessions on topics that have been selected by thenew Task Forces initiated by President Glenn Knudsvig. There will be acouple sets of workshops conducted in the Michigan computer labs by theTechnology Task Force. Check your registration materials for more informationabout specific topics.
Greek Programs Come and Go--and Morph!
Unfortunately, two of the Greek programs that I have mentioned in thepast are no longer available. Brown Publishers of Dubuque, Iowa, seemsto have been bought up by McGraw-Hill (Which publishers haven't merged lately?),and somewhere in the downsizing-merger process Greek Practice and Paidagogoshave been dropped from the roster. HyperGreek is still available from Intellimation,but they are in the process of re-evaluating their catalog right now andcould give me no guarantees about what would survive the cut. Also, MattNeuberg's JACT Reading Greek Stacks (see CO 72.3 [Spring 1995]:98) are stillavailable 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-Windowson CD-ROM. The new program is still geared toward reading the New Testament,from which the vocabulary and sample phrases are taken. However, thereis also an abundance of reference material, tutorials, and drills on grammarthat could prove useful to any beginning student of Greek. The benefitof hearing any word (or letter) pronounced aloud is a real plus, too. Theprogram costs $49; for more information, contact Parsons Technology, POBox 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 reassuringto know that it was one of the inspirations for another newer program forthe Mac, called Gramma. Peter Burian and Chris Blackwell are the authorsof Gramma; Burian teaches at Duke, and Blackwell was working on his Ph.D.there (now teaching at Furman Univ.), when they collaborated on the creationof Gramma, which is actually a set of three programs, providing basic drillson forms and vocabulary. Originally designed to accompany Oxford's "new"Greek text, Athenaze, they have now added data files that are also correlatedto JACT's Reading Greek text and Harvard's A New Introduction to Greek (Chase& Phillips).
The first part of Gramma, called "Mnemonika" (fig. 1) drillsstudents on Greek vocabulary. There are a number of settings which canbe adjusted before starting a drill. First, the student can determinewhether to drill from Greek to English or vice versa. (The authors referto 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 SuperGreekformat. A handy, laminated chart of the keyboard correlation is providedto 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 adrill, based on the chapter numbers for the appropriate text. Besides thethree textbook files mentioned above, it is possible to create your ownvocabulary lists with a standard wordprocessor and your own font. Actually,you can use this facility to make lists in other languages, too, if youlike. Detailed instructions are provided in the manual.
The last, and most unique, option allows the user to determine how manytimes she must answer an item correctly before it is considered "learned"and the percentage of drill items which can be drawn from the words thathave been tagged as "learned." Because the program keeps trackof these details, each user must keep his own copy of the Vocab and Settingsfiles. A running score is presented during the drill, and the user is givena chance to record it to disk when finished.
"Onomata" and "Rhemata" (fig. 2), the other twoparts of Gramma, are a bit simpler to deal with. Onomata drills substantive(noun, pronoun, and adjective) forms, while Rhemata does the same thingfor verbs. These drills offer formats for both parsing and "reverse-parsing"(creating a specified form), using checklists of the appropriate morphologicalcategories; but they do not keep score. There are a total of 59 substantivesand 18 verbs from which to choose; all of these model words are taken fromthe Athenaze text (and can be grouped by chapter, if desired), but manywill be common to other texts, too.
Gramma is a HyperCard-based program available in Macintosh format onlyat this time. It requires 4MB of RAM and 1.5MB of hard drive space. Aschool site license costs $95; a single-user, home license $60; and a demodisk $10. For more information, contact Centaur Systems Ltd., 407 N. BrearlySt., 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 textbookeditions have recently been released with accompanying software from thesame publisher. Not all book publishers are amenable to the idea of becomingsoftware publishers, as the copyright issues and economics work a bit differently;but the pressures of teacher demand have pushed some of them into it, especiallythe ones with widespread adoption figures. In a smaller field like ours,we currently have supplementary software for many texts created by specializedsoftware publishers under licensing agreements with the text publishers.
Now we have our first instance of an almost simultaneous publicationof a new Greek textbook and its own accompanying software from the sameauthor and publisher, namely Donald Mastronarde's Introduction to AtticGreek (1993) and its Electronic Workbook (1995), published by the Univ.of California Press. The software is an impressive collection of tutorialsand drills which are quite flexible both in style and in the material coveredduring each session. Its ability to accept user-created data files makesit adaptable to other textbooks, for those willing to put the time intodoing 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 amountof attention and detail devoted to the first two sections is unique andquite useful for any Greek student. Although there is no way to drill performanceon pronunciation, the tutorial provides numerous examples of audio recordingstied to words from the text; and there are detailed linguistic explanationsand charts presented to clarify the practicalities of spoken Greek. Accentuationis also explained carefully, and plentiful exercises are provided for practicingits applications.
The forms drills for verbs and nouns (including all substantives) usea parsing checklist format (fig. 3). There are many variables that theuser can adjust, both before and during a drill, such as the chapters included,the range of forms covered, and the amount of assistance provided (principalparts, meaning, paradigm charts). These choices will, in turn, determinethe number of appropriate items available for a particular drill. The vocabularysection offers similar options, but it is more of an electronic flashcardformat (no typing of answers), which can be timed or user-controlled inits pace. It does, however, allow drilling in both directions: Greek toEnglish or vice versa. The principal parts section has two drill formats:a flashcard format for any number of principal parts and a match game forprincipal 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, andthe audio component is well-executed, too. The software is sold in a single-userpackage ($29.95), but site license arrangements are negotiable. It requiresa Macintosh computer (68030 or better), 4MB of RAM, and 15MB of hard drivespace. For more information, contact the Univ. of California Press, 2120Berkeley 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 demonstratedits prominence in the forefront of technological applications in the humanities,by successfully applying for the funding of two major projects during thefirst funding cycle of this program.
One project, temporarily known as "Roman Perseus," is a newendeavor for the Perseus Project group, in which they hope to duplicatethe success of their first collossal effort by creating electronic toolsand resources for the study of ancient Rome which will be comparable tothose provided by Perseus for ancient Greece--no small task, indeed. Formore information about this project, check the Perseus Web site (http://www.perseus.edu).
The second project, initiated by the APA's Committee on Technology andSmall Classics Programs, is called "VRoma." Its goal is to assistteachers at the high school and college level in creating a new Web siteof pedagogical tools and resources organized within a simulated "virtualRome" environment. This would give students a chance to experiencea taste of Roman culture, as they interact with teachers and each otherand pursue research topics on their own. For more information, you canvisit their initial demo Web site (http://www.colleges.org/~vroma).
Classicists are certainly making their mark in the brave new world ofcomputing!
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