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CO 75.1 [Fall 1997], pp. 21-23; Software Display at ACL Institute; JPROGS Does Windows (Latin Alive 2.0, Roman Life, Roman Gods 2.0, Roman Britain); Centaur programs on Greece: Parthenon, Olympia CD-ROM; SPQR murder mystery simulation CD-ROM; Liberation Philology, Greek (& Latin) with Computers, Hungry Frog (Greek & Latin); Vergil Project gets NEH grant.
Computers in a Fishbowl at Ann Arbor
Yes, you read that right! At the University of Michigan,
site of the 1997 ACL Institute, they do indeed have almost a hundred
computer workstations in a fishbowl--at least, that's what they
call the enormous, covered atrium space between three different
buildings in which they have arranged the largest computer lab
on campus. These machines are available to students almost all
the time, and they were also available to attendees of our 50th
Annual Institute for e-mail checking, Web surfing, and document
printing. Alongside the "FishBowl" are four separate
computer classroom-labs, which is where Pre-Institute Workshops
were conducted by the Technology Task Force. Kudos to Cindy Pope,
Leslie Flood, and John Muccigrosso for coordinating the workshops
and conducting several of them themselves. Thanks also to Lynne
Crandall, Philomena Meechan, and John Stewart, members of the
Computing Center staff who also conducted workshops for us.
The ACL Software Display at the Institute included four computers this year--two Macs and two PCs--with Internet connections on one of each. Many attendees were delighted to get a chance to view over 75 programs that they may have only read about previously (fig. 1). Of particular interest this year were the latest programs from JPROGS in both Mac and Windows formats; and their author, Julian Morgan, happened to be on hand to introduce them. (He was also scheduled to present a detailed overview of the recently released Perseus 2.0 from Yale Univ. Press. His written review of it will be published in an upcoming issue of CO.)
JPROGS Now Does Windows
Julian has made optimal use of recent student field trips
to gather good color photos of classical sites in Italy and Britain.
The Roman Life program uses beautiful examples from Pompeii and
Herculaneum to give students a strong "you are there"
feel for several major aspects of typical daily life in an ancient
Roman town. Topics covered include: towns, houses, art, streets,
shops, leisure, and death. Roman Britain embellishes site photos
with attractive maps and drawings to elucidate the early Roman
presence throughout "Britannia" and the monumental construction
of Hadrian's Wall (fig. 2). Other topics covered are: Bath, Fishbourne,
Forts, Roads, and Religion. In both programs there are short
quizzes (6-10 questions) at the end of each section, for which
scores are recorded for future reference by teacher or student.
The site license for either a Mac or Windows version of each
program is $125; both versions require 8MB RAM and a 14"
JPROGS has also completed Windows conversions of two other popular Mac programs, Latin Alive 2.0 and Roman Gods 2.0. The former offers a basic introduction to Roman culture and its influence on modern life, while the latter provides an introduction to Roman religion, including the Olympians, Minor Gods, and Eastern Deities. (Both Latin Alive and Roman Life are compatible with the National Latin Exam syllabus.) These programs also contain quizzes with recordable scoring. The hardware requirements are the same as above, and the site licenses are $95 each. For more information about JPROGS software, contact their U.S. publisher: Centaur Systems Ltd., 407 N. Brearly St., Madison, WI 53703-1603; tel. 888-236-8287; Web: www.centaursystems.com.
Centaur Systems also has new color programs on two popular Greek sites. Parthenon uses a combination of photos, drawings, and text to give a fairly thorough introduction to that great Athenian monument. Topics include: History, Architecture, Religion, Sculpture, Pericles, Acropolis, and Sources; and there is one comprehensive quiz with recordable scoring. The program is only available in a Mac version (requiring 4MB RAM); a site license costs $95.
Olympia is a very slick multimedia program, developed by the Greek Olympic Committee and distributed on a hybrid CD-ROM disk (which can run on either Mac or Windows). While it covers the entire history of the Olympic Games, there is a heavy emphasis on the ancient period and the original site. You can follow a narrated tour or use the "Time Traveller" menu to choose a particular historical period. A useful glossary allows you to look up specific names or topics and go straight to the appropriate information. Each CD-ROM disk costs $60. (There is no site license available.)
SPQR Expands from Web to CD-ROM
Some of you may have already heard about SPQR from your students
or even taken a chance to play it on the Web. Well, Eden Muir
set up his booth at the ACL Institute this year for the first
time and quickly became another focus of attention in the Teaching
SPQR is the latest entry in the interactive fiction genre of simulations for Classics (fig.3). The sound and graphics quality of this CD-ROM program are consistent with recent popular releases like Myst. Very professional 3-D graphics are used to depict the Roman Forum in 205 CE with over 1600 separate images. Classicist Bernard Frischer acted as a consultant for historical and cultural accuracy.
Within the "virtual history" context, your role is that of a "young apprentice" from the provinces, who has been called by your mentor, Cornelius, a great inventor, to help him in figuring out the identity of the "Calamitus," who is out to destroy the Empire within the year. There are also monthly episodes which must be solved on your way to the final solution. Five particular suspects must be investigated on the basis of their own journals, to which you have access, and other clues. You also have the assistance of the "Navitor," a unique invention of Cornelius', which allows you to "view reflections of reality and act remotely." All in all, SPQR is a magical combination of historical fiction and the graphic arts. A Mac or Windows version costs $44.95 for each CD-ROM. For more info, contact GT Interactive, 16 E. 40th St., New York, NY 10016; tel. 800-432-3493; Web: www.gtinteractive.com/SPQR.
Mr. Muir was also promoting a new commercial Web site, called "Ancient Sites," which is hoping to act as a major gathering spot for students and teachers of ancient history. Plans include "virtual guided tours" of ancient cities and chat rooms on special topics. Check out it's development at www.ancientcities.com.
A Few More Greek Programs to Consider
In the last column I attempted to do a comprehensive update
on instructional software for Greek, and I'm afraid I didn't quite
accomplish that task. In compiling the Software Directory for
the Classics this spring, I ran across a few more titles to keep
First, I should point out that Liberation Philology, which I reviewed last year in its Latin incarnation (see CO 73 : 25-26), also has a Greek version, not tied to any particular textbook.
Second, Richard Wevers has created a set of drill programs for his classes at Calvin College, called Greek with Computers. These are IBM-DOS programs which may look a little dated as they scroll across the screen in early BASIC style, but they are rather flexible in covering most of the vocabulary and forms by chapter for two Latin textbooks (Wheelock's Latin Grammar [4th edition] and Goldman & Nyenhuis' Latin Via Ovid) and two Greek ones (Groton's From Alpha to Omega and New Testament). Instead of making menu choices, there is a long series of questions used to determine all of the parameters of a drill.
The forms drills are of the parsing or reverse-parsing (create a form or ending) format, and these are available for nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verbs. The vocabulary drills will accept any of the meanings listed in the text lists; these can be run from Latin to English or vice versa. Feedback in all drills is the standard "right" or "wrong" assessment. A list of missed items is maintained, which can be redrilled after the initial round. The Latin drills offer one extra feature: a translation drill, which provides a variety of support tools for translating the sentences in the text. It does not actually do the translating or analyze a student's translation.
A user's log is kept to record each student's progress on their own disk, including the number of items attempted, number of errors, time taken, and the date. When I took 13.1 minutes to finish a drill, the program announced: "During that time, 61,407.3 tons of carbon were emitted into the air globally from the burning of oil." For more info, contact Digamma Publishing, 2110 Radcliffe SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49446; tel. 616-957-6294; e-mail: email@example.com.
Beware of the Hungry Frogs!
Third (and finally), the Hungry Frog series is a set of programs
published by Science Education Software Inc. (SESI) for the Macintosh
(fig. 4). These programs use colorful graphics and a virtual
"natural" context in which to practice either Latin
or Greek vocabulary. The format is reminiscent of Word Attack,
which expects a student to connect words and their meaning by
shooting from one to the other in video arcade style. In the
Hungry Frog setting, the English meanings are frogs in a marsh,
and the foreign language words are insects flying above them,
liable to be snapped up by the frogs' long, sticky tongues, when
they are properly matched before disappearing. Different sound
effects are used for the eating of bugs, the escape of the bugs,
and the eating of the tadpoles by the fish.
There are a number of adjustments that the user can make before or during a game session, such as the size, speed, type, and abundance of insects. Matches are made by either clicking first on a meaning/frog, then on a word/insect, or by clicking on the meaning/frog and dragging its tongue onto a word/insect. Either way, the frog only gets to eat the bug if the match is correct. A statistical report can be checked to see which words you are doing best or worst on. Games can be temporarily ended and saved, and high scores are saved for future reference, much like a typical video game.
The vocabulary used is not based on any particular textbook but is fairly common for the elementary level. Breathing marks and accents are not used at all in the Greek program, nor macrons in the Latin one. Each program costs $23.95, and there are discounts for quantity purchases. For more info, contact SESI, PO Box 60790, Palo Alto, CA 94306; tel. 800-279-2105; Web: www.hungryfrog.com.
NEH Funds Vergil Project, Too
Congratulations to Joe Farrell at the Univ. of Pennsylvania
for receiving funding for the Vergil Project from the NEH in their
second round of "Teaching with Technology" grants.
This will help him to greatly expand the Vergil Home Page and
its pedagogical applications. Check it out at ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~joef/vergil/home.html.
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