Tripping the light fantastic;Classics;Cover feature

10th September 1999 at 01:00
3Schools are connecting to the National Grid for Learning and teachers are being trained, but what software, materials and support will be out there for them? George Cole investigates the role of good content for the cyberschool generation, followed by a subject-by-subject stock-check

Some might feel that the use of modern technology for looking at the ancient worlds in classics teaching is a contradiction. But Julian Morgan, head of classics at Derby Grammar School and Computing Co-ordinator for JACT (the Joint Association of Classical Teachers) is not one of them. He says there are compelling reasons for its use, that learning classics is fundamentally difficult and requires a highly structured approach.

"The teaching of an inflected language is going to be more difficult than teaching a language that is not inflected. If you teach programming you teach that if there is a single letter typed incorrectly then it is wrong. They get the same message in every Latin lesson." Classics teaching, Morgan argues, must move with the times as it is under pressure to prove its worth in the curriculum.

The use of ICT must be more than a diversion, more than sugaring the pill. A Latin vocabulary program can be useful because, although some curriculum areas spurn drill and practice software, it can motivate some students in essential tasks such as learning vocabulary. Additionally, it has the comfort of measurable outcomes.

However, not all the software used is that type. HyperStudio, the multimedia program for manipulating text, audio and graphics, is also appealing and brings the elements of a project together in a way that students find motivating.

Morgan advises a seven-step strategy for classics teachers moving into IT: prepare paper-based assignments in a program like Word; use Computer Aided Learning packages; develop e-mail communications; conduct research on the Internet; carry out research on the CD version of the Perseus database; create web pages and websites; create software.

Websites and resources

Perseus has 3.4 million words of ancient Greek, 24,000 photographs, 1,000 maps and satellite images, and a Greek lexicon and analysis tools.

www.perseus.tufts.edu

The Institute of Classical Studies site

http:www.classics.cam.ac.ukFaculty

associations.html

Mosaic making, Roman gardening, tombstones and inscriptions, Latin poetry and language, plus links to other quirky and interesting sites.

http:www.pyrrha.demon.co.ukslinks.html

HyperStudio. pound;99.95 from TAG Developments.

Tel: 01474 357350 www.tagdev.co.uk

LatinStudio. Collection of Latin and Roman-based materials, pound;350 from JProgs.

Email julian@jprogs.source.co.uk www.source.co.ukusersjprogs

Latin Vocab Drill. pound;60. Some double versions available from JProgs (details as above).

Latin Flash Drill.Each course specific version, pound;60 from JProgs (details as above).

Roman Technology 3, pound;80 from JProgs (details as above).

Two Greek Myths. pound;80 from JProgs (details as above).

Romana. Includes Latin Alive, Roman Life, Roman Gods and Roman Britain. pound;185 from JProgs (details as above).

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