Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Digitally Speaking

Digitally Speaking: Bolchazy-Carducci to Give Keynote Speeches in Norway and Texas
For Immediate Release
Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc.
January 19, 2009
742 words

Mundelein, Illinois—What’s New with Old Languages? “Everything,” according to Andrew Reinhard, Director of eLearning for Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers. “Latin and Greek learning has never been more approachable and more user-friendly than right now. We’re giving contemporary Classics students and teachers the tools they need to master Classical languages while having fun doing it.”

Reinhard is getting a reputation, too, after recently completing his second year at Bolchazy-Carducci as its resident dreamer and digital evangelist for Classics. At the recent AIA/APA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, he spoke to the American Philological Association’s (APA) Committee of Classics Librarians on the future of digital publishing for Latin and Greek.

“We’ve partnered with NetLibrary, MyiLibrary, and Questia, to provide our books online to university libraries and their users,” Reinhard told the group. “We’re also planning on doing more with eBooks, subscription websites, and born-digital products, taking more of a blended learning approach to Classics.”

Reinhard will also be providing the keynote speeches at two upcoming Classics conferences. By virtue of eClassics (http://eclassics.ning.com), the international social network for Classics teachers using technology, and his obsession with leveraging online games and virtual worlds like World of Warcraft and Second Life as viable language-learning platforms, Reinhard will be closing the Computer Games and Antiquity conference hosted by the University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway, on February 21.

At the upcoming Norwegian conference, Reinhard is planning more magic along the lines of what he presented last November as part of the ReLIVE (Researching Learning in Virtual Environments) conference at the Open University in Milton Keynes, England. At that conference, Reinhard successfully demonstrated how Second Life can be used as a place for practicing oral Latin by hosting a live, trans-Atlantic event. Latin speakers from the United States, England, and Sweden, joined Reinhard online at Bolchazy-Carducci’s villa to converse in Latin in real-time in the virtual world.

Regarding the current state of games and language-learning, Reinhard observed that “online games for Latin and Greek are squarely stuck in the 1980s. Old pedagogy. Old technology. As a student, I’d shudder if I had to play another game of vocabulary hangman on my computer. It’s high time we offered a game that helps students learn Latin that is actually fun to play and is visually appealing. The Trondheim conference marks a big step in that direction, and it’s an honor to be recognized as a leader in the learning-via-gaming movement for Classics.”

Norway is not the only stop on Reinhard’s speaking tour. He recently accepted an invitation to present the keynote address and lead a session on eLearning and Classics at the Texas Classical Association’s annual meeting, October 23-24, in Austin.

“Classics teachers at all levels are curious and more than a little skeptical about how technology can help them in the classroom,” Reinhard said. “I plan on making these sessions as interactive as possible, to drop that perceived veil of mystery surrounding things like podcasting, interactive whiteboards, and Web 2.0 (blogs, wikis, social networks, and the like), and show teachers how easy all of this stuff is to use.”

Reinhard knows that there is no substitute for classroom instruction, and doesn’t see books absent from Latin and Greek courses anytime soon. “If I can provide practical, fun applications for Classics teachers and students, giving them something that helps them learn languages in ways never before possible with traditional learning materials and methods, then I am doing my job.”

Recent projects include a Latin grammar website (Looking at Latin Online), vocabulary flashcards for iPod (including Wheelock, AP Vergil, and Latin for the New Millennium), Latin audio on MP3 (Latin Aloud), and a summer webinar series by teachers for teacher education and professional development.

“Providing Latin and Greek educational tools on omnipresent platforms like cell phones and the Internet is what I’m after,” Reinhard said. “We can preserve Latin and Greek, continuing to make them relevant and appealing to a new generation of teachers and students by offering the material to them on technology they already have and know how to use.” Reinhard added, “Latin needs to remain competitive with its modern, ‘world language’ counterparts. Going digital helps us meet that goal.”

With his upcoming speaking engagements, Reinhard plans on bringing the mountain to Mohammed – or maybe Socrates – letting the Classics community in on his digital dreams and plans for the future.

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