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dimanche 17 avril 2005, par Robin Delisle

Using e-learning and networks to teach ancient greek and latin

A new concept : the “net-learning”

Using e-learning and networks to teach ancient greek and latin

Electronic Agoras

An electronic agora is a collaborative network in which teachers, pupils or students exchange or collect data and practice their disciplines.
Electronic agoras have two sides :
- Intranet side with collaborative softwares (Netmeeting for windows, Gnomemeeting for Linux)
- Extranet sidewith newsgroups. Newsgroup is a particulary adapted virtual space for electronic meetings. Softtwares such as Mozilla Thunderbird, Netscape messenger or Outlook express allow to subscribe to newsgroups.


The idea of this e-learning system has appeared in Collège Blaise Pascal (Viarmes, Val d’Oise - Suburb of Paris) in 2000 by Robin Delisle.
Academic neswgroups of latin and ancient greek were created on the Versailles Academy server. The project has been maintained during the following five years.

Extranet : Synergies

Newsgroups are asynchronic extranet open spaces .All synergies then become possible.
Pupils of different countries can communicate and work on the same issues.
Newsgroups are ideal spaces for european appointments .
On the newsgroup news ://news.ac-versailles.fr/ac-versailles.disciplines.langues-anciennes.grec , teachers of Estonia, Germany, Belgium, Romania, Greece, and France sometimes communicated.
Belgian and French teachers have translated a text of Libanios the rhetor, that nobody ever translated.
On the newsgroup news ://news.ac-versailles.fr/ac-versailles.disciplines.langues-anciennes.latin pupils of Romania, and pupils of France have exchanged some messages in latin language.
Newsgroups allow teachers and pupils to virtually get out of the class-rooms and meet other pupils , teachers, students and specialists, who sometimes are very far away.
Example : many data about archaic roman religion, established by Numa Pompilius, have been published by pupils of five classes, all over France. In various threads , there were debates, overviews and statements about this subject.

Intranet : Synthesis

Softwares such as netmeeting or gnomemeeting allow to share all the other softwares of the computer, synchronic chat and board (paint).
Pupils can take notes on their own computers, and at the same time visit a website, or translate a latin or greek text with comments that teacher share with them. The texts appear on every screen.
This method provides lot of possibilities. All combinations are possible : the computer become a moving board, personnalized and common at the same time, with , on the background, softwares and all the expedients of the web. The teacher is the boardmaster and makes data and exercices appear.

Teaching an electronic lesson

During the lesson the field of study is the contest of polytheism by Xenophanes.

Pupils penetrate in the computer room. Each pupil sit behind a computer and start his machine. The teacher and pupils launch netmeeting. The teacher gives his IP adress and activates Netmeeting software. All pupils call the number and get onto the netmeeting.
Teacher starts text editor and internet browser. He loads a page on a website in wich pupils can find the famous fragment of Xenophanes in ancient greek :
“If horses or oxen or lions had hands and could produce works of art, they too would represent the gods after their own fashion (fr. 15).”

Teacher copies and pastes the text. With the text editor tools, teacher underlines verbs , colors accusatives and nominatives. He orally questions a pupil on the analysis of the text. Other pupils help him. Then, with chat, the teacher sends the vocabulary of the text, and receives the proposals of each pupil. A collaborative translation is developped.
Thereafter, teacher asks pupils to browse the web and query “Xenophanes”.
What he expects from his pupils is to be able to find data about monotheism of Xenophanes.
He selects the best summary and posts it on the academic newsgroup of ancient greek. There, an other class has left data about Homer. In fact, it’s the descriptions of the gods, in the Iliad.
These descriptions are what Xenophanes particularly criticizes. There is a link between Xenophanes’s theories about polytheism, and the representations of Homer about gods. The homework of pupils will be to think about this link. At the following session, the pupils will publish their comments on the newsgroup.

Robin Delisle, teacher of ancient greek and latin