Launch of CIRCE Manual

Report from Steve Kimberley, Cambridge:

Report of the launch of the CIRCE manual – 21 April 2006; IBM, London.

On 21 April, I attended the launch of the CIRCE manual at IBM’s South Bank premises, a corporate facility of the kind one might expect of a company of IBM’s status. There were perhaps 50-60 attendees, most being staff from UK educational institutions. The CIRCE project is an EC-funded initiative to provide a Classics & ICT resource to support the teaching of Classics in secondary schools in Europe, although much of the material is likely to be of interest to anyone concerned with teaching or learning Classics subjects at any level.

The event was welcomed by a member of IBM management and introduced by Boris Johnson MP in his own inimitable style. Julian Morgan then took the first spot, attempting to show the CIRCE website[1] but he was let down by technology as Internet Explorer’s well-known message “The page cannot be displayed” evoked responses ranging from surprise to amusement. Veerle de Troyer, a Belgian academic who is the project co-ordinator, introduced herself and her colleagues, giving a clear and impressive picture of the Europe-wide nature of the CIRCE project, its roots and its future direction. This was followed by a second presentation by Julian Morgan, this time with full technological system support, expanding on de Troyer’s outline of the CIRCE project across Europe. Continuing the theme of Classics in schools, Will Griffiths, Director of the Cambridge Schools Classics Project[2], gave a polished presentation of the CD-ROM materials that they produce, with examples of the interactive tutorials. A brief chat from Michael Fallon MP of the all-party Classics group closed the morning and we went off to enjoy an excellent buffet lunch.

The afternoon opened with a talk from Hannah Sisk from the British Council about the help that the Council can offer to educational initiatives[3], although some of what she said related to work beyond the borders of Europe. Steffan Griffiths then introduced Tony Smith, a well-known and widely-respected expert in the field of Classics ICT. He has developed a range of web-based software for Eton College for testing Greek vocabulary[4, search for “Greek project”] and he demonstrated its design and its features. Next, Julian Morgan spoke engagingly about his work supporting Latin GCSE teaching in schools, giving statistics of the excellent results obtained. Arran Johnston, a postgraduate student at Edinburgh, waxed lyrical and enthusiastic about Perseus[5], explaining how it eliminated the need to keep several books open at once and provided search facilities that could not be implemented without computer technology. Julian Morgan and Tony Smith then presented some of the dictionary and text tools that are the basis of the Pocket Oxford Latin Dictionary and other similar programs before Julian Morgan wrapped up the proceedings.

Goody bags containing a copy of the CIRCE manual, various flyers and brochures as well as free copies of the Pocket Oxford Latin Dictionary and Julian Morgan’s interactive guide to Pompeii CD-ROM were given out to attendees. Further copies of the CIRCE manual are available on request; the full text of the manual is available on the CIRCE website. The first CIRCE project trans-national training course is to be held in Oxford, July 31st to August 6th, 2006.

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