Challenges of Classics in the Digital Age: Working with the DCC
Written by Daniel Plekhov of Dickinson College.
The use of digital media as a pedagogical tool has allowed students the ability to access a virtually unlimited number of resources in a way that was simply not possible with pre-digital media. For those working to create these online digital media tools, it is difficult to fight the temptation to provide for students everything and anything that can be of interest or benefit to them. So many resources can often times be distracting and a user may find themselves clicking farther and farther away from what they had initially come to find. In a time when everything is indeed no more than a click away, we must consider what is valuable to include and what is distracting or unnecessary. Such consideration becomes highly subjective, and questions must be asked as to what audience a digital media tool caters to, and what their needs are. These are the problems that are being addressed by the Dickinson College Commentaries (DCC) in creating a tool for students of Classical languages. Being such a student myself, and also working on the DCC, I was able to confront these issues from both sides.
The DCC presents classical texts alongside ancillary information necessary for readers and scholars. Such information in print media has been customarily seen in margins, indices, or appendices, but can here be represented alongside the text, fully tailored to the needs and benefit of the reader. External to the texts are such useful tools as vocabulary lists for Latin and Greek, which can be displayed according to alphabetical order, parts of speech, frequency, and semantic grouping. Words that appear in high frequency are omitted from the supplemental vocabulary lists provided for each text, encouraging a more rewarding sight-reading experience. The emphasis here is on keeping the reader with the text as much as possible, which makes selection of supplemental material a very careful process.