A Recap of the Project

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Since we’ve had a lot of new visitors to the blog recently, I thought it might make sense to summarize what Joyful Latin Learning and the Tres Columnae project are all about … not only for you new family members, but for the benefit of everyone. Then, tomorrow, we’ll dive into our series of posts about verbal aspect.

In our very first blog post, back in December 2009, I introduced the project and the idea of a Joyful Learning Community. Essentially, the Tres Columnae project aims to create an interactive online community where anyone can come to explore the Latin language, Roman history, culture, and mythology, and their connections with the world today. Not only can you read (and hear and see) stories, do exercises, and virtually “talk” about what you’re learning, but you can also create your own stories, images, audio, and video, and even make them part of the project!

In this post, I explained some reasons for choosing the name, including the relationship between Tres Columnae and the “Three Columns of Instruction” in the Paideia model. This post and this one explore the potential audiences that might be interested in Tres Columnae. What can we offer a school, a teacher, a student, a homeschooling family, or an adult learner? How can we claim to be superior to – or at least significantly different from – a more conventional learning system with textbooks, workbooks, worksheets, and teacher’s manuals?

One huge difference between Tres Columnae and other learning methods is our emphasis on Ownership of Learning, which we explored in this post and this one.

Another is the very different “look and feel” that goes along with a constantly evolving web-based learning system. We looked at some implications, and some logistical issues, in this post , this one and this one.

We explored the pedagogical implications of the Tres Columnae approach in this postthis one and this one . Then, in this post and this one, I explained why the Tres Columnae project, by its nature, is different from a typical twentieth-century “textbook” – the kind that most of us used to learn Latin (if we already know it) or to teach it (if we’re currently teachers). I had more to say about the importance of content creation as part of the learning process in this post We looked specifically at the importance of Story (and what I’m calling “Metastory”) in this post and this one.

Where does Tres Columnae stand in the “reading or translating” wars that have plagued language teachers, especially teachers of Latin and Greek? I talked about our approach in this post and this one.   Tres Columnae rejects extreme, “my way or the highway” positions in general, and we invite teachers (and learners) to join us regardless of their position in the “reading or translating” wars – and regardless of whether they even have a position.  We lean more towards direct comprehension than towards translation as our goal, but we recognize that many teachers and learners can’t imagine reaching that destination without using translation as a primary route.  We’ll model some other ways for you :-), but we’ll also respect your opinions.

You may have noticed that Tres Columnae deliberately attempts to combine the best features of things that are often viewed as opposites – what Stephen Covey calls the “Third Alternative.” That’s a core value for Tres Columnae, and we look at it in detail in this post.

But what will Tres Columnae actually look and feel like?  You can get a sense from our “alpha version” website, and especially from the “Alpha Version Wiki.”  but we also talked about this issue in a number of blog posts here.  In a series of posts like this one and this one, we examined stories, exercises, grammatical explanations, Continuing Virtual Seminars, and other elements of the project. We looked at the process in detail in a series of posts beginning with this one, continuing with this one and this one, and ending with this one,  and then analyzed the story extensively, with a lot of feedback from readers.

This post is specifically about the Continuing Virtual Seminar, a core feature of Tres Columnae that we’ve borrowed and adapted from our friends at Paideia.  And this one introduces a complete Lectiō, with commentary . All of the stories, exercises, explanations, and other elements of Cursus Primus we’ve examined can be found at the “Alpha Version Wiki,”  www.trescolumnae.com/wiki, where you can find out more about the project and even subscribe, for free, if you’d like.

Paid subscriptions for learners (or teachers and classes) will be coming soon; they’ll give you the opportunity to

  • take interactive quizzes;
  • do online exercises with immediate feedback;
  • keep a record of your scores on the quizzes and exercises;
  • see how your students did with the quizzes and exercises (if you’re a teacher); and even
  • contribute stories, images, audio, and video to the project – while retaining ownership of what you create and, we hope, receiving a bit of income yourself down the road.

We hate to charge a subscription cost for anything, but we do have to pay for our hosting and site development costs.  We’re also very committed to offering high-quality stories, images, audio, and video, which means that someone will need to preview and possibly edit “stuff” before it becomes part of the project.  We’ve thought about covering our editing costs in a couple of different ways:

  • A per-item cost, where you would only pay if you actually contributed something, or
  • A subscription, where you would be able to contribute a certain number of items each month, and possibly even
  • An unlimited subscription, where you could contribute as much as you like.

We’ll probably offer all these options … unless you, the community, tell us we should only do one or the other.  And, if you’d like, we’ll see about offering

  • printed versions of the stories;
  • CDs with the stories, images, and audio;
  • DVDs with the stories, images, audio, and video; and
  • any other “stuff” you’d like to have.

When you compare our subscription costs to the costs – and hassles! – of a typical textbook, we think you’ll find that we can give you significantly better quality at a lower price.  And we know we can provide a higher-quality experience for both learners and teachers! 🙂

For our continuing readers, I apologize if you “already knew all this stuff,” as my students sometimes complain. But sometimes it helps to take a few moments to review, to catch our breath, and to make sure that everyone’s “on the same page” about things.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • Are there particular questions you have?
  • What do you think of the overall vision?
  • What do you think of our instructional model?
  • What do you think of the idea of Ownership of Learning?
  • Do you think Tres Columnae will “work” in your learning (or teaching) environment?
  • And do you want to know more – or have some input – about our possible pricing models?

Tune in next time for your comments … and my attempts to answer them. Then we’ll begin to look at Verbal Aspect. What does it mean, for non-linguists, and why do we think it’s a “Third Alternative” to the “conventional” approaches to teaching non-present-tense Latin verbs? In the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus! It’s good to have you as part of the Tres Columnae community. 🙂


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