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Exegetical Software in the Classroom

Further to my post on the recent SBL Panel Discussion, I thought it would be good to link to some reports from people who have effectively used Bible software in a classroom setting.

Rodney J. Decker has made available online his presentation at the above mentioned panel discussion, as well as the accompanying PowerPoint slides. He uses Accordance in a “Mac-hostile” (my words) environment.

A.Thomas Kraabel also wrote a few years ago about Learning Greek with Accordance.

Another Greek instructor, Steve Runge, has an interesting piece on Using Libronix as a Teaching Aid in Introductory Greek Courses.

On the Hebrew side, C. H. J. van der Merwe writes on Rethinking Hebrew Instruction, where he tells of his experience with Logos Bible Software.

Over at the Pedagogy & Technology Group there is a file from Philip Brown in which he shares some notes that show the kind of activities his students are required to perform using BibleWorks in a Greek class. Unless I am mistaken, the file is only available to members of the group, but you could always try… or else subscribe (it’s free, of course).

These are the links I can think of right now. If you have more (not general reviews, only articles where Bible software is applied in a practical way to classroom work), let me know and I’ll be glad to add them.

Project Watch: Into the New Testament

Yesterday, Charlie Gibson posted some information to the Pedagogy & Technology Group regarding Into the New Testament, “a web-based curriculum to teach ten exegetical skills and assist students to engage questions about what — and how — the Bible means.”

This project, still unfinished, is being developed by Mary Hinkle Shore, New Testament professor at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota (see her blog here).It is a free-standing curriculum that can be followed by a whole class or individually. This is basically a course on Exegesis, introduced as reading skills, where “Activities require the use of a study Bible and reference books (e. g., lexicon and concordance) or equivalent software tools”. The project has its own website.

Despite the fact that there are still a good number of placeholders in menus and links, I think the layout and content are good and visually appealing. Just another example of how useful the World Wide Web can be for both teachers and students. All in all, a good way to get people into the fascinating world of studying the New Testament, and another project worth keeping an eye on.

Who’s Reading this Blog?

Out of curiosity, over the past few days I have been looking at the different site tracking sections made freely available by Sitemeter, to see if I could find a pattern for the average reader of this weblog. To be sure, my random analysis has no statistical value whatsoever, but
looking at the time zones, organization, OS, and browser share, I reach the following (tentative) conclusions:

1) The readership is very diverse. We get visitors from all over the world. Not very many from Africa or Asia, for example, but nevertheless those two continents are also represented. Of course, there are many visits that are only tracked as an IP address, and others that fall under the generic umbrella of .net, .com, .edu, etc. (I told you the results were to be taken with a grain of salt!)

2) The time zone that takes the lead is almost always EST (Eastern Standard Time), followed by CST (Central Standard Time), CET (Central European Time), and WET/GMT (i.e., Western European Standard Time/Greenwich Mean Time). But again, there’s people from all over the place.

3) Most visitors (slightly over 50%) use Windows XP, while over 20% are running Mac OS X. There are also Linux users out there.

4) Internet Explorer continues to be the most widely used browser, but we’ve seen a noticeable increase in the number of Firefox users lately (currently around 17%), and of course Safari is well represented too (about 18%). I wonder if other bibliobloggers have noticed an increase in Firefox and Mozilla users too.

I’m sorry I cannot be more specific. Since this is not a commercial site, I see no need to upgrade to a paid account. All I know, and this is what really matters, is that we are reaching a good number of people. We don’t know who you are (no need to worry about your privacy, not here :-)), but we are delighted you dropped by!

SBL Panel Update

I asked Joe Fleener for an update on the recent SBL Panel Discussion on Exegetical Software in the Classroom held at San Antonio, TX, earlier this month. Here is what he said:

The SBL Panel Discussion on Exegetical Software in Classroom Instruction went very well. It was an official SBL seminar and hence attendees were required to be registered for SBL. I attended the ETS conference leading up to the seminar on Friday and found a significantly high interest among ETS attendees in the subject. There is a growing interest among professors who desire to learn how to use the various software tools more effectively themselves and then to integrate them into their “traditional” classroom instruction.

When it came time for the actual panel discussion there were 75+ people in attendance at the peak. It was a 1 1/2 hour session and people came and went during that time. The numbers were a very good sign of the level of interest, but not real good for open dialog. I think people would have felt more comfortable to discuss and ask questions in a smaller crowd.

I began the session with an introductory presentation. In it I introduced the panel members and gave an overview of the purpose/need for our discussion. This PowerPoint presentation can be found @

Following Dr. Rodney Decker of Baptist Bible Seminary gave a presentation detailing his thoughts on the subject and his use of the exegetical software (Accordance) in preparing classroom work and assignments.

Dr. Rod Whitacre of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry gave a presentation of his use of BibleWorks in the classroom.

Finally Dr. Tom Finley of Talbot Seminary gave a presentation of his use of BibleWorks in his preparation of assignments as well as classroom instruction.

These presentations were followed by an extended Q&A time with each member of the panel responding as needed.

There were several good ideas given. However, at this point the primary outcome was a clarified realization of the need for this kind of discussion and a forum for professors to interact, share ideas and learn from each other. There are a lot of questions. I believe there is a tremendous need for faculty to catch up to the learning styles of
this new generation of students, but there are very few places for faculty of theological institutions to have these discussions.

One place for this online is In addition we are working on a plan to provide opportunities at both ETS and SBL next year. We will keep you posted.

Thank you, Joe, for the summary.

iLumina Gold Parents & Teachers Ed.

The innovative product iLumina Gold, already reviewed by David Lang, is now available in an enlarged Parents & Teachers edition, in DVD format. You can see a comparison of the three different incarnations here. This new edition, compatible with Mac and Windows, includes a new My Lessons module, which makes it particularly suitable for homeschooling, among other possible uses. Current users of iLumina Gold can upgrade for a modest fee.

Pocket e-Sword 2.5

A new version of Pocket e-Sword is out. Among the various enhancements, the program now supports VGA and landscape modes for devices running Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition. Also, verse notes can include Scripture and Strong’s numbers pop-up tips.

It is exciting to see that Bible software for PDAs is really thriving. There are already a significant number of products available, and they keep improving all the time, as handhelds are also able to offer better performance. I’m currently working on more reviews in this area, and am also gathering information for a forthcoming comparison review of the search capabilities of the main software packages currently available for PDAs.

PDAs in Church or Class

A comment by Reinout van Rees on my previous entry (thank you, Reinout!) got me thinking about all the different things one can do in church, Bible study, or Hebrew Prophecy class with a
handheld device. Suggestions are welcome!

Reinout says he takes notes during the sermon – presumably he is not the preacher ;-). I don’t know how extensive his notes are, but I find it difficult to imagine myself doing it, particularly with the virtual keyboard…

Then, there’s the obvious use for Bible reading and occasional searches, as well as for checking some cross references or resources (dictionaries, lexicons, encyclopedias, maps, and the like).

Another interesting thing to do is use the PDA as a recorder. It is even possible to tape the sermon or lecture directly in mp3 format (with third-party software), which is quite cool. The downside is that you can’t take notes or look up references at the same time…

If you can help make this short, but significant, list grow, feel free to add your comments. Please let’s stick to things relevant to church and class :-)

Update (a few hours later): Check out Reinout’s interesting comments on his blog. Now, if I could only read those Dutch sermon notes…

Bible Software With You

I’m pleased to announce that another review has been posted today. Bible With You and Bible Concordance With You are two of the great applications for Palm and Pocket PC put out by GMPSoft.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading the review as much as I have enjoyed using the programs on my PDA. There’s only a problem. I still feel somewhat embarassed when I think about taking my handheld to church. I guess I’ll overcome it… It’s such a blessing!