Bible OL at SBL in Boston 2017

Picture of Nicolai Winther-Nielsen
Bible OL at SBL in Boston 2017
by Nicolai Winther-Nielsen - Monday, 27 November 2017, 11:16 AM

In another news feed I have reported on my presentation in the US of Bible OL as a tool for first year Hebrew and my presentation is available as a 22 minutes long video HERE.

Bible OL was also presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Boston. My own presentation was given in a Joint Session with Academic Teaching and Biblical Studies and Global Education and Research Technology, chaired very well by Renate Viveen Hood.

  • The first presentation was on an exciting online video producing class by Sandie Gravett, Appalachian State University, where students develop innovate video-recording and the teacher role shifts to that of a film-director.
  • Jonathan D. Lawrence, Canisius College, set out what you need to decide before you move your class online. Jean-Francois Racine, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, talked about students’ contributing content to an online site.
  • My great long-term friend Barry Bandstra of Hope College presented how the book module in Moodle works very well in a course on functional grammar, and I look forward to enlist in his course with my PhD students.

In my own paper on the Corpus-driven Online Hebrew Classroom I claimed that the best practice in a Hebrew language learning online course IS practice. The course must not only be superior, but also be sustainable and amenable to ongoing development and improvement. With our 9 years of building recording so far, and our fully supported instant feedback and daily assessment Bible OL very well supports the basic needs of learners, and we have great data to prove this.

After my presentation, I got a great feedback. A director of Bible Translation from the UBS expressed his interest in having this course given in Zambia, and I would love to serve national translators in courses organized through UBS. But more important than anything else, I talked to a professional instructional design specialist who was looking for new learning technology for her university. Later one night I spent more than two hours talking to her, bouncing great ideas back and forth. She has long-term expertice in elearning and is an very supportive and creative type of person. I hope we will be able to continue our discussions in the future and I hope to gain much insight for Bible OL from this. Time will tell - but my dreams are sweet!

I chaired another open session organized by Global Education and Research Technology. We had some marvelous presentations of strong projects.

  • David Instone-Brewer of Tyndale House, Cambridge, demonstrated how well a parallel alignment of Greek and Hebrew can produce a draft of a Swahili translation as well as gloss lists and other significant output.
  • Reinier de Blois, United Bible Societies, present the new version of ParaTExt using the ETCBC database for queries and exploiting his Semantic Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew. We have already for some time talked about collaboration on ParaTExt and Bible OL and we made some great progress at the conference with exciting plans for the future. Reinier has also joined the steering committee of GERT and will be a great member for our session during years to come.
  • James Tauber of MorphGNT presented on how to link lexical resources for Biblical Greek. He is coming up with a strong computational solution for cases where the analysis of homgraphs and meaning difference of roots differ. He is continuing work that started as early as 1996 in collaboration with my great personal friend Ulrik Sandborg-Petersen, who just as James and Jonathan Robie is one of the giants of Greek computational linguistics and rightly deserves to be mentioned. 
  • Jeremy Thompson of Logos Bible Software presented new applications for Logos which will allow students to interact with meanings of words based on context and display them in new ways from the propietory sense and contextual datasets of Logos Bible Software.
  • Last, but not least, Oliver Glanz of Andrews University talked about his long term passion for offering examinations and students grading. He believes that he will be able to present promising results from this project at Andrews in another year.   

As for this exam module, the programmer of Bible OL, Claus Tøndering, will in December start his back-end programming. He will make the "Locate" of Bible reference feature optional, support the hiding of word features in exercises for phrase, clause and sentence levels, support the exclusion of ketiv/qere words from exercises, and support accurate selection for ambiguous word forms. We look forward to see how the team at Andrews University will design the front end of the esam module and how the exams will work for grading at this university and at other institutions using Bible OL. We have strong hopes that an exam module will greatly increase the value of Bible OL for university administrations and teachers immensely. 

Also in Boston, I continued my conversations with prominent potential partners. I met with the two key directors of education and research from the Faculty of Theology at the Vrije Universiteit in Amasterdam. Professor, dr. Joke van Saane, is the director of studies in the department, and she immediately saw the potential of using Bible OL for a new international one-year program which can then admit students based on prior well-documented skills in Biblical languages. Then there was my long-term friend, professor dr. L.J. Lietaert Peerbolte (Bert Jan), who is the director of research at the Faculty. He continues to be a strong spokesperson for developing a New Testament database of similar strength and usefulness as the ETCBC database, and he fully understands the great potential of corpus-driven Greek online courses. We are in close dialogue on how we can best and most efficiently bring Greek up to the Hebrew standard of the Eep Talstra corpus.

Bert Jan also invited me to meet the former director of the Evangelical Graduate School of Theology in Addis Abeba, professor, dr. Desta Heliso. I meet him on November 1 in 2012, when I introduced the old PC version PLOTLearner at EGST. I conveyed the good news that we now have partners potentially ready to support the implementation of Bible OL for courses at EGST, and that we hope that it will soon be possible to set up a pilot project for Bible OL in Ethiopia, depending on sound local interest and interest in funding. I also meet two wonderful PhD students from EGST who specialize in New Testament studies in Durham and Edinburg and also were interested in Bible Online Learner for Greek.

David Instone-Brewer stayed with the Danish group in our apartment and continuously gave me lot of good ideas on how to proceed with my project. I think I sold him the usefulness of the ETCBC database and I hope this is an important step to getting it into STEP. I sincerely hope that STEP will be interlinked with Bible OL the same way as SHEBANQ is (see HERE).

Many other great contacts could be mentioned, and I believe I know have a much better idea about who is potentially interested and in the core target group of Bible OL.