The HPJ staff:
Casey Dué: (video production, teaching
Mary Ebbott (co-leader, graphic design,
Tom Jenkins (co-leader, graphic design, video
production, teaching fellow)
Gregory Nagy (concept, content, and
with help from John Wilbanks, Wendy Seltzer,
Alex Macgillivray, and Antoun Nabhan, of the Berkman Center and Rudy
Hypolite of A/V services.
What it was: A 4-week cyber series,
sponsored by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard
Law School. The series featured assigned texts (an edition of the
Iliad prepared by the HPJ staff, and an article by Gregory
Nagy), 45 minutes of RealVideo produced and funded especially for HPJ
(5 segments in all), optional lectures and notes (RealVideo),
discussion boards (with weekly assignments), and realtime chats (four
in all, using iChat software). The series focused on questions of
morality and justice in the Iliad, and analyzed especially the
litigation scene on the Shield of Achilles as a micro-narrative for
the macro-narrative of compensation and value that runs throughout
How we did it: The Berkman Center staff
provided an initial series template, as well as some technical
guidance in building the html. In practice, the Berkman Center (which
was also running four other series) managed the registration program
and the password protection code, as well as the iChat software and
other specialized functions. The HPJ team modified the html for its
own purposes and ran the series on a day-by-day basis, including the
taping and production of the RealMedia dialogues, the monitoring of
discussion groups, and the general series content. (The HPJ team also
fielded the troubleshooting questions.) The Berkman Center is
partially funded by law firms and other external sources; the Berkman
Center in turn bankrolled the salaries of our TFs, and one equipment
What we hoped to accomplish:
We aimed for a broad constituency of
participants for an investigation of law and morality in the
Iliad&endash;and that is what we got! Roughly 1/4 of the
participants were students or educators, another 1/4 were attorneys,
1/4 were technology professionals, and 1/4 were everything else,
including free-lancers, TV producers, retirees, military officers,
and activists. Participants flocked from all over the world,
including Brazil, Switzerland, Alaska, Australia, Slovakia, and the
Arab Emirates. We were pleased with the general tenor of the
discussion on the hypernews lists, and quickly activated a
newcomers forum for those who felt they needed a more
general introduction to Greek literature.
The response was phenomenal. From an initial
response of 250 or so participants, the series ballooned to close to
700, mostly through word of mouth.
- The course was a revelation. And of course the technology was
only a part of it. Tools don't work in the hands of people who
don't know how to use them. You, Professor Nagy, and your
colleagues were marvelous. I can't get over the quality of the
conversations and the degree to which I felt connected to the
whole experience. One of my colleagues, a retired foreign service
officer who served in seven African countries, was looking over my
shoulder last evening during the chat session (despite the best
efforts of our firewall to make the connection go away), enthusing
about distance learning's potential for a continent where higher
education is, in many states, in near collapse. My organization,
the National Intelligence Council, will be putting on a conference
later this year on societal implications of the information
revolution, and I can't wait to see how the other panelists react
when I start talking about the "ascending scale of affection" and
our need for kleos.
- This opportunity to experience the blessing of a gifted
teacher pour his love into the students (me) and guide us towards
our own boundaries, is the way civilization is supposed to
work.... I am most grateful for the Berkman Center and to our
kindly professor for this gift.
- I particularly value the generous use of time in reply to us
stupid students given ungrudgingly by Greg and all you tutors,
yall (am I learning American?).... The human approach,
expertise, cooperative planning and wide knowledge and care you
all displayed was phenomenal and unbeatable! Cooperation between
four scholars in Finland would be rather rare.
- (From a comment on the discussion sections):
Excellent&endash;no personal invective, unlike every other
discussion forum that Ive seen. Constant participation by
the TFs, who goosed the dialogue when it flagged, was the
other key to success.
- This has been far and away the most enjoyable thing I have
ever done on the Net, and one of the highlights of my year so
- I thought the Teaching Fellows did an outstanding job in
supporting my efforts, and in answering questions. Super job! The
whole experience was wonderful and I would love to see another
like it in the near future. This was the first time Id read
The Iliad, and I will continue my studies on it and other
- I am tickled pink that this type of material is
- Fascinating and inspiring. Took me back to my college
- Had Zeus granted me an extra four hours per day through the
month of April to spend reading, thinking, and responding to
conversations evolving in the discussion forums, I would have
sacrificed a goat for the opportunity.
- It was superb. Please consider other ventures.
- Perhaps I would edit the lectures to make
them available for audio only (as an alternative, of course),
which seems easier to download than video.
- I would like some questions which dealt
with the language of the text, since there seemed to be so many
participants who read the text in the original.
- Perhaps one more chat session with the
professor. I really wanted to log on and live chat with others,
but my schedule has been a bit hectic lately. Thanks for
transcribing them though.
- Maybe even more "homework"
- Substitute written material for the
realvideos. I don't have to see Prof. Nagy talk to understand
- Yes, I never could get iChat to work, even
though I tried hard twice to do so. I got my login name and
password going, but when I tried to log on to the chat session, I
kept getting a screen that said I could not log on because the
connection to the cyberhost (?) could not be made, or it didn't
recognize the cyberhost name (?) or something like that. That was
disappointing, and I closed down both times cursing technology and
shaking my head at the time I had spent to no avail.
- overall, it was a very good series and
utilized a lot of various media which i think contributed to the
series. there's a trade-off between asking the participants to
write longer, perhaps more thoughtful pieces and the ability to
have multiple responses. but this is a difficult trade-off to
- Lest you think I have little
imagination.... why is there no video game / computer game for
this? Get with Sierra and kids could really visit Troy and role
play the heroes. Heck, they could play the Gods too.
- recommend at some point providing the staff
"answers" to the questions. a personal response to each
participant is not feasible (and i am not recommending that) but
it would be interesting if i could have compared my answers with
what the experts thought was appropriate.
- I would be most grateful if you could use
Greenwich Mean Time instead of EDT (or whatever) for those of us
who live in a different hemisphere and have no idea of American
time zones. At least with GMT we could work out when the ichats
were going to be.