Announcing the Gardener Theme for Treebank Self-publication

Treebanking has distinct merit as a pedagogical tool. The entire process is useful for language learners of all levels, whether as an introduction to more complex sentence structure or as a practice exercise to hone skills. It can sometimes be challenging to convince educators to use treebanking tools, not because they cannot see the merit, but rather because they are concerned  about being able to use the tools effectively. They may feel they lack the technical ability to manipulate the data, files, and annotation platform. We want  educators to have confidence in their ability to use the tools and teach others to do the same.  Treebanking with Perseids and Arethusa is fairly simple, and most people will learn how to use these tools by sitting down and using them.

 

With this in mind, I set myself to answering another question I continue to get each time I introduce new teachers to treebanking, “what do I do with all this data?” With Perseids we want to empower users to own their data. One avenue would be for teachers to connect with  projects which aggregate treebanks, with the hopes they might turn each classroom into part of a larger crowdsourcing project. However, larger treebanking projects prefer tagsets based on international standards for dependency grammar, which are sometimes unintelligible to the average student of Greek or Latin and can be overwhelming. For this reason, we designed Arethusa to give users the ability to customize the tagsets to coincide with the grammars and map to textbooks they are already familiar with.

 

Along the same lines, we want to put in the end-users hands the ability to publish their work themselves, whether they’ve used a standard tagset for their annotations, or a customized version, and to then extend their publications with other resources as appropriate for their choices.  The work we did with Professor Matthew Harrington’s Latin AP Pedagogical Treebanking project allowed us to explore how we might use GitHub to support this.  We can take advantage of the services GitHub provides freely for publishing versioned repository resources as web sites, and for connecting with Zenodo to assign digital object identifiers (DOIs) to these resources. We developed a customization of a Jekyll theme with predefined templates for displaying treebank data in a GitHub pages site. Perseids users can download their treebank files directly from Perseids and import them into a GitHub repository using this theme. This allows users with minimal technical expertise to easily get a site up to publish and display their work.

 

The way this works is simple. Users download their treebank data, add them to their GitHub repository and then create html files for each tree that contain just a small .yaml header (which we call ‘tbpages’). Jekyll uses this .yaml header to populate a table of all the trees in the collection on the main page, as well as a display page for each individual tree. The theme uses a widgetized version of the javascript-based Arethusa application to display interactive representations of the trees. The Arethusa widget runs in the page served by the GitHub pages site and and retrieves the tree data directly from the underlying GitHub repository. The only dependency on Perseids is for retrieval of the tagset data files, although these can be configured to reside locally as well.

 

The goal was to create something that people could use with a minimal understanding of the underlying technology. Users with a little more technical expertise can explore the options Jekyll offers for additional customizations. Setting the whole thing up as a theme allows for us to roll out improvements to the widget and distribute them to our users in an easy way. Bringing together the widget and the Jekyll theme, we created the Gardener Theme, which allows users to plant gardens for their collections of trees.

 

One of the initial goals of the project was to document the pedagogical techniques that we have seen work with the Perseids Project in classrooms around the world. Additionally, the project was intended to help students experience having their work published. Gardener was designed not just to be easy to use, but to be flexible enough to facilitate publishing both trees and associated student work. Jekyll only needs to read the .yaml header to generate the page, the rest of the tbpage file can contain whatever additional content the user wishes. In talking with educators, we found that response essays or analytical write ups are commonly used as a way to assess the skills learned via the creating the treebank. If a classroom used this theme to publish their work, each published page could also contain essays which would help explain the shape of the trees. This creates a fantastic place for students to display work and create fixed proof of their skills in Greek and Latin.

 

We are pleased to announce that the first open version of the Gardener Theme is now up and running. Go and check out our demo blog here or fork the theme and get started here.  And don’t forget to send us feedback!

Teach the Teachers Summer 2017

Teach the Teachers Workshop

Tufts University Boston MA August 14-16th, 2017

The Perseids Project in conjunction with  the Department of Classics at Tufts University is calling for participants in the second Teach the Teachers workshop.

This three-day workshop aims to explore the uses of digital tools in a classroom setting. Treebanking and Translation Alignments will be the main focus of the workshop, as well as different techniques for integrating them into classrooms at all levels.

As the field of classical studies continues to evolve, technology is playing a larger and larger and larger role both in the interpretation of data, but the in the education of a new generation of scholars. As people begin to use these tools to teach Greek and Latin, it is important that we come together and share our experiences, strategies, and ideas. Moreover, this workshop will offer educators who are unfamiliar with newer digital tools and their use in the classroom, to learn from fellow educators the best techniques for their implementation.

Treebanks are large collections of syntactically parsed sentences. Although originally designed to improve computational linguistic analysis, treebank annotations have proven to be valuable tools for pedagogy and traditional philological pursuits.  Treebanking projects have also proven to be valuable tools for students because they provide targeted assessment and feedback. In addition, treebanking allows students to contribute to a growing collection of ancient language treebanks.

The workshop will contain seminars on how to use the tools available via Perseids, in particular the Alpheios Alignment editor and the Arethusa Treebank editor. These seminars will include comprehensive guidelines so that any user at any level of digital literacy will be able to use the tools to their full potential. This will include:

  • Use of translation alignments for language and non-language students
  • Use of treebank annotations in the classroom, including Prof. Matthew Harrington’s treebanks of the AP Latin Curriculum
  • Use of the gold standard review functionality and the board review systems of Perseids
  • Basic self publication workflow for hosting your own treebank collection online.

The purpose of this workshop is to facilitate the exchange of new ideas for the implementation of the Perseids Platform in the classroom. We encourage you to experiment with our tools before attending the workshop, so that you can bring your own ideas about implementations in the classroom for discussion.

Participants should submit a statement of up to 500-700 words in length. Funding will be provided for travel and lodgings in the Boston area. Applications for attendance will be accepted until May 1st.

Statements should demonstrate that an applicant has a strong desire to work with new and experimental teaching techniques. No experience with digital methods is required, but those with experience will be supported at their own level. Although we work primarily with Greek or Latin teachers, we encourage educators who work with other ancient languages to apply. An ideal candidate needs to be willing to approach teaching these subjects in new ways and should be prepared to implement them in the classroom. Please include in your application whether you are seeking funding for travel and lodging.
Send submissions to teachtheteachers2016@gmail.com

Announcing Plokamos, a Semantic Annotation Tool

Plokamos is a new text annotation framework developed by Frederik Baumgardt and the Perseids project. It is a browser-based tool that can be used to support scholars and students of literary disciplines in their work with text. Plokamos provides users with the ability to assign meaning to segments of text, to share their assertions with colleagues and classmates and to visualize the result of their work in aggregate. We have been using Plokamos as a plugin to our Nemo text browser in the classroom over the last 2-3 months and are looking forward to making it generally available to everyone for use on any source texts in early 2017.

Plokamos is really a continuation of our previous work in building a comprehensive toolset to enable our users to create and use semantically meaningful textual annotations. Our goal in this next step was to better integrate the individual components we used previously, to provide data validation assistance at annotation time, and to be in a better position to adapt our tools to new use cases. In the process we also wanted to make it easier for the users to enter data from a shared and controlled vocabulary. Furthermore, we aimed to add data versioning functionality to the infrastructure to follow students’ progress, to enable parallelism between text and annotations, and to provide this functionality as a tool for scholarly work. Finally, we planned for the application to be easily extensible to allow us to expand into more use cases over time as well as allow collaborators to tailor the annotations and the user interface to their own needs.

plokfig1 Figure 1: Plokamos tooltip embedded into a web article

In more technical terms, Plokamos is made up of an almost fully self-contained Javascript client application to be loaded inside a browser window, and a server-side linked-data named graph store with a SPARQL endpoint. In addition to annotation data, the quad store also serves configuration data that enables the client to validate, interpret and adequately visualize the annotations.

The Plokamos client consists of 3 layers which handle the annotations at different levels of abstraction and each layer provides its own mechanism to extend the application and use it for new kinds of sources, data types, forms of presentation or editing interfaces.

The annotator/applicator layer is the central piece of a Plokamos client application. It manages a local copy of the annotation data, adds interactive highlights to the source text and keeps a history of modified and newly created annotations. It has a core logic that is using SPARQL and the Open Annotation linked data framework to retrieve the available annotations and place them on their correct locations within the text. It can be extended to be able to handle different types of locations (“Selectors”) and different shapes of annotation payloads (“Annotation bodies”).

While the previous layer interprets annotations as just a network of entities and relations, and is agnostic to specific meaning (“Ontologies”) that is embedded in the network, the ontology layer is there to find and extract meaning from it. It can shape parts of the network into objects, translate URIs into easier to understand descriptions, and vice-versa. This is an essential step to negotiate between Plokamos’ general-purpose nature and its goal to provide user-friendly interactions. The ontology layer can be extended with new templates to extract objects from the graph and with additional dictionaries that provide translations between machine- and human-readable representations of the annotations.

The plugin layer takes the extracted objects and creates user interfaces for them which allow users to read and edit the data in different forms. Plugins can either let the ontology layer automatically select ontologies for the object conversion or specify them explicitly. The annotator/applicator layer provides placeholders for plugins to insert themselves into during Plokamos’ initialization, currently there are two such placeholders for annotations on phrases and whole documents, respectively. Inside the placeholders plugins can be designed freely using HTML and Javascript, including libraries such as Bootstrap and d3.js.

plokfig2

Figure 2: Visualization of corpus-level annotations filtered by family relationships

Over the course of the fall semester this architecture has proven itself to be useful and flexible for timely adaptations. We were able to develop new, unobtrusive and intuitive user interfaces for both the annotation reading and editing on single text passages as well as annotation visualization on a corpus. We also achieved our goal of improving the (syntactic) quality of the annotation data by providing the users with suggestions and visual feedback about the plausibility of the entered data. This last step benefited from the feedback that our students gave us while using the tool for their coursework and which we were able to quickly implement as additions to our plugins.

In 2017 we plan to focus on two particular features for Plokamos which we think will help make it a useful tool for many applications. The first one is a refactoring of the component in Plokamos that anchors annotations in their source data — the aforementioned Selectors — to enable higher-level annotations, i.e. annotating annotations. The obvious use case is for educators to grade and comment on their students annotations, but we’re sure that this will unlock further very interesting ways for scholars to express ideas. The second planned feature is the ability to run multiple instances of Plokamos on different regions of a website and let them interact to annotate relationships between segment of the regions. Those relationships can be for example assertions or translations, but again we’re convinced that this provides a foundation for new types of annotations that will emerge with time.

In addition to these features, we will round out the support for open, standards-based access to annotations created through Plokamos.  First, we will add full API support, through an implementation of the RDA Collections API. Second, we will work towards updating the annotation data model as needed to be in compliance with the latest version of the Open Annotation specification, the Web Annotation data model.

We’re excited to watch Plokamos play its part as both a platform for data entry as well as experimentation with new kinds of scholarly concepts, as the Digital Humanities continue to reshape scholarship in the digital era.

Grammatical Treebank Analysis for Teaching and Research Workshop in Toronto: Video Tutorials

In preparation for our Grammatical Treebank Analysis workshop, Vanessa and Bob Gorman have produced a series of videos introducing Arethusa and Treebanking. If you want to prepare for the workshop ahead of time and want some guidance to working with treebanks on your own, these videos are a great place to start.

To register for the workshop fill out the form here.

Teach the Teachers at Tufts University

Teach the Teachers Workshop

Tufts University Boston MA August 14-16th, 2017

 

The Perseids Project in conjunction with  the Department of Classics at Tufts University is calling for participants in the second Teach the Teachers workshop.

This three-day workshop aims to showcase the Perseids platform and explore the uses of these tools in a classroom setting. Registration for this workshop will be free and financial support for travel and lodging will be provided. We are looking for participants who teach at the High school or secondary school level, as well as Phd candidates and graduate students.

Treebanks are large collections of syntactically parsed sentences. Although originally designed to improve computational linguistic analysis, treebank annotations have proven to be valuable tools for pedagogy and traditional philological pursuits.  Treebanking projects have also proven to be valuable tools for students because they provide targeted assessment and feedback. In addition, treebanking allows students to contribute to a growing collection of ancient language treebanks.

The workshop will contain seminars on how to use the tools available via Perseids, in particular the Alpheios Alignment editor and the Arethusa Treebank editor. These seminars will include comprehensive guidelines so that any user at any level of digital literacy will be able to use the tools to their full potential. This will include:

The purpose of this workshop is to facilitate the exchange of new ideas for the implementation of the Perseids Platform in the classroom. We encourage you to experiment with our tools before attending the workshop, so that you can bring your own ideas about implementations in the classroom for discussion.

Participants should submit a statement of up to 500-700 words in length. Funding will be provided on an as-needed basis. Submissions will be accepted until December 16th.  

We have extended the deadline to March 17th.

Statements should demonstrate that an applicant has a strong desire to work with new and experimental teaching techniques. No experience with digital methods is required, but those with experience will be supported at their own level. Although we work primarily with Greek or Latin teachers, we encourage educators who work with other ancient languages to apply. An ideal candidate needs to be willing to approach teaching these subjects in new ways and should be prepared to implement them in the classroom.  
Send submissions in the form of a pdf to teachtheteachers2016@gmail.com

Grammatical Treebank Analysis for Teaching and Research Workshop in Toronto

A free two-day workshop sponsored by the Perseids Project
January 4-5th, 2017, 9AM-5PM

Location:
THE WESTIN HARBOUR CASTLE, TORONTO
1 Harbour Square
Toronto, ON M5J 1A6
Canada

This two-day workshop aims to present some of the work currently being done in digital pedagogy for classical studies. As the field of classical studies continues to evolve, technology is playing an even larger role both in educating a new generation of scholars and in opening new approaches to data-driven humanities research.

The workshop will include hands-on seminars on how to use the tools available via Perseids, in particular the Alpheios Translation Alignment editor and the Arethusa Treebank editor. Treebanking (morpho-syntactic diagramming) allows a user to identify all the dependency relationships in a sentence as well as the morphology of each word. Translation alignments allow a user to identify corresponding words between an original text and its translation. With both methods, the resulting data is automatically compiled in an xml file which can be further queried for research.

Participants should plan on attending all sessions of the two day workshop, from 9AM-5PM on January 4th and 5th. Participation is open to college professors, high school teachers, and graduate students.Participants should bring laptop computers. Since we will be working in Latin and Greek, participants should have a basic knowledge of either language. Wifi will be provided as well as coffee breaks and lunch. Participation is free, but seats are limited to 40.

The workshop will be led by Marie-Claire Beaulieu (Tufts University), Tim Buckingham (Perseids Project), Vanessa Gorman (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), and Robert Gorman (University of Nebraska-Lincoln).

Follow this link for more information and to sign up for the workshop.

Keep checking out the landing page, as we will keep adding more information and more content in the future.

First Teach the Teachers Workshop

Teach the Teachers, Leipzig April 18-19th, 2016
The Perseids Project, in collaboration with the Humboldt Chair of Digital Humanities at the University of Leipzig and the Department of Classics at Tufts University is calling for participants in the first Teach the Teachers workshop. The two-day workshop aims to present and develop lesson plans and syllabi including digital methods for the high school and university Humanities curriculum. Registration for the workshop will be free and financial support for travel and lodging will be provided. We are looking for participants who teach at the High School or Secondary school level, as well as PhD candidates and Graduate Students.

As the field of classical studies continues to evolve, technology is playing a larger and larger and larger role both in the interpretation of data, but the in the education of a new generation of scholars. As people begin to use these tools to teach Greek and Latin, it is important that we come together and share our experiences, strategies, and ideas. Moreover, this workshop will offer educators who are unfamiliar with newer digital tools and their use in the classroom, to learn from fellow educators the best techniques for their implementation.

The workshop will contain seminars on how to use the tools available via Perseids, in particular the Alpheios Alignment editor and the Arethusa Treebank editor. These seminars will include comprehensive guidelines so that any user at any level of digital literacy will be able to use the tools to their full potential. This will include, but is not limited too:

  • Use of translation alignments for non-language students
  • Use of treebank annotations to assess understanding of grammar and morpho-syntax
  • Use of the gold standard review functionality and the board review systems of Perseids
  • The Perseids Social network annotation workflow
  • Assessment strategies for digital assignments

The purpose of this workshop is to facilitate the exchange of new ideas for the implementation of the Perseids Platform in the classroom. During the two-day workshop we will produce resources for digital projects in a classroom setting. We will incorporate these resources into a growing collection of shared resources which will help future educators integrate the Perseids to their classroom practice.Those resources may include:

  • Syllabi for high school and college level courses.
  • Lesson plans for in-class digital projects.
  • collaborative, inter-institutional workflows and project plans

Contributors should submit statements of up to 500-700 words. Submissions will be accepted until January 8th.

We have extended the deadline to Monday, January 18th.

Send submissions in the form of a pdf to teachtheteachers2016@gmail.com Statements can include:

  • Plans or ideas for the implementation of digital tools in the classroom
  • Description of experience or interest in digital methods
  • Other experience involving the use of digital tools in an educational setting

Peer Instruction in the Lab Style Greek Course

Treebanking, and the collaborative environment that surrounds treebanking allows undergraduates to participate in research and scholarship in new ways. This fall I am a teaching assistant, or peer-instructor, for an intermediate Greek course. Although I am a Junior in college, and taking my fifth Greek course right now, but because of treebanking I am able to instruct and assess students with one year less Greek than I have.

My role in the class is to lead close reading sessions and a treebanking lab, and to grade treebanking assignments. In the close reading sections, I go over the readings, drawn from Plato’s Apology, and answer questions. In the treebanking lab, I demonstrate how to treebank different Greek constructions.  For instance, near the start of the semester a student asked about the difference between coordinating and subordinating conjunctions. I walked the class through how these conjunctions are treebanked and how the tree shows us the relationship between conjunctions and the words they govern and are governed by. In general, during this hour and twenty minute lab session students work independently on treebanking assignments while I go around the room and answer questions. When students submit their treebanks, I grade them for accuracy using the review tools built into the treebanking program we use, Arethusa. It is possible to automatically compare my treebank with a student’s treebank, and also to manually enter feedback on a particular word, sentence, of assignment.

I see real benefits for the students in the class and myself from this practice. The students in the class are able to ask every question they have about treebanking (and by extension Greek syntax) and get an answer immediately. I spent hundreds of hours treebanking Plato and Xenophon over the past summer, so I can refer back to my trees or to the resources I learned to use while I worked on that project if questions come up that I cannot answer off-hand. I think that small things, like understanding the relationship between the μέν and δέ of the classic μέν…δέ (“on the one hand… on the other hand”) construction, that would otherwise fall through the cracks are brought to the surface and addressed in this type of class. Before I started treebanking I could not have explained that the μέν…δέ construction is a type of coordination, because the structure is not explained that way in traditional Greek textbooks. That is, the traditional explanation of “on the one hand…on the other hand,” while useful for beginners to translate, does not explain the grammatical role of these words the way a treebank does. So in this way I can address the holes in students’ grammatical understanding and hopefully give them more of the tools they need to really read Greek.

But in terms of the benefits for me as a peer-instructor, I have never thought more about Greek than while I am answering questions from the students in this class. People say that you never learn something until you teach it. I cannot agree more – I had never thought about just what is going on syntactically with the “extra” ἤ in an ἤ…ἤ (“either…or”) construction. It is perfectly clear that one the ἤ’s is the coordinator and the other is only setting up the construction, but until I actually had to explain this common construction I had never thought much about it. It’s the sort of thing grammar books normally gloss over but that you have to know to understand the syntax. In short, treebanking with students has provided me a rigorous review of syntax. But the main reason this opportunity is so important is that before treebanking an undergraduate as a teaching assistant in Greek would be almost unheard of. The opportunity to really learn something through teaching has been given to me because of my experience with treebanking and the hands-on, collaborative work that treebanking encourages.

 

Drew Latimer

Tufts University, Greek and Latin Major

Class of 2017

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funds Perseids, Phase 2

The Perseids team is delighted to announce that the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has funded a second two-year phase of development for the Perseids project. During the academic years 2015-2017, we will focus on supporting new curricular initiatives in the Humanities in the US and abroad. The cornerstone of this initiative is the integration of teaching and research in the Humanities classroom, emulating the way students participate in research teams in the natural sciences. Indeed, through the Perseids platform, students and citizen scholars have access to primary source documents which they can edit, annotate, and disseminate, thereby participating in the creation and enhancement of Humanities knowledge.

In order to reach this objective, we plan to tackle four main areas: 1) Collaboration, sharing, and reuse; 2) Assessment methods; 3) Data ownership and quality control; and 4) Complex annotation and publication workflows.

We could not be successful without the projects upon which we build. They are numerous and continue to grow, but a special debt is owed to the Son of SUDA Online platform initially developed by Papyri.info with Mellon support and being maintained by the Duke Collaboratory for Classics Computing, which is also supported by the Mellon Foundation. We are also excited about continuing our collaboration with two other Mellon-funded projects, namely EAGLE and the Digital Latin Library. We look forward to continuing our integration work with Attic Inscriptions Online, Integrating Digital EpigraphySyriaca.org and the Berkeley Prosopography Services. Finally, we are grateful to all our other collaborators, near and far, for the spirit of openness and sharing that they have fostered, and we are excited to continue working with them.

We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation for its continued support and we look forward to the new opportunities that these two years will bring.