John Anderson and I just got official notice today that our Society of Biblical Literature Genesis Consultation, whose three-year run ended at the 2013 SBL Annual Meeting in Baltimore, has been renewed as a Section for the next six years. This wonderful news presents us with a bit of a conundrum: we were not able to issue a call for papers in the normal way. Only today—the last day—did the system allow potential presenters to propose papers. Amazingly, we got a proposal within just a few minutes of the Section going live!
At any rate, if you are a biblical scholar working on Genesis, please consider submitting a proposal to our open session at the 2014 Annual Meeting in San Diego! The SBL’s standard system will only accept proposals up through midnight tonight (March 4, 2014), however, so either act fast or send a proposal to me via e-mail within the next few days. See you in San Diego!
Part of my Hebrew teaching this year involves creating a series of online lessons that students can use to review and solidify what they’re learning in the classroom. Each slideshow in the עִבְרִית Express series presents a grammar lesson inductively, using only pictures and Hebrew text, then reviews the lesson deductively, explaining the new grammatical ideas in English.
This post takes its name from the title of my presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, coming up November 23–26 in Baltimore. I will present in the Academic Teaching and Biblical Studies section in the 9:00 AM session on Monday, November 25 (Hilton Baltimore, Key 1). Here’s the abstract:
In many colleges and universities, we have already reached the point where a student’s (or professor’s!) first impulse when confronted with a desire for new information is to “Google it.” With the increasing power of small mobile computing devices like smartphones and tablets, students are rarely more than a few taps away from whatever online information sources they choose to access. The ubiquity of Google searches poses at least two specific challenges for biblical studies courses: (i) it enables students to rely more heavily than ever on secondary sources rather than primary sources, and (ii) it conditions students to rely less on memory and more on quick access to indexed information. Using a digital Bible instead of a paper Bible can accommodate and even “redeem” the second challenge while somewhat counterbalancing the first. In this presentation, I will describe how I have leveraged the ubiquity of smart devices to teach and test digital Bible search skills in “Religion 101: The History and Religion of Israel.” I will share specific apps and exercises used to help students climb the “scaffold” from Bible search novices to more skilled navigators of digital Bibles.
Despite the ubiquity of Unicode and the support for right-to-left processing built into Mac OS X, previous versions of Apple’s iWork suite supported Hebrew rather poorly. The cursor remained “stuck” on the right-hand side of the text, selecting individual letters ranged from difficult to impossible, and animating Hebrew text in Keynote resulted in large blank spaces on the screen. Moreover, the iWork suite couldn’t handle the complex font information embedded in the SBL Hebrew font, so you’d get misplaced vowels, accents, and so forth if you were using them.
Those days are over.
Here’s the elevator pitch: My Religion 101 course, also known as “World of Biblecraft,” functions like a cross between Farmville, Minecraft, and the World of Warcraft, where students earn XP and level up by exploring the Bible.