By Jim Pierson, Spring 2008 Span 232 student
I took Spanish 232 during the spring '08 semester. For me, it was the best Spanish class I've taken at this university, and I have taken many in the last four years. As such, I have kept up with the Spanish & Illinois Blog and with A Través De La Corriente, the blog my old professor Marcos keeps. Reading through the posts this semester, I learned of the problems current students were having with the diarios digitales.
For me the diarios digitales, they were one of my favorite parts of Span 232! They were challenging but I think they were so valuable for learning the language. I think one of the faults of the Spanish program here is there aren't enough times students are forced to speak Spanish. In most classes, students find any way they can to use English instead of Spanish, something that is frustrating for those that really want to learn the language. Finishing a minor here, I can read and write Spanish very well, but speaking is something I still struggle with sometimes. In Spanish 232, it was great to be able to practice that for the class in two different ways: both in the community in an informal, off the cuff way; and at home for the diarios digitales in a prepared, rehearsed way.
I do understand that the technology aspect can be frustrating. I didn't find it very difficult to manage, as I am personally very experienced with computers, but I can see where problems can arise. However, working with technology, being able to adapt and take advantage of new services, being flexible, and learning to troubleshoot your own computer problems are extremely valuable skills in today's society, regardless of your field of study. Exposure to technology is absolutely necessary for college students; even if you "aren't good with computers", the reality is that you will have to learn to use them. I hope Span 232 continues to force students to use the computers, even through all the difficulties, because all the problems can be overcome and students will learn a lot from the process.
Also, the U of I campus is engrossed in technology. As such, support for computer problems is readily available from a variety of sources. It is unrealistic to think that the instructors of Span 232 can handle all the problems of dozens of students, so the students should be able to find out where else they can go for help. If you live in the residence halls, you can go to the computer labs and ask a Net Tech for help. If you go to the ICS Labs (like in the Union or the English Building) they have staff members on duty all day that can help with problems. I think the instructions Marcos has provided were very good, and even if students couldn't manage it with their own computers, the computer set up in the lab in the FLB would have worked for them.
Even though it can be a challenge to get the technology working, those skills, just like spoken Spanish skills are very valuable and students should take the time to master them. I think its just another benefit of the class that you learn about computers too.