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Education and Social Media

Today, at the New Education Expo 2010, produced by Uchida Yoko for the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, I attended a seminar on the use of social media in education.  The seminar focused on using Twitter and Second Life.

While there were only a few insightful anecdotes and stories told during the 2-hour session, I found one of the presentations to be interesting.  The presentation was by Yukimi Imaoka, Assistant Director of the Media Education Center of the Kanda Institute of Foreign Languages.  At Kanda, in a program called the Hybrid English Learning Program, the institute is trying to create a virtual environment in which English is the native language, thereby converting its EFL program into an ESL program in the virtual world.  For English teachers, this distinction is obvious, that in an environment in which English is the native language, the English student has the advantage of being immersed in the target language even when away from studying the language.  Hence, the learner has many more opportunities to try out nascent language skills, as well as getting invaluable listening practice.

For teachers of English in Japan, it is extremely difficult to provide sufficient opportunities to students to immerse themselves in the target language.

I have some doubts whether the HELP program will work effectively.  Nevertheless, I think that it is an interesting step in the right direction.  There are likely to be more effective uses of social media in language education, as well as for using 3Di technologies.  However, it is extremely good to know that a major language education institute in Japan is experimenting with and investing in such a virtual world.

For more information:

New Education Expo
http://apcf.uchida.co.jp/expo/index.cfm

Kanda Institute of Foreign Languages
http://www.kandagaigo.ac.jp/kifl/

HELP Program @ KIFL
http://www.kandagaigo.ac.jp/kifl/news/report284.html

Article on Second Times
http://www.secondtimes.net/news/japan/20100518_kanda.html

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