What is WikiJET?
WikiJET is currently just an idea that I have for creating a wiki associated with the JET Programme. It's very much in the formative stage, and I'm creating this mini wiki at Wikia.com to have a space to thrash around ideas, brainstorm, and also to hopefully attract some other people who like the idea of it. Nothing is decided yet. Even the name WikiJET is one I just came up with on the spot. If you like the idea or even if you don't, please let me know. It would be great to get some comments on it in either direction.
Basically I imagine WikiJET becoming a comprehensive source of information about the JET Programme, but also to contain materials that would be practically useful to JETs in their daily working (and social) lives.
While I know that the informal motto of the JET Programme is that "Every Situation Is Different" (ESID), there are many things about our individual experiences that are common, and would provide great scope for a niche wiki:
- We're all foreigners living in the same Japanese cultural context
- We're all living here for a limited period of time
- The vast majority of us are not native-level Japanese speakers and our access to information is often restricted as a result
- ALTs (who make up the majority of participants) are working in schools, in similar working environments and have similar expectations placed upon us
- Many of us have far too much free time on our hands
- We're all young and fairly techno-literate
- Almost all schools and BOEs have internet connections
All in all, I think the above factors mean there is great potential for the growth of an idea like WikiJET.
One area where I see WikiJET being potentially really useful is as a sort of online Team Taught Pizza, but editable by anyone. How many times have you been at a school and asked to pull a lesson plan or English activity out of thin air 5 minutes before the lesson? Obviously there are good websites catering to this kind of need (GenkiEnglish.com and Three Wise Monkeys have been frequent lifesavers for me!) but the useful content tends to be scattered across many different websites and not all of the content is freely available. The beauty of the GNU Free Documentation License is that anybody could use any of the material on WikiJET for any purpose without spending a penny. Imagine lists of lesson plans and game ideas sorted by applicability to school and grade level. Sit down at the computer, do a quick search, print it out (perhaps in Japanese for the teacher too?) and your job's done, no effort expended! That's one of my dreams anyway.
Application hints and tips
WikiJET could also be a source for info about the tortuous application procedure to the JET Programme for those applying. Schedules about what to expect and when, explanation of jargon, hints and tips for the essay/interview etc. I know that this type of information is already available on forums like BigDaikon and IThinkImLost but an editable wiki would allow for all of this haphazard info to be collected in one place.
Another area where WikiJET might be really useful is in providing a repository for information about the obscure places we all live in. Travel guides like WikiTravel.com, even if they do carry an article on your tiny village, tend to cater to tourists and the official websites of towns and cities often provide no useful information to the young 20-30 something who has just arrived in his inaka town and wants to know where the gaijin bars are. For an example of what I mean, check out the wiki for Tsukuba. That kind of information could certainly be incorporated into WikiJET, but obviously nationwide.
Currently I don't think other Wikis out there cater to these kind of specific areas. I'm sure there is much more scope for other kinds of information within WikiJET. If you can think of some, don't keep it locked up inside: edit this page or talk about it on the discussion page!
Potential problems or issues?
One of the problems I envisage, particularly with regard to information on specific towns and cities and their associated BOEs, is avoiding slanderous comments on individuals. "So-and-so teacher comes in every day smelling of booze and never speaks to me in English" etc. etc. Also, there will be an issue of privacy. Would it be ok (legal?) to use JETs names on their city's information page?
Another issue that will surely crop up is copyright violation. It will be very tempting for people to copy over content from other TEFL sites verbatim and reproduce it in WikiJET.
Can you think of any others?
I myself am an ALT working in various Elementary and Junior High Schools in Hita city, Oita Prefecture. If you're interested in this idea, please feel free to edit this page; leave comments on the Talk page or drop me an e-mail: a n d y @ a e h . co . uk (remove the spaces first). Bobo12345 10:21, 16 October 2006 (UTC)