Social Networking Behind Student Lines in Japan

Social Networking Behind Student Lines in Japan

Steve McCarty (Osaka Jogakuin College, Japan)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-984-7.ch080
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Abstract

In a cross-cultural educational context of TEFL in Japan, the author sought to enhance the integrative motivation of students toward the target language community through a supplementary online dimension. The social networking site (SNS), Mixi, was selected because it is familiar to most college students in Japan. The Mixi Japanese language interface is illustrated in this chapter, describing functions possibly applicable to education. A You- Tube video that introduces Mixi in English, made in authentic collaboration with students, is also referenced as a representative CALL 2.0 classroom activity. More importantly, joining Mixi presented an opportunity to go behind the lines into student territory. Teachers and students, whether foreign or Japanese, customarily maintain their social distance in terms of separate affiliations. Social networking with Japanese students further involves issues of online technological proficiency, biliteracy, and the necessity of an invitation. The author negotiated with three 2007-08 classes on networking through Mixi, with varying outcomes extending beyond the classroom and the school year. Metaphors of lines and perspectives including “technoscapes” (Appadurai, 1990) are proposed to interpret the results, but Japanese socioculture may be most salient to account for the particulars. Student attitudes are probed as to a possible ambivalence in valuing their free expression in Mixi versus the integrative motivation of social involvement with a teacher. One prediction was that results would differ as to whether or not a teacher was welcome in a student community depending on how students were approached for an invitation. Social networking is proposed as a Web 2.0 educational approach that is authentic, collaborative, and immersive in cutting through power hierarchies and positively blurring the distinction between the classroom and the real life of students and teachers, which nowadays includes a virtual dimension.

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