Spring 2012 AJET Opinion Exchange: AJET goes mobile!

On May 15, 2012

Last week, the 2011-2012 AJET Council wrapped up its year of service to the JET Programme with the Spring Opinion Exchange. Members from MEXT, CLAIR, MOFA, and MIC were present as AJET presented its bi-annual research and some of its final projects of the year.

First, myself and AJET webmaster Kevin Mitchell led a presentation on the General Activities Report. This report was a lot of fun to present, because it gave us a chance to unveil, and demonstrate the mobile app we’ve been working on!

For those of you not familiar with the AJET app, Kevin Mitchell has been developing it for over six months, and its release coincided nicely with the Opinion Exchange. Using my iPad in the CLAIR conference room, I showed the ministry representatives all the features he’s been hard at work on. Some of these features include lesson plans on-the-go, mobile access to our magazine, and Japanese language reference for real-life situations. For example, what to say at the doctor’s office, or what to say when you call an emergency number in Japan for help.

One of the reasons AJET set out to make an app was because often JETs (and other ex-pats in Japan) find themselves in situations where they need easy access to very specific information that is unique to the experience of living abroad. Kevin even created a Japanese year converter, a weight and measurement converter, and translations of product labels on foods and household items like remote controls and washing machines! It was a lot of work developing the app over these past few months, but I truly believe our product can make a difference in countless people’s lives!

Finally, this Opinion Exchange was unique because it was the first one in which we were allowed a new format for discussion our research and ideas. Rather than sticking to a tight schedule of report presentation and pre-approved questions, we had time for open, unscripted discussion. It was during this that I presented a proposal for a JET awards system, co-sponsored by AJET, JETAA, and the ministries. The ministries also had time to ask AJET for updates on work that they were particularly interested in, including the AJET relief fund.

As this was the last chance for me to meet with the ministries as the Chairman of AJET, it was both exciting and sad. I feel like we brought a lot of new services to JETs this year. Looking forward, I hope next year’s council is even more successful in bringing services to JETs, and increasing the visibility of this great Programme!