Using WhatsApp for Teaching a Course on the Education Profession: Presence, Community and Learning

Using WhatsApp for Teaching a Course on the Education Profession: Presence, Community and Learning

I Ketut Suardika (Universitas Halu Oleo, Kendari, Indonesia), Alberth (Universitas Halu Oleo, Kendari, Indonesia), Mursalim (Universitas Halu Oleo, Kendari, Indonesia), Siam (Universitas Halu Oleo, Kendari, Indonesia), Lelly Suhartini (Universitas Halu Oleo, Kendari, Indonesia) and Nikolaus Pasassung (Universitas Sulawesi Tenggara, Kendari, Indonesia)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/IJMBL.2020010102
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Social media has gained popularity in the realm of education. However, little research has examined empirically the extent to which students interacting using social media experience a different level of social presence, sense of community and perceived learning compared to those interacting face-to-face. As many as 100 students who were taking a course on Education Profession at the Department of Primary School Teacher Education at Halu Oleo University were recruited for this study. The students were randomly divided into two groups: Group one attended conventional face-to-face classroom instruction over the course of seven weeks and Group two used WhatsApp for learning. Questionnaires measuring social presence, sense of community and perceived learning were pre- and post-tested, followed immediately by interviews. The WhatsApp group reported a stronger sense of community, but both groups experienced an equal level of social presence and perceived learning. Reported benefits of WhatsApp far outnumbered its drawbacks.
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Social Media In Higher Education

The potential of social media in higher education has been widely recognized (Alberth, Mursalim, Siam, Suardika, & Ino, 2018; Graham, 2014; Manca & Ranieri, 2015). In fact, there appears to be a shared belief regarding the merits of social media in this particular context, despite a lack of empirical evidence. The popularity of social media is attributed primarily to the fact that students are so familiar with technology and that it is perceived as free and technically simple (Bexheti, Ismaili, & Cico, 2014). However, the decision to incorporate social media into higher education should be based on rigorous research evidence, rather than on its mere omnipresence or simplicity.

With social media, students can interact with classmates and teachers, post comments, respond to comments posted by others, post learning materials or links to learning materials, etc. Learning materials can be in various forms – e-books, journal articles, PowerPoint slides, PDF or Doc files, pictures, notes, audio, videos and so forth. These files can even be posted directly to a WhatsApp group. Such social learning environments could help learners to find the right content that suits their needs, connect with the right people with whom they feel comfortable to work, and motivate them to learn through the provision of engaging learning environments (Vassileva, 2008). Since learners can post links to relevant learning materials, social media contributes potentially to significant changes from teachers generating teaching materials to students creating materials themselves (Cochrane, Guinibert, Simeti, Brannigan & Kala, 2014). Thus, social media provides students with “…the opportunities and ‘power’ to create, collaborate and share ideas and information in an open fashion, all of which are important facets for nurturing student development” (Graham, 2014 p. 16). In other words, integrating social media in a course encourages students “to become creators and publishers – a very active way to learn” (Callens, 2014, p. 19).

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