Text Messaging to Improve Instructor Immediacy and its Role in Multiplatform E-Learning Systems

Text Messaging to Improve Instructor Immediacy and its Role in Multiplatform E-Learning Systems

Paul Hayes (National College of Ireland, Ireland) and Stephan Weibelzahl (National College of Ireland, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-703-4.ch004


Text messaging has been exploited for supporting learning in a variety of educational settings. However, evidence for its effectiveness and impact is limited. This chapter demonstrates how the use of text messaging can contribute towards enhanced quality of learning. In particular the chapter focuses on the use of text messaging as a means of improving immediacy between instructors and students in third-level education. Immediacy is defined as behaviour which increases psychological closeness between communicators. The results of research in instructional communication suggest that improved immediacy leads to more positive student-instructor relationships engendering positive attitudes, increased interest and motivation by students as well as improved attendance, improved retention, improved student engagement and improved learning. This chapter outlines a theoretical basis for the effect of text messaging on instructor-student relationships, provides empirical evidence for the impact of text messaging on immediacy and discusses the integration of text messaging for improving immediacy in Multiplatform E-Learning Systems.
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Background And Motivation

Text messaging has been exploited for supporting learning in a variety of ways and in different educational settings. New communication technologies such as mobile text messaging, known as SMS in many countries, provides a means of facilitating frequent and meaningful interaction amongst students and instructors. This interaction engenders feelings in students of being valued, leading to better attendance, student retention and deeper and more meaningful engagement in learning. Text messaging in particular is suitable for supporting out-of-class (OOC) communication between students and instructors since it has the property of being asynchronous, as with email, whereby both parties do not have to be using their devices at the same time in order to send or receive messages. It also has the important advantage of being ubiquitous as there are very few students and instructors these days who do not own at least one mobile device capable of sending and receiving text messages.

There have been numerous examples recently of where text messaging has been used to support education. An interesting research study by Griffith University in Australia relates the experience of a female instructor using OOC text messaging as a means of staying in touch with her students and how it can be used as a way of providing connection and community for first year students (Horstmanshof, 2004). Another study by Kingston University in the UK used OOC text messaging to provide a form of ‘mobile scaffolding’ at a fundamental level to support the needs of first-year students, and guide students towards independent self-management (Stone, 2004). SMS text messaging may also be used to encourage interactivity in the classroom. This results in a more active learning environment, facilitating the building of learning communities. It provides greater feedback for lecturers, and aids student motivation (Markett, Weber, Sanchez, & Tangney, 2006).

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