WhatsApp is an extremely popular, simple and versatile messaging app. It is already inside the lives of millions of people in South Asian countries, Latin America and parts of Europe.
As of March 2021 survey, WhatsApp has 2 billion active users worldwide. It is ranked as the most used mobile messenger apps in the world. Each day more than 100 billion messages are sent on WhatsApp. The average WhatsApp user on Android spends 38 minutes per day on the app, and India alone has the most WhatsApp monthly active users (390.1 million).
Mobile users worldwide are increasingly using this multi-platform mobile app to connect with family and friends and share information.
However, WhatsApp's usability took a big turn after the schools' unforeseen closure, and teachers suddenly realized they needed the means to communicate with their students immediately. For the most part, they turned to WhatsApp. Mainly because it was there, readily available, in the palms of students, teachers and parents.
How WhatsApp has helped in the learning and teaching process by far?
WhatsApp in education might be more noticeable nowadays, but it is a reality that has been there for a couple of years. Earlier teachers objected to using a mobile phone or any messaging platform, but now they see the benefits of WhatsApp in the educational process. Many experts recommend using WhatsApp; they also agree that many interesting institutional jobs can be performed with this messaging app. Also, WhatsApp has billions of users, so such scope cannot fail to reach the educational arena. It is all up to teachers and schools to take advantage of these opportunities to improve the educational process.
The use of WhatsApp in education has been very beneficial to enterprises in this area as well. It allows for more effective communication between students and their families. It makes organizational processes more agile, cost-effective and efficient. Management is also becoming more dynamic and less bureaucratic.
Several studies claim the use of WhatsApp messaging to facilitate knowledge sharing in education has increased. First, students' past habits and experiences using WhatsApp and the perceived ease of use shape their attitudes to this technology. As per a study, the findings clearly show that the attitudes of experimental students are positive and oriented to the learning process integrating WhatsApp learning activities. WhatsApp learning activities, which provide an easy-to-use interface coupled with a news feed feature, allow students to be quickly informed of updates within the community and respond promptly. In Preston and colleagues (2010) study, almost 70% of students stated that they could learn from online and in-person lectures. In this respect, the findings of this study support previous research projects that emphasize the importance of a user-friendly web platform (e.g., Cheung et al., 2008).
ConveGenius, an Indian EdTech social enterprise is one of those organisations to witness 10X growth in its user base across India. The accelerated growth trajectory can be attributed to the brand’s unique WhatsApp-based EdTech model which allows it to reach students from all walks of life by collaborating with state governments and sever allow-fee private schools across the country. Currently, ConveGenius has succeeded in achieving 5 Million active users in India using this model. This WhatsApp-based learning model works on WhatsApp BusinessAPI, it has encouraged active student involvement. Students completed more than 70 million weekly learning transactions using their AI-based ‘assessment and personalized learning platform' using 10 vernacular languages. The findings show a high rate of student engagement: 95% of students complete their weekly learning modules in all partner states. The ConveGenius WhatsApp model is performing excellent, even in the furthest reaches of India.
What help does WhatsApp provide as a learning & teaching tool in education?
WhatsApp stimulates collaborative work and helps achieve the exchange of content between the educators and the students and among other institution's workers. For example, sharing audio lessons, sending PPTs or documents such as Word, books, etc., directly to students or simply an in-class group to reach every student. Teachers can also share video content easily. Besides these, announcements related to the institutional works such as new courses available or updates on school opening or online class schedule, notices, and information from a specific teacher or class to a group, etc., everything can be done through WhatsApp.
This instant messaging platform facilitates online collaboration and cooperation between online students connected from school or home in a blended mobile lecture. Students can discuss with other classmates if they have any trouble understanding content without approaching the teacher in the first place. Also, students no longer have to go to the institution or wait for them to answer the phone; they can drop a message on WhatsApp to get the answer. For example, clearing a doubt within minutes, marking attendance, locating a teacher or administrative officer etc. This brings major advantages to the educational institution. Because it avoids the collapse of calls or the saturation of physical spaces where students come for administrative and educational purposes. Not only this, through WhatsApp, students share their self-created publications or other work in the group.
Many specialists recommend using chat groups to give virtual classes to students as it offers a more customized follow-up to the student's educational process, allows for easy contact with students. Also, the use of instant messaging is being developed in universities to increase enrollment and retain students. Not only this, the permanent presence of the educational institution through its mobile phone strengthens the relationship of students with the institution. With WhatsApp, the feeling of belonging to the institution is encouraged and reinforced. Needless to mention, we cannot deny that WhatsApp has served the purpose in the current pandemic, especially when teachers are having a hard time connecting with their students. They are mainly concerned with the first step of placing the tasks in the children's hands and receiving them as easily as possible. However, other EdTech platforms are available, but WhatsApp is already an integral part of life, so the use is simpler.
Other benefits of including WhatsApp in education:
- Free audio and video calls may be carried out. It can help establish communications with students, teachers and centers in remote areas such as rural areas, other countries and the surrounding community, perfect for online courses.
- Assists in sending reminders/notifications.
- Motivate students and workers to work using a tool they know and like.
- Automatic set messages for specific queries.
- Facilitating virtual meetings avoid locative physical availability and, therefore, training, meetings, etc., can be carried out.
- In addition, WhatsApp users can verify that the messages have been received correctly and read by the recipient when two blue markings appear next to the sent information.
In a nutshell, we may say the best thing to do to benefit from this tool is creating appropriate educational content, i.e., creating new learning materials through which students can fully leverage WhatsApp in their education and utilize the online teaching and learning screen time most constructively. Usage of WhatsApp in the education sector can be very effective and beneficial if used correctly.
How did you include WhatsApp into your teaching process? Do let us know in the comments.