WhatsApp has over 1 billion users across the globe, thus it is quite impossible for such a wide reach not to extend to the educational arena.
According to statistics, the most used social media platform in Nigeria as of 2020 is WhatsApp, placing it at 93% above others.
I feel this digital platform is highly underutilized and is capable of providing new impetus for digital education in the country. The message sharing social media app can be used by students to collaborate on class assignments and share ideas.
There are about 33 million active social media users in Nigeria online everyday and the majority is youths who are very much tech-savvy, self –expressive and open to new ways of doing things.
A majority of students when not in class spend a greater part of their time on social media platforms, either for entertainment or latest news updates. Using social media for academic purposes isn’t very common around here but I believe there is potential for our Nigerian universities to exploit here.
Three ways WhatsApp can be used as a Learning media include:
1. Rules making
2. Creating and using of chat groups
3. Managing large class size
Before effective learning and teaching can be progressive online, there must be a set of laid down rules and guidelines for students, so that they know what is expected of them from their lecturers. Clear instructions on how they should conduct themselves and engage in conversations are very necessary to avoid confusions and unnecessary lousy behaviors.
CREATING AND USING OF CHAT GROUPS
At first meet online, a WhatsApp group should be created and all students and lecturers involved added to the group as members. There has to be a common language which would be used for interaction, which every member of the group understands. A unique name should be created for the group as this tends to capture the interests of a lot of students and may likely boost discussions, assignments and various projects. This method also allows for easy contact with students. Students can also submit class exercises on these group chats.
MANAGING LARGE CLASS SIZE
Having to teach a large class is no easy job and there is usually difficulty in giving feedback to students in limited time. The use and application of WhatsApp as a learning media could make things a lot easier. During discussions, students can record voice messages and send to the group while the lecturer follows and then comments immediately afterwards. It also makes the learning environment more conducive for everyone.
The use of WhatsApp in our tertiary institutions can be very effective and beneficial if used correctly. Educational systems need to evolve constantly and rapidly to cope with the rapid advancements of digital technologies in our world today.