It is a little hard to believe, but WhatsApp can be used as a learning tool. Some of the popular messaging app’s attributes make it an ideal solution for teachers and students.
The underlying purpose of WhatsApp is to facilitate communication, and at its most basic level, education is nothing but communication. WhatsApp can provide a channel through which teachers can achieve faster and more seamless communication with their students. It can also increase the level of communication between students and create another venue for learning.
Obviously, a messaging app is not a teaching tool on its own. Instead, WhatsApp is best viewed as a facilitator of communication and a means of dispersing educational resources and information to students.
Therefore WhatsApp should be regarded as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Fortunately, there are a few strategies that educators can use to leverage WhatsApp to enhance the education experience.
Education Strategies for WhatsApp
Here are some basic strategies that educators can utilize to take advantage of the core abilities of WhatsApp:
1) Use the Group Chats feature to create learning and study groups and virtual classes for students. For example, students that are home sick or unable to get to class can use this feature to connect with the classroom. Those that need help with homework can also use it to find answers for questions. An astute teacher can also use the Group Chat as a forum to facilitate discussion outside the classroom.
2) Create audio lessons that can be sent directly to students. This can be an original lesson or simply a recording of a lecture that can be sent to every student in the class over WhatsApp. This can facilitate learning because the students can listen to the lecture over and over again and hear lectures that they missed.
3) Stay in contact with students outside the classroom and remind students of upcoming assignments or reach out to those that miss class.
4) Send out problems or assignments to students even when they are not in class. For example, a math teacher could send out a problem to solve every day, even during vacation.
5) Stay in contact with parents. A teacher can use WhatsApp to quickly contact parents when a student is not in class or not turning in homework to see what is wrong.
6) Send videos to students. A teacher can create video lessons or lectures using solutions such as YouTube that students can share via WhatsApp. The students can learn more by watching the video over and over again to make sure they get the lesson.
An interesting variation on this strategy is to create video problems for the students to solve or work on away from the classroom. This can help get students more interested in homework by creating a visual involvement.
7) Send graphics such as pictures or charts directly to students even when they are not in the classroom. This could include assignments and learning materials.
8) Send report cards directly to the parents’ phones so they can be apprised of the students’ performance at all times.
9) Facilitate real-time communication between students and teachers.
10) Facilitate real-time communication between teachers and parents.
11) Teachers can also maintain communication with students even on laptops, tablets, or desktops simply by utilizing WhatsApp Web. WhatsApp Web is a solution that enables the application to be used on any computer with an internet connection.
Some Reasons Why Educators Should Use WhatsApp in the Classroom and Beyond
WhatsApp has a number of advantages that all educators need to be aware of:
– It allows free unlimited messaging from any phone that has a data plan or direct internet connection.
– It can be used directly over the Internet via WhatsApp Web.
– WhatsApp can be used on Wi-Fi without a data plan.
- Unlike some messaging solutions, WhatsApp can be used to send videos, audio messages, and pictures.
– WhatsApp is a cross platform solution. It can be used on a wide variety of phones, including Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry 10, Nokia S40, iPhone, Blackberry, and Nokia S60 devices. That means it can be used by persons with the most commonly available phones.
– WhatsApp can be used to reach students via the technology they are most familiar with: their phones. Not every student has access to a computer, but almost everybody has a smartphone these days. This makes WhatsApp an ideal solution for educators working with lower-income students.
– WhatsApp can be used to reach students and parents that do not utilize other communication methods, such as landline telephones and email, because most of those people have phones. That makes the solution a good means of reaching working-class parents.
– WhatsApp is very cost effective. It only costs a dollar a year, and no additional equipment is necessary. People connect to it using devices they already have, such as their phones and their tablets.
– Since WhatsApp is an app, it is a solution that students are already familiar with. Most students already know how to download an app and install it on their devices.
– WhatsApp is a medium that students are familiar with: a messaging app. Most young people already message and text all the time, so teachers will be connecting with them through something that they use every day.
- Students do not have to be taught new skills in order to utilize WhatsApp because they are already familiar with both smartphones and messaging. This means the teacher does not have to teach a new technology or skill in order to be able to reach out to the class.
- WhatsApp can serve as a gateway app to familiarize students with the idea of apps and help introduce them to other education solutions and apps.
Today’s educators have to learn how to insert themselves into a student’s life. A messaging solution such as WhatsApp is a perfect means of doing that because it utilizes a medium and a technology that students use every day. By using WhatsApp, a teacher can integrate the classroom and the real world and make education part of the students’ lives.
All educators need to utilize WhatsApp in and out of the classroom is a little creativity and imagination. When used properly, WhatsApp can bring social media into the classroom and the classroom into social media.