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Higher Education

Study Suggests WhatsApp and Google Drive Encourage Active Learning Among Students

By Marina Dunbar
September 20, 2020

A recent study published by Frontiers in Education suggests that certain modern communicative applications, namely WhatsApp and Google Drive, can be just as effective a mode of communication between students and their instructors as face-to-face meetings. The study was conducted using a sample of 123 Spanish pre-service students, all of whom are studying to obtain their Educational Master’s Degree from the University of Granada, Spain.

WhatsApp, Google Drive, and Other Digital Platforms as Modes of Communication in Academia

These students were selected through a process of intentional sampling. Out of the sample of 123 students, 34 were men and 89 were women with a mean age of 26 years old. Students were split into two different study groups, a Control group that primarily communicates via in person contact and email, and an Experimental group that uses WhatsApp and Google Drive as the primary modes of communication. Data on these students was collected through a questionnaire.

This study aimed to test the effectiveness of new technological devices as modes of communication in the realm of academia, specifically communication between students and instructors. With the increasing popularity of media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, as well as WhatsApp and various Google platforms, the study acknowledges the exponential relevance of these media as becoming fundamental to our society at large. Much of contemporary research and scientific literature proposes taking advantage of these platforms as tools to further the development of education.

A mobile phone displays Google Drive apps.
Elle Cartier, Unsplash.

Researchers chose to focus this study on WhatsApp and Google Drive primarily because of their prominent use in the field of teaching. This inspired researchers to further investigate the integration of these tools into the teaching-learning process. WhatsApp in particular appears to motivate and encourage more active participation for students communicating with teachers, due in part to its multiplicity of engaging elements (visual, auditory, and interactive) as well as the simplicity of its design. Google Drive is equally easy to use and includes a variety of functions applicable to academia. Most significantly, it provides a simple way to share documents and store them in the cloud. For these reasons, Google Drive has become an essential tool for most academic settings.

The Teaching-Learning Process in the Digital Age

The rising prominence of these platforms seems to be a symptom of the evolution of the teaching-learning process. As the study describes, the ideology and methodology of teaching has progressed into encouraging more active participation on the part of the student, resulting in something more akin to a collaboration than a supervision. This modern methodology has been demonstrated to increase student motivation, which in turn improves critical thinking skills.

The results of this study indicate that these applications are indeed effective modes of communication in academia. They appear to encourage a more social and participatory learning experience. “Particularly, these educational tools also allow a supported learning as well as an individualized way of teaching, which clearly makes it more attractive to the learner. From the research side, the theories underlying this study show the advantages of applying these educational applications in Higher Education… While planning is a key aspect before introducing these tools, they are a good follow-up method for hands-on activities. The advantages they bring with this group of students are numerous and facilitate the development of learning in the new framework of Higher Education in which digital competence has become an essential skill.”

Featured Image: MORAN, Unsplash.

One Comment

  1. Duh!! The next to the last paragraph acknowledges that the exams for the two courses were different, which confounds the variables and makes the whole “study” on valid.
    Also, we have had tons of similar studies on F2F vs. Online where the online course is just like the F2F course replacing the live lectures with video lectures and showing similar results as this study (without the effect of confounding the exams variables). That is not online learning!! The problem is that courses based on just video lectures are boring!!
    You need to compare well-designed online courses with a variety of teaching, learning, practicing experiences and assessments and a well-designed F2F large introductory engineering course. (Because of the large component and scalability problems, large F2F courses end up being lecture based.) Use the same exams and then you will have a study to publish!

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