Adopting WhatsApp to Reduce Transactional Distance During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Authors

  • Nyarai Tunjera Cape Penisula University of Technology, South Africa

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.34190/ejel.21.2.2752

Keywords:

COVID-19, Remote learning, Social media meditated learning, Transactional distance, WhatsApp

Abstract

Mobile devices have penetrated all levels of society worldwide, including what are predominantly considered inaccessible, low-income communities in developing nations. Mobile devices are frequently used for economic, political, and social interactions and even business transactions. In a similar fashion, teachers are slowly adapting to the use of mobile devices as a pedagogical tool in education. The aim of this study was to ascertain how a WhatsApp group, a messaging facility, could be used to enhance group interaction among pre-service teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moore’s Transactional Distance theory and Salmon’s five-stage model guided this qualitative study. Twelve pre-service teachers, out of a class of thirty-five, were purposely selected to work on a group task using the WhatsApp application during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also participated in a focus group interview. WhatsApp artifacts and focus group interview transcripts were analyzed deductively; the results showed that the WhatsApp intervention helped improve pre-service teachers’ engagement and the sharing of content to successfully undertake the group activity virtually. WhatsApp’s social nature has proven to be an enabler for keeping people connected despite physical distance: reducing cognitive loneliness resulting from social isolation. It is recommended that teacher educators, academics, and researchers, as well as students working remotely take advantage of the usability of WhatsApp for learning and research purposes.

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Published

17 May 2023

Issue

Section

Articles