The Use of WhatsApp as An Educational Communication Tool in Higher Education: Experiences of Nursing Students in Kavango East, Namibia

Vistolina Nuuyoma, Nkosenhle Jermaine Mhlope, Leonard Chihururu


WhatsApp is the most popular networking site used by most university students for general purposes, and as a communication, collaborative and transactional tool in the teaching and learning process. However, experiences of its use among university students as an educational communication tool in low and resource-constrained settings have not been explored. Following a qualitative, descriptive, phenomenology approach, this study described and explored nursing students’ experiences of the use of WhatsApp as an educational communication tool. Data were collected from 24 university nursing students who were conveniently sampled to participate in the focus group discussions; thereafter, data were analysed using qualitative content analysis. Whittemore, Chase and Mandle’s primary criteria of validity in qualitative research, which include credibility, authenticity, criticality and integrity, were used to ensure the quality of the study. Ethical approval and permission were granted by the School of Nursing Research Ethics Committee. Informed consent was obtained from participants, and their anonymity and confidentiality were ensured. The findings revealed that WhatsApp is a beneficial communication tool but has effects on human behaviour. Moreover, connectivity and handset-related challenges were experienced by the students. Following these findings, it is concluded that WhatsApp is a suitable communication tool in higher education and in maintaining communities of practice among students and lecturers. Conversely, there is a need to educate students on mechanisms to mitigate its negative effects on human behaviours, such as disturbances, addiction, and lack of responses. Lastly, universities should consider partnering with network providers to improve connectivity among students and lecturers, as well as accessibility to affordable smartphones.

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International Journal of Higher Education
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