WhatsApp use among African international distance education (IDE) students: transferring, translating and transforming educational experiences
journal contributionposted on 10.06.2019, 10:37 by Clare Madge, Markus R Breines, Mwazvita T B Dalu, Ashley Gunter, Jenna Mittelmeier, Paul Prinsloo, Parvati Raghuram
Much of the research on how social media is embedded into the educational practices of higher education students has a Western orientation. In concentrating on a case study of the varied ways in which African International Distance Education (IDE) students actively use social media to shape their learning experiences, we discuss an under-researched group. The paper draws on analysis of 1295 online questionnaires and 165 in-depth interviews with IDE students at UNISA, South Africa, one of the largest providers of IDE globally. WhatsApp emerges as ‘the’ key social media tool that opens up opportunities for IDE students to transfer, translate and transform their educational journey when studying ‘at a distance’. Although WhatsApp does provide a ‘space of opportunity’ for some students, this is framed through socio-technical marginalisation, itself a reflection of demographic legacies of inequality. Exploring social media practices though the case of African IDE students places these students centre stage and adds to the awareness of the multiple centres from which international education is practiced.