WhatsApp support in collaborative learning: a case of health workers at the infectious diseases institute
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Social media especially WhatsApp has pervaded our lives as a new medium of communication and interaction. This trend has inevitably found its way in the education space as well. The existing social media presents a rich environment through which learners can adopt and foster learning. Naturally, even collaborative learning processes, such as team creation, communication between team members, active learning are conducted via WhatsApp groups. The Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) a training institution for health workers was also not been left behind but quickly embraced the technological advancements. IDI in its delivery of online courses faced consistent decrease in completion rates. Top among solutions suggested from evaluations was the need for integration of collaboration tools, social media especially WhatsApp in learning. Unfortunately, its uptake and utilization weren’t as good as expected. The purpose of this study therefore was to explore how health workers at the Infectious Diseases Institute utilized WhatsApp for collaborative learning, challenges they faced, solutions and consequently developed guidelines for WhatsApp use for collaborative learning. A mixed method design was used which involved qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods. The design-based research was conducted among health workers enrolled in the Identifying and Managing Gender Violence Online Course at the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI). The study population included course participants and tutors, whose total number was 135. The findings of the study indicated that there is a positive significant relationship between the use of WhatsApp for collaborative learning as it increased motivation to learn, class participation, active learning, team working skills and communication among others. The study also identified some challenges that centred around destructions and misuse of the app. The study further recommended that in order to maximise benefits from WhatsApp utilization for collaborative learning, there is need for guidance, comprehensive orientation and supervision of students about the use of WhatsApp in a learning context to curb the numerous challenges that come with using such a popular social networking app in an academic context. Lastly, the researcher designed problem-based principles to guide the use of WhatsApp in collaborative learning.