The adoption of WhatsApp instant messaging among undergraduate student in Nigeria

The adoption of WhatsApp instant messaging among undergraduate student . A Study of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka  


In recent years, methods of teaching and learning at universities and higher education institutions have developed gradually from the traditional face-to-face classroom to an online learning environment that defies the need for synchronous time and geographical distance. Education has developed with the use of social networking technology. Students increasingly use technological advances to enhance their learning, for the purpose of grasping excellent academic performance (Dror, 2008).

WhatsApp instant messenger has quickly become ubiquitous and popular among college and university students. The rapid adoption of WhatsApp among tertiary students signals that social media technologies are undergoing a paradigm shift.  Colleges and universities have explored the potential of WhatsApp for developing a strong presence on social media among students. WhatsApp has been used as a platform for higher education institutions to promote their upcoming events and inform students with campus news (Smith, 2015).

The widespread use of WhatsApp by students in tertiary education has gained attention from the researcher. There is a need to explore how social media applications currently are being used in higher education by focusing on the aspect of students. In order to investigate the largely educational benefits of WhatsApp in distance education, the current research will also emphasize on the attitudes of students towards WhatsApp mobile learning (Brady, Holcomb & Smith, 2010).

Background of the study

As institutions of higher education integrate technology into classroom curriculum to improve the efficiency of academic standard, university students have

generally been quick to adopt new instructional technology tools in their learning to construct knowledge (Prensky, 2001). They use various educational mobile learning technologies, computer gadgets, electronic devices and ICT tools to support their campus learning (Wylie, 2015). The transmission of text-based messages and general information through use of mobile social applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other application devices are more and more frequent at universities and all tertiary education institutions (Amry, 2014).

From a list of social networking applications, WhatsApp has raised as the most popular messenger application among the college university students (Jadhav, Bhutkar, & Mehta, 2013). It is used by a majority of people, especially youths and adult learners, for the purposes of communication and stay connected (Castells, 2007). Many students are willing to use texts and instant messages as communication tools for academic purposes as they are ideal for educational learning environments (Lauricella & Kay, 2013). Therefore, WhatsApp has become the “communication portal” for social networking, which has rapidly changed the way people communicate (Susilo, 2014).

Higher education students have conducted online discussion activities using WhatsApp within peer groups and online instructors for information sharing (Susilo, 2014). Meaningful student participation in academic is encouraged as WhatsApp helps in fostering knowledge sharing, enhancing peer support on educational affairs and nurturing knowledge communities. Students imagine WhatsApp as a lever for crossing over access to cooperatively-created resources, heightening on assignment conduct and promoting important context-free learning (Rambe & Chipunza, 2013).

Problem Statement

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plays a significant role in education. The nature of learning is frequently identified with the utilization of ICT instruments in learning. The integration of WhatsApp in teaching can greatly enhance the quality of learning (Davies, 1997). It is believed that WhatsApp is able to enhance the learners’ critical thinking skills, information handling skills and problem solving

capacity (Bransford, 1994). Therefore, technology utilization in the tertiary classrooms aids students to perform better in the learning process (Snelbecker, 1999).

In spite of the fact that WhatsApp provides different advantages to learning in schools, it is rather important for us to explore the level of acceptance on WhatsApp as a tool to communicate and collaborate among university students (Raman, Sani & Kaur, 2014). We need to inspect the knowledge and ICT competencies possessed by these students. It appears that students from the rural areas of Nigeria have lower level of acceptance towards WhatsApp mobile learning. They are reluctant to use WhatsApp in the classroom (Maloney, 2007). There is a big question if these students are proficient enough to utilize the ICT applications. To address this gap, the readiness and patterns of student learning outside the classroom should be identified. Integrating WhatsApp in learning may enhance their performance in basic subjects (Raman, Sani & Kaur, 2014).

In Nigeria, WhatsApp is being used widely by the school-aged pupils for communication. However, its potential in the academic purposes is still very much debated. There have been research studies which have demonstrated the negative impacts of WhatsApp on student educational performance. WhatsApp has been utilized for recreational activities with less commitment on student achievement and literacy abilities (Raman, Sani & Kaur, 2014). Students’ general attitudes towards WhatsApp affect their acceptance of the usefulness of the particular technology and its integration into learning (Baylor & Ritchie, 2002). Students’ positive attitudes towards WhatsApp have direct effect on its frequency of usage (Albirini, 2006).

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