Exploring Students’ Use of the Social Networking Site WhatsApp to foster connectedness in the online learning experience

Suzanne Stone, Anna Logan


In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to the use of social networking tools in higher education teaching and learning.  Drawing on data from a larger study focusing on student engagement in the online virtual classroom, this paper is based on research conducted with three separate cohorts of students from the Masters in Special Educational Needs (MSEN) at St. Patrick’s College now the Institute of Education, Dublin City University (DCU).  Emerging from the first two phases of the research was the use of the WhatsApp social media tool by students as an informal learning space and a means of building connectedness. We explored this finding in more detail in phase three by inviting respondents to comment specifically on their use of social media throughout the programme. It emerged that the use of WhatsApp was widespread, offering students an opportunity to forge a sense of connection and the basis for developing a learning community.   This paper will present findings around the use of WhatsApp with reference to literature in three areas connected to the online learning experience: Online learning as a second class learning experience, fostering connectedness within online learning contexts and social media and learning.


Whatsapp; student learning; online learning; social media

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22554/ijtel.v3i1.28


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Copyright (c) 2018 Suzanne Stone, Anna Logan

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