Effectiveness of WhatsApp as a Part of a Hybrid Learning Environment: An Opportunity for Post-COVID-19 Pandemic Pedagogy
Alla T Alsharif, Bashair Alsharif, Lina Alsharif, Nebras Althagafi, Zuhair S Natto, Saba Kassim
Citation Information :
Alsharif AT, Alsharif B, Alsharif L, Althagafi N, Natto ZS, Kassim S. Effectiveness of WhatsApp as a Part of a Hybrid Learning Environment: An Opportunity for Post-COVID-19 Pandemic Pedagogy. J Contemp Dent Pract 2020; 21 (12):1331-1336.
Aim and objective: This study sought to examine the effectiveness of hybrid learning utilizing WhatsApp as an adjunct to traditional learning in delivering knowledge to and supporting the learning of undergraduate dental students and investigate learner perceptions of WhatsApp use in educational contexts. Materials and methods: The 3-month prospective analytical interventional study sampled 85 undergraduate students from the Department of Preventive Dental Sciences. A WhatsApp group was created, information was sent to the male and female groups, and a written assignment was used as a performance benchmark of knowledge acquisition and application. Perceptions of e-learning through WhatsApp were assessed using a previously validated and published questionnaire. Collected data underwent descriptive and bivariate analyses (unpaired t-test). Results: The average assignment scores of the 85 hybrid learners were statistically significantly higher than those of traditional learners from the previous academic year (34 ± 1 vs 26 ± 3; p < 0.05, respectively). Meanwhile, 57 hybrid learners completed the survey, and 73% agreed/strongly agreed that introducing a new method of teaching via WhatsApp was useful, 70% reported that a professional and comfortable learning environment was created, and 70% felt that group distractions were handled appropriately. The top advantages of learning through WhatsApp were availability/immediacy (94.7%) and being simple to operate (91.2%). Males (40.4%) were significantly more likely to report a sense of belonging to the group than females (33.3%, p = 0.01). Respondents agreed that high expectations of teacher availability (71.9%) and some students making no effort (52.6%) were challenges. Message flooding (45.6%) and time-consuming nature of WhatsApp (36.8%) were identified as technical challenges. Conclusion: The findings showed significant improvements in student performance using the hybrid learning tool, as reflected in assignment scores. Positive perceptions of hybrid learning and improved academic performance indicate that WhatsApp is a convenient new teaching tool. Clinical significance: The results of this study may be applicable to other clinical dental disciplines.
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