With about two billion users across the globe, WhatsApp tops the list of the most popular messengers in the world. But not everyone who uses it gets the most out of the app. Sure, WhatsApp is great for keeping in touch with one’s loved ones no matter how far away they are. But it’s also quite helpful for the learning process. Here are just a few ways students can use WhatsApp for studying-related communication.
Never underestimate the role of peer support in studying. Students go to their classmates to rant about complicated writing assignments, demanding professors, disappointing grades, and other troubles of student life. Even a research paper writer needs encouragement and positive feedback, let alone struggling first-year students. Peer support is what keeps many of them going.
WhatsApp is a great place to communicate with one’s classmates. The messenger allows texting in a variety of formats. You can easily send an audio message (for example, if something is too long and convoluted to explain in writing). Even a video message is an option. It’s a convenient feature for students who major in something heavy on visuals, like fine art or architecture.
But even regular texting can be a source of reinforcement for students, especially those who struggle with self-motivation. If you’ve been procrastinating on an important essay for a week and it’s the night before the due date, consider texting your classmates for encouragement. Chances are, half of them are in the same position. So you can motivate one another to finally complete the assignment (while texting during your study breaks).
WhatsApp is also awesome for keeping in touch with one’s professor or TA. Not all instructors encourage students to text them, particularly outside office hours. If yours doesn’t and hasn’t shared their number, please don’t try to get it through the dean’s office or otherwise. No one appreciates having their boundaries violated.
But if you’re a lucky student of a communicative and encouraging professor (or have such a TA), don’t miss out on the opportunity to use WhatsApp as a way to ask them anything. It’s a great way to request clarifications on a complicated assignment or reading recommendations.
Still, no matter how friendly your instructor is, stay professional. If your question is about the instructions, text your classmates first. This way, if most of you have the same concerns, one person from the class can text the professor and then send the clarifications to the rest (instead of a dozen people texting them with the same question). Also, try not to text the faculty early in the morning, late at night, and on weekends.
Groups are yet another convenient WhatsApp feature. There’s nothing special about it; nowadays, almost every message allows group chats. But this doesn’t make WhatsApp groups any less helpful. Here are a few ways students can use them for learning.
- Class groups. As you’ve probably realized by now, class groups are a major study tool. They are perfect for discussing assignments, sending each other lecture notes, gossiping about professors, and whatnot.
- Teamwork groups. Regardless of their major, most students have to participate in group assignments pretty regularly. A professor typically divides the class into small groups of three to five people who are assigned one group project. Communicating in a WhatsApp group chat can do wonders for your teamwork.
- Study groups. Also, a few students often decide to create their own study group to exchange interesting readings, get ready for exams, or keep each other in check.
- Useful university information groups. Most universities also have tons of helpful groups with different information, such as available scholarships or on-campus volunteering opportunities. Visit your student center to find out about the ones available to you.
Sure, few professors welcome students submitting their papers using messengers. Most universities use Turnitin to check student papers for plagiarism automatically. Those who don’t typically require students to send their homework to professors via email.
But this doesn’t mean that informal document sharing isn’t a thing. First, the most diligent and helpful TAs allow students to send them drafts for review (ahead of the final submission). Also, document sharing with your classmates is central to effective peer-to-peer learning. You can use this feature for anything, from class notes to course readings to interesting outside research you’d like to share.
Learn the difference between a WhatsApp group and a broadcast, though. When one uses groups, everyone in this group can see the documents shared. In contrast, WhatsApp broadcast allows texting people on a broadcast list separately. They won’t know who else is on the list. WhatsApp broadcast lists can include up to 256 people.
Fewer people are using their desktop computers and even laptops by the day. As smartphones are getting increasingly more advanced, the need for other devices is slowly disappearing. But this isn’t the case for students. Trying to write a ten-page paper on one’s smartphone is very frustrating. So most students do use their laptops regularly.
But few people think of WhatsApp as an alternative to Zoom, which is unfortunate. The desktop version of WhatsApp is convenient, especially for video calls. Unlike the case with a smartphone, you don’t have to hold your laptop. So you can do stuff (say, cooking) while on a video call with a friend. Sure, Zoom can do the same, but it’s always nice to have options.
Some students are using WhatsApp Desktop to have remote study sessions with their classmates. It’s a good way to stay motivated and avoid getting distracted. After all, most of us tend to work better when there’s someone to keep us in check.
Studying may not be the first thing that comes to mind when WhatsApp is mentioned. But the app is actually very helpful for students. It makes peer support easier, which is especially relevant for students who lack self-motivation. Also, such features as group chats, broadcast, document sharing, and WhatsApp Desktop can help students make both formal and informal communication more effective.