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First published in Journal of Applied Instructional Design, v.10 n.3 (2021). DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.51869/103/tangpb

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Informal Learning, Learning supports, WhatsApp

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The Journal of Applied Instructional Design






When it comes to digital-based learning, the question of engagement and presence is often focused on online learning involving traditional computing devices such as desktop computers or laptops. However, in areas where mobile devices are the most widely used computing technology, engagement and interaction between teachers and students looks different. In many parts of the world, interactions between individuals takes place through mobile texting applications to bridge formal and informal learning spaces.

One of the most popular mobile tools is WhatsApp, a free cross-platform mobile application that allows users to make calls (voice) and send messages (text). The app averages one billion daily users globally with the largest share of 459 million users located in India (Ahmed, 2021). Similarly, in Namibia, 65 billion Instant Messages (IM) are sent daily with 98% of those sent through WhatsApp (CRAN, 2019). By comparison, Telecom Namibia, the country’s only national fixed-line operator, faces declining voice revenues, which is a global trend due to wider use of mobile phones and the use of Voice over IP (VoIP) applications such as Skype, WhatsApp, and Facetime (CRAN, 2019). In India, 46% of WhatsApp users are between 18-29 years (Silver et al., 2019). Therefore, it is not surprising that on university campuses, research shows (Hamad, 2017; Gachago, et al., 2015) this application has also become a tool of choice to facilitate interactions between teachers and students to connect formal and informal learning in higher education. Additionally, Namibian and Indian socio-cultural contexts are both community-centered contexts that value social, informal learning. In this paper, we explore the use of WhatsApp to bridge formal and informal learning spaces at the university level in India and Namibia, particularly at a where the COVID-19 pandemic is making it difficult for face to face learning to take place.


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

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UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa


©2021 Tutaleni I. Asino, Nandita Gurjar, and Perien Boer.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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