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 International Journal of Education and Development using ICT > Vol. 15, No. 2 (2019) open journal systems 

Using WhatsApp in Teaching to Develop Higher Order Thinking Skills-a Literature Review Using the Activity Theory Lens

Rehema Baguma, Makerere University
Proscovia Namubiru, Uganda Management Institute
Emily Bagarukayo, Makerere University
Cheryl Brown, University of Canterbury,Newzealand
Tabisa Mayisela, University of Cape Town

Most universities in Uganda encourage memorisation as the predominant method of learning. This has been partly linked to limited practical pedagogical skills among educators to effectively engage students to develop Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS). Consequently, students do not get well prepared for the world after university. To facilitate development of HOTS, educators need to design learning tasks that influence students to pursue inquiries from different perspectives, assess the sources of information, reflect on their findings, exchange ideas and adopt personal positions based on rational thinking. ICT-mediated learning has been found to support such approaches to learning. In particular, WhatsApp, a cross-platform smartphone instant messaging application provides students with opportunities for online cooperation and collaboration as well as communication and knowledge sharing. Although many universities in Uganda have been implementing technology enabled learning since 2003 mainly using Learning Management Systems (LMS), there is little evidence that technology has enhanced learning. While the Ugandan society is catching on fast with use of social media particularly WhatsApp due to increased access to mobile technology devices and Internet connectivity, use of social media in education is still limited. This paper examines how WhatsApp enabled learning can facilitate development of HOTS. This is achieved through analysing existing literature in general and using the Activity Theory framework. In addition to the general analysis of related literature, activity theory provided a more systematic and practical way to assess the appropriateness of WhatsApp enabled learning to the development of HOTS. The results show that WhatsApp has a great potential to support the development of HOTS due to its various features and functions at the technological, individual and community level of the learning system but non consideration of methods for executing the activity using the tool is a limitation of the activity theory framework.

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International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology. ISSN: 1814-0556