THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AS A KNOWLEDGE SHARING PLATFORM DURING COVID-19 AMONG STUDENTS IN A RURAL UNIVERSITY: A COMPARISON OF EMAIL AND WHATSAPP
Walter Sisulu University (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 13th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 9-10 November, 2020
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:The use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and many others has been shown in recent years to be effective tools for resource and information sharing amongst the public, different organisations, businesses as well as education systems. Social media provides a good platform for people of the same interest to interact, network and share knowledge as well as information using messaging, voice, images, videos and many more. At the present moment, most students in higher education prefer to use WhatsApp for communication, sharing of content and information because of its instant messaging service, fast transmission times and cost-effective nature. The main aim of this paper was to determine how students view WhatsApp, as a knowledge sharing platform compared to the use of email as well as to measure the potential of deploying social media such as WhatsApp in education as a means to augment traditional information sharing practises. An online questionnaire was developed during the testing phase and sent to a sample size of 60 student participants from a rural university in South Africa. The study made use of the Technology acceptance model (TAM) construct to analyse the sample and compare the perceptions of each platform. The paper concludes that social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and similar platforms are all useful and favoured communication and knowledge sharing tools by students. The findings also suggest that they are especially useful during periods of disruptions to the academic enterprise, and more especially during the changed landscape that we have inherited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Social media platforms are favoured and are popularly used by university students who are a social media technocrats and lecturers can leverage this to win the attention and peak the interests of students. The findings show that WhatsApp is still the most dominant platform amongst students and even though they indicated an interest in using email, the actual use (AU) of the platform remains low. Furthermore, the perceived usefulness (PU) of email show a very low absorption and interaction rate when compared to WhatsApp. The paper therefore recommends that lecturers should not discard the traditional methods of information sharing but that they should augment them with social media platforms like WhatsApp to reach and engage their target audience,
Keywords: Social Media, WhatsApp, Email, TAM, Rural university.