THE USE OF A SOCIAL MEDIA APPLICATION WITHIN AN UNDERGRADUATE NURSING PROGRAMME

J. Willemse

University of The Western Cape (SOUTH AFRICA)
Purpose of the article:
To explore the usefulness of WhatsApp, a social media application, as a pedagogical tool to support students with the integration of their theory and clinical practice of the examination of the head and the neck within the Primary Health Care Module in an undergraduate nursing program at a Higher Education Institution in the Western Cape Province.

Design:
Qualitative, reflective data was collected from students on their experiences on the use of WhatsApp to enhance the integration their theory and clinical practice. Twenty eight (28) students submitted electronic reflections via email on their experiences on their participation in a WhatsApp even though only twenty one (21) students participated in the WhatsApp group on a Monday and Tuesday during term one (1) of 2014. Seven (7) students who were not part of the “group” also included their reflections on their experiences of not being part of the WhatsApp group.

Methods:
The reflections were qualitatively analysed using Tesch’s (1990) data analysis method and the reflections were coded for emerging themes.

Findings:
Themes identified included: great experience using the WhatsApp group, availability of information, usefulness of WhatsApp to integrate theory and clinical practice, availability of resources for test preparation, opportunity for clarification, anonymity, exclusion due to lack of appropriate device or application, feeling 'left out' and communication challenges experienced.

Conclusion:
Mobile technology and social media have changed the landscape within teaching and learning with the transformation in pedagogical interaction between students and educators. Innovative uses of social media applications are perceived as imperative in this transformational process as it provides a virtual space for collaborative practice, sharing of course related information and providing academic support to enhance teaching and learning.

Clinical Relevance:
The results of this intervention is to inform guidelines for the future use of social media applications to support students registered for the Primary Health Care Module within an undergraduate nursing program with the integration of their theory and clinical practice.