Mobile phone messaging to increase communication and collaboration within the university community

Date07 October 2019
Publication Date07 October 2019
AuthorTashfeen Ahmad
SubjectLibrary & information science
Mobile phone messaging to increase
communication and collaboration within the
university community
Tashfeen Ahmad
Today, with 8.5 billion mobile
connections worldwide and unique
mobile subscriptions of over 5 billion
(GSMA Intelligence, 2018), mobile
devices have become the primar y way to
engage with the world. University
students extensively use mobile phones
to access information (Schachter, 2009)
and remain in touch with parents and
friends (Chen and Katz, 2009). Mobile
phones can be usedas a tool for learning,
sharing and retrieving information, and
assisting with increasing interaction,
collaboration and engagement (Bull and
McCormick, 2012).Given their ubiquity
(Thomas et al., 2013) and generational
changes (O’Bannon and Thomas, 2014),
there has been a growing shift in
university’s attitude towards integrating
mobile devices as communication tools
(Grinols andRajesh, 2014).
However, this shift to mobile has been
slow in Jamaica and has been suggested
by the majority of students (66.84 per
cent of the 145 participants in this study)
who never turn off their mobile phones
during the week, check their phones at
least 100 times for voice/text messaging
per day and carry their phones
everywhere, including classrooms. In our
findings we found that the best way to
engage students through their cell phones
for The University of the West Indies,
Mona Campus, Jamaica. Other
universities around the world can also
benefit from this study and reflect how
they can use mobile phones to
communicate and collaborate with their
The use of mobile instant messaging
tools in higher education has been gaining
importance and we are now witnessing
greater use of web based communication
tools such as IM, MIM and WhatsApp
incorporated into university lectures as
support tools to increase student
interaction and collaboration.
Much of the literature on this subject
focus the use of mobile messaging
tools in education within three main
categoriesassummarizedinTable I.The
use of SMS text messaging, IM, MIM
and other Web-based communication
tools are analyzed to the extent to which
they can be used foreducational support;
secondly, how they can increase
classroom interaction and collaboration;
and thirdly, how to effectively leverage
its use as a general communication and
administrative tool within the wider
university community. Table I tabulates
significantresearch related to this study.
The study
The study demonstrates the extent
students are engaged with their mobile
phones by focusing on the top universities
in the world to see how they are using
mobile phones for learning and to
communicate with their students. UWI
students participated in this research by
filling out survey forms. They were
chosen from varying disciplines and 145
undergraduate surveys were complete.
The respondents comprised of 56 being
first year, 42 second year and 47 third
year students. The respondents ranged in
ages 19-22 with a mean of 20.5 year: The
UWI student were asked two questions:
1. How often do you check your
mobile phone for text/voice
messages per day?
2. When do you turn off your mobile
Overall, we found that 67 per cent of the
surveyed students never turned off their
mobile phones.
In our survey of 145 students
(comprising of 80 females and 65
males) enrolled in a regular 3-year
undergraduate degree program, we
found that more than 60 students
reported that they checked their phones
in excess of estimated 100 times per day
for text/voice messages.
In Table II, we looked at some of the top
universities in the world to see how they are
using mobile phones to communicate with
their students. This review drawn from a
sample of top 50 universities worldwide
(using The Times Higher Education World
University Rankings 2019) suggest that
HEIs are using SMS, text messaging, IM,
MIM and other mobile communication
tools in novel ways to increase
collaboration, communication, interactivity
with the broad university community and to
enhance the learning process.
Final remarks
Continued research studies at top ranked
HEIs worldwide indicate that mobile
messaging and communication tools can
significantly support student learning,
process, enhance interactivity and
collaboration and provide relevant support
services to the wider university community.
We have already established from previous
research that Caribbean students enjoy
using their smartphones as a learning tool
during class discussions (Ahmad, 2018).
The learning process will continue to be
dynamic as lecturers seek to find new ways
to incorporate newer mobile technologies
into classrooms. As the future of higher
education evolves, it is imperative that
educators incorporate these and emerging
technologies to improve student
engagement and learning (Ahmad, 2015).
Mobile messaging and communication
tools can provide an excellent means of
facilitating higher levels of engagement,
communication and cooperation at The
University of the West Indies. The use of
group messaging services, SMS text
LIBRARY HITECH NEWS Number 8 2019, pp. 7-11, V
CEmerald Publishing Limited, 0741-9058, DOI 10.1108/LHTN-08-2019-0054 7

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