EFL STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF WHATSAPP AND ITS POTENTIAL BENEFITS IN ELT PRACTICUM
Technology has become an indispensable part of our daily life including the educational system. The current spread of the Internet and its enormous applications have provided various benefits, specifically, the use of web-based technologies in education. Since the introduction of m-learning into education, mobile phones, smartphones and tablets have become a great part of foreign language learning and teaching. Therefore, the widespread availability of smartphone technology seems to have a promising impact on education. In particular, WhatsApp, as a smartphone application, is considered one of the most popular communication platforms in the 21st century. Hence, the current study aimed at investigating the perceptions of WhatsApp among EFL Students, and its potential benefits in ELT practicum at al-Quds Open University in Palestine. The participants were 30 senior students who were enrolled in the English major (28 females and 2 males). These students were enrolled in EFL practicum during the academic year 2017-2018. To achieve the objectives of the study, a mixed research method was employed using multiple tools for data collection, including a questionnaire, a focus group and phone interviews via WhatsApp. Results revealed that the total degree of the students’ perceptions of WhatsApp was high. The participating students used WhatsApp application to send and receive different types of materials and activities for communicating with the supervisor, the total number of which was 752. In light of these results, a number of recommendations were provided including, encouraging faculty members to integrate social media into the teaching environments by providing them with training programs, workshops, and online training. Moreover, the need for providing faculty members with curricula plans and activities that require implementation of WhatsApp in the learning environments.
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