What’s up! WhatsApp: An Additional Teaching-Learning Tool in Physiotherapy Education

Isha S. Akulwar


Introduction: More recently, there is growing use of WhatsApp as a communication platform for teachers and their students. It seems that WhatsApp has advantages over other technological tools employed by the educational system. However, in the context of medical education this concept is still nascent. Hence, the purpose of this retrospective analysis is to explore the effects of WhatsApp use for Physiotherapy education as an adjunct to traditional teaching and to determine the opinions of the students towards this process.

Methods: A facilitator created a group for the students, separate for every class. A total of 250 students from I year to IV year Physiotherapy undergraduate program participated voluntarily. Activities undertaken were discussion on academic topics, feedback on exam performance, guidance on seminar presentation, etc., and students’ doubts were answered with more elaborate explanation on the topic. Retrospective analysis of the students’ feedback obtained at the end of the program and content analysis was done from the themes identified.


Success of the program:

• Professional, as well as comfortable learning environment, is created on WhatsApp

• Low cost, simplicity, accessibility, efficiency & natural language

• Fosters high interactions with the facilitator and knowledge sharing between students as well

• Learning material—easy accessibility, variety of resources increases the flexibility, quick sharing of related links

• Use of different emotional gestures add humor and fun to TL

• Promotes proactive learning and critical thinking

• Learning independently at anytime and anywhere (no geographical boundaries)

• Students are more open to ask questions as it provides privacy and confidentiality

• One student’s doubt solving benefits the entire group

• Especially helpful during exam preparation for immediate feedback & quick problem solving, discussion of important topics, etc.

• Effective method for doubt solving, explanation with voice notes, video calls is possible

Problems encountered:

• Conceptual learning could be challenging

• Technical challenges: need for a smartphone & internet facility; message flooding, eye strain, time consuming if large amount of context has to be discussed

• High expectations on teacher’s availability

• Students attention and understanding cannot be assured

• Effectiveness depends upon teacher’s skills of use of related software applications

• Distractions from other messages received simultaneously

• Sometimes when the internet speed is slow, disruptions in the flow when many people are participating in the discussion

Conclusion: WhatsApp enables learning beyond classroom borders and can potentially enhance learning process in Physiotherapy education.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/csm.v2n4p136


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