After attending the workshop “Digital Resources to Create Independent Learning Opportunities for ESOL Students” at First Literacy on February 3, Mary Ellen D’Angelo of Jackson Mann Community School chose the free app WhatsApp to try out with her adult students. WhatsApp uses the phone’s Internet connection for messaging and is more suitable than texting for group communication.
Here’s what she wrote:
Mary Ellen D’Angelo
With having set up this Whatsapp group, for me, there are more things to consider than just making sure eveyone is added to that chat. The main concern, not only for Whatsapp, but other messaging/social media apps is the idea of security and privacy. No one wants their information out there for everyone to see. If this is something you are concerned about too, in terms of privacy, take a look at a site such as Salesforce.
I set up a WhatsApp account with my distance learning students. About half chose to participate. All of my top students were in the half of the group who chose to participate. Many of those who chose to participate expressed thankfulness, happiness, and gratitude to be part of the group.
I now invite students to my conversation class through WhatsApp instead of email. It’s quicker for me. One of my students who had never responded to my emails inviting the students to conversation class asked a few questions on WhatsApp about the conversation class and decided to attend. He even used the app to find the classroom once he was inside the building. We have a rather large building and the Adult Basic Education classrooms are on the fourth floor. I believe it was the community presence that made him comfortable enough to try the conversation class. I was also happy that others in the group who had not tried the conversation class would see that he had tried it and maybe this would encourage them to come out one night and give it a try for themselves.
Another day, I shared the success of one of my students who started citizenship class. I asked through WhatsApp if anyone wanted information on the class. I had a student who asked me to send him the information. I had sent out the citizenship class information previously by email and had received no response from any of my students. Again, it feel as though it is the community presence that inspired this student to come forward and ask for the information.
Lastly, I feel as if I have gotten to know my students more closely in the few short weeks I have been using WhatsApp. When I correct their work, I feel as though I am talking to someone I know. It’s a slight change, more of a shift in perspective, but I truly enjoy correcting their work and communicating with them more than I did before.