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Experimenting with WhatsApp in the Classroom with Professor Syed Ali Hussain

Photo Professor Hussain Presenting at a podium

Professor Syed Ali Hussain is an assistant professor of digital audience engagement at Arizona State University where he teaches “Social Media Campaigns and Engagement” and “Digital Audience Research.”  

About his work, Professor Hussain writes: “My teaching and research is about social influence and persuasion. I particularly like to study the role of nostalgic emotions to improve prosocial behaviors. My research is published in peer-reviewed media and communication journals.”

“Students nowadays are spending more time on mobile phones. They like to receive quick notifications and also quickly respond to them. Thus, I created a WhatsApp group to keep students updated about upcoming deadlines and course announcements. I informed students that the WhatsApp group is not an alternative to the official announcements I share on Canvas. In the first week, I asked students if they would like to join a WhatsApp group. Roughly 1/3rd of the class showed interest and joined. However, over time more students joined the group. Although I limited myself to only sharing announcements, I noticed that students liked to share latest news and trends from the social media industry. They also enjoyed the discussion that followed. In the course evaluation, I noticed many students appreciated that they could receive notifications through WhatsApp group. However, few students mentioned that sometimes notifications were a little too much but they had to browse through it because they didn't want to miss any important information. After the course ended, I officially closed the group.”

Professor Hussain's research uses both quantitative and qualitative methodologies as well as focus groups, interviews and systematic analysis. He has published a book chapter as well as Communication Research Reports, in the Journal of Medical & Internet Research, as well as other journals. You can read more about Professor Hussain’s work here.

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