Higher Learning Research Communications

Digital Object Identifier



Bronwyn Swartz, http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0752-7211;

Sweta Patnaik, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5520-9130


Objective: The purpose of the study was to propose guidelines to facilitate the sustainable and successful use of mobile instant messaging apps for learning and teaching based on a review of the literature and perceptions of educators. Fraser’s model of redistribution, recognition, and representation served as the theoretical framework. This study provides a mechanism for the development of a socially just and inclusive online classroom environment.

Method: We conducted two focus groups (n = 4 and n = 3) in November 2021 at a university of technology in South Africa to explore the perceptions of educators on using mobile instant messaging (MIM) apps for learning and teaching, to identify challenges, and to suggest solutions. The data were thematically coded and analyzed to detect themes using Saldana’s six-step process.

Results: Sustainable and successful use of MIM apps for learning and teaching requires guidelines in three areas: practical management, privacy and security, and sustainable use. Key considerations include uniformity of use, student consultation, data control, operating hours, appointment of a chat moderator, language communication, access control, monitoring communication, regular feedback, and formalizing MIM app use through institutional policies.

Conclusion: The proposed guidelines promote the sustainable and successful use of MIM applications in learning and teaching environments. The guidelines offer practical solutions to ensure that the use of MIM apps is ethical, inclusive, and effective in supporting student learning.