Participatory parity through teaching with Telegram




Mobile instant messaging applications, Remote learning, Learning design, Higher education


The COVID19 pandemic thrust emergency remote teaching (ERT) into the global spotlight and thereby undeniably changed aspects of the higher education (HE) landscape. For a developing country such as South Africa (SA), the use of the mobile instant messaging (MIM) application (app) called Telegram represents a practicable solution to overcome historical socio-economic challenges faced by certain demographic groups of limited or restricted access to devices and data. Against this backdrop, a Telegram teaching intervention was developed by two lecturers in the Engineering Faculty at a University of Technology (UoT) in SA to deliver curriculum content and engage with students in a low-tech, low-cost/low-data usage manner, and consequently to widen access to education, promote inclusivity and thereby facilitate student access, retention and success. This study explored student perceptions of the MIM app being used as a primary vehicle to deliver succinct instructional materials and facilitate class activities to offset the lack of faceto-face classes in a multimodal and flexible curriculum delivery approach. Following the completion of the Telegram teaching intervention, a mixed method approach was used that included two online surveys measuring different aspects of the same project (n=34 and n=32) and a focus group interview (n=6). Three research lenses suggested by Fraser (2008) were used to evaluate student perceptions of the usefulness and (dis)advantages of Telegram. These lenses were: (1) redistribution (of resources), (2) recognition (related to social status) and (3) representation (who can act/say/ challenge in an academic environment). Ethical clearance was obtained from Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Ethics committee. Initial results indicate that using the Telegram app for teaching and learning was successful. Significantly, the app allows for the emergence of a socially just online classroom environment and an inclusive and enabling learning experience for the students during a very disruptive and fearful time in the world’s history.


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How to Cite

Swartz, B. C., Valentine, L. Z., & Jaftha, D. V. (2022). Participatory parity through teaching with Telegram. Perspectives in Education, 40(1), 96-111.