The shift to online learning in universities prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic impacted field learning, an important component in nature conservation qualifications. Academics used video resources as an alternative approach to mitigate related challenges. This case study critically reflects on students’ experiences and views on the use of an internet video and WhatsApp text messaging to complete a groupwork task in a conservation module offered at a university in South Africa. The video content focused on threats to rare indigenous plant species in South Africa. Data were collected using an online electronic questionnaire (n=26) and through the analysis of five group-discussion text-messaging transcripts. Mixed-method analysis was used to analyse the data. Descriptive analysis was used to analyse the closed questions in the questionnaire, and qualitative analysis was used for the open questions and transcripts. Ethical protocols were followed, with anonymity and confidentiality maintained. The findings, amongst others, indicate that overall, students agreed that the video promoted their understanding of threats to rare indigenous plants (76.9%); most students watched the video more than three times (84.6%); students had a positive response to the use of text messaging for group discussions (91.6%); and evident in the transcripts was active group engagement. Overall, WhatsApp text messaging facilitated student discussions in the asynchronous group work video analysis task. This reinforces underlying social constructivist pedagogy, which facilitates the integration of course content with group interaction and promotes critical thinking and problem-solving in a post-COVID-19 society.
WhatsApp, WhatsApp Text Messaging, Online Learning, Video Analysis, Groupwork, South Africa
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