WhatsApp platforms as the panacea for online programmes in distance education in Zimbabwe and Zambia

  • Thomas Musankuleni Kaputa Zimbabwe Open University
  • Barbara Mapuranga Zimbabwe Open University
  • Morine Matongo University of Zimbabwe
  • Francis Simui University of Zambia http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7199-2970
Keywords: WhatsApp, panacea, Distance Education, communication, Zambia, Zimbabwe


The study focuses on the wide usage of the WhatsApp application in delivering online programmes in distance education. The WhatsApp mode of communication is a social media, which was the result of a fourth industrial revolution but has found wider currency in all aspects of human life including distance education. It has caused massive social upheavals in social life including in electronic teaching and learning from early childhood development programmes to university education. Universities are now using it with sceptics doubting its effectiveness in electronic teaching and learning. This study, therefore, sought to find out if WhatsApp is the panacea for online programmes and how it is used in distance education. A qualitative paradigm using a case study design generated data from 26 lecturers, and 119 undergraduate and postgraduate students on the phenomenon from three universities in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Open-ended questionnaires and WhatsApp focused group discussion were employed to answer the posed questions. The WhatsApp platform is used as the first line of communication between students and their lecturers. Universities ought to integrate all facets of the WhatsApp platform to their electronic LMSs to enable students to access online programmes.