Can WhatsApp in education make a difference be it in learning or management?
Education like every other aspect of our reality isn’t exempt from the communication revolution reshaping our personal and professional lives. Digital communication between groups of students; between teachers and students; between educational institutions and their staff as well as institutions and the potential prospects, has become increasingly popular during the last decade.
Slowly, traditional channels such as websites and emails were overshadowed by social media. Today, social media is losing to a new contender – messaging apps.
Mobile tech is becoming more and more used in management and instruction in educational institutions all over the world. It offers students increased choices and opportunities in the context of online as well as offline instruction. Indeed, if you do a little online search, you will realize a WhatsApp chatbot for education usage is not exactly a novelty.
So, why talk about it now?
The answer is simple: WhatsApp Business API.
The official WhatsApp API enables educational institutions, private or public, to be in control. With the control and legitimacy of the communication channel as a business tool, come infinitely more possibilities.
Hence, this article will discuss and provide practical examples of the use of Whatsapp in education in 3 key areas:
Due to the ever-increasing competition further propelled by the emergence of online education options, educational institutions were forced to evolve. Once purely government-funded establishments that existed outside of the consumer market began to accept business ethos and its commercial practices in order to survive and prosper.
Today, people have no trouble perceiving and treating education as any other market, demanding user and customer experiences worthy of their time, money and attention. And so, just like any other business, educational institutions and agencies have to market their brand.
Marketing strategies for educational institutions have become more and more competitive and complex over time. For instance, university marketing strategies are often limited by strict budget constraints and, as of that wasn’t enough, they have to target an entirely new (students and parent) audiences each and every year.
Students, parents and tutors alike are scouring the web for information checking everything from official websites to social media and peer reviews. With almost every player having a strong presence on the web, it’s hard to stand out…
Whatsapp Business API provides educational institutions with the new communication channel that unlike the rest is far more personal and far less overcrowded.
Below are 18 possible use cases of how to apply WhatsApp for educational marketing and lead generation.
While instant messaging is quite a well-known communication channel, not many institutions have leveraged its full potential for student recruitment.
Prospective students and their parents who are flooded with marketing messages on the web and social media are hungry more human connections provided through direct, two-way communication.
The intimacy and convenience of IM make it the perfect method for obtaining and sharing information.
Instead of using your landing pages, online ads, and even flyers to get prospective students to trade their email for electronic content such as course descriptions and curriculums, why not redirect them to WhatsApp?
Thus, instead of email, you will end up with a phone number and access to the prospects on a channel which they check several times a day allowing you not only to generate but also nurture the lead.
The next step following lead acquisition is qualification.
Who is this person? Student? Parent? Student Advisor? Where are they in the acquisition funnel? Do they already have a course in mind? Are they still undecided? Have they heard of your institution/center/agency (perhaps even done a course with you) already or is this the very first time?
Under normal circumstances, you would need to use an online form or a live agent to obtain all of this information. WhatsApp API lets you create a bot that will do all that work for you using an interface that not only feels natural to your prospects but also frees them from the desktop.
But that’s not all. Bots, being conversational in nature, are able to react to inputs in real-time meaning they give you the power to personalize each individual experience based on prospects’ answers. This way, you ensure you don’t waste anyone’s time with information they already know ensuring relevance and efficiency.
Sometimes potential customers aren’t ready to convert just yet… However, you shouldn’t discard these leads. After all, they have shown interest in your product be it a course, workshops or a whole degree.
You can use WhatsApp to keep in touch, send regular updates about events, news and novelties or keep their interest alive with rich media content. This is your opportunity to be creative and reengage your prospects in a more instant and personable way that social media marketing campaigns could ever afford you.
HeyPatch, an online language school, ran a WhatsApp engagement campaign that sent prospects fun weekly challenges. If the users completed them successfully, they would unlock a free speaking session with one of their native teachers. It helped the school keep the prospects active while reminding them of the perks of studying with them.
4. Customer Retention & Relationship Management
The education sector like any other business domain has to deal with and try to minimize customer churn. Hence, relationship marketing presents itself to be quite essential as it helps organizations develop meaningful connections necessary for retention and loyalty.
Research proves that the most powerful variable in student retention is the quality of the institution services as perceived by the student-customers. Perceived quality also bears considerable influence on many aspects of loyalty such as the received value, trust, and emotional commitment. However, it’s important to highlight that quality can’t be solely measured by objective standards, but also by the students’ perception of what quality means to them.
Using WhatsApp to help manage student relationships and so retention, allows you to provide personalized services at scale. Furthermore, it ensures students feel a constant “presence” on a trusting channel.
For instance, using WhatsApp in higher education can help prevent dropouts by checking in on students regularly, keeping them up to date and engaged with events and happenings without making them go out of their way to get more involved or become aware of additional opportunities and support available.
The role of marketing doesn’t end once your customers successfully complete the course or workshop they signed up for.
Your alumni are your best ambassadors. Their achievements and success represent the very real outcomes of your educational efforts. What you teach or how you teach it makes no difference. It doesn’t matter whether they earned a whole degree with your organization, completed an intense leadership course, learned to speak a foreign language or picking up a set of manual skills… Consistent and close engagement with your alumni can help you:
- Secure returning clients
- Support current students (internships, mentoring, career advice)
- Enhance teaching quality (feedback)
- Improve your profile (word-of-mouth marketing)
- Raise financial support (donations or networking)
WhatsApp also makes it easy to keep alumni up to date with events they got involved in.
Educational organizations/centers/institutions/agencies, whether online or offline, like any other business, deal with a myriad of administrative and managerial processes. Without it, none of the teaching and learning going on in the classroom could take place.
WhatsApp Business API integration enables educational organizations of all shapes and sizes not only digitalize most of the key process but do so in a way that is current, convenient and most of all, natural.
The administrative side of the application process can be very taxing for both your staff and prospective students. Moreover, paper-based processes are time-consuming and much more prone to error.
Higher education institutions can use WhatsApp to keep applicants up to date about the status of their application, solicit missing information instantly or even schedule face-to-face interviews when necessary.
Smaller organizations such as language teaching centers can even use it to efficiently assess applicants’ level by asking them to answer a few questions and submit a voice recording of their pronunciation via WhatsApp automatically sending it to a relevant teacher for consideration. This streamlines the process and saves time for the applicant as well as the teacher.
Once an application is approved, here comes the enrollment process.
Student registration can be incredibly stressful. Most of the time, all the newcomers need to be processed and enrolled within a short period of time prior to the course.
WhatsApp can simplify the process by allowing students to submit the majority of information and document copies via conversation with your WhatsApp bot which can promptly store the submitted information in your central system be it a sophisticated intranet or Google Spreadsheet.
Throughout the duration of the course, your students or workshop attendees need support with a myriad of issues. It can regard anything from legal and administrative to accommodation-related, health and financial issues.
WhatsApp API can help you remove unnecessary points of friction.
How? By allowing students to gain basic answers for FAQs and instant support using the messaging app wherever and whenever.
A chatbot can deal with answering the basic queries and concerns about courses, visas, tuition fees, payments, financial aid, exams, certificates, counseling, career advice, etc…
The advantage with WhatsApp chatbot is that in case the issue is too complex and the bot is not able to help the student, you can set up the system to initiate a chatbot-human handoff. That means one of your staff will be prompted to take over the conversation thread and advise on the issue at hand. Alternatively, if no member of staff is available, the bot can offer the student to schedule a meeting or a call.
Scheduling is one of the biggest headaches for educational institutions. The timetables need to work for students, teachers and (if the study takes place offline) the spaces you have available.
WhatsApp is not only a great way to share the course schedule but also send instant updates about sudden changes, cancellations or rescheduling matters. An average student is much more likely to check his or her instant messages than email. This makes WhatsApp the perfect channel to deliver last-minute information.
WhatsApp’s HSMs (Highly Structured Messages) make the app a perfect channel to share news and announcements.
You can use the messages to promote both social and academic events; one-time workshops; new courses; student/teacher/organization’s success stories or, quite simply, to inform staff or students about important matters.
In the section on educational marketing, we briefly mentioned the importance of managing the student-provider relationship as well as fulfilling students’ individual perceptions of quality. The social aspect of educational experience is an important part of that equation.
There are two ways you can use WhatsApp in education to drive engagement in clubs and extra-curricular activities:
- (Interactive) notifications
- Group chats
The notifications ensure your students find out about or be reminded of the options and possibilities promptly and efficiently. Furthermore, you can use the scheduled messages to spike interest as any of them can be followed by a bot. This was you can gamify even the simplest of information.
On the other hand, WhatsApp Business API allows YOUR organization to create official group chats for different groups of students. It’s perfect for arranging club meetings and creating a sense of community. Since you are the one choosing the group administrator when creating the group, you can ensure a responsible person enforcing common social rules is in charge.
We have already mentioned you can easily use WhatsApp to launch different kinds of announcements. However, if announcing events or occasions that require a signup or a registration you can take things a bit further.
Interested students can simply reply to the message to save a seat at a special lecture or a webinar… or the response can launch a bot to collect the need sign-up info if more is necessary.
Better yet, WhatsApp also makes it easier to verify the attendance and identify no shows. A simple message with a request to confirm attendance and the easy of submitting that confirmation will weed out the no-shows and allow you to advertise last-minute seats for others that might be interested.
It’s no secret that collecting feedback is the best way to ensure the satisfaction of your customers as well as identify the points of difficulty. However, not many people take time to complete surveys as they can be quite a drag. Hence, if you want anyone to care, your survey should make it as easy as possible on its subjects.
Given the ability to create chatbots, you can easily carry out the survey via WhatsApp. The bot can collect the responses as part of a natural chat and expedite them to a designated database or a spreadsheet. Hence, your students can answer the survey anywhere, anytime, while waiting for a bus or having a coffee.
Last but not least area where WhatsApp API can make a difference in teaching and learning. In fact, using WhatsApp in a classroom environment to aid the education process is not at all new. Since smart mobile phones are so wide-spread, teachers have been doing so on a small scale way before WhatsApp Business API came to existence.
Both traditional classrooms and online courses are starting to incorporate mobile technologies more and more. The trend is perpetuated by positive effects such as increased cooperation, collaboration, and a better social atmosphere.
Below are the different ways to use WhatsApp to improve learning and communication throughout the learning process.
One of the most common use cases of WhatsApp for education has been in communication with the students. Teachers use the app’s group chat function to:
- Send information
- Manage the class
- Help students to stay up to date no matter what
Such communication has proven to save a lot of time as that would have been otherwise spent trying to communicate through other – slower – means and so increase efficiency.
With WhatsApp Business API, this application can be used on an organizational level, not just within individual classrooms and through privately created groups.
Organizational control of such communication can:
- Strengthen efficiency
- Enhance learning
- Motivate students to be more active in their studies as they are more likely to be up to date and prepared for the what-when-where of individual lessons.
Furthermore, with the school/organization being involved in the group and push notifications management, you can avoid common challenges involved with WhatsApp for learning which include:
- Students’ unrealistic expectations of teacher availability (e.g. bot can answer or direct the students outside of working hours)
- Possible inappropriate behavior or language because of the informality of the channel
One of the common challenges in education is uneven accessibility to materials.
And, as hinted in the example above, with WhatsApp API, teachers and professors can use the official course/class chats to ameliorate the accessibility to learning materials. And so, by default, the performance of learning activities.
WhatsApp allows you to send URLs, images, videos, audios as well as documents without hassle on a classroom but also an institutional level.
While HSM notifications are also relevant to enhancing the learning experience in the instances mentioned above, we can’t forget about the power of group chats.
Creating a positive social atmosphere and group dynamic can be detrimental to a successful learning process. In other words, students who feel uncomfortable or disconnected from the group can experience learning difficulties.
Educators can leverage the convenient and familiar aspect of WhatsApp group chats to provide students with a safe space to express themselves. Such groups have been shown to create more in-depth acquaintance with fellow students as well as the teacher. And, deeper connections had a positive effect on the manner of conversation. E.g., students were likely to ask more questions and express their concerns).
For instance, a Chinese AI-powered English learning app uses messaging app group chats to add value to its lessons through community learning. Students are asked to join a course group chat. There, the instructor gives the group a new activity, such as studying song lyrics; doing mock interviews; or playing games like Word Snake (see below). The compnay noted that thanks to the groups many of their students ended up meeting in the real world!
A study of Mobile Instant Messaging between Teachers and Students published by the Journal of Information Technology Education published in 2014 documented a series of positive social effects of the educational WhatsApp groups. Some respondents (teachers) made observations such as:
“I learn a lot about my students, what bothers them, what helps them, what are the areas in which they excel… who responds aggressively and who’s balanced; it helped me to get to know them better.”
“The group became so much fun, students upload funny things… and I upload personal things as well… it creates a fun feeling with the class.”
“One of the groups that I started to teach started the year with students who didn’t have anything in common and many social conflicts. Establishing a WhatsApp group and encouraging the group to take part in it, contributed to the positive atmosphere in that class.
Another great way to leverage WhatsApp for learning is by using the group chat to establish a culture of teamwork and promote student collaboration. Creating a dialogue between the students enables them to share information with the teacher as well as each other and so, work as a team.
Collaboration occurs when students start to help each other by answering each other’s questions and sharing discoveries. Hence limiting teacher availability within the group doesn’t just respect the teachers’ work hours but also fuels teamwork as other students are likely to help when the teacher is not responding.
WhatsApp bot implementation can also help you keep your students on their toes by automatically launching quizzes or short daily challenges – especially if running voluntary online courses.
In this manner, you can ensure the students remain engaged as well as improve the perception of the quality and value of your courses.
Why go for API? Is it worth it if your teachers can create private groups and send bulk messages when need on an individual basis?
Simply put, yes. Personal WhatsApp use doesn’t allow your institution/agency or education center to take the advantages of WhatsApp beyond a single classroom.
Furthermore, in such circumstances, you are not in control and as such cannot use the app for marketing purposes at scale nor highlight WhatsApp as part of your official administrative/management/teaching services.
And, while “API” might sound overly complex, there are providers that help simplify the process by offering more intuitive, no-code solutions.
For instance, with Landbot WhatsApp API solution, you can:
- Launch and send WhatsApp campaigns (HSM messages) to selected audiences (students or teachers) using a user-friendly no-code dashboard.
- Create WhatsApp chatbots using a simple drag-and-drop interface;
- Manage (or let multiple staff members manage) all ongoing chats from a centralized dashboard
Hence, the solution empowers your organization as well as educators or administrators within that organization. Designated staff is free to direct and manage their own communications when necessary in person.
So, whether you plan to use WhatsApp in education as a new digital marketing tool; use it to reinvent your management and administration processes, or leverage the app as part of the education process itself, API allows you to stay in control and manage all of the processes at scale.
Try building a WhatsApp bot with Landbot using our WhatsApp Playground.
You can create AND test your bot IMMEDIATELY on your private WhatsApp channel.
It’s free and you can try even if your API hasn’t been approved yet! Here is how: