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Is mobile instant messaging (MIM) useful in education? Examining its technological, pedagogical, and social affordances


Educational Research Review Volume 21, Number 1, ISSN 1747-938X Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


Although the use of mobile communication services, commonly known as mobile instant messaging (MIM) has gained considerable attention in recent years, we lack a comprehensive understanding of how it can be used for teaching and learning. This study is the first to systematically review the use of MIM in educational settings. Our search procedure yielded 39 empirical studies from six major educational databases. Using Kirschner et al.’s (2004) conceptual framework, we reviewed these 39 studies in terms of the possible technological, pedagogical, and social affordances of MIM. Overall, analysis of previous studies revealed six technological affordances of MIM. The four most frequently mentioned technological affordances were temporal, user-friendly, minimal cost, and multi-modality features. Our analysis also revealed six specific ways in which MIM was used in education: journaling, dialogic, transmissive, constructionist with peer feedback, helpline, and assessment. The effect of MIM on improving student cognitive outcomes can be summarized as cautiously optimistic when it was used to supplement course content in dialogic activities. MIM appears to make the development of social presence easier than other forms of computer-mediated communications (e.g., discussion forum). Challenges exist, namely device ownership, internet access, improper language use and interference with private lives. This study concludes by discussing several implications of the current research and suggestions for future studies.


Tang, Y. & Hew, K.F. (2017). Is mobile instant messaging (MIM) useful in education? Examining its technological, pedagogical, and social affordances. Educational Research Review, 21(1), 85-104. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved October 18, 2019 from .

This record was imported from Educational Research Review on January 31, 2019. Educational Research Review is a publication of Elsevier.

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