Digital technologies in online learning environments: An exploratory comparative study of Telegram vs. Facebook

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper


Quality student engagement is of particular strategic importance to online higher education providers. Lack of engagement can lead to students’ feelings of isolation and reduces their learning opportunities, consequently impacting retention (Liu, Bonk, Magjuka, Lee, & Su, 2005). In contrast, well-designed online learning environments can improve students' sense of belonging and community (Kahu, 2013; O’Shea, Stone, & Delahunty, 2015). Therefore, maintaining a high-interaction learning environment is considered one of the most important responsibilities of online instructors who aim for keeping students engaged and motivated in their learning (Martin, Budhrani, Kumar, & Ritzhaupt, 2019).

Studies show that social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have the capacity to engage students in a way that enhances the overall learning experience (Çetinkaya & Sütçü, 2018; Scott & Stanway, 2015; Tiruwa, Yadav, & Suri, 2018). However, few studies have explored aspects of teaching and learning when social media is used to enhance student engagement in an online learning environment (O’Shea et al., 2015). In addition, fewer studies have compared the use of cloud-based instant messaging (CBIM) alternatives (e.g., Telegram and WhatsApp) with social media platforms.

Accordingly, a comparative exploratory study was conducted to explore the advantages and disadvantages of class-based Facebook groups with Telegram groups created for students enrolled in an online Master of Business Administration (MBA) subject. Findings indicated a strong preference for CBIM platforms (i.e., Telegram) compared to social media (i.e., Facebook) due to focused peer and instructor responsiveness, fewer (social media) distractions, ease of use, peer to peer collaboration, and an enhanced sense of belonging. While the pilot research indicates general support for CBIM over social media platforms, the authors caution that instructors need to be clear on what they aim to achieve through incorporating digital technologies outside of their learning management system (LMS) prior to selecting their platform.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2021
EventScholarship of Tertiary Teaching Online Conference - Central Queensland University, Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 12 Oct 202113 Oct 2021


ConferenceScholarship of Tertiary Teaching Online Conference
Internet address


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