WhatsApp with BlackBerry; can messengers be MXit? A philosophical approach to evaluate social networking sites
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In an Information Technology course, learners are confronted with learning about technology; programming, other technical subjects and some mathematics and statistics. Although learners can struggle with the logical thinking necessary for becoming good programmers, the ones who are grasping programming easily, struggle with the different type of rigour necessary in a subject like Systems Analysis and Design (SAD). Learners are confronted with theoretical material overwhelming in quantity and repeating in different contexts – confusing them. Also, a substantial part of the subject should be the practical implementation of a real-life system. Addressing the overwhelming material, the use of Social Networking Sites (SNS) to deliver definitions and explanations to learners, ensuring easy access to material, have been introduced in conjunction with two functions in the learning managing system already used by the learners, namely forums and the glossary. During the first semester the material is new and the focus is on becoming comfortable with it, while in the second semester the focus moves to applying the material in a practical environment. At the end of the semester this initiative was followed up with an action to support students’ in their examination preparation. Since the learners in SAD are mostly from disadvantaged communities, it was important to introduce tools that are readily available to the learners, assistants and the teacher. Three SNS were selected to accomplish this; WhatsApp, MXit and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). This article uses the fifteen modal aspects introduced by the Dutch philosopher, Herman Dooyeweerd and refined by Basden, along with the Human Usage of Computers (HUC) Framework developed by Basden, focusing on Engaging with Meaningful Content (EMC) to analise the use of the SNS computer technology. Recommendations forthcoming from this project will be used to guide the second SAD semester, as well as future first semesters.