Meler-Prince, Rivka, and Lev-On, Azi. 2018. Hi teacher, are you awake? Teacher authority in the class WhatsApp: Student perspectives. Proceedings of Chase Conference,
In the past decade, the use of social media platforms for communication between teachers, students, and parents has become prevalent. The majority of studies examining student/teacher social media relations have focused on institutions of higher learning. The few studies that investigated primary and secondary age groups have primarily approached the issue from the teacher’s perspective. The present study looks at the perception of teacher authority through the lens of high-school students’ use of WhatsApp groups. The paper compares perception of teacher authority in WhatsApp groups and in the classroom. The participants were students in conservative religious high schools (i.e., within the state religious education system). The strict authority inherent in religious school settings, makes it fertile ground for comparing student perceptions of teacher authority in WhatsApp groups and in the classroom. The qualitative study is based on 30 interviews with high-school students. The findings demonstrate that the students viewed teacher authority differently within the classroom and on the WhatsApp groups. Student opposition to teachers’ demands on WhatApp is greater than those made in the classroom. We identified five patterns of resistance on WhatsApp to teacher stipulations: ignoring, disengagement, angry voice messages, transfer to other groups to smear the teacher, and posting of cynical, ambiguous texts. The discussion addresses the significance of the greater opposition to teacher demands and the adoption of new response patterns in WhatsApp groups.