The role and potential of social networks sites in tertiary education

Purpose of the paper: Social Networks Sites (SNSs) are becoming very popular among students and constitute a promising field for tertiary education evolution. This research aims at assessing the usage of social networks for educational aims and at evaluating the perception of university students towards this kind of usage.

Methodology: Methodologically, the paper rests on an extensive, comprehensive and comparative theoretical research on the subject, as well as on primary research involving the in-depth survey of 125 university students in Northern Italy.

Findings: The findings underline the importance of utilizing SNSs to improve educational communications, sharing of information, student-student and student-educator interaction, efficiency, polyphony and more. The research also stressed the need for SNS adoption to be specific and in accordance with both student and lecturer attitudes, competences and limitations, as well other therein specified stakeholders and added values.

Research limitations: this is an exploratory study based on a sample of moderately limited size and, although generically valuable, it focuses specifically on Northern Italy.

Implications: the present research, in addition to its practical applications, may be extended to the academic faculty and to an analysis, based on a wider sample, of the underlying motivators that inhibit students and faculty from adopting SNSs for educational purposes.

Originality/Value of the paper: although literature on SNSs in education does exist, studies on university students attitude towards SNSs are scarce and contrasting. This research sheds light on this still underexplored, yet increasingly important subject by descriptively aiding the comprehension of SNSs for educational purposes, while prescriptively indicating advisable courses of action.

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