R. Faizi, A. El Afia, R. Chiheb

École Nationale Supérieure d'Informatique et d'Analyse des Systèmes (ENSIAS) (MOROCCO)
Though being relatively recent additions to the internet landscape, social media have witnessed an exponential growth in the last few years. These are used today in every aspect of our personal and professional lives and are infiltrating nearly every field, including education. Students all over the world are greatly immersed in these web-based applications and have recourse to them to interact with friends, play games and watch television and most importantly to learn.

Given the increasing use of these technologies for educational purposes, many educators have started questioning the validity and usefulness of such tools in education, stating that they may disengage students from learning traditional skills or even destroy the normal roles of teacher and learner.

The objective of this paper is, therefore, to evaluate the use of these social online platforms in education. To this end, a survey was conducted to examine higher education students‘ perceptions and attitudes towards using these tools for learning purposes. Results of the research study revealed that the reason behind using social media websites seems to vary from one student to another. Yet, it has been found out that 51% of the respondents use this set of online tools to communicate mainly with colleagues and classmates. Results also demonstrated that almost half of the surveyed students (i.e. 47%) devote between 40% and 100% of the time they spend on social media for study purposes. Concerning the students’ contributions on social media, it has been noticed that 97% of the participants in the survey are active members in these networks as they tend to share information with classmates or colleagues. This information can take different forms: links to educational websites, courses, exercises, exams, solutions or comments.

Taking these findings into account, we may claim that social media applications present many educational advantages for students, hence, contribute in providing opportunities for further learning. As such, they provide educators with an opportunity to go beyond traditional delivery formats and design student-centered customized learning environments.