SOCIAL NETWORKS AS PERSONAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS: THE CASE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE BALEARIC ISLANDS

No one can deny the huge expansion that new technologies have undergone and their mass use by society in just a short space of time. Access to the Internet and its use are in a constant state of change, as is also the case of social networks, with users being able to reap numerous different benefits from them. Nowadays, in a wide variety of different scenarios social networks have been transformed into useful resources to be taken into account and used, not just for informative purposes, but also as a means of transmitting knowledge.

With this as our premise, we focus on the field of education and, more specifically, on higher education (universities), where social networks can become personal learning tools with highly beneficial results for university students, in terms of the acquisition of new knowledge and development of skills such as information searches, critical analysis and synthesis.

In the case of the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB), quantitative data was gathered on the frequency, use and reason why first-year first-degree students at the UIB during the academic year 2009-2010 use the Internet and social networks. The aim was to try and justify the high percentage of occasions when incorporating social networks as educational tools in university education and, more specifically, at the UIB, might be successful. The sample that was used was made up of 835 individuals from different fields of study at the UIB. From this total, 555 were women, around 276 were men. This paper outlines and discusses the achieved results.