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F. Galati, B. Bigliardi, R. Galati, A. Petroni

University of Parma (ITALY)
Social networking is not a new concept: over the past decades, social networking sites (hereafter, SNS) have become more and more popular as tools for communicating and for sharing resource in society (Lockyer & Patterson, 2008). Their potential and effectiveness is clearly identifiable in the millions of daily users, and consequently they are increasingly attracting the attention of both academic and industry researchers. Most of the studies available has been restricted in a number of areas (Mc Carroll and Curran, 2013), such as the food industry (Rustaert et al., 2013), the fashion industry (Kim & Ko, 2012), non-profit organizations (Waters et al., 2009), etc. Within these contexts, SNS have been investigated in the extant literature mainly with reference to their aim, their benefits and the risks associated to their use.

Only more recently, Web 2.0 technologies and the emergence of SNS has expanded their use beyond the areas previously highlighted, and in particular we assisted to a proliferation of studies dealing with their adoption in environments learning-related (Mc Carroll and Curran, 2013). Thus, this paper focuses on the adoption of social networking in learning environments. We believe, in fact, that there are serious concerns over how social networks could be integrated in such a context and how they can impact on learning practices. Thus an in depth investigation about their use as well as their pros and cons in education is needed.

With this purpose in mind, we analyzed the extant literature in order to shed light over the benefits and risks associated to the adoption of SNS in education. Moreover, the main challenges related to their use are explored, together with suggestions for future research.

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