1 University of Padua (ITALY)
2 National Research Council of Italy (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 5992-6002
ISBN: 978-84-617-5895-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2016.0357
Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain
The proliferation of social network sites (SNS) has been one of the most influential phenomena in the last decade especially among young people. Recent surveys that have investigated the use of these sites by teens reported that they go online daily and almost constantly, facilitated by the widespread availability of smartphones. However, the value of SNS for educational purposes has been questioned with contrasting positions. Despite the great amount of literature that investigated students’ opinions and attitudes in the higher education sector, very few studies have pointed out secondary school students’ and teachers’ opinions about the use of SNS at school. This study explored the experiences, attitudes and perceptions of SNS for education also in relation to previous educational practices based on active learning and participatory practices at school. Five hundred Italian students and 353 teachers took part into two online surveys (one for the students and one for the teachers) through a snowball sampling technique during the June-September 2015 period. The two surveys contained a huge number of the same questions and provided data for comparison. A mixed method approach was used for data analysis and descriptive statistics was used to compare students’ and teachers’ answers to closed questions. The results show that both students and teachers expressed positive attitudes towards the use of SNS at school, although teachers were more positive than students. While students pointed out “sharing” as the major characteristic of these sites, teachers mostly reported “collaboration” as the main feature. At the same time, threats and challenges related to the use of SNS at school were pointed out, such as the risk to be influenced and distracted, privacy issues, or the lack of appropriate digital competence. Although results cannot be generalised, this study offers one of the first investigations about secondary school actors’ attitude towards SNS in the Italian context. It also suggests a number of considerations on how involving students and listening to their voice about their idea of good educational practices at school.

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Social network sites, Facebook, secondary school, student voice.