Public and private dichotomy: social networking in higher education

Benson, Vladlena (2011) Public and private dichotomy: social networking in higher education. In: Business & Economics Society international Conference; 11 - 14 Jan 2011, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, U.S.. (Unpublished)


While the use of online social networking services (SNS) is still largely attributed to leisure communication, online social networking services are gaining popularity in education and business. Social networks tie individuals together and online social networking services enable these ties through technology. People flock to web sites like Facebook, MySpace, and to keep in touch with friends, interest groups and family, communicate and share news about them. User friendliness of social networking technology has popularised SNSs and a growing body of research suggest various applications of social networking sites in higher education settings (for an overview see Benson, Filippaios and Morgan, 2010). Some practitioners view social networking services as a future platform for lifelong learning stretching beyond the virtual wall of institutional learning management systems. Furthermore, online social networking has been praised for its social capital potential beneficial for building professional connections and successful career management (Benson & Filippaios, 2010). Students, overwhelmingly comfortable with social technology, are already networking with classmates on Facebook, etc. and the thought of employing this familiar platform for learning and teaching has been tested by many HE institutions. However, issues arising from mixing informal communication platform with formal professional networking with potential employers and instructors are plenty. The prospect of personal content becoming available to the outsiders of an informal social circle is highly likely, is only one of the problem areas. This paper addresses the phenomenon of Public and Private Dichotomy, i.e. contextualisation of private and public content including communication and media shared through online social networks. Further research directions are discussed regarding successful strategies and factors hindering effective exploitation of SNSs in HE settings.

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