Cultivating professional communities of teachers and practitioners through Social Networking Sites, Maria Ranieri, Stefania Manca, Antonio Fini
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18 November 2011
Social networking sites (SNSs) such as Facebook or MySpace are mainly represented as “places of entertainment”, where people – especially children and teenagers - leave multimedia traces of their daily lives and cultivate their relationships. This picture is mostly true, but another story is emerging from SNSs. It tells us that a growing number of adults are joining SNSs for work-related reasons, thus suggesting to reconsider some common places and inviting to explore more deeply the uses of SNSs by professionals. This paper provides an original contribution to the field by exploring pathways of social networks uses within professional communities, with a special attention to groups of teachers. Within the wider context of the social network theory, it analyzes motivations and aims of a range of SNSs groups and attempts to highlight mechanisms of affiliation and participation. It investigates also the role of mobile devices in supporting access and participation in this type of groups. As an exploratory study it is a first step towards the comprehension of these mechanisms and their implications for learning and professional development mainly based on interviews to SNSs groups’ managers. A wider survey involving also SNSs groups’ members is currently undergoing.