The Use of Online Social Networks in Higher Education and Its Influence on Job Performance

The Use of Online Social Networks in Higher Education and Its Influence on Job Performance

Vera Silva Carlos (University of Aveiro, Portugal) and Ricardo Gouveia Rodrigues (NECE – University of Beira Interior, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9970-0.ch018
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Abstract

There is plenty of evidence on a positive influence of social relationships on work-related attitudes and behaviors. Besides, online social networks (OSNs), made possible by Web 2.0, have become a global phenomenon and have a considerable impact on the way people communicate and interact with each other. Our purpose is to evaluate the effect of using OSNs on the worker's attitudes and behaviors, particularly in the context of Higher Education. In this sense, we used a questionnaire, to evaluate the attitudes of 157 faculty members. To assess the use of OSNs, we resorted to a dichotomous variable. After analyzing and discussing the results we conclude that the use of OSNs influences the worker's performance, but not Job satisfaction, Organizational commitment or extra-role performance. The relationships we propose in what concerns the worker's attitudes are all empirically proved. Lastly, we describe the study limitations and we suggest some perspectives for future research.
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The Web 2.0

Web 2.0 refers to the appearance of the Internet as an interpersonal resource and a service delivery platform (Barnatt, 2008). The term Web 2.0 is used to describe applications that distinguish themselves from preceding generations of software by a number of principles (Ullrich et al., 2008).

The second incarnation of the Web (Web 2.0) has been called the ‘social Web’, because, in contrast to Web 1.0, its content can be more easily generated and published by users, and because the collective intelligence of users encourages its more democratic utilization. Originally, the World Wide Web (WWW) was intended to be used to share ideas and encourage discussion within a scientific community. Web 2.0 heralds a return to these original uses, and prompts important changes in the ways the World Wide Web is being handled in Education. In this context, there is a need to raise awareness of Web 2.0 tools and the possibilities they offer, and an imperative need to carry out quality research to inform better use of Web 2.0 applications (Boulos & Wheeler, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Organizational Commitment: It is a force of connection – a psychological or attitude stage – with the goals and values of the organization, which determines a direction at the level of the individual’s behavior towards the employer organization, with the aim of benefiting it.

Higher Education Institutions: Community service providers, specifically of transference and economic value increase of the scientific and technological knowledge, which have as main goals to facilitate environments in which people collaborate to create, share and advance knowledge.

Online Social Networks: They function as communication interfaces between millions of users, providing an efficient and user-friendly way to maintain social connections and to easily create and share information.

Organizational Citizenship Behaviors: Characterized as extra-role behaviors, that is, behaviors that arise as a way of acting beyond what is defined by work requirements (in-role behaviors), which means that the workers do non-mandatory tasks without expecting any rewards or recognition.

Attitude: Describes an internal arrangement of the individual in relation to an element of the social world, which guides the conduct they adopt in the presence, real or symbolic, of that element.

Behavior: It is the activity of an organism interacting with its environment.

Job Satisfaction: A positive emotional state – feelings and affective responses –, or a generalized positive attitude towards work and the experiences that occur in the work environment, that depends on situational factors and/or on personality and personal factors, and that can be measured according to a global approach – based on the attitude towards work in general, not being a result of the sum of different aspects related to work, but depending on them –, or to a multidimensional approach – satisfaction that reverses from a number of factors associated with work, being possible to measure satisfaction for each one of them.

Social Networks: They function as communication channels and allow the exchange of resources to several levels, as a form of spreading and sharing ideas. The social relationships established at work are an important tool for the understanding of the workers’ outcomes in the organizations.

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