Use of social networking in the Middle East: student perspectives in higher education
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This study aims to determine the benefits, risks, awareness, cultural factors, and sustainability, allied to social networking (SN) use in the higher education (HE) sector in Middle Eastern countries, namely Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Using an online survey, 1180 complete responses were collected and analyzed using the statistical confirmatory factor analysis method. The use of SN in the Middle Eastern HE sector has the capacity to promote and motivate students to acquire professional and personal skills for their studies and future workplace; however, the use of SN by tertiary students is also associated with several risks: isolation, depression, privacy, and security. Furthermore, culture is influenced by using SN use, since some countries shifted from one dimension to another based on Hofstede's cultural framework. The study new findings are based on a sample at a specific point in time within a culture. The study findings encourage academics to include SN in unit activities and assessments to reap the benefits of SN, while taking steps to mitigate any risks that SN poses to students. Although other studies in the Middle East examined the use of Learning Management System and Facebook in, HE as a means of engaging students in discussions and communications, however, this study contributes a better understanding of the benefits and risks, awareness, culture, and sustainability, associated with the use of SN in the HE sector in the Middle East. Finally, the paper concludes with an acknowledgment of the study limitations and suggestions for future research.
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