The paper aims to explore how the social networks work as sort of cooperative learning instrument to bring the non-formal and the informal into the formal educational contexts, both the school and university. Starting from an historical analysis of the conceptual origins of the social networks, the Authors offer a review of the main theories about the development of the cyber platforms, inquiring into their educational potential within social contexts. Specifi cally, it is examined the case study of Facebook, which is the most world widespread social network, and which can be conceived as a platform for a virtual community of research, where it is possible to build shared knowledge. Lastly, three different research approach and design are described and explored, to show empirically how it is possible to work with the virtual working contexts of the social networks and how it is possible to develop the pedagogical research in those environments.