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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Social Capital and Learning by Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger

Photo: Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger
Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger, BellaOnline's Distance Learning Editor writes, "If you use social media, you realize the instant access to knowledge you have, particularly in connection with social groups. Nevertheless, there is a misconception that social media is a waste of time, a bad habit that contributes to social isolation." 


The reality is that social media adds value to your life. But just as with anything else you indulge in, moderation must be practiced. The two-way communication that social media offers affords individuals the opportunity to connect and communicate with others around the globe. All social media users can research information, learn from others, advertise their brands, join groups of like-minded people, and stay in touch with friends and family who are geographically dispersed. Social media delivers a centralized environment in which individuals of different ages and from various cultures can collaborate. The higher your social capital, the more information you are exposed to, which ultimately increases your learning.

Learning via a distance-learning environment or in an on-campus classroom is a great way to gain knowledge along with a degree. Yet once you leave the classroom or training facility, learning and retention begins to decrease if you do not continue to foster or apply what you’ve learned within a few weeks. Social media extends knowledge by encouraging peer-to-peer learning by doing. Students are instinctually drawn to their mobile devices to satisfy their immediate needs to connect with their peers—it’s almost a form of instant gratification. Instructors can utilize this attraction students have to social media as a teaching opportunity. 

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Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger is a self-proclaimed geek girl leading an information technology web team for a research and technology organization at the Boeing Company.  She is a doctoral candidate researching internal corporate social media strategies and contributing editor for the distance-learning channel at BellaOnline – The Voice of Women.