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Online social network contacts as information repositories

Contactos de redes sociales en línea como repositorios de información


Social networks have existed since ancient times. With advances in technology, they have evolved into modern online social networks. The explosion of online social networks has had a big impact on society in general and on education in particular. Most university students are now members of social networking sites and spend several hours a week online. Some sections of society, such as parents and teachers, are worried about the effect that this may have on students’ academic work and personal lives. However, according to George Siemens’ connectivism theory, online social network contacts represent a potential and valuable source of information. This study seeks to identify the factors that influence whether a contact on an online social network becomes a source of information in a learning initiative. The research* uses a qualitative approach, and was carried out in a private higher education institution on a group of 21 graduates who had recently finished the same course, and on 13 university lecturers. The results show that the factors affecting whether online social network contacts become sources of information are: knowing about the contact; knowing what the contact knows; social closeness; the contact has a certain standing; knowing the contact in person, and; the contact is accessible.


Las redes sociales han existido desde la Antigüedad. Con el avance tecnológico, han evolucionado hacia las modernas redes sociales en línea. La explosión de estas últimas ha ido acompañada de importantes impactos sociales, incluido el del ámbito educativo. Un gran número de estudiantes universitarios pertenecen ahora a alguna red social y pasan varias horas a la semana en ella. Algunos sectores de la sociedad, como padres de familia y profesores, están preocupados por el impacto negativo que esto puede tener tanto en su actividad académica como en su vida personal. Sin embargo, según el conectivismo de George Siemens, los contactos de una red social en línea representan una potencial y valiosa fuente de información. En este estudio se buscó identificar los factores que favorecen que un contacto de una red social en línea se convierta en una fuente de información, ante una iniciativa de aprendizaje. Se presenta una investigación, de naturaleza cualitativa, que se realizó en una institución privada de educación superior, con un grupo de 21 estudiantes recién egresados de una carrera en particular y 13 profesores universitarios. Los resultados demuestran que los factores que favorecen que un contacto se convierta en fuente de información en una red social en línea son: que se tenga conocimiento sobre el contacto, que se conozca lo que el contacto sabe, que se tenga cercanía social, que el contacto tenga cierto prestigio, que se conozca al contacto en persona y que sea accesible.


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Correspondence to Gabriel Valerio Ureña.

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Valerio Ureña, G., Valenzuela González, J.R. Online social network contacts as information repositories. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento 8, 142–155 (2011).

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