The Relationship Between Offline Social Capital and Online Learning Interactions

Carmel Kent, Amit Rechavi, Sheizaf Rafaeli


This article examines the interplay between offline social capital and online interactivity in higher education’s online learning discussions. In a field study, we examine networks of interactions extracted from the online discussions and offline acquittance questionnaire of four classes. Two classes belong to a traditional brick-and-mortar university, where an offline acquaintance is a common resource, and two classes belong to a distance-learning university with a loose offline acquaintance. We analyzed the offline and online networks of interactions at the individual, dyadic, and community levels. We found that there is a positive association between offline social capital and online learning interactions across all classes at the individual and dyadic levels. Using network analysis, we found evidence for a substitutional relationship between the offline and online networks at the community level, thus suggesting that online interactions may be encouraged as a complementing dimension of offline social capital.


online learning communities, social capital, online interactivity

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