The Social Student – Social Media Guru

Why wait for next months’s journal article when you can read-between-the-lines today? Yes, with social media, you get instant access to academia’s thought leaders. Simply pluck the best authors from your bibliography, and follow them?through, say, Twitter or Facebook. Pluck those birds bald.

But why follow top academics? When you get intimate with thought-leaders in your discipline, you enter a conversation. You get a feel for the hot-buttons and head-butting of leading edge thinkers. And you view more than mere articles: you discover personalities, urgencies, and unfolding ideas.

The above tip comes from AU’s Dr. Dron. He’s the powerhouse behind The Landing, AU’s primary social media site. He published Teaching Crowds: Learning and Social Media, which you can either buy or read for free at

In the following blurbs, Dr. Dron shares a wealth of social media tips for students. I add my bits in bold font.

Forget grades?get social instead! “If you want to improve your GPA then you are focusing on the wrong thing. Stop it now! The point of education is the education, not the grade, and you should focus on enjoying the process and getting all the personal and social value out of it that you can, ignoring your GPA as much as possible.”

Tweet instead of cry. “If you have a problem, your friends in networks are often able to help, even if only with moral support. Share your cares. And add people to your network that can help – classmates, subject experts, even teachers.”

Twitter your way into the conversation. “Follow references. Get a feel for how people think, where the wicked problems lie, what are the main sources of disagreement.”

Teach to learn. “Share what you are learning and reflect on it through social media like blogs or curation sites: teaching is the best way of learning, reflection is a critical part of all learning, and producing something for public consumption really focuses you on doing the best you can to express it well.”

Get social at AU. “Athabasca University’s ?official? channels, most faculties and many centres/schools, have a presence – see”

Ask Nobel Prize winners for homework help. “Follow or friend or join groups with the top researchers in a field as well as other student researchers, to directly communicate with them, ask them for help, or for comment on your ideas.”

Lure top academics into following you. “A good trick is to refer to researchers in your own posts (as long as your own posts are interesting, of course!) because most people track mentions of themselves.”

Share your research on dedicated sites. “There are a few research-focused social systems such as, SlideShare, or ResearchGate that can be useful for connecting with researchers and projects, and It’s worth joining them.”

Blog your stuff. “I’m a fan of getting your own blog – WordPress, Blogger, Medium, or similar tools are great for sharing stuff about yourself ?. I maintain my own blog, on my own self-hosted site at”

Blog for free on the Landing. “I would most recommend Athabasca Landing,, which is AU’s own social learning commons (disclaimer – I am one of its creators). It has lots of social tools, including blogs, wikis, file sharing, a Twitter-like Wire, social networking, profiles, groups, and more.”

Meet-up with AU students. “People on the Landing arrange local meet-ups, discover other people with shared interests, and talk about all sorts of things apart from the courses they are taking. I particularly like the Zombie Research Interest Group, but there are literally hundreds to choose from.”

Hashtag search your research intrigues. “I find Twitter to be the most useful mainstream tool for helping with my research, because ? it is very commonly used in conferences, research projects, and for those with particular research interests. I follow a couple of hundred people that regularly post about topics that interest me, including the latest conferences, papers, and blog posts, but I also track a fair number of hashtags.”

So, do you want a challenge? Now that you’ve absorbed the guru’s wisdom, peer at the bibliography of your best papers. Search the authors? names on Twitter. Follow them. Message them. Mention them.

And remember, social students go further than letter grades.