Social Media Presence in Learning and Research
September 29, 2014

By Michael Sean Gallagher in the BAU Writer Series. Michael Gallagher is an Advisory Council Member and Research Lead at BAU Research and Development.

For some of you, it’s possible you can’t remember a time when you weren’t using Facebook, Twitter, MXit, or another alternative. Some of you already use these social networks for both personal and academic use, which is great. I encourage you to use whatever tool you might have at your disposal for learning.

For academic and professional work, social media helps refine your skills of search and discernment; you become a finely tuned listening machine on Twitter. Otherwise, you can easily drown in the noise. With academic and professional research and learning, listening, analyzing and synthesizing information you see is as critical a skillset as you might have. Employers will expect you to be able to sift through the noise and get to the important information quickly and efficiently. Social media can help get you there.

  1. Twitter hashtags. These are the keys to sifting through information on Twitter. I use Tweetdeck on my desktop (mobile versions aren’t quite as good) and have about 10-15 columns sorted by hashtags. I listen to my mobile learning (#mlearning) and elearning (#elearning) communities; I follow my former University of Edinburgh colleagues (#mscel) and my current University of London ones (#ioe). I have columns for information technology (#ict4d) and mobile technology (#m4d) in developing nations, research interests of mine. I use these to stay on top of my fields. Employers will expect you to do the same. You provide value to your employers by being informed and Twitter is a good place to start.
  2. Site/Blog. Stream your social activity into your blog or your website. Let it be your advertisement of social activity and how you interact with your community. I stream all my social activity (more or less) into my blog. I tweet what I am reading with specific hashtags (#msgreads) and then stream that into my blog to show that I am constantly reading and learning more. I pull in my Vimeo, my Flickr, and my Audioboo accounts into my blog. All of it is my living, breathing CV. Bring it all together.
  3. LinkedIn. Don’t deny the power of LinkedIn for employers. They look here to check your resume so keep the details up to date and accurate. They want to see a professional picture, an engaged professional. When posting something of value to Twitter, consider posting to LinkedIn as well. Join a few groups and a few professional societies; get engaged.
  4. Professional vs. Personal presence. I caution you to think about what you post before you post it. Employers do see it and do, consciously or not, make decisions partly informed by what they see. So please do consider reviewing your privacy settings on your social channels; who is seeing what and what that says about me. Ultimately, consider what effect that photo from the party the other night might have on your professional prospects if the hiring manager were to see it.

Editors Note: This Article can also be seen on Michael Sean Gallagher’s personal blog.