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Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute (TEKRI)

Social Media for Learning

Social Media Overview

There is increasing evidence that social integration plays a key role in motivation, confidence and willingness to engage in deep levels of learning. In addition we know that knowledge itself is contextually constrained and contained and that social interaction across cultural, linguistic and geographic boundaries is essential for deep understanding of the world and the many physical and social processes which sustain life. The study of social networking and the ways in which our connections with others and with information is of critical importance to our understanding of the learning process and of life itself. Beyond that, social engagements in traditional group spaces, as well as in broader sets of people with similar interests and, crucially, collective intelligence that emerges through mediated and unmediated interaction, are central to how we learn.  

Social media for learning is a design-based research domain that creates, sustains and stimulates varieties of social  relationships  and the tools for information sharing and knowledge construction. It then measures the effects of these social interventions and refines and improves the context of mediated study and learning. Social media extend beyond classroom groups to encompass learning interactions amongst networks of teachers, distributed learners, external experts and professional communities. Social media begin in formal education but extend to become the basis for lifelong learning networks and sustaining relationships that continue beyond formal learning experiences.

Why are Social Media Important?

If you start your learning journey with a Google Search or using Wikipedia, then social media matter to your learning. Social media can:

  • Reduce attrition through social support of peers, teachers, education systems and external networks
  • Provide opportunities and expertise in social capital building
  • Provide opportunities for learners to develop lifelong learning networks and social skills
  • Provide tools for creating, locating and tagging learning objects, artifacts and portfolios
  • Extend and enhance learner achievement and collaborative learning expertise.
  • Create and sustain networks of teachers, administrators, business and professional colleagues
  • and a whole lot more!

Researchers Involved

Team Lead: Jon Dron

TEKRI Activities in Social Media     

Developing Athabasca Landing, a social site for AU

Coordinated first TEKRI Doctoral Seminar 2010    

Active members of the Elgg development Open Source community.      

Key note talks at 12 international conference (2010-11)       

Key Note talks (2010 &11) at Athabasca learning Analytics conference



Dron, J. & Anderson, T. (2014), Teaching Crowds: Learning & Social Media. Athabasca:AU Press (


Dron, J. (2012). The Pedagagogical-technological divide and the elephant in the room. International Journal on E-Learning, 11(1).

Hartnett, M., St George, A., & Dron, J. (2011). Examining Motivation in Online Distance Learning Environments: Complex, Multifaceted and Situation-Dependent. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(6), 20-38.

Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2011). Three generations of distance education pedagogy. International Review of Research on Distance and Open Learning, 12(3), 80-97.    

Miyazoe, T., & Anderson, T. (2010). Learning outcomes and students' perceptions of online writing: Simultaneous implementation of a forum, blog, and wiki in an EFL blended learning setting. System 38(2). Retrieved from  

Dron, J. & Anderson, T. (2009). Lost in social space: Information retrieval issues in Web 1.5 Journal of Digital Information 10(2) Retrieved Jan 2009 from

Book Chapters:     

Anderson, T.  (2012) Networks, Web 2.0 and the Connected learner in R. Reiser and J. Dempsey, Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology, 3/E. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.     

Anderson, T. (2011). Forward. In T. Mackey & T. Jacobson (Eds.) (pp. xi-xiii) Teaching Information Literacy Online. New York: Neil Shuman Publishing. -      

Anderson, T., Dolan, V. & Booth, B. (2010). Future Trends: Network technologies and adjunct faculty. In L. Cooper & B. Booth (eds.) The Adjunct Faculty Handbook. Sage: Thousand Oaks CA.     

Anderson, T. (2010). Social Networking. In S. Mishra (Ed.), E-Learning: STRIDE Handbook 8 (pp. 96-101). New Delhi: IGNOU. Retrieved from      

Anderson, T. (2010). Interactions Affording Distance Science Education. In D. Kennepohl & L. Shaw (Eds.), Accessible Elements: Teaching Science Online and at a Distance (pp. 1-18). Edmonton: Athabasca University Press      

Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2009). How the crowd can teach. In S. Hatzipanagos & S. Warburton (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Social Software and Developing Community Ontologies. (pp. 1-17). Hershey, PA: IGI Global Information Science

Conference proceedings

Dron, J., Anderson, T., & Siemens, G. (2011). Putting things in context: designing social media for education. Paper presented at the European Conference on E-Learning 2011, Brighton, UK.



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