The Adoption of Social Media in Education

On a Mayo blue Post-It hanging from my bulletin board is a quote from Dr. William Mayo: “Today the only thing which is permanent is change.” Every morning, as I start out my day, I reflect on this quote, anticipating the adventures ahead in relation to advances in curricula and education technology.

In my role as a professional educator, working with the continuum of health professions education, every day is unique, especially with ongoing education technology development and trends, which are dynamic. One such evolution is social media. Specifically, in graduate medical education, whether for informal, self-directed learning, or formal education, such as a "case of the week," the integration of social media is increasing.1 This is due in part due to the rapid pace of graduate medical education and the sheer volume of information to be consumed driving informal learning needs, yet also in part to the implications of duty hours impacting formal learning. 1

Two specific pedagogical trends influencing education technology adoption are collaborative learning and deeper learning approaches.2

Grounded in the construct that learning is social, collaborative learning engages learners in sharing of evidence and resources, collective processing of information, and disseminating of findings.

This leads to deeper learning through active, authentic inquiry; critical analysis of the information; and social knowledge construction with a community of peers. The adoption of social media in education creates a flexible environment for facilitating collaborative, deeper learning by providing an avenue to network and dialogue with an international community.

So what does this look like in practice? The Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology’s (DLMP's) Anatomic and Clinical Pathology Residency Programs have embraced these trends and, in collaboration with departmental fellowship programs, have integrated Twitter into graduate medical education. Driven by the desire to deliver original content, educate others, and to build a pathology education network, the resident-led initiative resulted in the launch of @MayoClinicPath and #MayoPath.

In less than one year, the community has grown to more than 1,750 followers engaging in the collaborative sharing of pathology education “pearls,” recognizing and celebrating the successes of colleagues, and disseminating research. As a secondary outcome, a number of residents, fellows, allied health, and faculty has developed individual Twitter accounts to engage in the dialogue and establish their own digital identity.

We invite you to join the @MayoClinicPath community and engage in the #MayoPath dialogue. It is a truly dynamic adventure, evolving with the community.

According to Kabeer Shah, M.D., @kabeerkshah, resident at Mayo Clinic, "#SoMe (social media) is a unique tool for global open source #MedEd (medical education). Through #SoMe, readers can galvanize and refine their learning through high-yield microblogging, vivid images, and direct engagement with 'thought leaders' in parallel with linked peer-reviewed journal articles."

"As a co-developer of @MayoClinicPath and physician resident, my learning began at the administrative level, engaging with institutional leadership while understanding risk-mitigation strategies and maintaining brand identity," said Dr. Shah.

Dr. Shah explained, "Another avenue of learning is development of thought-provoking and engaging educational content for all learning styles and ages. #SoMe analytics has verified that users are not limited to millennials or 'first adopters,' rather medical professionals and patients (ages 25–65) seeking doses of continued education in a variety of formats. #MedEd is now more approachable for people with busy schedules due to on-demand access of distilled educational content."

According to Melanie Bois, M.D., @MelanieBoisMD, resident at Mayo Clinic, "Participating in @MayoClinicPath has broadened the scope of my education in ways I could not have predicted before starting on this #SoMe journey. I discovered a wealth of information, cases, and learning points available at my fingertips, which is easily integrated into our increasingly hectic lives at the times most convenient for us."

"Becoming a part of the #SoMe community through @MayoClinicPath has provided me with national and international networking opportunities that have positively impacted my professional growth," stated Dr. Bois.


  1. Sterling, M., Leung, P., Wright, D. & Bishop, T. (2017). The use of social media in graduate medical education: A systematic review. Academic Medicine. Published online ahead of print.
  2. Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., Freeman, A., Hall Giesinger, C., and Ananthanarayanan, V. (2017). NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Elissa Hall

Elissa Hall, EdD (ABD), is the Associate Director for Curriculum and Education Technology and an Assistant Professor at Mayo Clinic. She leads education initiatives and collaborates with the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science to design and implement curriculum, assessments, digital pedagogies, and education technology. She coordinates and mentors education research and scholarship at the institution and engages in interprofessional, inter-institutional education research projects.