Adventures in Social Media: The Results

August 5, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Background and History

Mayo Libraries 2.0 Blog

It began in 2007. On July 9, 2007, sixty librarians and library associates from across all Mayo Clinic sites embarked on the first adventure in social media, a 13-week course (called Mayo Libraries 2.0) designed to familiarize library staff with new web tools. The Mayo Libraries 2.0 program was based conceptually on the Learning 2.0 program initially created by Helene Blowers for the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.[1-3]  Hundreds of other libraries, library systems, and even library organizations have created their own programs based on the original concept–a blog-based, weekly, hands-on exploration of Web 2.0 style tools.[4-11]  The course, like its progenitor, required each participant to create a blog and to complete weekly discovery readings and exercises designed to give hands-on, concrete experience in using each tool.

The Mayo Libraries 2.0 program was geared towards the needs of an academic medical library and covered Web 2.0, blogs, RSS, wikis, online collaboration tools, social bookmarking, social online library catalogs, social networking, podcasts, PubMed mash-ups, and video and image sharing tools. On the Monday of each week, an email was sent to participants directing them to the week’s blog post outlining the concept, providing links to reading materials, and giving explicit directions about the week’s assignment. Biweekly web conferences gave participants the chance to get more detail about the various tools, as well as ask questions and get help on tough assignments. At the end of 13 weeks, library staff celebrated the end of the course with a Jeopardy-style quiz game, a social media themed cake, and of course, certificates of achievement.[12]

Mayo Libraries 2.0 celebration cake

The achievement didn’t stop with course completion–the real achievement came later, as library staff began exploring how the tools they discovered in the course could be applied to their personal and professional lives. In the few short years since the course began, library staff have transitioned the former PDF-based newsletter into a blog format, started tracking and organizing library help documents in Delicious, a social bookmarking web tool that allows tag-based organization; created multiple internal blogs and wikis; used Google Docs for scheduling, document collaboration, and surveys; created Google Calendars and embedded them in intranet web pages, made online book exhibits with LibraryThing, demonstrated the use of Twitter between Melissa (in Rochester) and Ann (in Florida) during a 2.0 presentation in Florida, and even experimented with Facebook.

Delicious Tag Cloud of Library How Do I's

The Libraries have also offered classes and training materials on using RSS and have even transitioned some tables of contents offerings to RSS; created and taught a three hour Faculty Development Workshop on social bookmarking, RSS, and online collaboration tools; and have presented on 2.0 topics across the institution. In other words, the Mayo Libraries 2.0 course gave library staff an opportunity to explore and to think creatively about how we work. Staff who were surveyed about their experience found that their knowledge of the various tools increased significantly, and three months post-course, many were still using some of the tools on a daily or weekly basis.[12]

Web 2.0 for Faculty Blog

The success of this program led the Libraries to develop two additional courses in 2008, this time designed specifically for educators at Mayo Clinic. One course was geared towards faculty in the Mayo School of Health Sciences, and one was for nurse educators. Each of these courses was 16 weeks long, with two weeks per module; as in the Libraries course, each new module was announced via email with a link to the course blog. The courses covered Web 2.0, blogs, RSS, wikis, online collaboration tools, social bookmarking, social networking, and social media sharing, each with an emphasis on how the tools might be used by educators or within the various health professions, and required participants to create their own blog, complete hands-on exercises, and reflect on how they might use the tools. Like the Mayo Libraries 2.0 course, Web 2.0 for Faculty and Web 2.0 for Nursing Education were very successful. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and assessments showed the same significant increase in participants’ knowledge of each social software tool.[13, 14]

Developing the Adventures

Throughout the classes and afterwards, we received requests to keep the content of the modules available and to offer the course elsewhere in the institution. We also had a lot of questions from class participants about how exactly social media was handled at Mayo Clinic—questions we couldn’t necessarily answer. The solution we came up with was to create a Mayo-wide social media course similar to our previous courses, but with an emphasis on how Mayo Clinic was utilizing social media both internally and externally and with a partnership with other areas in the Clinic better disposed to answer questions about policies and procedures, particularly with the Public Affairs department, whose Social Media Team and manager of syndication and social media, Lee Aase, were invaluable to the development of the course.

The process of developing the course, eventually titled “Adventures in Social Media”, began in February 2009. After months of collaboration and excellent feedback from many key departments across the enterprise, who helped us develop scenarios, with design and technology, understand Mayo Clinic’s policies, and with advertising and promotion, the course was released to Mayo Clinic employees in March 2010.

Adventures in Social Media Blog

Because Adventures was designed for everyone at the Clinic, we wanted to make sure it was well-promoted. We worked closely with the internal Public Affairs staff to get as widespread a message out as possible. Public Affairs helped us create announcements for the weekly internal newsletter and created a notice for the electronic posters distributed throughout the Clinic. We also worked on a more fun announcement, including a brief video in which an instructor discussed the program, for an internal blog. The Libraries promoted the course on their main web portal, as well.

E-poster advertising Adventures

A common question from our first series of Learning 2.0 style courses had been, “Can I get CE credit for this?” Though we weren’t able to get any official continuing education credits for the participants, one of the major accomplishments of the course was to integrate it into the existing electronic learning systems at the Clinic, systems which would record class participation on an official education transcript. This was valuable to participants because they would have concrete proof of class participation for their records, but it was even more important to the instructors, as it eliminated the need to monitor and evaluate potentially thousands of blog posts from participants. Instead, we moved to a quiz-based system. Participants could read about each topic, complete the discovery exercises, and then take a brief quiz to assess their knowledge. Though this hands-off method probably led to less participant engagement (after all, no colleagues or instructors were following or reading their blogs), it was a necessary step for offering the course on such a large scale. In reviewing the completed quizzes, we could see that we had participation from all Mayo Clinic sites, and participants ranged from patient care assistants to clinical supervisors to human resources service partners to senior project managers.

Course Content

The course was divided into eight modules:

Module 1 – Policies: The policies module provided links to important Mayo Clinic policies and guidelines that somehow pertained to social media (an example of Mayo’s guidelines is available on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog). For the discovery exercise, participants were asked to read two scenarios, think about how they did or did not fit in with current policies, and post a comment with their response on the blog.

Example scenario:

Sally uses Facebook to see the latest pictures of her grandchildren and stay in touch with her family across the US. She signs in in the morning using a personal email account and reads the latest posts. She checks Facebook again at noon. She has joined the Mayo Facebook group and her pictures and posts are short and friendly. Sally is pleased to have a way to share pictures of her family with coworkers and to get updates on them often. Sally’s boss doesn’t use Facebook or know what it is for. She is worried that her boss might not approve of the time involved and of her using her computer for a non-work related activity. What could she do?

Collaboration module

Module 2 – Blogs: The blogs module is the heart of the Adventures class. After reading an introduction to blogs, participants could then follow the steps to create their own blog, which would in turn be used to complete the remainder of the modules’ discovery activities.

Module 3 – RSS: RSS is perhaps one of the most complicated Web 2.0 topics to describe. The introductory text and video gave an explanation, and additional linked resources and videos gave participants more examples. In the discovery exercise, participants created a Google Reader (or other RSS reader) account, subscribed to five feeds, and posted on their blog about how they might use RSS.

Module 4 – Wikis: Wikis are one of the most widely understood Web 2.0 tools, thanks to Wikipedia. The wiki module included videos and text to describe wikis. The discovery exercise required participants to find a wiki that interested them and evaluate it on their blog. An optional exercise encouraged participants to create their own wiki.

Module 5 – Collaboration: Though wikis are also a collaboration tool, the Collaboration module focused on the myriad of other types of collaboration tools now available on the web: word processors, spreadsheets, calendars, flowcharts, and many more. Participants could choose between two discovery exercises: testing a real-time, multi-person text authoring tool (an Etherpad clone) with a co-worker or contributing to a Google Docs word document.

Module 6 – Bookmarking: The bookmarking module introduced the concept of social bookmarking, a tool used to store, manage, share, and find online web resources, and its sister concept, tagging. For the discovery exercise, participants explored Delicious through various paths to see how the site worked. They then created a blog post talking about their experience and potential uses of the tool.

Module 7 – Social Networking: These days, it seems practically everyone is on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn—or any of the hundreds of other social networks out there. Because knowledge of these tools is approaching universal, the reading focused on how Mayo Clinic was using social networking tools both internally and externally. Participants then chose a hospital’s Twitter or Facebook page of their choosing, explored it, and wrote a blog post about their findings for the discovery exercise.

Module 8 – Media Sharing: The social media module emphasized sites that enable people to share audio (podcasting), video, and images. Participants could choose from three discovery exercises, one on each type of shared media. Each exercise required the participants to find a shared media item and blog about it; the photo and video exercises additionally involved embedding the media item in their blog post.

Chat widget

Each module’s discovery exercise was designed for participants to get experience, but in a way that would not require much instructor support. We cut down on the number of exercises that required participants to create new accounts, tried to emphasize reflection, and focused primarily on getting blog practice and on Mayo Clinic’s use of these tools. To answer any questions that did arise, library staff were available through a chat widget built directly into the blog for the first six weeks the course was offered. Though the chat widget was not entirely successful (there were times when library staff response may have been delayed beyond the patience of the person needing help), it made supporting the course more manageable, plus, from the Libraries’ perspective, allowed our staff to get hands-on experience using this type of tool.


Adventures was a major undertaking for the Libraries, and one we hope will live on in the Clinic, ready to serve as a reference for social media adventurers for years to come. To keep some of the adventuring spirit alive, library staff have begun adding additional bonus content to the Adventures blog. Readers can learn about more complex features of tools the course covered, fill out polls, learn about new and emerging tools, and much more. The original eight modules remain on the intranet for Mayo Clinic staff and students (sorry, this is only available within Mayo Clinic!), who can still get credit on their transcripts for completing a module. Want to delve into these 2.0 resources? Begin your Adventure now!

New and emerging trends blog post

Submitted by Melissa Rethlefsen, Learning Resource Center, and Ann Farrell, Winn Dixie Foundation Medical Library


1. Blowers H, Reed L. The C’s of our sea change: plans for training staff, from core competencies to Learning 2.0. Computers in Libraries 2007;27:10-5.

2. About the Learning 2.0 project. 2006. (Accessed January 16, 2009, at

3. Blowers H. 10 Tips about 23 Things. School Library Journal 2008;54:53-7.

4. Gross J, Leslie L. Twenty-three steps to learning Web 2.0 technologies in an academic library. Electronic Library 2008;26:790-802.

5. Larsen M. The “social” way to learn online: Learning 2.0 @ Multnomah County Library. OLA Quarterly 2008;14:22-5;35.

6. Perry SC, Scott C. Assessing the impact of Learning 2.0 in an academic library. In: Carl Conference. Irvine, CA: California Academic and Research Libraries; 2008.

7. Ragon B, Horne AS, Wilson D. Veggies 2.0 (because it’s good for you). In: Medical Library Association Annual Meeting. Chicago, IL: Medical Library Association; 2008.

8. Rethlefsen ML, Piorun M, Prince JD. Teaching Web 2.0 technologies using Web 2.0 technologies. J Med Libr Assoc 2009;97:253-9.

9. Simpson T. Keeping up with technology: Orange County Library embraces Learn 2.0. Florida Libraries 2007;50:8-10.

10. Sjoblom L. Embracing technology: the Deschutes Public Library’s Learning 2.0 program. OLA Quarterly 2008;14:2-6.

11. Kingsley I, Jensen K. Learning 2.0: a tool for staff training at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Rasmuson Library. In: Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship 2009;12(1).

12. Rethlefsen ML, Farrell AM. Cross-country connections: implementing Learning 2.0 in a multistate medical library system. In: Medical Library Association Annual Meeting. Chicago, IL: Medical Library Association; 2008.

13. Rethlefsen ML, Farrell AM, Ryan M. Welcome to the edublogosphere: educating the future, today. In: Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions Annual Conference. Baltimore, MD; 2008.

14. Rethlefsen ML, Farrell AM. Web 2.0 for Faculty. Presented to Health Sciences Education Committee; 2008.

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