The New Social Learning Home Page
Chapter Summaries

The Story

The Mayo Clinic is the first and largest not-for-profit medical practice in the world, employing 57,000 physicians, scientists, researchers, allied health professionals, and residents. The world-class staff’s aim is to create a culture of collaborative care with social media. The idea came about when a radiologist saw something on an x-ray that he’d never seen before and asked, via the Mayo Clinic’s internal microsharing network how microsharing could be used clinically. His question led to the formation of a three-person team – all colleagues who’d never met before – that collaborated to write a proposal to study how to do microsharing well, got funded to run the project, and never met in person until the project was approved and funded. The entire scope of the project planning – from inception to launch – was done via microsharing. There were not face-to-face meetings, no email, no phone calls, texts, or file attachments. And all of it was accomplished in three weeks.

The Technology

Microsharing is the class of social software tools that enables people to update one another with short bursts of text, links, and multimedia either through standalone applications or as part of larger online communities or social networks. Messages generally can’t exceed 140 characters, the total that mobile devices (SMS) can accept. Microsharing utilities like Twitter, Socialcast, Cubetree, and Yammer can quickly convey text messages or images to an extended enterprise, a decentralized workforce, a dispersed campus, a community of practice, a small group of friends, or just one person who needs to know. Enterprise microsharing can help address a dueling dilemma for organizations needing to move knowledge where people need it now and keeping information from leaking out of the organization.

Responding to Critics

Some of the most common objections to microsharing include: I have too much to say; I don’t have time; I can’t participate because my company blocks its use; it’s only for young people with time on their hands; it’s overwhelming; answers are hit or miss; and I don’t know how to use it. To answer the critics you can tell them: amid shrinking attention spans and increasing distractions we all need skills to craft clear and concise messages; turn your open minutes into learning moments; even the most security-conscious organizations can bring these capabilities in house; CEOs and industry leaders of all ages are beginning to use microsharing to open dialogues within their organizations; throughout enterprises and with potential customers; Twitter tutorials are everywhere and in them you can learn how to manage and use the technology so it meets your needs.


Whether you want to use Twitter or an internal microsharing platform, the steps for getting started are fairly similar.

  1. Sign up
  2. Start smart by posting the type of information that interests you
  3. Post regularly
  4. Keep posts short
  5. Follow carefully and search for people and topics that interest you
  6. Go mobile so that you can have the freedom to post any time