TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, October 9, 2017

Which Law School Will Become The Mayo Clinic Of Legal Education Via The Dean And Faculty's Use Of Social Media?

Mayo 3Kevin O’Keefe (CEO & Founder, LexBlog), Law Schools Need To Introduce Social Learning:

Little question that some law school students are using social media and blogging to build a name for themselves. ... But how many law students are blogging and using social media for learning? How many law professors and law schools are promoting its use for learning?

Sadly, not many — and that’s a loss for the students, as well possible malfeasance on a law school’s part for failing to do so.

ZDNet’s Dion Hinchcliffe recently reported that though technology has long been used to improve how we learn, today’s digital advances, particularly with social media, have taken learning in a powerful new direction:

[The digitization of learning] allows learning — for better or worse, depending on the critic — to be far more situational, on-demand, self-directed, infinitely customized, even outright enjoyable, depending on the user experience, all of which leads to more profound engagement of learners.

In addition, the rise of social networking technology has allowed people with similar learning interests to come together as a group to share knowledge on a subject — and perhaps even more significantly — to express their passion for an area of learning. This can create deeper, more intense, and more immersive educational experiences within a community of like-minded learners. ...

“Social learning” is more than theory, the use of digital platforms and social networks to bring together communities has proven to work. ... Hinchcliffe suggests organizations lay a foundation for social learning. In the case of law schools, a foundation means creating a positive environment for social media and blogging.

Do professors and the dean use social media? Are they demonstrating, by example, that social is important for learning and networking?

In many cases, not only are these folks not using social, they’re scaring students from using social: “Writing unedited content is dangerous. Blogging is not professional. Everything you put on the net will remain there forever. Divide your personal lives from your professional lives as lawyers.”

If the law school’s dean and influential professors aren’t on board with social learning, forget it. And if they’re not, you have to ask yourself whether they’re fit for the job.

No one is expecting every dean and professor to start rampant blogging and social networking. But an acknowledgement that the stuff is legit and represents a learning opportunity for students is key. Better yet, they should learn social themselves through a little trial and error.

In 2012, the CEO of Mayo Clinic, calling social media not an option but a requirement, launched the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media to coordinate and focus the Clinic’s various social media initiatives for among, other things, the education of patients, students, and employees (doctors and in-house counsel included).

The healthcare industry, which was facing a world of problems, and the clinics employees were skeptical — to say the least. The doctors and lawyers at Mayo Clinic weren’t social media users, let alone users for professional purposes.

Mayo now dominates social in medicine. Their patients, students and employees are learning more and are more engaged — through their personal and professional use of social media.

Change takes time, but law schools and law school deans need to say, “Yes. Social learning is important. Social is something we need to learn and something we need to teach.”

Students — and professors — are owed it.

About The Mayo Clinic:

In the U.S. News & World Report rankings of top hospitals, Mayo Clinic is the #1 hospital overall, as well as #1 in more specialties than any other hospital in the nation [more here].

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