About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 3211-3219
ISBN: 978-84-09-27666-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2021.0676
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
According to the socio-constructivist theories of learning, collaborative learning allows negotiation of shared meanings and co-construction of new knowledge among peers, as opposed to more transmissive and teacher-led methods (Anderson, 2008; Wenger, 1999). This approach fits particularly well with healthcare professionals’ training needs, as these professionals often face challenging issues that require not only up-to-date evidence-based medical knowledge, but also the ability to fully understand the complexity of the patients’ health conditions by working with others (Boyd et. al, 2015; Zook et al., 2018; Reis et al., 2015; Breen, 2015; Smith & Jones, 2016; Wright & Leaby, 2009).

As a consequence, collaborative learning “has been substantially used in nursing education for several decades” (Zhang & Cui, 2018). Nonetheless, collaborative learning seems to have been mostly used in face-to-face contexts. When it comes to e-learning, instead, collaborative approaches seem less common and still need investigation (Breen, 2015; Zhang & Cui, 2018).

In our study, following (Breen, 2015; Zhang & Cui, 2018)’s recommendations, we investigate the use of online collaborative learning in nurse and midwifery training contexts through a systematic literature review aimed at answering the following research question:
RQ: What kind of online collaborative learning activities are proposed in nurse and midwifery professional development?

Articles were collected in July 2020 using Web of Science, Scopus and Medline. The search was restricted to papers in English published in 2015-2020.
A total of 469 records (224 after duplicate removal) were retrieved. Titles, abstracts and keywords were read and analysed against inclusion criteria. The resulting dataset contained 104 full papers, which were coded. The final number of full papers, selected according to relevance, is 42.

Generally speaking, we must acknowledge a certain paucity of papers addressing exactly the area we were interested in. The majority of the retrieved papers illustrate the use of simple discussions /debates, usually carried out in forums or via synchronous communication systems. Most of the time, though, these discussions are not structured in any way and - apparently - there is no joint assignment or common objective/artefact that learners need to reach/ produce. This is in contrast with most of the literature related to online collaborative learning (Pozzi & Persico, 2011), where it is clearly claimed that online collaboration should be always oriented to a common goal. In a minority of the retrieved studies, collaborative learning is associated with problem based learning approaches (often in the form of case studies), as is quite common in healthcare training contexts. In terms of technologies used, except for the already mentioned boards/forums and synchronous communication environments, we should mention social media. In terms of social structure, most of the time small groups are used, while there is no mention of collaborative activities where groups are composed and then re-assembled in different phases of the activity (as for example it happens in a Jigsaw).

As conclusive remarks, the paper proposes a number of research areas seldom investigated and that would deserve further attention in the future.
Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, online training, systematic literature review.