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The use of collaborative writing applications in healthcare education - a scoping review

Date and Location




Monday 23 September 2013 - 10:30 - 12:00


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Maude Bernier

Contact person

Patrick Archambault
Abstract text
Background: : Collaborative writing applications (CWAs) (e.g., wikis, Google Docs) offer interesting possibilities for healthcare education. There is a need to systematically synthesize the growing evidence concerning their impact on healthcare education. Objectives: To assess the depth and breadth of the literature studying the impact of CWAs in healthcare education. We aimed to discover the type of CWAs studied, the educational setting of their use and the educational impact on the learner. Methods: This review is part of a larger scoping review exploring the use of CWA in healthcare that systematically searched the literature in medical and education databases (PubMed, Embase, Cochrane, CINAHL, PsychInfo, Eric and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses) from 2001 to 2011 with the following search terms: “wiki”, “wikis”, “web 2.0”, “social media”, “Google Knol”, “Google Docs” and “collaborative writing applications”. CWAs were defined as any technology enabling joint and simultaneous editing of online documents by many end users. We included papers presenting qualitative or quantitative empirical evidence concerning CWA use in healthcare education. Articles were excluded if they only discussed blogs, forums or learning communities. Two reviewers independently reviewed citations, selected studies and extracted data using a standardized form. Results: Figure 1 presents our flow chart. Out of 110 articles whose full text was reviewed, we found 2 experimental and 2 quasi-experimental studies. Characteristics of these studies are detailed in Table 1. One experimental study yielded positive results about using Google Docs to teach scientific writing. The other experimental study demonstrated that a wiki-facilitated problem-based learning course improved student communication skills and satisfaction, but decreased diagnostic skills. Conclusions: A formal systematic review is further needed to critically appraise the quality of these papers and synthesize their results. This will help inform the design of future trials exploring the use of CWAs for teaching in the healthcare field.