Systematic Mapping of the Social Construction of Learning (2015-2020): Challenges for Online Learning Environments




Social construction of learning, Virtual learning communities, Social interaction, Educational innovation, Higher education


The purpose of this study is to identify and characterize the state of social construction of learning in virtual communities within online learning environments and to identify the advances and research challenges of social learning. The method was a systematic mapping to analyze the evidence published on the topic in 2015-2020. We automatically searched the Scopus and Web of Science databases, applying inclusion and exclusion criteria to obtain the maximum relevant information. The pre-designed search strategy resulted in 187 articles. The main research topic addressed in most of these is learning as a social construction in training contexts, primarily virtual communities. In higher education, the United States is the country with the most active researchers on this topic. In addition, the most significant findings show that in a virtual learning community, social and cognitive interactions with teaching presence are crucial for students to build knowledge and achieve a higher level of learning. This study describes challenges related to the various methodologies, geographical scope, and types of social construction learning in virtual learning communities. This research is intended to be of value to teachers, decision-makers, designers of research and researchers interested in the social construction of learning in online learning environments.

Author Biographies

Ruth-Elizabeth Minga-Vallejo, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja

Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Educación y Humanidades

María-Soledad Ramírez-Montoya, Tecnológico de Monterrey

Escuela de Humanidades y Educación


Abdelmalak, M. M. M. (2015). Web 2.0 Technologies and Building Online Learning Communities: Students’ Perspectives. Online Learning, 19(2), n2.

Acevedo, M. A. (2020). Teaching quantitative ecology online: An evidence‐based prescription of best practices. Ecology and Evolution, 10(22), 12457-12464.

Alwafi, E. (2022). Designing an Online Discussion Strategy with Learning Analytics Feedback on the Level of Cognitive Presence and Student Interaction in an Online Learning Community. Online Learning, 26(1).

Ary, D., Jacobs, L. C., Irvine, C. K. S., & Walker, D. (2018). Introduction to research in education. Cengage Learning.

Berry, S. (2017a). Student Support Networks in Online Doctoral Programs: Exploring Nested Communities. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 12, 033-048.

Berry, S. (2017b). Building Community in Online Doctoral Classrooms: Instructor Practices that Support Community. Online Learning, 21(2).

Beth, A. D., Jordan, M. E., Schallert, D. L., Reed, J. H., & Kim, M. (2015). Responsibility and generativity in online learning communities. Interactive Learning Environments, 23(4), 471-484.

Brereton, P., Kitchenham, B. A., Budgen, D., Turner, M., & Khalil, M. (2007). Lessons from applying the systematic literature review process within the software engineering domain. Journal of systems and software, 80(4), 571-583.

Byrd, J. C. (2016). Understanding the Online Doctoral Learning Experience: Factors That Contribute to Students’ Sense of Community. Journal of Educators Online, 13(2), 102-135.

Cajiao, F. (2017). Educación superior en América Latina y el Caribe: Desafíos y asuntos pendientes. Revista Educación Superior y Sociedad (ESS), 24(24), 161-180.

Cho, H. (2016). Under co-construction: An online community of practice for bilingual pre-service teachers. Computers & Education, 92, 76-89.

Cruz-Benito, J. (2016). Systematic literature review & mapping.

Delmas, P. M. (2017). Using VoiceThread to Create Community in Online Learning. TechTrends, 61(6), 595-602.

Dron, J., & Ostashewski, N. (2015). Seeking connectivist freedom and instructivist safety in a MOOC. Educación XX1, 18(2), 51-76.

Duart, J. M., Roig-Vila, R., Universidad de Alicante, Mengual-Andrés, S., Universidad de Valencia, Maseda Durán, M.-Á., & Universidad de Valencia. (2017). La calidad pedagógica de los MOOC a partir de la revisión sistemática de las publicaciones JCR y Scopus (2013-2015). Revista Española de Pedagogía, 75(1), 29-46.

Elshareif, E., & Mohamed, E. (2021). The effects of e-learning on students’ motivation to learn in higher education. Online Learning, 25(3), 128-143.

Ensmann, S., Whiteside, A., Gomez-Vasquez, L., & Sturgill, R. (2021a). Connections Before Curriculum: The Role of Social Presence During COVID-19 Emergency Remote Learning for Students. Online Learning, 25(3).

Ensmann, S., Whiteside, A., Gomez-Vasquez, L., & Sturgill, R. (2021b). Connections Before Curriculum: The Role of Social Presence During COVID-19 Emergency Remote Learning for Students. Online Learning, 25(3).

Escardíbul, J.-O., & Mediavilla, M. (2016). El efecto de las TIC en la adquisición de competencias. Un análisis por tipo de centro educativo. Revista española de pedagogía, 317-335.

Flood, S., Cradock-Henry, N. A., Blackett, P., & Edwards, P. (2018). Adaptive and interactive climate futures: Systematic review of ‘serious games’ for engagement and decision-making. Environmental Research Letters, 13(6), 063005.

Galoyan, T., Betts, K., Delaney, B., & Fourie, M. (2021). Exploring Online Pedagogical Practices for Enhancing Transfer of Learning in Higher Education. Online Learning, 25(4).

Gao, F., & Li, L. (2017). Examining a one‐hour synchronous chat in a microblogging‐based professional development community. British Journal of Educational Technology, 48(2), 332-347.

García-González, A., & Ramírez-Montoya, M.-S. (2019). Systematic mapping of scientific production on open innovation (2015–2018): Opportunities for sustainable training environments. Sustainability, 11(6), 1781.

García-Peñalvo, Borrás-Gené, O., Therón Sánchez, R., Fidalgo Blanco, Á., & Cruz-Benito, J. (2015). Detección de aprendizaje no formal e informal en Comunidades de Aprendizaje soportadas por Redes Sociales en el contexto de un MOOC Cooperativo.

García-Peñalvo, F. (2017). Mapeos sistemáticos de literatura, revisiones sistemáticas de literatura y benchmarking de programas formativos.

García-Peñalvo, F., & Seoane Pardo, A. M. (2015). An updated review of the concept of eLearning. Tenth anniversary. Education in the knowledge society, 16(1), 119-144.

Garrison, D. R. (2016). E-learning in the 21st century: A community of inquiry framework for research and practice. Routledge.

Goeman, K., De Grez, L., van den Muijsenberg, E., & Elen, J. (2020). Investigating the enactment of social presence in blended adult education. Educational Research, 62(3), 340-356.

Gonzalez, L. S., & Ozuna, C. S. (2021). Troublesome Knowledge: Identifying Barriers To Innovate For Breakthroughs In Learning To Teach Online. Online Learning, 25(3).

González Pérez, M. A. G. (2015). Enriquecimiento tecnológico y psicopedagógico del concepto de comunidades de práctica en la educación a distancia. Revista de Educación a Distancia (RED), 47.

González-Pérez, L.-I., Ramírez-Montoya, M.-S., & García-Peñalvo, F. J. (2019). Innovación educativa en estudios sobre el desarrollo y uso de la tecnología: Un mapeo sistemático.

González‐Sanmamed, M., Muñoz‐Carril, P., & Santos‐Caamaño, F. (2019). Key components of learning ecologies: A Delphi assessment. British Journal of Educational Technology, 50(4), 1639-1655.

Haubrick, J., Levy, D., & Cruz, L. (2021). Developing Peer Review of Instruction in an Online Master Course Model. Online Learning, 25(3).

Hauch, V., Sporer, S. L., Masip, J., & Blandón-Gitlin, I. (2017). Can credibility criteria be assessed reliably? A meta-analysis of criteria-based content analysis. Psychological Assessment, 29(6), 819.

Hernández-García, Á., González-González, I., Jiménez-Zarco, A. I., & Chaparro-Peláez, J. (2015). Applying social learning analytics to message boards in online distance learning: A case study. Computers in Human Behavior, 47, 68-80.

Houda, S., Naila, A., & Samir, B. (2019). Knowledge management and reuse in virtual learning communities. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, 14(16).

Howe, E. L., & Schnabel, M. A. (2012). The changing face of problem-based learning: Social networking and interprofessional collaboration. En Problem-based learning in clinical education (pp. 121-137). Springer.

IESALC-UNESCO. (2021). Instituto Internacional para la Educación Superior en America Latina y el Caribe.

Jan, S. K., Vlachopoulos, P., & Parsell, M. (2019). Social Network Analysis and Learning Communities in Higher Education Online Learning: A Systematic Literature Review. Online Learning, 23(1).

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2014). Cooperative Learning in 21st Century.[Aprendizaje cooperativo en el siglo XXI]. Anales de Psicología/Annals of Psychology, 30(3), 841-851.

Joksimović, S., Gašević, D., Kovanović, V., Riecke, B. E., & Hatala, M. (2015). Social presence in online discussions as a process predictor of academic performance. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 31(6), 638-654.

Kaliisa, R., Rienties, B., Mørch, A. I., & Kluge, A. (2022). Social learning analytics in computer-supported collaborative learning environments: A systematic review of empirical studies. Computers and Education Open, 3, 100073.

Kearney, N. (2015). Comunidades de aprendizaje: Un enfoque pedagógico de futuro.

Kitchenham, B. (2004). Procedures for performing systematic reviews. Keele, UK, Keele University, 33(2004), 1-26.

Kitchenham, B., Pretorius, R., Budgen, D., Brereton, O. P., Turner, M., Niazi, M., & Linkman, S. (2010). Systematic literature reviews in software engineering–a tertiary study. Information and software technology, 52(8), 792-805.

Kozan, K., & Caskurlu, S. (2018). On the Nth presence for the Community of Inquiry framework. Computers & Education, 122, 104-118.

Kroll, J., Richardson, I., Prikladnicki, R., & Audy, J. L. (2018). Empirical evidence in follow the Sun software development: A systematic mapping study. Information and Software Technology, 93, 30-44.

Lin, Y.-N., & Hsia, L.-H. (2019). From social interactions to strategy and skills promotion. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 22(2), 71-85.

Lind, J., Ghirlanda, S., & Enquist, M. (2019). Social learning through associative processes: A computational theory. Royal Society open science, 6(3), 181777.

Liou, D.-K., Chih, W.-H., Yuan, C.-Y., & Lin, C.-Y. (2016). The study of the antecedents of knowledge sharing behavior: The empirical study of Yambol online test community. Internet Research.

Liu, K., Miller, R., & Jahng, K. E. (2016). Participatory media for teacher professional development: Toward a self-sustainable and democratic community of practice. Educational Review, 68(4), 420-443.

Long, Y., & Koehler, A. A. (2021). Student Participation and Interaction in Online Case-Based Discussions: Comparing Expert and Novice Facilitation. Online Learning, 25(4).

Luo, Freeman, C., & Stefaniak, J. (2020). Like, comment, and share professional development through social media in higher education: A systematic review. Educational Technology Research and Development, 68(4), 1659-1683.

Macera, I. M. (2017). El taller y la integración curricular. Reflexiones sobre la herencia y el porvenir en el aula universitaria. Praxis Pedagógica, 17(21), 79-94.

Mansor, N. A., Abdullah, N., & Rahman, H. (2020). Towards electronic learning features in education 4.0 environment: Literature study. Indones. J. Electr. Eng. Comput. Sci, 19(1), 442.

Michailidis, N., Kapravelos, E., & Tsiatsos, T. (2018). Interaction analysis for supporting students’ self-regulation during blog-based CSCL activities. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 21(1), 37-47.

Moher, D., Liberati, A., Tetzlaff, J., Altman, D. G., & Prisma Group. (2009). Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: The PRISMA statement. PLoS medicine, 6(7), e1000097.

Moore, R. L., & Miller, C. N. (2022). Fostering Cognitive Presence in Online Courses: A Systematic Review (2008-2020). Online Learning, 26(1).

Nacu, D. C., Martin, C. K., Pinkard, N., & Gray, T. (2016). Analyzing educators’ online interactions: A framework of online learning support roles. Learning, Media and Technology, 41(2), 283-305.

Noguchi, F., Guevara, J. R., & Yorozu, R. (2018). Comunidades en acción: Aprendizaje a lo largo de toda la vida para el desarrollo sostenible.

Overstreet, M. (2020). Strategies for building community among learners in online courses. College Teaching, 68(1), 45-48.

Pedreira, O., García, F., Brisaboa, N., & Piattini, M. (2015). Gamification in software engineering–A systematic mapping. Information and software technology, 57, 157-168.

Petersen, K., Feldt, R., Mujtaba, S., & Mattsson, M. (2008). Systematic mapping studies in software engineering. 1-10.

Petersen, K., Vakkalanka, S., & Kuzniarz, L. (2015). Guidelines for conducting systematic mapping studies in software engineering: An update. Information and Software Technology, 64, 1-18.

Pinto, H. (2016). Instituciones, innovación y transferencia de conocimiento: Contribuciones de los estudios sobre las variedades del capitalismo.

Quintana, R. M., Pinto, J. D., & Tan, Y. (2021). What We Learned When We Compared Discussion Posts from One MOOC Hosted on Two Platforms. Online Learning, 25(4).

Ramírez-Montoya, M. S. (2020). Challenges for Open Education with Educational Innovation: A Systematic Literature Review. Sustainability, 12(17), 7053.

Rosé, C. P., & Ferschke, O. (2016). Technology support for discussion based learning: From computer supported collaborative learning to the future of massive open online courses. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 26(2), 660-678.

Sanahuja, J. A., & Tezanos Vázquez, S. (2017). «Del milenio a la sostenibilidad»: Retos y perspectivas de la Agenda 2030 para el desarrollo sostenible. Política y Sociedad, 54(2), 521-543.

Sekkal, H., Amrous, N., & Bennani, S. (2019). Knowledge Management and Reuse in Virtual Learning Communities. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (IJET), 14(16), 23.

Shen, G. (2018). Investigation and Reflection on College English Teachers’ Informationized Teaching Research Ability. Journal of Advanced Oxidation Technologies, 21(2).

Shukla, T., Dosaya, D., Nirban, V. S., & Vavilala, M. P. (2020). Factors extraction of effective teaching-learning in online and conventional classrooms. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 10(6), 422-427.

Souviron-López, M. B. (2018). Enseñar Lengua. Hacia un nuevo concepto de aprendizaje. Estrategias didácticas para el desarrollo de la expresión oral y escrita.

Sun, A., & Chen, X. (2016). Online education and its effective practice: A research review. Journal of Information Technology Education, 15.

Swaggerty, E. A., & Broemmel, A. D. (2017). Authenticity, relevance, and connectedness: Graduate students’ learning preferences and experiences in an online reading education course. The Internet and Higher Education, 32, 80-86.

Tawfik, A. A., Reeves, T. D., Stich, A. E., Gill, A., Hong, C., McDade, J., Pillutla, V. S., Zhou, X., & Giabbanelli, P. J. (2017). The nature and level of learner–learner interaction in a chemistry massive open online course (MOOC). Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 29(3), 411-431.

Tegos, S., & Demetriadis, S. (2017). Conversational agents improve peer learning through building on prior knowledge. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 20(1), 99-111.

Teo, H. J., Johri, A., & Lohani, V. (2017). Analytics and patterns of knowledge creation: Experts at work in an online engineering community. Computers & Education, 112, 18-36.

UNESCO. (2017). Community-based learning for sustainable development.

Vasen, F., & Vilchis, I. L. (2017). Sistemas nacionales de clasificación de revistas científicas en América Latina: Tendencias recientes e implicaciones para la evaluación académica en ciencias sociales. Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Políticas y Sociales, 62(231), 199-228.

Velásquez-Durán, A., & Ramírez-Montoya, M. S. (2018). Research management systems: Systematic mapping of literature (2007-2017).

Villalonga Gómez, C., & Marta-Lazo, C. M. (2015). Modelo de integración educomunicativa de’apps’ móviles para la enseñanza y aprendizaje.

Wenger, E. (2011). Communities of practice: A brief introduction.

Whalley, R., & Barbour, M. K. (2020). Collaboration and virtual learning in New Zealand rural primary schools: A review of the literature. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 21(2), 102-125.

Wicks, D. A., Craft, B. B., Mason, G. N., Gritter, K., & Bolding, K. (2015). An investigation into the community of inquiry of blended classrooms by a Faculty Learning Community. The Internet and Higher Education, 25, 53-62.

Yulianto, B., Prabowo, H., Kosala, R., & Hapsara, M. (2016). MOOC architecture model for computer programming courses. 35-40.

Zheng, L., Zhang, X., & Gyasi, J. F. (2019). A literature review of features and trends of technology-supported collaborative learning in informal learning settings from 2007 to 2018. Journal of Computers in Education, 6(4), 529-561.






Section II