In the same way that “group work” makes a good face-to-face community, it makes an efficient and effective online community. Group work is an effective and powerful way to learn and is also highly relevant to the workplace. You may be thinking, “group work? These communities are not doing any work” and that’s where you are wrong.
Group work, as defined by Oxford Languages, is work done by a group of people in collaboration or education, training, or therapy given in a group. When you think of the “work” that happens in these online communities the second definition hits it right on the head. These communities are in many ways a form of therapy for the users involved. These groups create safe spaces for those involved to be their most authentic selves. So when you think about creating well-functioning communities it’s important to ask yourself what makes group work situations work.
Group work provides situations for effective learning
“Working with others enables you to pool your ideas and see problems from different perspectives” We are not all-knowing beings and what makes effective in-person and virtual communities is the ability to see the space as an opportunity to learn and an openness to others perspectives.
Group work allows you to learn how to handle multiple personalities
“You have personality differences and may also have competing preferences”. Being an active member of a group calls for patience, understanding, and compromise. Both in-person and online communities will always have a mix of personalities because no person is alike, but theses
When you are assigned group work or projects you are usually split into smaller groups. Communities, especially when they are online, can be seen as smaller sub-groups of the internet as a whole. Communities are niche corners of the internet that can be seen as more easily digestible for users to follow and participate in as compared to the larger and more vast worldwide web.
Online communities and face-to-face communities are bound to the same principles when it comes to how they work and what can help keep them safe. Thinking of communities as group work is a great way to ensure that as a moderator or community member that the group is always safe and makes space for others. Group work mentality is a “we” mentality because group work is always focused on what's best for the whole vs what's best for self and that's what creates successful communities.