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Having reviewed some of the reasons for the the move to the virtual environment, the remaining pages will take a closer look at some the responses to these pressures.

This page looks at the nature of Distributed Collaborative Work - a generic term that can be used to describe many examples of work in the virtual environment - in more detail. Following that, we examine three examples of this type of work, Virtual Teams, Telework and Communities of Practice. These pages also link to an undergraduate course that deal with similar topics, but from the standpoint of a Virtual Organization or Virtual Enterprise.

Distributed Collaborative Work

Work in the virtual environment may be distributed either physically (e.g. it may be carried out in different places) or temporally (e.g. it may be carried out at different times). The forms of Distributed Working that are considered in this course may involve one of both of these. Collaborative Work is taken to mean work that is work undertaken as part of a group activity.

There is an implicit assumption in most of the literature on Collaborative Working that the group activity is directed towards some shared goal or has some common purpose. As with almost any form of group activity there is some element of social interaction to the work as well as the simple fulfillment of a task (e.g. teamwork usually requires some degree of trust between the members of the team if it is to be effective).

Two forms of Distributed Collaborative Work can be identified.


Key text




Distributed Collaborative Work (DCW).

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