Collaborative Work – Concept, characteristics and examples

We explain what collaborative work is, its characteristics, advantages and examples. In addition, collaborative work in the classroom.

collaborative work
The Internet has facilitated collaborative work on a global level.

What is collaborative work?

Collaborative work encompasses all those dynamics of peer production or mass collaboration, that is, in which the work of a large number of individuals is coordinated and directed towards a common goal. This coordination generally corresponds to self-organized communities, in which the work is carried out without formal obligations and without the recognition of an exclusive author of the result.

Collaborative work should not be confused with teamwork, despite the fact that all collaboration necessarily involves joint or team work.

While teamwork recognizes a defined leader, collectivizes responsibility and organizes a human group to fulfill a specific task, collaborative work it is usually carried out without the presence of formal bosses, through individual contributions of knowledge, and with the ultimate purpose of sharing the knowledge achieved.

Since ancient ages there have been different forms of collaborative work, but never before have there been such palpable and evident examples as those that the Internet has allowed. The voluntary sum of the effort and knowledge of a community of users easily pays off when it comes to people who do not even need to share a physical space and a time slot.

A perfect example of this is the pieces of open source software, in which any user can voluntarily invest their time and effort and throw in new forms of updated and improved code.

Collaborative work characteristics

Broadly speaking, collaborative work is characterized by the following:

  • It is a way of voluntary collaboration between members of a specialized community, capable of sharing effort, time and knowledge in the construction of new knowledge platforms.
  • It consists of the synergy of knowledge and efforts of an organized community, generally of people who share passions or knowledge.
  • It is usually governed by the principles of free flow of information, of altruism and volunteering, which is why it is often considered a work culture in itself.
  • Unlike other forms of work, does not generate a group feeling, but one of belonging to a collective project.

Importance of collaborative work

Collaborative work facilitates the achievement of long-term goals, by allowing continuous individual contributions to move freely toward the goal.

However, there is an important margin of coordination: the collaborative dynamic, being free and voluntary, receives continuous contributions that increase the value and scope of the project. In fact, this type of work does not pursue optimal results in quality or productivity, but rather aims at the integration of shared knowledge.

Advantages of collaborative work

collaborative work wikipedia
By being a volunteer, collaborative work lowers costs.

Unlike other forms of work, collaborative work does not require a formally defined structure, so that less rigid and coercive in its forms: without bosses, without official division of labor, this type of work is based on the continuous updating of shared knowledge. It is a task that depends more than anything on the dough.

In the same way, it is a dislocated, massive and dispersed work model, which is not governed by schedules and which, in addition, is held voluntarilySo their production costs are, in that sense at least, very low. On the other hand, the project does not depend on any of its collaborators completelyRather, it is a form of collectivization of knowledge, alien to chiefdoms and traditional leaderships.

Collaborative work in the classroom

Many of the contemporary trends in education see collaborative work as a valuable process for the classroom. First, because allows understanding the educational process as a dynamic of integration of knowledge and practices, rather than as a vertical process in which the teacher transmits knowledge to his students.

These new work dynamics are conducive to diversity, inclusion and motivation individual to group work, since the notions of success and failure then come to depend on the entire group, and not only on an individual at the head of it. Either everyone wins, or everyone loses.

Examples of collaborative work

collaborative work open source open source software
In open source software, users can refine the programming code.

Some examples of successful collaborative work are the following:

  • Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and all other similar “Wiki” projects, in which the users themselves enter the data that make up the encyclopedia.
  • Linux and open source software, whose own users can contribute with the improvement of their programming code, forging together a more solid and updated program.
  • Digital libraries, in whose “pages” there are archives of books, series and films of free distribution, in order to obtain a complete and important catalog of works that is available to everyone, and to third parties.