About a year ago when my wife was pregnant with our son, she had some unusual complications. The doctor told us that given her condition it was questionable whether she could successfully carry the baby to term. All her family and friends tried to comfort her, but what she needed at that time was to hear from women who had been afflicted with the same condition. She searched the internet and found a support group for women with the condition. The discussion and interaction with the women in this group gave her great comfort over the next several months, and thank God our son was born perfectly healthy.
The point of this story is that online collaboration in the form of groups and online communities has something to offer anyone, whether it be comfort or support from people in a similar situation, people to share and collaborate ideas with, or just people with similar interests to socialize with.
From an education standpoint, groups can be used by teachers and students to share resources and ideas, and to learn about other cultures and from other people from around the world. Participation in online communities can also help to foster communication, collaboration, and teamwork skills; skills which are vital to success in today's professional environment. In addition, the sharing and challenging of ideas with people of similar interests can act as a catalyst, encouraging cognitive growth and allowing participants to reach conclusions and intellectual heights not possible by ones self.