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Whilst electronic communication is providing a new medium, communities have always shared knowledge through interaction. This paper examines some communities of the past and gives examples of modern groups working and learning together. It is all too easy to be carried away by the potential for exchange of knowledge offered by e-communication but there are hundreds of years of experience that should not be overlooked. After all, it is human motivation, expectation and intention that govern the value of interactions. The new media offer enormous potentials, but these remain as 'potentials' until satisfactory conditions for their realisation are understood and created. A consideration of the necessary conditions for effective and efficient interaction should draw upon lessons from the past and from current theoretical views. Much is to be gained by looking at past experiences together with contemporary research from many disciples: management, cognitive science, developmental psychology, sociology and computer science. As well as this review, issues central to working and learning together are identified and issues such as the nature of tasks, tutor intervention and assessment are considered.