Online teaching has grown in popularity. Online courses are being offered by many universities. For online classes to be effective there are three essential elements that need to be considered when developing an online community for education. These elements are people, purpose, and the process. People are the individuals taking the class and instructor. The purpose of the community is why people are there, taking classes. The process is how the class is formatted and communication occurs between the communities members.
Online classes are not for everyone. Some people need structure and face-to-face communication to learn. Online learning communities are designed for self-directive people. The instructor is a mentor and coach, not a traditional instructor who lectures. In online learning, students learn from one another and instructors try to keep the group focused about course content. For self-directive learners, online learning communities support the student and promote learning improving satisfaction. For students that are not self-directive learners this format of learning will not be positive. It is important for the instructor and students to stay engaged in order to sustain online learning communities. Without communication, the community will not support learning. Class engagement by all members of the community is key for successful online learning.