Online learning is often done asynchronously and independently, requiring the learner to construct much of his or her own learning and form connections to prior knowledge alone and independently. To support and strengthen this type of learning, an excellent online instructor will develop an online community of learners, whether in a synchronous or asynchronous environment, ensuring learners have opportunities to connect and engage with not only the material in meaningful ways, but also the instructor and other learners to ensure that knowledge construction is social in nature. Although the assignment was to define online learning IMHO, I cannot take credit for these ideas, as my opinion has been developed through readings from Garrison, Anderson, & Archer (2000) and Palloff & Pratt (2011).
Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Collaboration: Community of Inquiry framework. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87–105. Retrieved from http://werelearning.com/moodle/mod/resource/view.php?id=122
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2011). The Excellent Online Instructor: Strategies for Professional Development. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.