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Online education is continuing to gain popularity in educational institutions and organizations. Hitherto, most research has occurred at aggregated levels, while few researchers have studied how and why individuals participate in online education. It is essential to examine individual perceptions and relationships in order to understand how learners behave in relation to others. This paper investigates how learners participate in online seminars and why they participate in certain ways. An online class that attended asynchronous and synchronous online seminars was studied. Electronic logs were used to examine how online learners participated and interviews were used to explain why they participated. It was revealed that the learners took on different roles and that these roles changed depending on what mean of communication that was being used. A number of participation inhibitors were identified and it was also suggested how these inhibitors can be addressed.