Building relationships with online students can be challenging for many reasons. Aside from the lack of face-to-face interaction, faculty and advisors may already have multiple responsibilities and roles within an institution, limiting the time they can invest in relationship-building. Moreover, cultural differences in communication styles influence how rapport is developed and adapting to them can be challenging. Still, some students may not realize the extent to which they must be self-directed in the learning process, which can fuel negative feelings when expectations are not aligned with reality. In person, faculty and advisors use body language to develop rapport (e.g. smile, eye contact, handshake). In online learning, however, that direct contact doesn’t exist. So how can we compensate for the distance that separates us from our students? What exactly must we do to build relationships at a distance?

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