Building Relationships with Online Students


In online school settings, the online teacher and student are separated from one another by distance and often by time, so knowing and understanding online students is an important factor in building teacher-student relationships.1 Research suggests that online students are successful if they respond to three different types of learner interactions: (1) learner-to-content (appropriateness of the course material and delivery), (2) learner-to-instructor (access and support), and (3) learner-to-learner (procedures for dialogue).2 Watson et al. (2014)3 noted that practical consideration of the role of a teacher in an online classroom similar to those of traditional face-to-face classroom is important to ensure student success.

Building Relationships with Online Students PIn fact, the knowledge can be co-constructed in online school settings similar to brick-and-mortar schools, where students from diverse locations and backgrounds can engage one another in learning activities, where collaborative projects can be developed, and where communities of inquiry can grow and thrive. Online teachers are using technology in creative ways to replace traditional brick-and-mortar school experiences, such as instant messaging, discussion boards, blogs, and video conferencing platforms.4 At Enlightium Academy, the teachers are establishing warm, nurturing, trusting relationship with their students.

Watson (2008)5 suggested that understanding students through the lens of attachment theory helps online teachers emotionally engage with students, sustaining belief in their potential for goodwill, seeing past their troublesome behavior, and providing a basis for genuinely caring for students. At Enlightium Academy, teachers are placing more emphasis on building a relationship than on controlling students. Archambault and Larson (2015)6, in their research discussing the pioneering of the digital age of instruction, stated that online teachers have more genuine relationships with students and more one-on-one interactions with them than teachers in brick-and-mortar schools.

Even though the technology itself is a powerful tool, how it is used and to what extent requires the wisdom, knowledge, experience, and professional judgment of teachers when conducting their classes in the 21st century digital age.7 The basic needs of humans to connect and interact have not changed: to learn in ways that are creative, interactive, exciting, and relevant to one’s needs. For this reason, Enlightium Academy faculty and staff work tirelessly to make sure that the social aspect of its students are met.

In addition to teachers’ support, parental involvement is still an integral part in any conducive learning environment at home. Green et al., (2007)8 indicated three major sources of motivation for involvement: (1) parents’ motivational beliefs and parental self-efficacy for helping the child succeed in school, (2) parents’ perceptions of invitations to be involved in schooling by the child, (3) parents’ personal circumstances that influence parents’ perceptions such as parents’ skills, time, and energy for involvement. All of these factors are important to students’ success in the online school settings.

Building Relationships with Online Students I

For any other questions about online school education, please call (866) 488-4818, or visit Enlightium Academy is an accredited alternative education option for educating your child from home. Enlightium Academy is a private Christian school that offers a Bible-based, flexible, accredited, teacher-supported, and affordable education. Enlightium Academy meets all accreditation and state education requirements, while neither using state curriculum or Common Core.


1 Kennedy, K. & Archambault, L. (2013). Partnering for success: A 21st century model for teachers preparation. Retrieved from

2 Rice, K. (2006). A comprehensive look at distance education in the K-12 context. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38(4), 425-448. doi:10.1080/15391523.2006.1078246

3 Watson, J., Pape, L., Murin, A., Germin, B., & Vashaw, L. (2014). Keeping pace with K-12 Online learning An Annual Review of Policy and Practice. Retrieved from

4 Nolan, A. W. (2016). The social and emotional learning and character education of K-12 online students: Teacher perspective. (Doctoral dissertation). ProQuest.LLC.

5 Watson, M. (2008). Developmental discipline and moral education. In L. Nucci & D. Narvaez (Eds.), Handbook of moral and character education (pp. 175-203). New York: Routledge.

6 Archambault, L. & Larson, J. (2015). Pioneering the digital age of instruction: Learning from and about K-12 online teachers. Journal of Online Learning Research, 1(1), 49-83.

7 Kwok, V. H. Y. (2015). Robot vs. human teacher: Instruction in the digital age for ESL learners. English Language Teaching, 8(7), 157-163. doi:10.5539/elt.v8n7p157

8 Green, C. L., Walker, J. M. T., Hoover-Dempsey, K., & Sandler, H. M. (2007). Parents' motivations for involvement in children's education: An empirical test of a theoretical model of parental involvement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(3), 532-544. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.99.3.532

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