Building rapport in distance education sounds a lot like building a physical classroom community and atmosphere, just with technology. This reminds me of the SAMR model with the substitution enhancement.
Instead of sitting on the floor together in community circle, we could either type an introduction, share through a Google hangout or post an avatar with description.
In watching my son take distance classes years ago in high school, this community building was not done. It was very difficult to communicate with the teacher, so I also know how important viewing the teacher as approachable is.
Timely feedback, encouraging words, an understanding online countenance, and willingness to bend for emergencies are all vital in running a distance course.
Assignment for week 2 of How To Teach Online