I’ve only parcially watched the videoconferences of this week, since they seemed too basic. I’ve read the introductory text of this week and downloaded the two articles «Rapport in Distance Education» (from IRRODL) and «What the best online teachers should do» (from Merlot journal).
From the summary of this week webpage I produced an animation with the main factors to take into account when starting an online course to build rapport with students – http://www.powtoon.com/p/g1DqM825ohd/ .
Teachers that have a psychology background are usually familiar with icebrakers, professional trainiers use them as well. In academic environments and more directive lectures this is not a major concern.
In online learning a «getting start» scene is useful, though with hundreds and thousands of participants it may be difficult to reach some level of personalization.
However, there are ways to keep the «approachability», the weekly newsletter we receive from this MOOC is a good idea. To have direct messages in one’s email is a good strategy.
I remember that in my 1st MOOC, the backup team used to send 2 email messages per week – one in the beginning of the week with a synthesis of the previous week activity and another one, at the end of the week, preparing for the following week. I was very impressed, because it worked, it helped to catch up with what was going on and makes one feel included.