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Social relations are of great importance in online collaborative learning. As the interface between behaviors and contexts, conceptions of social relations decide how a learner deals with social relations in a certain context. However, the prevalent research approach of social network analysis (SNA) in the study of social relations offers little insight into this aspect. This leads the authors to explore conceptions of social relations in online collaborative learning with a phenomenographic approach in a case study of China higher education learners of an online course ldquoIntroduction to e-Learningrdquo. This paper reports on the results of the study, which discovers three conceptual categories namely learner-learner relationship, learner-tutor relationship, and group tension with hierarchical features in each category.