Regular Virtual Meetings

Regularly meet with students (via Skype, Gchat, etc.) over the course of the semester to discuss their work and progress. Make it moment where they take ownership of their own work and progress.

Capstone Contracts

If your class involves a large group or even individual capstone projects, you could ask your students to draw up a “contract” with you in which they outline their goals, the tools and approaches they’ll be using, and their milestones. Use your course’s online space(s) to track student progress and goals.

Student Choice

As a way of fostering independence, you might let students choose how to fulfill certain assignments, particularly if there are multiple ways of addressing the goals of the assignment (through the use of different media, for example.)

Student-Developed Plan

If your class involves students creating and managing their own Web spaces, consider requiring them to set out a “plan” for their activity in the class and then regularly update their progress on the site.

Be Explicit about Expectations

Online learning differs enough from traditional teaching in enough ways that it is worth your time to be extremely explicit with your students about your expectations with regards to independent learning. Consider starting your class with a clear message to all of your students about what the online experience is likely to be like and how you recommend they approach their own learning experience.