Bruce Rosenbloom, an Adjunct Professor at City University of New York's School of Professional Studies, writes in with some tips for online instructors, taken from a post on his blog, Envisioning Online Learning. Here's one that I particularly like:
2. Reach out to students. This semester, I tried something that was recommended to me many years ago, but I never attempted: I called my students. At agreed-upon times, I had about a 20-30 minute phone conversation with all (six) students in my capstone course. With a small class this is certainly doable, but please consider it in larger online classes also. The connection with students, feedback about the course, and insights into their lives, was well worth the extra time involved. Generally students appreciate the effort as it demonstrates caring for them as people and interest in their success. Try it and you may find it is one of the best time investments you can make as an online instructor.
For more, check out Bruce's blog on the CUNY Academic Commons, Envisioning Online Learning.