It is important for students to understand their role in meaningful learning. Take time at the beginning of the course to explain your teaching philosophy to the class and assure them that you will work hard to ensure their success. However, tell them it is a two-way street and they need to hold up their end of the deal.
Outline for students what your expectations are regarding their class participation, the quality and timely submission of assignments, accepted behaviors (for online classes, you may want to mention netiquette) and anything else you expect them to be responsible for.
Ask students to tell you what they see as their role in your course and what expectations they have for learning. You may want to provide space at the end of the syllabus for students to write out their own learning objectives. For example, ask students to fill in their own goals and refer to them often. "At the completion of this class I should be able to:___________________________________"
This sends a clear message that students need to take ownership of their learning and for achieving their desired outcomes.