Transcripts of Orientation Videos

Below are transcripts from the nine orientation videos. 

An Overview of Online Learning

In this section, you will learn the basics about Onondaga’s online program, and what key skills you need to help you succeed

  • Thinking about getting a college degree, but can’t come to campus? Get your whole degree online, or take one course when you need flexibility!
  • Onondaga’s online degree list can be found on our website.  We’re adding more courses and degree choices each year.
  • Our online courses meet degree requirements just like traditional courses do. Transcripts don’t show where courses were completed.
    Learning is anytime, anyplace!  Online courses are available 24/7!
  • Online sections are NOT independent study.  Faculty set deadline dates.  Some online courses require students to work in small groups - online.
  • We use the SUNY Learning Network to deliver our online courses.  Go to Onondaga’s homepage, click on the link for current students.  Click on the link to Blackboard for your courses. 
  • Onondaga Community College uses the Blackboard Learning Management System.  View the Blackboard  “On Demand Learning Center" videos to learn the software.
What are the Keys to Success Online?
  • You’ll need to bring certain skills to succeed.  Good time management is essential.  For each course, go online 3-4 times a week, one to two hours each time to attend class and participate.
  • Reading at a college level is required – make the time to read your textbooks!
  • Be green - Read on-screen!  Some people like to print everything out; be selective and save some trees!
  • You need strong computer literacy skills.  Online faculty expect you to know…
    • How to use a mouse, how to navigate the web
    • Word processing skills & how to save a file
    • How to upload & download files
  • Students need access to a computer 7 days a week to meet deadlines and complete group work in online courses.  Have Plan B, too!
    You also need reliable access to the internet, and a flash drive to save files.
  • Participation in online discussions often involves the whole class and means lots of reading and typing – be sure to write clearly!  Text messaging format is NOT acceptable for college coursework.
  • Some courses require additional software and peripherals.  (Examples: Business 105 may require accounting software; Italian 101 requires a headset to make audio files).  Each professor will tell you what you need in the course.

Web Tour - How to Register Online

In this section we’ll tell you how you can register online, even if you have never taken a course from Onondaga in the past.

  • As with any course, you must register through Onondaga for our online courses.
  • At Onondaga’s homepage, scroll down and click on the “Register Now” link.
  • Let’s search for a section – English 103 (required for all degree programs)
  • Search fields to use:
    • Term – Fall 2008
    • Subject – ENG (from list)
    • Location - (ONLI from list)
    • Academic Level (note red star; this a required field; select undergraduate)
    • Click on Submit
  • Read from left to right – verify term
  • Note if section is open or closed
  • Note that an online section ends in W
  • Check how many seats are available
  • Copy the 5 digit number under the Section Name and Title column (second column from the left side)
  • Go back to Register Now
  • Use Log in link if you have an Onondaga Student Number, then register using the course number, section number, 5 digit call number
  • If you are new to Onondaga, you will need to create an ID – follow the form online
  • Note the Payment link – pay online!
  • Questions? Contact Student Central @ 315-498-2000.

Tour of Online Learning's Web site

At Onondaga’s homepage, look on the right side – click on the link to Online Learning.  You’ll find some basic information about online learning, and our phone number and email address:  315-498-2804 or email us at

Once at Online Learning, click on that link on the left and a menu unfolds; you will find all of these topics are links:

  • Orientation to Online Learning – the set of movies you are viewing now.
  • Degrees and Certificates online – this is a list of all the degrees we offer.  Each one is a hotlink, taking you to a webpage that explains the degree program, the curriculum, and the course that one would take. Also you can find transfer and career information.
  • Online Course List – this shows what online sections are available in the coming/current term.
  • Student & Academic Services – this is a list of the key offices that students might need to reach.  Each hotlink gives the office address, hours, phone number and email address for that department.
  • Technical Requirements – this speaks to what your computer will need, like the kind of memory  and software you will need for online courses to work.  It also tells you what skills YOU need to have, since faculty will expect you to have good computer skills if you are in an online course.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) – here you will find a sampling of questions many online learners ask, and the answers.
  • Get started – this webpage offers you the link to Take a Class (the webpage you use to register for a course) or the Onondaga application, which is online and free!
  • Finding your course – to find your online course, go to and click on the link to Blackboard.  Once you log in, you will see the courses you are registered for in the current term.

Interviews with Online Faculty

Jim Carey (Professor, Business) and  Laurel Saiz (Associate Professor of English) provide tips and observations about online learning:

Carey – If you had told me 27 years ago that I would sitting at home connecting with my students through a computer, I’d have looked at you like you had two heads, and here I am.

Saiz – I like both face-to-face and online learning.  They are equally enjoyable to me, but very different.  I believe that online learning is intimate – every time I post a comment or a reply to a student, I feel like it is a conversation with only that student.

Carey – The first tip is to get going – get going. We have a 14 week semester, and in online learning, we have Week 0.  Students don’t hear that very often.  Week zero lets students go in early and see how the course is going to work, and what their responsibilities are going to be.  One of the things that contributes to success is staying out in front of the work.

Saiz – I would suggest 3 tips.  First, log into the online class as soon as the course “go live.” The courses open 5-7 days before the official term starts so you can get the lay of the land.

Carey – the second tip is to get the book.  Get the book!  I wrote the course, it is not something I picked off the shelf.  We need the book!  You can find out about the books ahead at the SLN website or during week zero.  In my courses, the book is connected.  If students have found “on ground” courses where they didn’t need the book, they will soon discover in my courses the book is an intrinsic part of the course. 

Saiz – You should not be learning how to use technology while taking an online class.  You should be learning the content of the class, not how to work online, so you should already know how to attach files, detach files and other internet based things.

Carey - I ask students to take pride in the stuff that they write.  And, I tell them you cannot treat the course like it’s text messaging or instant messaging because it isn’t; there’s a formality to it. Those kinds of abbreviations aren’t appropriate in this type of forum.  Part of what you learn in management is to present yourself well; I tell students to be prepared for that.

Saiz – thirdly, I suggest students print out a copy of the calendar or schedule from the course on paper.  Post it in a place where you have ready access to it so none of the deadlines slip by you as you go through the semester.

Carey – A good virtual class happens with a couple of things.  First, students take the introductory materials seriously.  There’s always an introductory activity that teachers put in there where students introduce themselves.  Students can share a little or a lot, and include a picture if they wish.  When I first came to this, I wondered if this was important, but students have told me “this is important because it gives them a sense of classroom.” So I tell students to read that, and take care in what you write, because it helps to create community.

Saiz  - I think a really great strategy is keeping in constant communication with your professor.  Don’t let too many days go by between logging on, and give a heads up if you know you will be out of town, or if you have an emergency.  If your computer goes down, email me another way so that you don’t go a week without contact.  I often tell my students that if your car broke down and you could not drive to campus for a week or two, that’s comparable to not logging on to class for a week.

Carey – another thing that I like to have happen, and it happens every semester, and I’m just happy with it, there will be a knock on the door or someone pulls me aside in the hall, and they introduce themselves as “so-and-so” from an online course, and we chat.  Often they’ll say “I expected you to be taller, or I thought your voice would sound different than it does.” (laughter)

Saiz – I do feel I know my students really well.  I have students from other parts of the world that I would not have taught otherwise which is amazing, or their circumstances are quite amazing.  For example, I had a student move from Manhattan to San Francisco and he would log on to various wireless sites going across the country.  He posted pictures from Route 66 and kept us up to date on his travels.  I also had a student from Iceland.  Her name was Gudlaug Einarsdottir.  She was this beautiful, Icelandic woman, very amazing.  She won an Honors award and when they called her name at the Honors Convocation, I raised my hand and said she couldn’t be there because she was in Iceland – remarkable!

Carey – The thing I really hope will happen is that students will enjoy this.  I tell them right from the outset, have fun with the class.  Some do, some have a riot!  There was a section I had one year that had two pregnant women – this came out in the introductory piece – and as the semester wore on, they had their babies and the class was talking about having a virtual shower!  That class was just a joy to go into, and I kept wondering “What am I going to hear today?”  Those students, at the end of the term, just could not say enough good things about the experience.  They had a lot of fun, and they learned a lot of material about management.  It can be a wonderful experience, students can have a good time.  I hope students go into expecting that they will learn about management, and along this is going to be a fun experience for me as well.

Tips and Technology Resources

In this section, you will gain insight into what our experienced online faculty offer as tips to help new and returning online learners succeed in the virtual classroom.  While every faculty member builds his or her own course, there are some themes that emerge here at Onondaga.

  1. Take responsibility for your learning – be an active learner.  Buy your books early, and read them on time.  You can order them online.
  2. View the "On Demand Learning Center" videos for Blackboard (the software used for the online courses) before you do anything else.
  3. Turn in college-level work (done by you) on time.
  4. Show up online regularly each week. Decide for each course what 3 days you’ll attend class and stick to it.
  5. Read the class schedule and stick to it; print it and put it in a place you will see it. In fact, print out 2 copies; keep one with you.
  6. Stay on top of the work – don’t fall behind.
  7. Have some fun.
  8. Have a back up plan for an alternate computer in case your computer, software, power or internet crashes.
  9. Online courses allow for flexibility, but make sure you’re realistic with other things in your life that can impact study time – family and work commitments, etc.
  10. If you don't understand something, ask questions fast.  Don't assume that you’ll get it eventually.  By then it may be too late.  Call your professor, or use Blackboard course mail.
  11. Try to work ahead so if something comes up you won’t be behind.
  12. Did we mention viewing the Blackboard On Demand video lessons?
  13. Plan ahead.  Instructors are not online 24/7.  Expect responses from your instructors in 24 - 48 hours, rather than 2-4 hours.
  14. Make sure you read all announcements within the course and read all the documents from the professor – reading is key to online success.
  15. If you have a choice, take subjects that are challenging for you in the traditional face-to-face mode, rather than online.
  16. Use your own words and ideas in your assignments and tests. Do NOT copy and paste from an electronic source to answer assignments, tests or other course assignments. Doing so is plagiarism, which is a violation of college academic policy and can result in failing grades, failing the course or loss of matriculation.

Technology Resources to Help You

This section will provide you with an overview of the technology Onondaga uses to deliver it’s online courses, and some strategies to help you learn how to navigate in our online world.

  • Onondaga uses the SUNY Learning Network – or SLN - to deliver our online courses.
  • Courses are taught in Blackboard – a Learning Management System.  To access your courses, go to 
  • Video lessons to Blackboard can be found on the website.
  • The Open SUNY Helpdesk can assist with navigation questions and technical “how to” concerns about Blackboard.
  • The Helpdesk at Onondaga can assist you with login questions and problems.
  • The Content Tutoring Center on the main Onondaga campus provides one hour workshops to students in the use of Blackboard.
  • The Office of Online Learning at Onondaga can provide you with general information about the online learning program.  Each course is unique; specifics will be explained inside the virtual classroom.

Services for Students

Whether you take one course or complete an entire degree online, here are the primary services available to you through Virtual OCC.  These services will help you get started and help you stay on track when you learn online through Onondaga.

Let’s start with Admissions, and then work through the various services available to you. If at any time you have questions, call or email our Student Central Office – this is our hub for student questions about admissions, registration, financial aid, payments, etc.

Onondaga Application- If you plan to take one or two courses, you don’t need to complete an Onondaga application.
If you want to earn a certificate or a degree from Onondaga, you need to apply for the program.  Onondaga’s application can be completed online and it’s free. The SUNY application has a fee.

Financial Aid – All forms can be completed online.  If you have questions, contact Financial Aid.

Placement Testing can be completed on campus, at our North Site, or off-campus with an approved proctor.  The proctor must email us for instructions.  Test results are required to register for English or Math courses and may be needed for others.  Once tests are complete, information is mailed to the students.    

From Placement Tests to Advisement – Once you have been accepted into a degree program, an employee of the college reviews your placement test results, the requirements of the degree program in which you have been accepted, and then works with you to recommend a course schedule so that you can register for the coming semester.

Newly accepted online students who are not coming to campus will be called; you can also   initiate the call.  A 30 minute phone appointment will be scheduled.
During the appointment, you will speak with an advisor to discuss Course Selection ideas.  Then you can register.  Tour how to register in the Online Learning @ Onondaga section.

Registration – No need to wait in a line - register and pay online!  Go to and click on the “Register Now” link! Or, call Student Central at 315-498-2000.

Counseling – Sometimes the stress of being a college student can be eased when you have someone to talk to.

Virtual Academic Services

This segment of our orientation describes what academic services are available to support online learners virtually, helping you in your efforts to succeed in your online courses.

Writing Skills Center - In addition to in-person help, the Writing Skills Center also offers online help. Call 315-498-2260 or email – for details.

eTutoring pairs students with tutors online. Tutor and student meet face-to-face or via email. Tutoring proceeds according to the schedule developed by the student-tutor pair. Students with busy schedules often choose eTutoring. Simply email your request to and we'll get things rolling.

NightWriter provides nighttime, just-in-time help with writing. Students email their questions (and sometimes their writing-in-progress) to Emails received between 9:00 p.m. and midnight, Sunday through Thursday, receive near-immediate response.

The Study Skills Center provides individual or group tutoring to students in need of solid strategies for tackling academic reading and studying. Tutoring is provided by professional tutors on an appointment or drop-in basis. There is some online tutoring. Call (315) 498-2260 for details.

The Content Tutoring Center provides individual or group tutoring to students in need of academic support. Tutoring is provided by carefully selected, trained, and supervised tutors for a variety of courses.  Some online tutoring is available. Call 315-498-2573 for details.

Coulter Library’s entire collection of print and non-print materials is accessible through the library’s Online Public Access Catalog. A myriad of electronic resources are also available through the library’s web page. Our electronic resources are available via our research databases page (

Phone and in-person reference assistance are available during library hours. Coulter Library also has a chat reference service through a partnership with Ask Us 24/7, a consortium of libraries. To chat with a librarian go to the “Ask a Librarian” page ( This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Online Learners - The Voice of Experience

This segment of our orientation provides valuable insights from students who are successfully completing degree programs from Onondaga; at least half of their courses have been or will be completed online.  You will hear some common themes from your peers!

Cassie Schinto, Humanities Degree

I chose online learning because I couldn’t get my degree otherwise.  I work and I’m a single mom; this allows me to also pursue my education. 

For me, the key to being successful online is to be focused.  You have to be very organized right from the beginning, especially with multiple classes.  My first semester I took 4 online courses.  If you fall behind, even with readings, it’s difficult to catch up.

Online learning allows me to parent my daughter and accommodates my work schedule. 

I enjoy the sense of independence.  The professors are more like facilitators. I like that better than a rigid structure of traditional courses.  There is a HUGE opportunity to dive deeper than in a traditional classroom, but it depends on the student.

I thoroughly enjoy taking my courses online.  It’s not for everyone, but for those who are motivated, you can really move ahead academically.

Deanna Tuck, Early Child Care Certificate

Online learning works for me because I have young children and I’m working; I can’t go to college without the online option.  Online learning was just getting started in 2004 when I got into it; I was thrilled to find this option.  I completed my Early Child Care certificate online.  I’m working on my A.S. degree.

To be successful…

  • You need to be really, really organized and set aside time every day for classes. Make sure to take part in discussions, and don’t fall behind in the reading; that really messes you up. 

…I print everything off – calendar, and the document that tells what to do in each module

To be successful…

  • I email or call my professor if I have questions, as soon as I have them!
  • If you get sick or kid does, tell your professor; they’re pretty understanding when it happens.

The hardest part of online learning…

  • Helping my family understand that when I’m on the computer, I’m really in class!
  • Getting to know my classmates; some faculty have you get acquainted in a discussion at the start, and that really helps set the tone.
  • You need to know at the start what software the professor requires, like excel or PowerPoint and get access to it if you don’t have it on your computer. 

Online isn’t for everyone.  Some need the classroom to do well, but for me, it has been awesome to do classes from home, to complete a certificate and now a degree.

Yvette Hinman - Assoc Degree in Human Services

I chose to take online courses for several reasons.  The courses I needed weren't offered in the evenings, so I took them online.  I spend less time on the road and on campus – I have convenient 24/7 access to the course and materials.  I work full time in a school district during the days.

Having 24/7 access to the courses fits into just about anybody’s schedule!  I can attend class outside in the summer!

Helpful hints that I would offer:

  • Stay on track - don't fall behind in the textbook or online readings.  Get assignments done on time, and turned in on time.
  • If there are discussions in your courses, make sure you participate in them early and often.
  • If you have any questions - contact the Professor right away by course mail in Blackboard or by phone.

The most important thing you bring to the online environment is the motivation to get into the course and get the work done.  Not having the professor facing you makes meeting deadlines hard; you have to be accountable to yourself, the class and the professor.