Online orientation for new international students

tutorial video


A still from one of the iCoug℠ Tutorial videos.

PULLMAN, Wash. – Online orientation premiered this summer to better prepare new international students before their arrival at Washington State University.
The multimedia iCoug℠ Tutorial uses videos, PowerPoint, avatars and other interactive tools to prepare international students for the WSU experience and to inform them of resources available to ensure success. The program provides information about visas/immigration, academic expectations, cultural adjustment, getting connected and more.
Leading the way
Denise Keeton, WSU Office of International Programs’ (IP) program support supervisor, attended a session on pre-arrival online orientation at a bi-regional NAFSA (association of international educators) conference and learned about how other schools were providing similar services. A team of designers from IP, undergraduate education and e-learning services developed five learning modules with content provided by staff from IP and other areas across WSU.
“The design team is planning to present our project at the regional NAFSA conference this fall,” Keeton said. “This is just another way WSU is leading the way in higher education.”
Connecting communities
“The iCoug℠ Tutorial is a big deal, not only for our international students who can learn about WSU from the comforts of their own homes, but for their friends and family who will get to connect the dots to WSU and Pullman,” said Cheryl Hansen, director of global services in IP.
student views video
WSU graduate student Kripa Sundar reviews one of the tutorial modules.
Assessment questions ensure students have reviewed the material and understood it. A discussion board allows them to interact with peers. To date, more than 500 students have registered and about 130 have completed online orientation.
“I am so excited to be a student of WSU,” one participant from China said on the discussion board. “I just watched some videos about WSU and I think it is so amazing.”

“Going through the orientation pack has got me excited,” wrote a student from Kenya. “Now more than ever, I look forward to coming to WSU.”

Improving communication
In previous years, WSU international students received much of their pre-arrival information through email notifications. But social media has become the communication of choice, and email is not always read regularly or thoroughly. Much of the emailed information was not absorbed by the students and generated many questions.
Most international students are not able to attend in-person orientation sessions during the summer due to immigration regulations. The majority therefore depend on Fall Alive! sessions to orient themselves to WSU.
“In the past this put a strain on academic advising, as international students had limited time with their academic advisors and even fewer options on courses they could take, as many classes were already at capacity,” said Keeton.
Getting a jump on student success
The iCoug℠ Tutorial is a first step in helping international students register for classes prior to on-campus orientation. Undergraduate students can complete online writing and math placement exams, apply for housing and register for up to 9 credits of classes in advance. Registering earlier will give them more course options and more time with advisors once they arrive at WSU.
“This will have a significant positive impact on the student academic advising appointments and student success,” said Keeton.
Since they are new to U.S. college life, many international students need additional information about WSU before they arrive on campus and register for classes. The iCoug℠ Tutorial contains important information to help them with their pre-arrival needs and tools so they can be successful.
View some short clips from iCoug℠ Tutorial videos at
Collaborative effort
Those collaborating to support and create the iCoug℠ Tutorial include: Mary Wack, vice provost for undergraduate education; Prema Arasu, vice provost for IP; Hansen; Keeton; Rebecca Van de Vord, Global Campus associate director and director of e-learning services; and Brian Maki and Wendy Steele of e-learning services.


Jeff Koch, Communications Coordinator, WSU Office of International Programs,