About Centra

OSHKI uses Contact North's Centra (aka e-CLASSES) platform to create a virtual classroom environment for OSHKI distance ed classes, using a rich set of online tools and capabilities.  Features include integrated audio conferencing, application sharing, PowerPoint slides with mark up, real-time feedback, white boards, instant surveys, file transfer and text chat. 

Using an Internet connected computer, Centra client software, and audio headset (i.e., combination headphones and microphone) instructors can speak directly with students and allow students to speak with one another.


Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to use Centra?

In order the use Centra, you will need the following hardware and software:

  • Internet connected computer
    • See the Internet service and support page.
    • The computer must have a built-in sound card (standard on all computers).
  • Centra client software
    • OSHKI will provide each instructor and student a CD-ROM containing the Centra client software.
    • Alternatively, you can download the Centra client software from the Contact North e-CLASSES home page (see the next question).
  • Audio headset
    • OSHKI will provide each instructor and student a free headset at the start of the academic year (or program start).
    • Plug in your headset's headphone plug (green/black) and microphone plug (pink) into the corresponding headphone jack (green) and microphone jack (pink)  on your computer (see figure below).



How do I download and install the Centra client software?

Before you can use Centra, you must download and install the Centra client software onto your computer as follows:

  • From CD:
  1. Insert the CD labelled Centra into your computer.
  2. Windows will automatically display the file contents of the CD.
  3. Run (double-click) the file named 'Centra_setup.exe'.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.
  • From Internet:
  1. Go to the OSHKI site.
  2. Click 'Centra' at the top of the page.  You will be directed to the Contact North Centra login site.
  3. Click 'Client' (see figure below).
  4. When prompted choose to download and save the file 'setup.exe'.
  5. The 'setup.exe' file is 13 MB in size and will take up to 20 minutes to download depending on your Internet connection.
  6. After the download is complete, run the file 'setup.exe.'
  7. Follow the on screen instructions to complete the installation.

If you are experiencing problems with downloading the Centra client software from the Contact North server, you can try downloading it from the OSHKI server here.


How do I access Centra?

Step 1: Install the Centra client software

  • See the instructions provided in the above question.

Step 2: Accessing Centra

  • Open your web browser: Internet Explorer, Firefox, or other.
  • Type in the following at the address bar: http://www.oshki.ca.
  • Press Enter.
  • At the top of the OSHKI home page, click 'Centra'.


Step 3: Username and Password

  • You will come to a Login screen.
  • Type your username in the Login box. Your username is the letters ‘st’ followed by first two letters of your first name followed by your full last name (e.g., stjodoe).
  • Type your password in the Password box. If you forgot your password please contact Contact North Technical Support at 1-888-850-4628.
  • Click Log In.


Step 4: Attending classes

  • You should now see a My Schedule page with Upcoming, Ongoing, and Past tabs.
  • Find your course code.  It will be listed under the Upcoming or Ongoing tab.
  • Click 'Attend' to enter the class.  (Click 'Lead' if you are the instructor)
  • If you do not see your course code listed please contact Contact North Technical Support at 1-888-850-4628.
  • NOTE: You should attend your class at least 10 minutes before class starts in case you need to resolve any technical problems. Instructors cannot provide technical support you must call the Contact North Technical Support line at 1-888-850-4628.



How do I use Centra?


  1. Buttons for invoking chat and feedback windows, and for exiting the session.
  2. Buttons for instant feedback: Hand raise, Yes, No, Laughter, Applause.
  3. Audio controls/volume indicators.
  4. Live video of the presenter or a camera-equipped participant.
  5. Session's presenters. Microphone icons indicate the right to speak. Yellow square around the microphone signals that the audio is being transmitted.
  6. List of participants. Instant feedback icons appear here. So does the microphone icon, indicating the right to speak.
  7. Agenda, i.e. list of content items to be used in this session.
  8. Session status. One of three:
    1. Pre Session
    2. In Session
    3. Recording
  9. Indicator of network throughput. Here it shows that there is sufficient bandwidth to carry on the session.
  10. Area for displaying and marking up content, including PowerPoint slides, images, Web pages, polls, whiteboards, etc.

Where can I get technical support?

Call the Contact North Technical Support line at 1-888-850-4628.

Can I participate from a Contact North Access Centre?

Yes.  It is important that you notify OSHKI that you intend to participate from a Contact North Access Centre.  OSHKI will then book your seating arrangements with Contact North to ensure that you have a workstation available for your use at the designated date(s) and time(s).

What happens if I lose or break my headset?

You are responsible for replacing a lost, damaged, or stolen headset at your own expense.  An inexpensive headset can be purchased at most retail stores for about $20.  If you cannot purchase a headset in your home community OSHKI will charge you for a new unit.  If you suspect your headset is faulty due to workmanship please return it to OSHKI for repair or a replacement unit.

I can't hear my instructor or the audio breaks up.

If you can't hear your instructor:

  • Check that the volume control knob located on your headset's cable length is turned on all the way to the left (max volume). 
  • Test your headphones by plugging the headphone plug into an MP3 player or similar audio device:
    • cell phone or PDA
    • iPod player
    • gaming console
    • television
    • stereo/radio receiver
  • If you cannot hear any audio then most likely the headphones are at fault.
  • Check that the Windows volume control is turned on.  On your computer click the speaker icon located on your Windows taskbar (bottom right-hand corner) to ensure that it is not muted or turned on low.


  • Check that the Windows sound management software is correctly configured.  Some computers monitor the headphone and microphone jacks - when you plug-in a headphone or microphone device into your computer the computer will detect it and will ask you to confirm the correct hardware being used.

If the audio breaks up or buzzes:

  • Check that your microphone is working correctly.  Test it (record yourself) using an MP3 player or similar device:
    • stereo receiver
    • karaoke machine
    • home theatre
  • You might need a 3.5 mm female to 1/4" male headphone adapter to test your headset's microphone on audio equipment:
  • Some laptops operating on battery power will cause interference on the microphone line resulting in a buzzing sound when trying to speak into the microphone (the listeners will hear it).  Try switching to the laptop's power adapter.  If still unsuccessful, you should try using a desktop computer instead.
  • Highly magnetic devices such as speakers will cause noise/echo on the microphone line (the microphone cable acts as an antenna).  Try moving away from such devices.
  • Check your network status indicator located at the bottom right-hand corner of the Centra interface.  A low indicator will indicate a poor/slow Internet connection resulting in audio breakup. 
  • Switch to text chat if you cannot resolve the issue.