Learn OWL

Western's Learning Management System, OWL (Powered by Sakai), is a robust platform for creating an engaging online learning environment. Students will be able to access course materials, complete course activities and interact easily with their instructors and classmates online.

Hover your mouse over the following image to get familiar with the OWL interface. We have created a list of how-to guides to help you with the platform, as well as a list of frequently asked questions. If you still have a question regarding your OWL course, please contact our technology support.

How To Guides

How do I submit an assignment?

The following video will walk you through the steps of submitting an assignment in OWL.

Always save your documents in a word or pdf format, and videos in mp4 format for submission, unless otherwise instructed.

How do I post in Forums discussions?

The following video will walk you through the steps of posting in Forums.

Please follow the online code of conduct when interact with classmates online.

How do I upload an item to Dropbox?

Dropbox works as a cloud storage space and eables file sharing between individual student and the instructor.

Students can access Dropbox from the left side navigation bar.


To upload a file to Dropbox, click the " Add" drop down menu, and select " Upload Files"


How do I upload a video to OWL?

Instead of writing an essay or lesson plan, some of your instructors may want you to present your ideas in a video format. There are many ways of creating interesting and personalized videos, we've listed a few under our Technology Toolbox.

This tutorial will walk you through the following: upload a video to student page, upload a video to Forums, upload a video to VoiceThread, and convert video project to .mp4 format

How do I view an Announcement in OWL?

Announcements are sent by instructors so that a message can be communicated to all participants in the course. All Recent Announcements are posted on the homepage of your OWL site.

Location of recent announcements in OWL.

You can access older announcements on your course’s left hand menu. Click the Announcements menu button.

Announcements menu button in OWL.

How do I check OWL Messages?

Messages is an in-OWL communication system, similar to email, allowing you to send individual messages to instructors, administrators, and fellow participants in your course. Access your messages on your course’s left hand menu. Click the Messages menu button.

Messages button on the OWL menu.

Any messages you receive can be found in the Received folder as shown in the image below.

Received messages folder in OWL.

How do I use Collaborate?

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are the OWL questions most frequently asked by Faculty of Education students. If you do not see your question below, please contact edutech@uwo.ca and explain your OWL issue. Be sure to include your course code and section number in your email for a more timely response. You may also contact your Instructor directly if your question is course-specific.

Why can't I can't log in to OWL?

To log in to OWL, you will use your Western ID (your email address without @uwo.ca) and password. If you are not able to log in to OWL, your Western ID may not be activated or your passwords may not be synced. Contact the Western ITS Helpdesk: http://www.uwo.ca/its/helpdesk/index.html. Please note that the staff at the Faculty of Education cannot help with password or identity related matters.

Please also note that OWL undergoes periodic scheduled maintainance and may be unavailable. To check whether OWL is currently operational or undergoing maintenance, visit http://www.uwo.ca/its/systemstatus/.

OWL system status.

Why can't I find my course code in OWL?

If you can't find your course code in OWL, click More Sites at the top-center of your OWL Home page. This will drop down a drawer which contains all of the OWL courses in which you have been enrolled, listed by academic term.

Click more sites to drop down a drawer of sites you are enrolled in.

If you still do not see your course code listed, click My Workspace (in the top lefthand corner of your OWL site) and select the Membership tab (from the lefthand navigation). From here, you will be able to search all sites you are enrolled in by course code.

Click membership to search for a course by course code.

I am receiving too many emails from OWL, what can I do?

If you are in a large class, you may receive numerous notification emails from your OWL site, especially if you are participating in asynchronous discussion in the Forums. To manage your Forums notifications from OWL, click the Forums tool > Watch > and set your Watch Forums Options as desired. Be sure to save your changes.

Set your watch Forum options.

You can also change your overall Preferences from OWL's My Workspace site which can be accessed in the top left of your OWL interface.

Click My Workspace to set your preferences.

From My Workspace, select Preferences > Notifications and set your email notification settings for Announcements, Resources and Dropbox, Email Archive, Syllabus, and Tests & Quizzes. Be sure to Update your Preferences.

Change notifications settings through Preferences.

Why am I not receiving Messages notification emails from OWL?

If you are not receiving email notifications from OWL, it could be that your instructor has not opted to forward them to students' Western email addresses. Check your OWL Messages and Announcements on your course site. You can also set up automatic email-forwarding for OWL Messages through the Messages tool. Click Messages > Settings > and enable Auto Forward Messages.

Select the Messages tab, then Settings.

You may also enter an alternative email as a forwarding address. Be sure to save your settings.

Set up your auto forwarding options.

Why can't I post in a course Forum?

Forums is where most of your asynchronous online discussions will take place in an online class. It can be frustrating if you find yourself unable to post in a course Forum. Keep in mind that your Instructor may have set up your Forums space using discussion groups. This means that some students are able to post and others may simply review a given Forum. It could be that you are a reviewer for a particular Forum. If you are not sure whether your class has been divided into discussion groups, please contact your instructor directly.

A live Forum topic.

It may also be the case that your Instructor has not included a Topic with the given Forum or has time-released certain Forums topics. If you do not see the weekly Forum you would like to post to, contact your instructor directly for more instructions.

Why can't I see my Forums notifications?

Most Forum postings will automatically generate OWL notification emails. This is especially useful for keeping track of who has responded to your postings on your course Forums. If you do not see email notifications for the Forums on your course site, it may be that your Instructor has disabled email notifications. Check with your instructor directly. If this is the case, continue to access and check new Forum postings through your OWL site. It is especially common to disable email notification settings in larger classes.

You can also change your individual Forum notification settings: from the Forums tab on your course site, click Watch. Set your Forum notification preferences and be sure to save your changes.

Click Forums and Watch to check your notification settings.

Set your notification settings.

Why is my OWL/ Collaborate interface in another language?

OWL and Collaborate are set to detect the default language settings on your computer. This means that if you are using OWL from within Canada on an English language operating system, your interface language will appear in English. If you are taking a course with Western, but are living abroad, be sure to check the default language setting on your computer or laptop before logging in to OWL or Collaborate. If possible, simply change the default language settings on your operating system to English.

If you do encounter a problem with changing the language of your interface, please note that though the interface and button text will be different, the content your Instructor loads to your site or Collaborate session will still be in English. It may be more difficult to access, but the content will still be accessible in English.

Why can't I open or view a video on my course site?

OWL uses flash to embed videos. This means that embedded videos on your OWL site will not be viewable on iPhones or iPads. If you are not using an iPhone or iPad and are still having trouble watching an embedded video, try refreshing the browser window, as sometimes video content takes some time to load. If you have persistent problems accessing a video on your course site, email you Instructor directly and ask for a direct link. If the video is from Youtube, try opening the video in Youtube, in a new window, or in another tab.

If video is not available, contact your Instructor for a direct link.

Why can't I access my Collaborate session?

You will not be able to access a Collaborate session via your course site or guest link until the session is active. Most Collaborate sessions do not become active until 30 minutes before the start time of the session.

Click on the Collaborate tab on your OWL site. A purple play icon on your OWL site indicates a live session. Join the session.

A purple play icon indicates a live session.

Be sure that you have followed the prompts and downloaded the Blackboard Collaborate launcher.

Be sure that the Collaborate Launcher has been downloaded successfully.

If the session does not launch automatically in your browser, look for a meeting.collab file in your browser's Downloads folder.

A meeting.collab file will be downloaded to your browser's Downloads folder.

Why can't I connect my headset to Collaborate?

If you are unable to get your microphone headset working during a Collaborate session, run the Audio Setup Wizard: Tools > Audio > Audio Setup Wizard or click the Click the audio setup wizard icon to run the wizard. icon in the top right of your participants pane . If there is a moderator in your Collaborate session, please feel free to ask the moderator for help with setting up your headset microphone. Collaborate detects the default audio input and output on your computer, so you may need to adjust your audio preferences to list your headset as the default device. Users on a Windows operating system will have to set up their microphone in Windows before it will register in a Collaborate session.