Getting Started in OWL

The following guide will provide an overview of the basic tools you need to get started using the OWL online learning environment. You will learn about:


Accessing OWL

 

To access the OWL homepage, GO TO http://owl.uwo.ca. Here you will find a variety of important and useful information, including current announcements and news, access to instructor resources, system availability and the Browser Check feature.


Browser Check

 

Before logging into OWL, it is advised that you run the browser check to ensure that your computer is compatible with the OWL system. To run the browser check, click on CHECK MY BROWSER and then CLICK HERE TO CHECK YOUR BROWSER on the following page. The browser check will run a series of tests on your browser compatibility, cookies, Javascript, pop-up blocker settings and Java. If errors are detected, a red X will appear beside the item.

 

Browser Compatibility

OWL supports web browsers on the Mac and Windows platforms. The supported browsers have been tested extensively and are validated for use with OWL. Your Web browser must be configured properly in order to access and interact successfully in your courses. If your web browser is not compatible, you can click on the BROWSER TUNE-UP PAGE link available at the top of the page. From there, you can download one of the supported browsers. Unsupported browsers will work with OWL, but not all features will function properly.


 

Cookies

 

In order to use the OWL system, you need to have cookies enabled in your web browser settings. If you do not have cookies enabled, follow the steps below for the browser you are using:

Internet Explorer: Click on TOOLS from the top menu bar and select INTERNET OPTIONS. Under the PRIVACY TAB make sure your Internet Zone settings are set to MEDIUM and click OK. Close the window and RESTART your browser.

Mozilla Firefox: Click on TOOLS from the top menu bar and select OPTIONS. Under the PRIVACY TAB, locate the COOKIES heading and make sure ACCEPT COOKIES FROM SITES is checked. Click OK and RESTART your browser.

Safari: Click on SAFARI from the top menu bar and select PREFERENCES. Under the SECURITY TAB, locate the ACCEPT COOKIES heading and make sure ONLY FROM SITES I VISIT is selected. RESTART your browser.

Javascript Check

 

OWL requires the Sun Java Virtual Machine (Sun JVM) to be installed on your computer. Version 1.5.0_07 is required. If you have an older version or a version provided by another vendor, you can download this version at http://www.java.com/. When finished with the download, RESTART your browser.

 

Java Check

 

You must also make sure that Java is enabled on your system. If it is not, follow the steps below for the browser that you are using:

Internet Explorer: Click on TOOLS from the top menu bar and select INTERNET OPTIONS. Under the SECURITY TAB make sure that INTERNET is selected from the zones available. Set the security level to MEDIUM-HIGH.

Mozilla Firefox: Click on TOOLS from the top menu bar and select OPTIONS. Under the CONTENT TAB, make sure the ENABLE JAVASCRIPT and ENABLE JAVA are checked. Click OK.

Safari: Click on SAFARI from the top menu bar and select PREFERENCES. Under the SECURITY TAB, make sure that ENABLE JAVASCRIPT and ENABLE JAVA are selected.

Pop-up Blocker Check

 

In order for OWL's features to function properly, you will need to turn your pop-up blocker off. To do so, follow the instructions below for the browser that you are using:

Internet Explorer: Click on TOOLS from the top menu bar and select POP-UP BLOCKER and then TURN OFF POP-UP BLOCKER.

Mozilla Firefox: Click on TOOLS from the top menu bar and select OPTIONS. Under the CONTENT TAB, make sure to DESELECT the option to BLOCK POP-UP WINDOWS. Click OK.

Safari: Click on SAFARI from the top menu bar and make sure that there is no check mark beside BLOCK POP-UP WINDOWS. If there is a check mark, click BLOCK POP-UP WINDOWS to remove it.


User Login

 

Once you have clicked on your required institution, you will be directed to the OWL Login page. This page also contains a link to the Browser Check and Pop-up Blocking information.

To login to OWL, please ensure that you are using both your Western personal computer account username (the name listed before the @uwo.ca) and password. Before clicking on the OK button, check to make sure you have selected the correct institution. This is visible at the top left of the page. If you have difficulties getting logged into your OWL course, you should contact the ITS Computer Support Centre via email at helpdesk@uwo.ca or by phone at 519-661-3800 for further assistance.


My OWL

 

My OWL is the central starting point for all users. All students, designers, and instructors will have access to a range of tools (called Channels) such as the Calendar, File Manager, and Mail tools. You will also have access to a personal set of tools such as Personal Bookmarks and a To Do List, along with access to grades for all the OWL courses you are enrolled in.

You can change what tools you would like available on your My OWL page, as well as its look and feel by clicking on the CHANNELS, COLOR or LAYOUT links on the top right-hand side of the page. You can also edit some of the tools individually by clicking on the GRAY DROP-DOWN ARROWS located to the right of each tool.

 

 


Accessing and Assigning Content to A New Course

 

You will see a list of all of the courses that you have access to under the Course List on your My OWL page. To view the course in OWL, simply click on the course name. If you have never accessed your course in OWL before, you will be prompted to assign course content to your OWL course area. Four options are provided: set up a blank course, copy content from another OWL course, assign a template, or import content. Only the first two options are relevant to the needs of most professors or course designers at Western.

 

Setting Up A Blank Course

If you have never used OWL before and you have access to no previous course content, select SET UP A BLANK COURSE and click CONTINUE. You will immediately be directed to a page allowing you to choose which tools will be available in your OWL course. If you are unsure as to what tools you will want to have available in your course, you can always assign tools later. See the Customize Content in OWL manualette for more details on adding tools to your course.

 

Copying Previous Course Content

 

If you have content from another OWL course that you would like to copy into your new course area, select COPY CONTENT FROM ANOTHER COURSE and click CONTINUE. You will be presented with a list of the courses that you have permission to copy content from. Simply select the course from which you would like to copy content. The content will be copied into your OWL course.


Navigating Your OWL Course

Before directing you to your course page, you will be provided with a brief outline of some of the tools available in OWL. Check the DO NOT SHOW ME AGAIN box below the summary, otherwise this page will be shown every time you enter your course. Click DONE.

You are now on the main page of your OWL course. At the top left you will notice three tabs: Build, Teach and Student View. Each tab corresponds with a specific user role. All course design takes place under the Build tab, whereas all interaction with the students, including the grading of assignments, is done under the Teach tab. The Student View tab simply allows you to preview the course from the student perspective.


The Course Toolbar

 

On the left-hand side you will find your course toolbar. It provides you, as well as your students, with quick access to all the tools available in your course. Below the toolbar, you will also notice an additional set of tools. The tools available in this section are specific to the designer, teacher and student role, and change according to the tab you are currently under.

 

Adding or Removing Tools

 

You can change which tools are available in the course toolbar, as well as those specific tools available to your students. To add or remove tools, make sure you are under the BUILD tab and select MANAGE COURSE from the DESIGNER TOOLS MENU. Click on the TOOLS link. You will be directed to a page where you can select and deselect which tools you would like to be available in your course. Deselecting a tool will remove it entirely from the course toolbar. Click SAVE when you are finished.

 

Hiding and Re-ordering Tools

 

If you want access to certain tools, but wish to hide them from your students, you can do so by clicking on the COURSE MENU link also found under MANAGE COURSE.

To hide a link, simply click the HIDE LINK button for the tool you wish to hide. When the tool is hidden, the link will read Show Link. To unhide the link, simply click on the SHOW LINK button.

If you would like to reorder the tools in the course toolbar, you can click on the box with the two arrows to the right of each tool. If you would like to move the tool up, select MOVE SELECTED ABOVE. If you'd like to move the tool down, select MOVE SELECTED BELOW.

You will notice that there are additional features for changing the look of your course list. For more information on these features, and other tools available to customize your course, see the Customization and Organization in OWL manualette.