General Information

General Help

Need Help?

Contextually-appropriate help is accessible within each OWL tool by clicking on the question mark icon in the upper right of each tool window. For more instructional material on the use of OWL, click on the Sakai Support tab at the top of the screen and navigate through the different tools in the menu on the left..


You may also reset the tool by clicking on the arrows adjacent to the tool title; this restores the tool to its original state.

General Navigation

  1. Active Site - This tab will be highlighted in white. My Workspace is the default active site that is displayed when first logging in, and its content appears in the main display area.
  2. Enrolled Sites - Lists other enrolled courses that are available to explore. Your Active Tab will switch to the one you've clicked. More Sites displays other courses you are enrolled under. See My Workspace for more information on organizing site display.
  3. Tool Menu - Lists the available tools for the Active Site.


For more information regarding the My Workspace page, view My Workspace

Reset Password Tool

Instructors and Maintainers have the option of adding "non official participants" to their course site in OWL, which are participants with non-Western accounts ( email addresses). If these specific participants want to reset their password for their account in OWL, they can use this tool.

This tool is not for official Western accounts. To reset your Western password please use external link: Western Identity Manager.

  1. On the OWL homepage, navigate to Reset Password. ResetPassword01-a.png
  2. Enter your email address and click “Request Password Change”. ResetPassword02-a.png
  3. You will receive an email with a validation link. This link will expire within 60 minutes of being sent to your email.
  4. Click on the link to navigate to the “Reset Password” page where you can enter your new password.
    • OWL has some minimum requirements for password strength. To meet these requirements, we recommend that your new password;
    1. be at least 8 characters long,
    2. uses a mix of character types (lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, or special characters), and
    3. is not the same as your username or email address ResetPassword03-a.png
  5. Once you have entered your new password and confirmed your password, click on “Change password and log in”.
  6. Your password has now been changed. You can verify this change by logging into OWL with your new password.

WebCT-Sakai Comparison

Tool Conversion Table

ToolAvailable in WebCTAvailable in SakaiSpecial Notes
AssessmentsReferred to as Tests & Quizzes in Sakai
CalendarReferred to as Schedule in Sakai
Threaded DiscussionsReferred to as Forums in Sakai
EZ Proxy Links 
ContentFile Manager in WebCT becomes Resources in Sakai
Learning ModulesLessons in Sakai
GlossaryComing in a future release 
Email ArchiveEmail sent to roster using section email address. Similar to a mailing list
MessagesEmail to roster can be sent to external email
TurnitinTurnitin feature integrated into Assignment tool in Sakai
WeblinksCan be created with the Web Content tool or as links with the Resources tool within Sakai
ePortfoliosComing in a future release 
User created sitesSakai allows faculty, staff and students to create their own collaboration sites
Publicly Available Sites 
Instructor enrollment of Non-UWO accounts 
DropboxThis tool allows for private file-sharing between instructor and student
Mobile View 

My Workspace


My Workspace functions as a personalized homepage for each user. When a user first logs in, the My Workspace page provides an at-a-glance information panel which congregates all data from their registered courses. The various tools or 'widgets' displayed on the page include the Calendar, Recent Announcements, and Message Center Notifications.

Continue reading below for more information on the Home Page.

Home Page

Message of the Day

The Message of the Day box will display OWL updates, service interruptions and other OWL system announcements. Only a system administrator can modify the contents of the Message of the Day.


Favorite Sites - Top Navigation Bar

At the top of the page next to the My Workspace tab, you will see other tabs for the courses and project sites in which you are enrolled.



The Calendar widget in the top right of the page displays the current day. If your instructor or maintainer uses the Schedule tool, the Calendar widget will highlight the days which have any events or deadlines coming up. Please see Schedule documentation page for more details.


Announcements and Message Center

The Announcements widget is a congregation of recent announcements from the last 10 days from your enrolled course and project sites. Please see Announcements for more details about the Announcements tool.

The Message Center Notifications is a congregation of recent messages and forum posts across all of the your enrolled sites. Please see Messages and Forums documentation pages for more details on each tool.


My Workspace Tools

Every page in OWL will have a menu of tools along the left side of the page. This menu changes from site to site, depending on the tools chosen and controlled by the instructor or maintainer(s). However, in My Workspace, these tools are standardized for every OWL user.


Please see below for a basic overview of these tools.


The Membership page is used to control your membership in various sites and courses. Most enrolments happen automatically, and you will join/unjoin sites accordingly.

"My Current Sites" displays the sites you are currently enrolled in tabular form. You can use the Search box at the top right to find a site by keyword.

Sites which you have been added manually to can be unjoined manually as well. Select the site you want to unjoin and then click Unjoin.


A confirmation page will appear next. Click Unjoin to confirm and leave the site.


Careful! You will lose access to a site once you unjoin it, and will have to be re-added by the instructor/maintainer to gain access back.

Click "My Official Course Enrolments" to see the courses which you've been added to by the registrar. You can sort by "Term", by "Course Section", or by "Course Site" by clicking on the table column titles. You can also use the top right search-box to find a site by keyword.

Click "Joinable Sites" and view other sections for you to join. You can sort sites by title as well as search for any sites you can join. Use this to join sites such as WHMIS training.



The Schedule on My Workspace is a collection of calendar events across all of the user's enrolled courses. Specifically, it contains the events created in each of the courses' Schedule tools. This tool also appears summarized in a small monthly calendar. Please see Schedule documentation page for more details.


This resources tool allows users access to a personal storage site for their documents. Please see the My Workspace Resources documentation page for more details.


The Announcements tool is a congregation of recent announcements from the last 10 days from your enrolled course and project sites. Please see Announcements for more details about the Announcements tool.

Worksite Setup

This page can be used to view a full list of sites to which you are subscribed. Any user can also use the New option at the top of the page to create personal project sites. These give the user all the functionality of a regular course site, but do not have any student rosters. Other OWL users can be invited to use this site or join themselves if the site is listed publicly and set up to allow this.


Under Customize Tabs, you can re-order your sites and change which one display on your top bar and under More Sites.

  1. The "Favorite Sites" list are sites which are displayed at the top bar in OWL.
  2. The "Active Sites" are displayed on your drawer under "More Sites". These are the sites you'll see when you click "More Sites".
  3. The "Archived Sites" are hidden from view and won't even be displayed under "More Sites". You can only see these sites if you click on "Worksite Setup" and search for them there. It is good practice to re-organize your site display settings at the start of each term so your most recent courses are displayed.
  4. To move your sites:
    • Under "Customize Tabs", you can use the right and left arrow buttons ( < and > ) to move sites between "Favorite Sites", "Active Sites" and "Archived Sites". Select the sites you want to move and then use the arrows to move them from list to list.
    • To change the order of the tabs, you can use the up and down arrow buttons ( v and ^ ) to move sites to the bottom or top of the box respectively. You can also drag and drop the sites in the new order you want to place them in. However, My Workspace will always appear to the left of your other sites.
  5. When you are finished, click Update Preferences.



  1. At the top of the screen, click "Notifications"
  2. You can choose from several notification methods for Announcements, Resources, Email Archive, and Syllabus, activity:
    1. "Send me each mail sent to site separately": You receive email notification each time that an Announcement is posted, a Resource is added, or email is sent.
    2. "Send me one email per day summarizing all emails": Individual Announcements, Resources, Syllabus activity, and/or mail messages are bundled into a single email message and sent to you daily.
    3. "Do not send me emails sent to the site": You receive no notification regarding low priority site activity.
  3. When you are finished, click Update Preferences to save your preferences.

Time Zone

  1. At the top of the screen, click "Time Zone"
    • Use the scrolling list to find your time zone and select it.
  2. When you are finished, click Update Preferences to save your preferences.


  1. At the top of the screen, click "Language"
    • Use the scrolling list to find your language (and country) preference and select it.
  2. When you are finished, click Update Preferences to save your preferences.When you change language regions for the same language - for example, changing English from US to UK - there will be minor changes to some terminology in the interface. For example, the Gradebook tool will become the Markbook tool; in Site Info, Edit Rosters will become "Edit Class Members List(s)".


The Account option provides you with a basic profile containing your status and contact information. If you are using a non-official Western account, you can modify some details of the account here.


For assistance with Sakai including a searchable glossary of terms.

Additional Information

Project Vs. Course sites

You can choose from features and functions to create sites that meet your needs. Here are two types of sites you can create:

Course sites

A course site is the official worksite for a particular academic course for an institution and can be linked to a database (such as a registrar's) to automatically populate its roster.

There are several ways of creating a new site;

  1. In My Workspace,
    1. Click on "Worksite Setup",
    2. Click "New". OR
  2. Click on the top right profile icon next to the Log Out button and select "+Add New Site" from the drop-down menu. OR
  3. On any site,
    1. Open "More Sites,
    2. Click on "Add New Site" at the top of the window that appears.

coursevprojectsite01-a.png coursevprojectsite02-a.png

You will need to choose your the academic year for your course site.


Project sites

Project sites are designed to facilitate collaboration. You can invite anyone you wish to join your project site.

You can create a project site right away, without choosing an academic year. You must enter a title for your new project site:


OWL Site Roles

Course sites

Instructor: Instructors have full permissions throughout the site, including the ability to publish the site and set its global access. Instructors can read, revise, delete, and add both content and participants to a site. Instructors can submit and revise final course grades to their department for approval. The Instructor role should only be granted for the official instructor of the course.

Course Coordinator: Course Coordinators also have full permissions throughout the site, similarly to the Instructor role. Oftentimes, a user is a course coordinator in multiple sites to perform administrative duties such as cross-listing several class sections or distributing the same course materials to each section.

Secondary Instructor*: Secondary Instructors can read, revise, delete, and add content to a site. Secondary Instructors generally have the same permissions as the Instructor role. Secondary Instructors have the ability to grade assignments and tests as well as to override course grades. However, they cannot submit course grades for approval by the department. This role is intended for people who aren't officially an instructor in the course but who may act in a teaching capacity such as a guest lecturer or a Teaching Assistant who needs more access to site functionality. This is a powerful role and should not be granted lightly.

Teaching Assistant*: Teaching Assistants can read, add, and revise most content in their sections. Teaching assistants cannot submit or revise course grades for approval by the department. By default, Teaching Assistants cannot grade assignments, though these Permissions can be adjusted under the Gradebook or Assignments tools, depending on what the instructor of the site uses.

Course Designer*: Course Designers can add, revise, and delete course content. If someone is helping you to build your course but you don't wish for them to be able to have access to grades, you may wish to grant the person this role.

Grade Administrator: Grade administrators have permissions which allow them to review and submit grades within their department and approve those grades to the Office of the Registrar. Grade Administrators also have all the abilities of a course coordinator. Grade Administrators are added by OWL administration.

Student*: Students can read content and add content to a site where appropriate. Students can be graded and can see only the grade assigned to them.

Auditor*: Auditors can view course content but cannot be graded or evaluated. Auditors do not have permissions to add content and cannot see course grades.

Those roles denoted with a * can be assigned manually by the Instructor, Course Coordinator, or Grade Admin. Instructor and Student roles are assigned via automatic rosters coming from the Registrar. Course Coordinator and Grade Administrator roles are granted by request from a department. View Course Enrollment Process for more information

Project sites

Maintain: The Maintain role has full permissions throughout the site, including the ability to publish the site and set its global access. The Maintain role can read, revise, delete, and add both content and participants to a site.

Access: The Access role can read content and add content to a site where appropriate.