OWL Tool - Announcements

What is the Announcements Tool?

The Announcements tool in OWL is a communication tool for instructors to disseminate information to their students. Notices can be posted to an OWL worksite and optionally sent by email to the members of the worksite.

What is the purpose of the Announcements Tool?

Instructors can post timely information reminding students that an assignment is due, post quiz or exam schedules, announce that course content (for example, notes from the latest class lecture) is available, or announce that the class is canceled.

How to use the Announcements Tool

Within your OWL worksite, enable the Announcements tool using the 'Site Info' page and clicking on the 'Edit Tools' link. The Announcement tool is added to the left side of your OWL worksite. Click on the Announcements tool icon to add an announcement, view and edit existing announcements, and merge announcements from another worksite.

Tool Evaluation

Evaluated: October 2016

Functionality overall rating: 2 starsFunctionality

Rating Rationale
Scale rating: 2 stars


The Announcements Tool can scaled to accommodate any size class but lacks flexibility to allow tailored announcements to class sub-groups

Ease of use rating:3 stars

Ease of Use

The Announcements Tool has a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate and personalize

Tech Support/ Help Availability rating: 3 stars

Tech Support/Help Availability

Western technical support/help documentation is readily available. See the Announcements Page in OWL Documentation Wiki or contact the Helpdesk

Hypermediality rating: 3 stars


The Announcements Tool allows users to communicate through different channels (audio, visual, textual) and allows for non-sequential, flexible/adaptive engagement with material

Accessibility overall rating: 3 starsAccessibility

Rating Rationale
AODA Friendly rating: 3 stars

AODA Friendly

The Announcements Tool meets accessibility guidelines (AODA and the W3C WCAG 2.0 standards)

Assistive Technology rating:3 stars

User-focused participation

The Announcements Tool is designed to address the needs of diverse users, their various literacies, and capabilities, thereby widening opportunities for participation in learning

Required Equipment rating: 3 stars

Required Equipment

Proper use of the Announcements tool does not require specialized equipment

Technical overall rating:3 starsTechnical

Rating Rationale
Integration/Embedding within OWL rating: 3 stars

Integration/Embedding within OWL

The Announcements Tool is native to OWL

Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Operating Systems

Users can effectively utilize the Announcements Tool with any standard, up-to-date operating system (i.e. Windows, OSX, etc.)

Web Browser rating:3 stars

Web Browser

Users can effectively utilize the Announcements Tool with any standard, up-to-date web browser (i.e. Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, Explorer etc.)

Additional Technical Requirements rating:3 stars

Additional Technical Requirements

Users do not need to download additional software or browser extensions

Mobile Design overall rating: 1 starMobile Design

Rating Rationale
Mobile Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Mobile Operating Systems

The Announcements Tool is accessible in OWL on all mobile devices through a browser. There is no native app for OWL, however you can access OWL through the WesternU app on both android and iOS devices.

Mobile Functionality rating:3 stars

Mobile Functionality

There is little to no functional difference with the Announcements Tool when accessed on mobile systems. Announcements can be viewed, created, and edited.

Offline Access rating: 1 star

Offline Access

The platform cannot be used in any capacity offline

Usage and account set up overall rating: 3 starsUsage and Account Set Up

Rating Rationale
Sign Up/Sign In rating:3 stars

Sign Up/Sign In

Use of the Announcements Tool does not require the creation of an external account or additional login beyond a Western Identity and access to OWL

Cost of Use rating:3 stars

Cost of Use

All aspects of the Announcements Tool can be used free of charge to Western account holders

Archiving Saving and Exporting Data rating:3 stars

Archiving, Saving, and Exporting Data

Announcements are archived and saved, Posts can be individually printed or saved as a PDF

Data Privacy and Ownership rating:3 stars

Data Privacy and Ownership

Users maintain ownership and copyright of their intellectual property/data; the user can keep data private and decide if/how data is to be shared

Social Presence overall rating: 2 starsSocial Presence

Rating Rationale
Collaboration rating: 2 stars


The Announcements Tool has the capacity to support a community of learning through asynchronous posts. Unlike the Forums tool, Announcements cannot be responded to and are therefore unidirectional rather than collaborative. Students can be given permission to create and edit announcements themselves.

User Accountability rating: 3 stars

User Accountability

Announcements can only be made by those who have permission (i.e. Instructors, Administrators). Announcements are tagged with the author.

Diffusion rating: 2 stars


Student familiarity with the Announcements Tool is likely mixed, some will lack basic technical competence with its functions

Instructor Presence overall rating: 2 starsInstructor Presence

Rating Rationale
Facilitation rating:3 stars


The Announcements Tool has easy-to-use features that would significantly improve an instructor’s ability to be present with students via active management, monitoring, and engagement

Customization rating: 2 stars


Limited aspects of the Announcements Tool can be customized to suit the classroom context and learning outcomes

Learning Analytics rating: N/A

Learning Analytics

As a course management tool, the Announcements Tool is not intended to support the collection of learning analytics

Cognitive Presence overall rating: N/ACognitive Presence

Rating Rationale
Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s) rating:N/A

Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s)

As a course management tool, the Announcements Tool is not intended to engage students in the cognitive task(s) of learning

Higher Order Thinking rating:N/A

Higher Order Thinking

As a course management tool, the Announcements Tool is not intended to engage students in higher order thinking skills

Feedback on Learning rating:N/A

Feedback on Learning

As a course management tool, the Announcements Tool is not intended to provide opportunities for formative feedback on learning

View the rubric for an explanation of this evaluation
Leave feedback to comment or request that the tool be re-reviewed

Related Information

Additional Resources