OWL Tool - Gradebook

What is the Gradebook Tool? 

The Gradebook tool in OWL allows instructors to securely and privately record and distribute course grades. It can be used to calculate and store grade information, and distribute those grades to individual students online.

What is the purpose of the Gradebook Tool? 

Instructors can organize course grades based on a grade breakdown, usually provided to students through a syllabus. Instructors can enter grades for individual students based on items created within the Gradebook.

Instructors can import grades from a .dpc file, .csv file, as well as an Excel spreadsheet based on styling specified by OWL Instructors can calculate final course grades and submit them for approval through the Gradebook. Instructors can release grades to individual students through the Gradebook. 

How to use the Gradebook Tool 

Within your OWL worksite, enable the 'Gradebook' tool using the 'Site Info' page and clicking on the 'Edit Tools' link. The Gradebook tool is added to the left side of your OWL worksite.

The Gradebook tool contains six sub-sections:

  • Use the 'Gradebook Items' page to add Gradebook Items, edit existing Gradebook Items, import spreadsheets or .dpc files, and enter grades into existing Gradebook Items. 
  • Use the 'All Grades' page to view a table providing a breakdown of all Gradebook Items within the OWL site. 
  • Use the 'Course Grades' page to view a list of students in the course, their corresponding Course Grade, and the course grade average. The final course grade for each student can also be securing submitted, approved, and transferred to the Office of the Registrar from the 'Course Grades' page.
  • Use the 'Gradebook Setup' page to select a grade entry type and Gradebook item display, as well as for creating categories and weighting. 
  • Use the 'Course Grade Options' page to set default grade values and for releasing Course Grades to students. 
  • Use the 'Import Grades' page to download spreadsheet templates and import spreadsheets.

The Assignments tool, the Tests & Quizzes tool, and the Forums tool in OWL can attached to the Gradebook so grades from student will be entered automatically into a corresponding Gradebook item.

Tool Evaluation

Evaluated: October 2016

Functionality overall rating: 2 starsFunctionality

Rating Rationale
Scale rating: 3 stars


The Gradebook Tool can be scaled to accommodate any size class

Ease of use rating: 2 stars

Ease of Use

The Gradebook Tool has an interface that may be confusing to some; there is limited opportunity for personalization

Tech Support/ Help Availability rating: 3 stars

Tech Support/Help Availability

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

Hypermediality rating: 3 stars


The Gradebook Tool allows allows for non-sequential, flexible/adaptive engagement with course grades

Accessibility overall rating: 2 stars Accessibility

Rating Rationale
AODA Friendly rating: 2 stars

AODA Friendly

The Gradebook Tool mostly meets accessibility guidelines (AODA and the W3C WCAG 2.0 standards), however some icons used by the gradebook lack alt-text which may result in confusion for screen reader users.

Assistive Technology rating: 3 stars

User-focused participation

The Gradebook Tool is allows students to regularly check in on their grades and as such may serve to address the needs of diverse users, their various literacies, and capabilities

Required Equipment rating: 3 stars

Required Equipment

Proper use of the Gradebook Tool does not require specialized equipment

Technical overall rating:3 stars Technical

Rating Rationale
Integration/Embedding within OWL rating: 3 stars

Integration/Embedding within OWL

The Gradebook Tool is native to OWL

Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Operating Systems

Users can effectively utilize the Gradebook 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 Gradebook 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 star Mobile Design

Rating Rationale
Mobile Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Mobile Operating Systems

The Gradebook 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 Gradebook Tool when accessed on mobile systems

Offline Access rating: 1 star

Offline Access

The Gradebook Tool cannot be used in any capacity offline

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

Rating Rationale
Sign Up/Sign In rating: 3 stars

Sign Up/Sign In

Use of the Gradebook 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 Gradebook Tool can be used free of charge to Western account holders

Archiving Saving and Exporting Data rating: 3 stars

Archiving, Saving, and Exporting Data

Instructors can archive, save, or import/export content or activity data in a variety of formats. Data Management Software (i.e. Excel, and OpenOffice) can be used to edit, compile, and manage student marks that are exported from OWL (See Importing/Exporting Grades section in Gradebook Documentation)

Data Privacy and Ownership rating: 3 stars

Data Privacy and Ownership

Users maintain ownership and copyright of their intellectual property/data; grades are private between instructor and individual students

Social Presence overall rating: 3 star Social Presence

Rating Rationale
Collaboration rating: N/A


As a grade management and recording tool, the Gradebook Tool is not intended to support communication, interactivity, and transfer of meaning between users

User Accountability rating: 3 stars

User Accountability

Student grades are always linked to their Western ID and are private to each individual.

Diffusion rating: 3 stars


The Gradebook Tool is widely known and popular, it’s likely that most students are familiar with the tool and have basic technical competence with it

Instructor Presence overall rating:3 stars Instructor Presence

Rating Rationale
Facilitation rating: 3 stars


The Gradebook 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: 3 stars


The Gradebook Tool is adaptable to its environment: easily customized to suit the classroom context (i.e. easily integrated with other OWL tools)

Learning Analytics rating: 3 stars

Learning Analytics

The Gradebook Tool enables instructors to monitor students’ performance on a variety of responsive measures

Cognitive Presence overall rating: 3 star Cognitive Presence

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

Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s)

As a grade management and recording tool, the Gradebook Tool is not intended to impact student engagement in the cognitive task(s) of the course

Higher Order Thinking rating: N/A

Higher Order Thinking

As a grade management and recording tool, the Gradebook Tool is not intended engage students in higher order thinking skills

Feedback on Learning rating: 3 stars

Feedback on Learning

Through the Gradebook Tool, students can regularly receive formative feedback on learning (i.e. they can track their performance, monitor their improvement, etc.)

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

  • Further information regarding the use of the Gradebook tool in OWL can be found in the OWL Documentation site.