OWL Tool - Syllabus 

What is the Syllabus tool?

A syllabus is a detailed overview of a college or training course, which usually includes an outline and summary of topics to be covered. In essence, it is the blueprint for the course expectations, requirements, ground rules, readings, assignments, exams and final projects, professor's contact information, office location, and office hours.

The OWL Syllabus tool allows instructors to create or upload their course syllabi for students to view or download.

What is the purpose of the Syllabus tool?

A syllabus acts as a guide to both the instructor and the learner to assist in navigating the course over the term and to plan course work. The OWL syllabus tool is meant to provide an intuitive and accessible mechanism by which instructors can disseminate their course syllabi.

How to use the Syllabus tool

In the Syllabus tool, click the "Create/Edit" option.  From the "Create/Edit" page, Click Add.  Provide a Title for your new syllabus. In the "Content" field, you can use the content creator window to type and customize your syllabus. You can also copy and paste a syllabus created in Microsoft Word by copying the content of your document, clicking the Paste icon in the content creator, and then pasting the content into the dialog box. Select whether you wish your syllabus to be viewable to only members of your site, or to the public. 

Tool Evaluation

Evaluated: October 2016

Functionality overall rating: 3 starsFunctionality

Rating Rationale
Scale rating: 3 stars


The Syllabus Tool can be scaled to accommodate any size class; there is flexibility to create a multi-part syllabus

Ease of use rating: 3 stars

Ease of Use

The Syllabus 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 Syllabus page in OWL Documentation Wiki or contact the Helpdesk

Hypermediality rating: 3 stars


Using the various options available (i.e. file attachment, web-based syllabus, multi-part syllabus, and point to webpage) the Syllabus Tool supports instructors to communicate through different channels and can be set up to allow for non-sequential, flexible/adaptive engagement with material

Accessibility overall rating: 2 starsAccessibility

Rating Rationale
AODA Friendly rating: 2 stars

AODA Friendly

The Syllabus Tool itself meets functional accessibility standards (AODA and the W3C WCAG 2.0 standards). However, the documents uploaded to the Syllabus tool are only as accessible as they are made to be. Documents can be made more accessible by following these guidelines.

Assistive Technology rating: 2 stars

User-focused participation

The Syllabus Tool itself has some limited capacity to address the needs of diverse users, their various literacies, and capabilities. Consider developing a learner-centered syllabus to address these points.

Required Equipment rating: 3 stars

Required Equipment

Proper use of the Syllabus Tool does not require specialized equipment

Technical overall rating: 3 starsTechnical

Rating Rationale
Integration/Embedding within OWL rating: 3 stars

Operating Systems

As a tool specific to OWL, the Syllabus Tool is naturally embedded in OWL. To add the Syllabus Tool to your OWL site, click Site Info > Edit Tools > check the box beside Syllabus > Continue. The Syllabus tool will appear in your lefthand menu bar

Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Operating Systems

Users can effectively utilize the Syllabus 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 Syllabus 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

If the syllabus has been provided in .doc format, a word processor may be required to read the document. The vast majority of students have access to some sort of word processor such as Microsoft Word, Apple Pages or an open source product such as open office.

Mobile Design overall rating: 2 starsMobile Design

Rating Rationale
Mobile Operating Systems rating:3 stars

Mobile Operating Systems

Accessing the Syllabus Tool via the OWL web application (available through mobile browsers or through the WesternU app), instructors can view and edit syllabus materials. Students can view and download syllabus material. In this way, the Syllabus Tool is available through most mobile devices.

Mobile Functionality rating: 3 stars

Mobile Functionality

There is little to no functional difference with the Syllabus Tool between the web app and the main tool

Offline Access rating: 1 star

Offline Access

The Syllabus Tool cannot be used in any capacity offline - users require internet or data service to log in to the OWL web application to access the Syllabus information.

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 Syllabus 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 Syllabus 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 upload a syllabus document in a variety of formats. Students can download attached documents or print syllabus webpages. Syllabus Tool material can be imported from other OWL course sites (Site Info > Import from Site > Select method > Select from sites that you own > select Syllabus)

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: 1 starSocial Presence

Rating Rationale
Collaboration rating: 1 star


Communication, interactivity, and transfer of meaning between users is not supported through the Syllabus Tool

User Accountability rating: 3 star

User Accountability

Student accountability is of little concern with the Syllabus Tool.

Diffusion rating: 2 stars


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

Instructor Presence overall rating: 3 starInstructor Presence

Rating Rationale
Facilitation rating: 3 stars


The Syllabus 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 Syllabus Tool is adaptable to its environment: easily customized to suit the classroom context and targeted learning outcomes

Learning Analytics rating: N/A

Learning Analytics

As a syllabus communication tool, the Syllabus Tool is not intended to support the collection of learning analytics

Cognitive Presence overall rating: 2 starCognitive Presence

Rating Rationale
Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s) rating:2 star

Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s)

As a dedicated place to post a course syllabus, the Syllabus Tool may aid students in locating and identifying course expectations thereby reducing cognitive load.

Higher Order Thinking rating:N/A

Higher Order Thinking

As a syllabus communication tool, The Syllabus Tool is not intended to engage students in higher order thinking skills

Feedback on Learning rating:N/A

Feedback on Learning

As a syllabus communication tool,The Syllabus Tool is not indented 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