OWL Blog

OWL version 3.6

Highlights Include Support for Safari, Recording of Oral Comments and Feedback on Assessments, and Flash-Based Practice Activity Modules

The new version is available to all customers with active maintenance agreements and will be installed for all new customers starting immediately. OWL version 3.6 brings three important enhancements to OWL, starting with full support for Apple's Safari browser. Safari, popular among OWL’s primary, secondary, and higher education customers, brings the total browsers supported by OWL to four. The other three are Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s Firefox, and Google’s Chrome. According to most surveys, these four browsers comprise just over 98 percent of the internet browser market.

OWL customers have always benefited from performing online assessments of the writing and speaking skill of their language learners—using any scoring system, rubric, and text-based commentary desired. Now, instructors will be able to dynamically add their oral comments to those assessments. Oral comments are useful in helping students to hear proper pronunciations, while giving instructors freedom to offer guidance and advice on every aspect of a student's response.

The conversion from Flash to Java for handling OWL's Practice Activity Modules completely eliminates the need for additional media server hardware and software. This upgrade now makes the deployment of OWL simpler and less expensive for both testing and for practice activities.

"This new version of OWL was directed primarily by customer feedback and requests, just as our software has been since its inception," said Chris Dalessandri, president and CEO of OWL Testing Software. "Technically, the elimination of Flash signals the completion of the last step toward a completely Java-driven application. This will certainly make deployment simpler, more affordable, and easier for us and our customers. Safari has always worked well with OWL. Version 3.6 confirms the successful completion of our internal quality assurance testing of a browser that is very popular with our educational markets. We're probably most excited about giving our customers the ability to capture oral comments as they perform their online assessments. It's been one of the more popular requests of late, and we've always prided ourselves at taking product development direction from our customers."