Frequently Asked Questions

I have never taken an online course - What should I expect?

  1. Prior to the start date of your course, you need to ensure that you have activated your Western Identity through Western's Identity Manager at as you will need a Western user ID and password to log into your course. Instructions were sent to you in a confirmation email when you registered for the course. If you did not receive this email, email us at
  2. All Western AQ online courses are offered in the Western Learning Management System - OWL (powered by Sakai). Click here to log into OWL.
  3. Ensure that you are using an UP TO DATE browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome or Safari). Note that some aspects of the courses work better in Chrome or Firefox.
  4. Log into OWL on the course start date. Your course will appear as a tab across the top with the course code on it. Click on the tab to enter your course area. The page you land on will be your HOME screen. A Welcome Video is available on the home screen to provide you with an overview of the course. Click on the links to the left to explore and become familiar with the course set-up. Here are examples of these links:
    • HOME: The home page of your course will have a welcome message from your instructor and some introductory information about your course.
    • COURSE CONTENT: Review the course content to become familiar with the learning that will be covered in the course, assignments, readings and course expectations.
    • SYLLABUS: Printable document outlining expectations of course.
    • DISCUSSION: Links you to the discussion forum where you will be spending the majority of your time in the course. Your instructor will have posted a welcome message and will ask that each member of the class introduce themselves. This is where you will be interacting with your instructor and your classmates in the online forum, responding to the Instructor's questions and commenting on your colleagues’ responses. You will also be participating in Collaborative Inquiry in the Discussion area.
    • ASSIGNMENTS: This is where you will submit your assignments.
    • MESSAGES: You can email your instructor or classmates privately.

TIME COMMITMENT: Each course consists of 125 hours, as required by the Ontario College of Teachers. This time allotment includes ongoing and active participation in the online discussion area, participation in Collaborative Inquiry, and the completion of readings and assignments.

  • The expectation is that you are online participating in the course regularly and consistently. For a 10 week online course in the Fall or Winter, this translates to approximately 12.5 hours per week for Collaborative Inquiry, discussion, readings and assignments. During the more condensed Intersession expect to spend approximately 21 hours per week on your course. During the 4 week Summer session the time commitment is approximately 31.25 hours per week.
  • While one of the benefits of online learning is the flexibility it provides for you as a participant, the time commitment remains. Discussion is a key aspect of all our online courses. As such, your hours of online access should be spread out throughout each module and throughout the duration of the course. Absence from the online discussions cannot be "made up"; therefore, consistent and regular participation is required. The discussion is not "live" so you can be online at any time of the day or night.

For further information see Getting Started on our website's side bar or view the Video on our website.

Good luck and if you have questions or concerns, email or use the Messages tool in your course to ask the instructor.

What is "Collaborative Inquiry"?

All courses include a 24-hour online Collaborative Inquiry Component. Participating in Collaborative Inquiry with your colleagues is an opportunity for you to pursue an area of inquiry that meets your own personal interests and professional development needs, as they link to course readings, content and related teaching and learning experiences in the subject area and/or at the grade level of your Additional Qualifications (AQ) course.

Within the course, teachers work together in small groups, with guidance from the instructor, around difficult cases/issues or topics from their classroom practice, and engage in professional dialogue with others in the field in ways that inform and extend the understanding of all involved. Within your CI group, you may;

  • Raise questions that are 'nagging' you;
  • Seek clarification of issues;
  • Debate the advantages or disadvantages of various strategies, approaches, practices;
  • Analyse the degree of success that a particular teaching strategy or approach has had for you;
  • Decide on next steps for instructional strategies to ensure student learning after considering alternative options;
  • Decide on what needs to be done for a student.

Why are some Course Discussions combined?

Some of our AQ courses are offered in a combined format, where Part 1, Part 2 and Specialist candidates, or Senior and Honour Specialist candidates may be combined. Within a combined format, participants work towards the achievement of their course-specific expectations. When common "big ideas" or skills are involved, all participants in the courses may work together, such as during the Collaborative Inquiry Project. At other times, discussion may be specific to each individual course. Assessment, evaluation, and reporting are course-specific.
There are benefits for participants both socially and academically. Reviews of research that were conducted in Canada by Naylor (2000) and by Manitoba Education (2003) show that classes of a combined nature can provide participants with increased opportunities for social and emotional growth. Participants have been shown to:

  • develop more positive peer interactions;
  • do more collaborative and independent learning;
  • display greater feelings of comfort and security, and a positive self-concept;
  • show higher satisfaction with achievements;
  • have more opportunities for leadership within a community of learners;

What is my Western Identity?

To obtain your login for the online course you need to activate your Western Identity. Your Western Identity is your key to central services, including courses, at Western and consists of your User ID and Password. Your User ID is a unique name that identifies you as a member of the Western community. The User ID cannot be changed.

Instructions on activating your Western Identity are provided in the "After Registration" tab under Resources.  

IMPORTANT: Your user ID and password are secure and should be kept safe as the ASPIRE Office cannot provide them to you should they be misplaced. You will use the same user ID and password to log into future courses at Western, as well as other secured Western sites to view final grades, order transcripts, and access tax receipts.

Your Western Identity activates for use in 48 hours for new students to Western, and in 1-3 hours if you are a returning student re-setting your Identity. For a video tutorial on account activation go to this link: Western Identity Manager.

How do I get a pre-assessment for admission to an AQ course?

Courses in Business Studies, French as a Second Language, Technological Studies, Honour Specialist, and Intermediate and Senior ABQ require prior university courses in the subject area for admission.

Important Note: Students who are required to withdraw from a course due to ineligibility receive refunds as per the university refund schedule, also subject to the non-refundable deposit.

If unsure of your eligibility for an AQ course, we strongly recommend that you have your qualifications assessed prior to registering for a course with Western. Email a copy of your transcripts to or fax to 519-850-2526 and include a note indicating the course you are interested in, your OCT number and a return email address. We will respond by email with the evaluation results.

Pre-evaluation requests for AQ courses must be received by the ASPIRE Program office no later than 10 days prior to the registration deadline for the session.  Requests received after that time are not guaranteed to receive a response before the deadline.  Note that registration acceptance is also contingent on space availability in the course.

Official transcripts: If you are approved to take the course, we will require an official sealed transcript sent directly from the issuing institution. The ASPIRE Office address is found in the Contact Us menu in the top right hand side of this web site.

What is a combined Honour Specialist?

A combined Honour Specialist is the completion of TWO Honour Specialist AQ (you must register and pay for both courses). The courses can be taken concurrently or during different sessions, but we cannot send a report to the Ontario College of Teachers for either specialist until both courses have been successfully completed. For admission requirements for a combined Honour Specialist, please see our Admission Requirements page.

Who is my supervisory officer and how is teaching experience determined?

For teachers employed by a board of education, a supervisory officer is the superintendent or assistant superintendent of the board. A principal is not deemed to be a supervisory officer. For teachers employed by a private school, the official appointed by the Ministry to provide supervisory services for the school is deemed to be the supervisory officer.

One school year of teaching experience is equivalent to 194 teaching days if you are a supply teacher. The supervisory officer must certify your experience by completing and signing the Teaching Experience Form.

What if I need medical accommodations in the course?

If medical accommodations are required, please visit this page: Medical Accommodation to review the policy and procedures. The Student Medical Certificate must be completed by your medical practitioner and sent to the ASPIRE office. They can email the completed certificate to Our office will review the documentation and work with you and the course instructor to facilitate the appropriate accommodations.

How do I withdraw from an online AQ course?

If you wish to withdraw from a course, submit your request online:  Log into the Western Professional Education AQ Student Portal:, locate your course enrollment, and select the "Drop" option from the cogwheel on the screen. 

Note that non-participation in the course does not presume formal withdrawal.

Withdrawals prior to the course start date, including those for medical reasons or ineligibility, result in a refund of the course fee less the $100 processing fee.  They are processed in approximately 10 business days.  After the start date, refunds are issued in accordance with the university refund schedule.  The $100 processing fee applies to all refund amounts.  Note: The university refund schedules for AQ courses are being updated.  Please ensure to check the schedules when considering a withdrawal.

After the last refund date stated on the university refund schedule, withdrawal constitutes a failing grade and no refund of tuition.

Can I switch my course to another session?

Requests to defer a course to the following session must be received prior to the commencement date of the session, and is contingent on space availability in the other session.  Students may defer only from Spring to Summer, OR from Fall to Winter sessions; however, not from Spring/Summer to Fall/Winter.  Submit the deferral request in writing by sending an email to

If you wish to transfer to another course in the same session, submit your request online:  Log into the Western Professional Education AQ Student Portal:, locate your course enrollment, and select the "Transfer" option from the cogwheel on the screen.  Your eligibility for the requested course must be verified prior to the transfer request being approved. 

How do I get a receipt for my online course?

A receipt is available to print on the payment screen when you register and pay for a course.

If you need to access the receipt again later, contact our office at for instructions.

You can also print both a Statement of Account and a Web Academic Report from the Registrar's website: Log into Student Center and under Finances click on 'Detailed Statement of Account'.

The detailed statement of account will provide you with your account information including tuition due dates, charges, payments, bursaries and current balance. In the upper right hand corner you can also click on the printer friendly link to generate a HTML printout of your tuition statement should you require a paper copy.

To access the Web Academic Report which will list the course name(s), go to the Student Centre and under Academics > Documentation, select 'Web Academic Report'. Then select it as the 'Report Type' (it will be the only option) and click 'View Report'. It takes approximately one minute for the report to run.

If you have questions or require assistance, please email or call the Helpline at 519-661-2100.

Tax receipts will be available the following February on the last business day of the month. Log into the Student Centre at that time to access and print the official T2202A receipt.

Do I need a French Proficiency test and what are the test dates?

Admission to the French as a Second Language Part 1 course requires 5 full-year university courses in French OR 1 year of university taken in French.  The test may also be required for candidates to Intermediate Division or Senior Division French as a Second Language. 

Next Test Date:  Spring - Saturday, April 13, 2019.  Summer - Saturday, June 15, 2019.

*French Test results are valid for 1 year from the date of the test for Additional Qualifications enrollment purposes.  The candidate must enroll in the French AQ/ABQ course within the 1-year time period.  If enrolling in the Additional Qualification after 1 year from the test date, the candidate must retake the French proficiency test.

Test fee:$100.00 (cheque, cash or money order only) non-refundable, payable on the day of the onsite test or prior to the test being proctored.

Proctored testing: Available upon request for those living at a distance. The oral test will be done by phone AND you will need to provide our office with the contact information for your proctor for the written test. The proctor must be a school principal or vice-principal. Mail the testing fee to the ASPIRE Program address, with the cheque or money order made payable to the University of Western Ontario.  NOTE: The testing fee must be received by ASPIRE before the written test will be sent to the proctor.

Testing arrangements: Email the ASPIRE Office to advise that you require the proficiency test (and if it is being proctored) and our office will proceed with testing arrangements.  Should you register for the French AQ prior to the release of your French test results, and are unsuccessful in the test, a refund of the AQ course fee less the non-refundable deposit will be issued.

What about Final Grades and OCT Reporting?

Final grades will be available approximately four weeks after the course and can be viewed by logging into the Student Centre with your Western user ID and password. At that time, the ASPIRE office will send your course report to the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) for certification. Once processed by the OCT, the qualification will be added to your Ontario teaching certificate.

How do I get a transcript for my course?

Western transcripts are ordered through the Registrar's Office. Under Student Records, click on Transcripts. They can be ordered by fax or online. To order online, you will need your Western Identity user ID and password to order a transcript. ENSURE to check that your grade is available first as the Transcripts office will not hold for grades. It is up to the candidate to report course completion to QECO, OSSTF or institutions other than the OCT.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Student Central.

How do I change my name and contact information?

Please log into your registration profile in the Western Professional Education AQ Student Portal at  You can update information such as name, address, email and phone number in your profile; however, please see the note below.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  The information you enter in the AQ Student Portal does NOT change the information listed on your official Western Account.  To update your official Western Account, official documentation must be submitted to the University.  Please visit this webpage for instructions:

Updating your official Western Account [in addition to the AQ Student Portal profile] ensures that your courses, transcripts, and AQ recommendations to the Ontario College of Teachers reflect your current information.