Canvas - Interpreting Course Access Reports
Instructors can access an aggregated access report in Canvas that tells you how many times students have viewed or participated in a particular content item. This document details the information included in these reports, and some caveats for their use.
Note: Canvas Course Access Reports provide data around teaching and learning activities in a Canvas course. Using this data to improve teaching and learning is a Learning Analytics approach.
- Remember that students are unique individuals and are much more than their data - be sure to consider the student holistically.
- For further details about UW-Madison's use of Learning Analytics, review The Appropriate Use of Data for Learning Analytics Guiding Principles.
- For additional information on Learning Analytics at UW-Madison, please visit our Guide on Learning Analytics.
To access Course Access Reports and for technical information, please see Canvas - Exporting Student Course Access and Anonymous Course Access Reports
To learn more about Canvas, please see Canvas - Overview (UW-Madison)
What are the Student Course Access and Anonymous Course Access Reports?
Canvas provides an aggregated access report for all students that tells you how many times students have viewed or participated in a particular content item.
- In the Student Course Access report, individual students are listed by name.
- The Anonymous Course Access report provides the same access data, but students' names are removed.
Information provided by these reports:
- Type of content viewed (as an icon)
- Name of the content
- Number of times each student viewed or participated with the content
- Time/Date each student last viewed (or participated) in the content.
How can you use Course Access Reports?
The access data is provided in the form of a .csv file. To make the most use of this data, you will benefit from opening and using it in a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel, or an analysis program such as R.
If you are using a spreadsheet or analysis program, some of the information you may be able to interpret includes:
Which course items have been accessed the most, or recently
The level of access to course items you specify
Who participated (and how many times) in a course discussion
Which students have not accessed an item
Caveats and cautions when using Course Access Reports
- Data may report that a student has logged in, and accessed a course item, but cannot indicate how a student intellectually engaged with the course.
- The data won’t reflect times where:
- a student downloaded content to read later
- read the materials in-depth
- read superficially
- did not read at all
- A lack of access data in the report does not necessarily mean a lack of access.
- Data would not reflect instances where students may have been studying together, if only one student was logged in.
- Data gives general information about the amount of access to a course item, but the only time indicators are the students first and last access.
- This may limit the insights you could gain regarding timing and patterns of access.
- There may be nuances in what data is logged for content stored outside of the Canvas course
- For example: links to embedded content, videos or external websites.
- If you value this type of access data, it is recommended that you become familiar with how this data is recorded in your course before interpreting it.
What do you need in order to use this data?
If you are planning to use this data in your course, you may find it helpful to use naming conventions for your course content that will be meaningful for you when the names are listed in a spreadsheet.
For example, a page named “Week 3 Pre-class content” may be more useful to you in the data than a page named more cryptically like “badgercontentV2”