LEAD - are students accessing course content?

The Learner Engagement Analytics Dashboard (LEAD) is a course-level dashboard that provides visualizations of student access to materials in Canvas courses. This document describes a process you can use with LEAD for insights into student access to online course content, as well as some reminders and caveats for use.

Note: This document describes a learning analytics approach to help support student success.

What data are available in LEAD?

How to access LEAD

LEAD is currently available for instructors teaching for-credit courses who are enrolled in Canvas as a principal instructor, auxiliary instructor, or supervisory instructor.

Instructors can access the current semester of LEAD at go.wisc.edu/lead. You will be able to log in by following the instructions on the screen. 

For easiest access to prior semesters of LEAD (each semester has a separate link) as well as other learning analytics resources, add the Learning Analytics for Instructors Widget to your MyUW page.

Once inside LEAD you will have access to a home page and three visualization pages. 

  • Page Views by Date and Hour 
  • Grades by Page Views 
  • Page Views by Activity Type

How can you use the data available in LEAD?

You can use all three of the visualizations to view data related to students' online access to course materials.

LEAD Page Views by Activity Type: Bar chart visualization

The LEAD Page Views by Activity Type visualization can offer data related to students' online access to course materials. The default view is to show the counts of all students' access to all the main categories of content in your course.

LEAD screenshot - Page Views by Activity Type

Example: Student access to a course content document

You can filter the results to those of a single Main Activity Type (for example Kaltura Video or Canvas Page). This step is optional but can help you more quickly locate a specific video, assignment or page. This example shows filtering on the Canvas Pages type. This is the Main Activity Type most often used for course content or resources.

(Note: the screenshot below shows filtering by Canvas Wiki Pages, which have been renamed Canvas Pages in LEAD to better align with how Canvas labels pages.)

LEAD screenshot - Page Views by Activity Type, filtered to Activity Type

Filtering first by Main Activity Type will help you quickly locate a specific activity (without having to scroll through a list of all your course Announcements, Discussions, Kaltura Videos or other types of content). This example below shows the data filtered to a single page of content (How to Learn at a Distance...), and notice how the Page View count has changed.

filtering by Page Views by Activity Type to locate one specific page

Example: Patterns of access to course content

You may be able to gain additional insights into patterns of how often, and when students view your course content by using additional LEAD visualizations. 

In this example, the Grades by Page Views scatter plot, filtered for a single page of content, shows a general pattern that most students who have viewed the selected page have viewed it between 10 and 35 times.

LEAD screenshot - Grades by Page Views

In this example, the Page Views by Date and Hour heat map, filtered for a single page of content over the first week of class, shows a general pattern that most students who viewed the content page did so from Tuesday afternoon through early Wednesday morning.

LEAD screenshot - Page Views by Date and Hour

Using the data

Consider what student engagement looks like in your course, and what indicators you look for in addition to online access. For example, you may consider quality of work, interactions with classmates, types of questions and comments made.

  • You could take a ‘wait and see’ approach, and check back on the situation in the future
  • You could consider reaching out to individual students
  • If you see broad patterns among several students, you may consider taking whole-class actions, such as reminders of participation expectation, or revisiting challenging content
  • This data may be useful to you between semesters as part of considering course redesign
Wise, Alyssa Friend, and Yeonji Jung. "Teaching with analytics: Towards a situated model of instructional decision-making." Journal of Learning Analytics 6.2 (2019): 53-69.

Caveats and reminders when using learning analytics data

LEAD data is not refreshed in real-time; each tool has a different frequency for updating their analytics. There may be a lag time of up to 5 days for when students' access data appears in LEAD.

  • This frequency of updates may be useful for reviewing patterns of access across several days or weeks, but does not completely show the most recent activity.

  • For example, don't use LEAD to see if students accessed a course resource or assignment immediately before today's class

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.

  • Keep in mind that the data won't reflect whether a student downloaded content to read later, read the materials in-depth, skimmed or read superficially, or accessed reading material but didn't read at all.
  • A lack of access data does not necessarily mean a lack of access to course materials. For example, 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. For example, it does not show how much time a student spent on a specific course page or activity (duration).

There may be nuances in what data are logged for content stored outside of the Canvas course, due to how the data are captured or how the course was created.

  • For example, links to some embedded content, and some videos or external websites will not be included. 
If you value this type of access data, become familiar with how this data is recorded in your course before interpreting it.

Here's a few tips to consider when you're adding content to your course:

  • If you're using Kaltura for videos, use the Canvas-Kaltura integration from the Canvas rich content editor for more detailed analytics.
  • While you can't capture access data to external websites or YouTube videos, you can create a page in your Canvas course that only has a link to one external item; that will provide a proxy of student access to a specific external resource.
  • Use clear, consistent and logical naming conventions for course pages, resources and activities; for example Mod-2 Video or Wk2-Homework versus 3375462.pdf. 
  • Turn off navigation options in Canvas for any tools you're not using. This directs students to the right resources, and data is more meaningful since students are accessing content the way you intended.

See Also:

Keywords:LEAD, learning analytics, guiding principles, data, FERPA, Data governance   Doc ID:107282
Owner:Kari J.Group:Learning Analytics
Created:2020-11-18 17:43 CDTUpdated:2021-10-20 10:27 CDT
Sites:Learn@UW-Madison, Learning Analytics
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