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Canvas - Interpreting Course Access Reports [UW-Madison]

Note: Students are unique individuals and are more complex than their data - be sure to consider them holistically. Please review UW-Madison Learning Analytics Guiding Principles before continuing in this document.

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.

To access Course Access Reports and for technical information, please see Canvas - Exporting Student Course Access and Anonymous Course Access Reports [UW-Madison]

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”

Keywordscanvas course access reports review learnuw luw learn anonymous student analytics learning   Doc ID103854
OwnerLearn@UW MadisonGroupLearn@UW-Madison
Created2020-07-09 15:24:58Updated2023-12-19 12:13:00
SitesDoIT Help Desk, Learn@UW-Madison, Learning Analytics
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