April 2017 Issue



Using Learning Analytics to Increase Student Success


How are your students working through your course? Are they accessing the material in a timely manner? Do they engage with some material more than others? Is this related to their success in the course? How can you know?


It’s always been hard to nail down answers to these questions, especially in face-to-face classes. But if you use Blackboard to deliver some course materials, even in fully in-class courses, you can use its built-in tools for professors to get some answers.


As a professor, you have the option to generate general course reports to measure student activity in the online components of your course, including tests, delivered through Blackboard. You can generate these reports whenever you like. They can give you added insights into your student’s performance whether you teach face-to face, in a hybrid or blended environment, or fully online. It may also guide your course design based on evidence from how students are actually engaging with your material.


There are three types of reports you might find most helpful. Two of them reveal how your students are accessing the course overall: Course reports and Performance dashboard. Both of these are accessible through the Course Management menu under Evaluation. The third type, Item Analysis gives you information about your quiz and test questions.


  • Course reports present information about course usage and activity for all students. You can generate them in multiple formats including PDF, HTML, Word, and Excel. There are seven Course reports you can select from. Purdue University has produced a series of helpful short videos about generating and interpreting Course reports.


  • Performance dashboard generates one report for your whole class list showing you columns such as “last course access”, “days since last course access”, “review status”, “Discussion Board”, and “View Grades” (links to grade centre).


  • Item analysis is the report about tests and quizzes. It provides valuable insights into how your students did on an individual test or quiz. You get measures such as average score and average time to completion, as well as scores for how each question performed (which questions were too easy, too hard, which questions seemed good at separating students, etc.).







Dear eLTI


Q. I know I can use Course Reports and Performance Dashboard to follow students’ overall use of Blackboard in my course, but is there a tool that lets me look at the pattern of access to one item such as an individual file or page?


A. Yes, it’s called Statistics Tracking. This tool provides detailed usage information about a specific piece of content including how many times students viewed it and when.


You may have noticed this menu item (“Statistics Tracking on/off”) in the options list when you click on the charet symbol to edit a content piece. When you click on this menu option you can turn Statistics Tracking ON for that piece of content (the default is OFF). If you select ON, you will see a message below that piece of content saying “Enabled: Statistics Tracking”. This message is only visible in Edit Mode and is not visible to students.  You can enable statistics tracking at any time and begin collecting data from that moment on.


Once the Statistics Tracking is enabled you can run a report showing how that content has been accessed by selecting View Statistics Report from the edit menu. Here is a Blackboard training video showing how to create an item statistics report.






Tech Tips


Digi Know


  • In April, eLTI is offering a faculty training workshop on creating videos using Camtasia and using Youtube to caption and host them. You can sign up in PD Place. Dates and times TBA.


NEW: Course Close Date Change

  • The end date for course shells on Blackboard has been revised. Going forward, the default end date for a course will be 2 weeks after the end of the term. Of course, you can always change the open and close dates. Contact eLTI for more information.






Watch this video of Gartner Research Director Glenda Morgan as she shares her insights on the current state of learning analytics, as well as where she believes the field is headed.



If you want a little reading material, the following paper examines data enriched assessment in three case studies: an online environment with interactive exercises, an online programming practice environment, and a massive open online course (MOOC)




We Want to Hear From You!

How do you use educational technologies? If you want to be featured in an issue of our newsletter or have comments to share with us, send an email to elearning@georgebrown.ca.



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