Do you ever wonder where your students go once they log into an online course? John Whitmer (Blackboard analytics, blog link) and Kevin Reeve (instructor and director of Teaching and Learning Technologies at Utah State University, Canvas Analytics video link) did some hard work to seek answers to this question. Kevin presented his team’s preliminary results at Online Learning Consortium conference in Nov. 2016. Some of the findings were obvious, some not so.
My question is: what can we do with this information? How can we use this learning analytics to guide our course design practices as online instructors and online instructional designers?
Here is a summary of Kevin’s report and my ideas of course design based on learning analytics of students’ course visiting behavior patterns:
|Student course visit behavior Observations from Canvas learning analytics:||Course Design Ideas:|
|Students’ first visits to online courses may be exploratory.
||Use announcements to connect with students before course start and during course session; Create navigation tutorial video to guide students; Design course homepage, Start Here module, and syllabus for easy navigation and communicate important information with clear instructions.|
|Some students visit “Grades” early on to view the weighting of grades and other details||Have an accurate grade book available from day 1|
|Some students visit assignments first||Put link to learning module, or related learning materials, learning outcomes, instructions etc. in each assignment.|
|Many visits to course do not start with homepage||Design your course homepage to be attractive and put information that students care to read there; Direct student attention to course homepage if you intend to put important information on homepage, otherwise do not overly rely on homepage.|
|To do list is driving students entry points once course starts.||Enter due dates for graded assignments so the assignments will appear on the calendar and to do list.|
|Syllabus is being missed by some students during the first few visits||Make syllabus prominently visible and accessible.
In the same time, put important information from syllabus in multiple places such as course home page, Start Here module, and first assignment directions, in case students visit assignments directly.
If you have ideas for Canvas course design based on the above observations or your own observations of online students course visit behavior patterns, feel free to share with us.