One of the benefits of using an LMS for online teaching is that it makes teachers’ lives easier when it comes to tracking student progress and learning outcomes. An LMS can provide rich analytics and reports that help teachers better understand what’s happening with their students, how they’re progressing through classes, and when students are struggling.
But diving in at once into all the analytics and reporting tools that an LMS has to offer can make things very complicated and frustrating for teachers, especially those who are just starting out using an LMS.
While there is no doubt that an LMS can provide incredibly insightful analytics, there is no need for teachers to use them all. Teachers can choose to focus just on a few key analytics that will make a difference in their activity.
So what are those key analytics that teachers should be focusing on? Each teacher and class is different, so there is no one size fits all approach, but we can outline some of the most common and useful analytics within an LMS that provide relevant insights for most teachers. Let’s have a look at them:
These analytics give valuable insights into the overall progress of students in classes. At a class level, one of the most useful analytics is the time spent by students in lessons and sections, because it makes it easy to identify areas of improvement. For example, if most of your students spend too much time on a particular section compared to others, then maybe the content within that section is too hard for them.
Detailed analytics on each student’s progress are also helpful, such as the sections a student has completed so far, which ones are still in progress, percentages for how far along they are to complete a lesson, etc. This is an excellent way of identifying if there are any sections that students might be struggling with, for example, an assessment that they can’t get past.
Other analytics that you might want to notice are related to the daily activity of students within a class, such as the assignments they submitted in a day, the lessons they viewed within a week, in which days they’re most active in class, and more.
It’s easy to get lost in analytics related to assignments and honestly, you don’t need to learn about all of them to get a good idea about what’s happening with your students.
A good place to start is general analytics for all the assignments within a class. You might want to have a look at how many assignments are due, how many need to be graded, how many have been submitted out of the total number of assignments, and the grade distribution. For example, using an LMS, you can see a classification of all scores within a class based on percentages, such as 30% of students have grades between C and B-, 20% of students have grades between B+ and A+, and so on.
At an assignment level, it’s important to have a look at the grade average, the lowest and highest score on an assignment, and the number of submissions. These metrics can reveal crucial information about students’ progress. If all students get an A on an assignment, that means it’s too easy. On the other hand, if no one can get more than a 50% score on a particular assignment, it might mean it’s too hard.
The gradebook within an LMS can also provide useful analytics for teachers and help them pinpoint problematic areas because of its centralized grid view of all students, assignments, and grades. For example, teachers can easily see within the gradebook if there are too many students who have an assignment missing or if the class’s overall average is too low.
Read more: Teacher tricks: Grading & assessment
If you’re using an LMS, you may already have tapped into its competency-based learning features. This is a great way to measure students’ learning outcomes and how they’re mastering new subjects and notions.
The concept of mastery is quite simple. You create a list of competencies for a class or use a pre-built curriculum, then tag sections and assignments within a class, with the competencies they should be teaching and assessing. Then you can track student progress on a competency basis and get clear insights into how they understand specific topics.
In terms of analytics, the most useful metrics related to competencies are the mastery coverage and students’ overall progress through all competencies. The mastery coverage shows how well your class covers the curriculum, and if there are any competencies that are not being taught or assessed properly.
If the LMS provides a grid view of all competencies, you can also quickly identify any problem areas, for example, if more students are struggling with a particular competency. At an individual level, you can immediately spot the areas of improvement for a particular student, such as when a student drops below a certain mastery threshold for several weeks.
NEO Guide: Competency-based learning
Built-in and custom reports
In addition to the analytics mentioned so far, most LMS systems provide a selection of built-in reports that make it easy for teachers to get instant insights on various aspects related to student progress. Some of the most important reports are the ones that generate data on class enrollment, class completion, missing work, and class status. These reports allow you to have a quick glance at what’s currently happening in a classroom. For example, a useful built-in report is one that displays the students’ current grades and completion progress.
After you’ve spent some time using the LMS, you might also want to dip your toes into custom reports. Ad-hoc reporting within an LMS is a powerful tool that allows teachers to generate reports using parameters defined by them. I do have to mention that these reports are best used after you’ve had some experience with the LMS when you’re able to identify your pain points and the custom analytics you need.
Nonetheless, custom reports are great for getting access to in-depth analytics, that otherwise might be hard to obtain. For example, you could create a report that displays all students from all classes who are in the top 10% of their class. You can create a report that runs weekly and shows all the students within a class that haven’t submitted their due assignments yet or a custom monthly report that shows the course completion rates just for self-paced classes. The possibilities really are endless.
With ad-hoc reporting, you can also sort, group, and filter data and create various chart outputs. You can even generate a few reports and have them pinned to the class dashboard so that you always have access to important analytics that are updated in real-time.
NEO Guide: Analytics and reporting tools
So there you have it, an overview of the most useful LMS analytics that teachers can use for their classroom.
As mentioned before, each teacher and class is different, and you don’t have to use all these analytics. That’s why they’re split into categories such as progress, assessment, mastery, and reports. From each category, you can select the key analytics that are relevant to you as a teacher. If you’re just starting to use an LMS, then go small with only three to four important analytics. If you’re a power user, then, by all means, play around with custom reports. It’s entirely up to you.
The important thing to remember is to use analytics regularly to improve the learning experience of your students and help them achieve their goals.
Alina is the Global Marketing Director for CYPHER LEARNING and an EdTech specialist with years of experience in the e-learning field. Alina is passionate about improving education through technology, and she writes about various EdTech topics.