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## What does “Total Activity” mean?

How is the “Total Activity” time that’s shown on the people page in Canvas calculated.  Is it based on total interaction time on pages?  How does “hang time” between interactions get taken into account?  If at all.

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Community Team

@bwalters , this is explained in How do I use the People page as an instructor? . Under the View Users section, you'll see the legend for #7, Total Activity:

• Total Activity [7]—allows you to see how long students interact within a course and is associated with page views. Total activity time is displayed in hours:minutes:seconds. If a user has not yet reached an hour of activity, total activity time is displayed as minutes:seconds. Total activity requires a two-minute page view minimum for performance. Total Activity does not capture page views for videos that do not include intermediate page requests, such as a half-hour recorded lecture.
32 Replies
Community Team

@bwalters , this is explained in How do I use the People page as an instructor? . Under the View Users section, you'll see the legend for #7, Total Activity:

• Total Activity [7]—allows you to see how long students interact within a course and is associated with page views. Total activity time is displayed in hours:minutes:seconds. If a user has not yet reached an hour of activity, total activity time is displayed as minutes:seconds. Total activity requires a two-minute page view minimum for performance. Total Activity does not capture page views for videos that do not include intermediate page requests, such as a half-hour recorded lecture.
Community Member

stefaniesanders​ Ah! I didn't think to look there... 😕 Thank you.

Community Member

Stefanie, I have one item that I wonder if you can clarify...

I’m still not sure what the hang time means, for example, if somebody is on a page for 20 minutes and then moves onto another page does it count the whole 20 minutes as activity time?  What’s the point where this cut is off?

This bit in that sentence also has me stumped “Total activity requires a two-minute page view minimum for performance” - what does this mean?

Community Team

@bwalters ​, what I think "Total activity requires a two-minute page view minimum for performance" means is that the Total Activity column won't populate until the user has been in Canvas for at least two minutes. And I'm not clear on the significance of "hang time" in relation to these stats. If a student is on a page for 20 minutes, as far as I know, 20 minutes of activity is recorded in Total Activity; after all, how is Canvas to know if the student is reading the page, or has walked away to get a snack, or is in fact still sitting at the computer while simultaneously texting on her phone?

Personally, I think course analytics gives you a better handle on student engagement: How do I view Course Analytics?

Even so, I'm not a guru on the subject of Total Activity, so I've looped in someone who is a guru to get more information, confirmation, and/or refutation of what I've just surmised.

Community Team

The short answer is there is no good way to analyze student activity in a computer. In our upcoming release we'll be updating our People page lesson to clarify the two minute statement as:

• Total Activity records any time spent viewing course content that exceeds two minutes. If the time between a new activity and the last completed activity is under ten minutes, all time between these two events will also be included.

You can also use How do I view the course access report for an individual student? to view specifics on course participation.

Thanks,

Erin

Community Member

Thanks stefaniesanders​​ that's really helpful. I agree, I think analytics gives a much better view of student behaviour and engagement.

Community Member

erinhallmark​ thank you for the reply. That makes lots os sense. I think that is what we are looking for.

Surveyor II

Erin, I am a little new to Canvas so I apologize if my question seems elementary. I am trying to understand the "equation" used to calculate Total Activity, so I will ask some questions about your definition.

"Total Activity records any time spent viewing course content that exceeds two minutes."  Computers do not know what a person is viewing, they only know that the person clicked on a webpage and have not clicked on something on this webpage that removes it.  Of course, if someone clicks on a web page and goes to the bathroom, they are not viewing anything.  So your word "viewing" needs to be defined.  So are you saying that "viewing" is defined to be that a student has clicked on a webpage, the webpage remains active for at least two minutes without the student clicking on something that that puts it away in less than two minutes?

If a student clicks on a webpage and leaves it active on their computer, this webpage will be considered "viewed" for more than two minutes.  Right?  Or must they click on something else within 10 minutes for the first webpage to be viewed?  Also, if the student clicks on a webpage in their dorm room, leaves it active, then goes to a computer lab and opens Canvas, might "double counting" occur?

Also, you say "the last completed activity."  What is the definition of "completed activity."

Is a detailed definition (and equation) of Total Activity somewhere in the Canvas docs?  I sometimes don't like to use the term "equation" because it sounds scientific, but computers are programmed, and there has to be an equation somewhere.  I just would like to know what it is.

Thanks.

Community Team

1. You are certainly correct that Canvas doesn't monitor if a user is physically viewing a page. The time in Total Activity can only count when a page is viewable on a browser.

2. A second page does not need to be viewed in order for the first activity to count. Once a page has been viewed for two minutes, that time will be added to the Total Activity.

3. When the definition points out "last completed activity", it refers to the last time a page was viewed for two minutes or longer. For example, if a student views a page in Course #1 for longer than two minutes, navigates to Course #2, returns to the Course #1 in under ten minutes from the time they left, and views a page on Course #1 for longer than two minutes, the time inbetween the two activities will be added to the Total Activity.

4. According to our Canvas support team, Total Activity should not count twice if a user has logged into Canvas on computers in two locations.

5. The definition for Total Activity can be found in How do I use the People page as an instructor?​, which is the same definition Erin shared above. I will certainly take a look at this and see if there is anything we can update to clarify this.

Cody