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heather_edwards
Community Contributor

How do I track how long a student is actively online working?

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Is this possible?

3 Solutions

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kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @heather_edwards , the closest you can get is the "Total Activity" under People, but that measure isn't that accurate because who knows if the student is sitting there reading a page or document, or watching a video, or if they pulled it up and walked away... or were watching TV... etc.

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P.S. I should add that I find it hilarious and depressing that students tell me how much work my class is compared to other classes: I ask for 6 hours a week, no class time. So that is the equivalent of a regular class in the classroom plus 3 hours outside of class each week. Nowhere even NEAR the supposed "2 or 3 hours outside of class for every hour in class" that people claim is the rule.

I get the impression that students have a lot of classes where they do little or no work outside of class except when it is time to turn in an assignment or take a quiz or test.

So, the idea that for my classes they are WORKING, really working, every week (not just sitting and listening) comes as kind of shock to some of them. They get used to it, but it's still... weird.

That's not true for students across all majors (the engineers never complain that my class is too much work, for example.. and they like that they can totally plan and manage their time in my classes, work ahead, etc.). It's always interesting for me to see the differences between majors that way, and which majors seem to have more of a culture of doing work for a class every week all semester, and which majors seem to have more of a binge-and-purge pattern.

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heather_edwards
Community Contributor

I am still trying to find something that says "Total Activity" under "People"  - where exactly is that?

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37 Replies
kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @heather_edwards , the closest you can get is the "Total Activity" under People, but that measure isn't that accurate because who knows if the student is sitting there reading a page or document, or watching a video, or if they pulled it up and walked away... or were watching TV... etc.

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laurakgibbs
Community Champion

To follow up on what  @kona ‌ said, if you want to really engage with students regarding their time and work for the class, I think one of the best ways to do that is by making those expectations clear in the course design (I am very explicit about how long each assignment should take, and that I expect 6 hours of work from them each week), while also working with them on time management and helping them be more responsible about how they work online, managing distractions, pacing themselves, etc. That is all pretty complex and difficult stuff that we all struggle with. Here is the "time" section of a resource site I built for my students. They appreciate the procrastination humor too; we all struggle with that, right? 🙂

Learning by HEART: Time Management 

I

laurakgibbs‌, Totally off topic, but how do you estimate how long it will take students to complete an assignment? I'd really like to add that information, but I think I'd do an awful job of estimating.

laurakgibbs
Community Champion

Each of my assignments is designed to be an hour, more or less, and there are six each week.

For the reading assignments (two each week), it's a word-count thing: about 8000 words per one-hour reading assignment; college students should be reading 150-200 words per minute, but I know not all read at that speed, and of course that assumes they are focused and paying attention (hence the need to manage distractions). There is usually an audio option available so they can listen rather than read; listening goes more slowly, but some students prefer it, and I actually prefer to listen when I have an audiobook option! 

For the storytelling assignment, I call it an hour, but I know some spend more time, some less, and that's up to them. The story needs to be a minimum of 300 words, and a maximum of 1000 words, and I see the whole range. When someone writes exactly 300 words I know they were probably in a rush and/or bored. When they write exactly 1000 words, I know they probably wanted to write more (but learning how to write less rather than more is really important too, especially for serious writers).

For the project assignment, I call it one hour each week, but I can tell that some students spend more, some less, and that's up to them. I hope they will try to spend an hour. They work on the project every week, and some weeks they might spend more time, some less. Again, it's really up to them.

For the project feedback, it really should take an hour, but I know pretty much for sure that they don't spend a full hour on that. Doing the feedback is probably the hardest task they have each week, even though they don't realize that at first. It is the part of the class that I work on the hardest because it is really important AND really hard for them to do well.

Then there are blog comments: that actually doesn't take a full hour, but since the idea with the blog comments is that they are meant to be fun, I don't want there to be any time pressure problems with that, and I really want everyone to do that assignment every week to make sure everybody gets comments. 

By making each assignment an hour more or less, I can really encourage them to come up with a weekly schedule where they budget the time just like they would for going to class. They don't always stick to that plan, but at least it is a way to get them to think about a weekly time commitment!

Here's a typical week; we just finished Week 7:

Online Course Wiki / week 7 

P.S. I should add that I find it hilarious and depressing that students tell me how much work my class is compared to other classes: I ask for 6 hours a week, no class time. So that is the equivalent of a regular class in the classroom plus 3 hours outside of class each week. Nowhere even NEAR the supposed "2 or 3 hours outside of class for every hour in class" that people claim is the rule.

I get the impression that students have a lot of classes where they do little or no work outside of class except when it is time to turn in an assignment or take a quiz or test.

So, the idea that for my classes they are WORKING, really working, every week (not just sitting and listening) comes as kind of shock to some of them. They get used to it, but it's still... weird.

That's not true for students across all majors (the engineers never complain that my class is too much work, for example.. and they like that they can totally plan and manage their time in my classes, work ahead, etc.). It's always interesting for me to see the differences between majors that way, and which majors seem to have more of a culture of doing work for a class every week all semester, and which majors seem to have more of a binge-and-purge pattern.

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Thanks! This is great feedback/information!

laurakgibbs
Community Champion

I'm getting feedback from students right now for midsemester, and the way I structure that is to try to help them get the big picture of how the pieces of the class really do fit together, it's not just random ha ha. 🙂

https://community.canvaslms.com/people/laurakgibbs/blog/2017/10/10/fall-2017-blog-network-8-student-... 

If anything, a big problem is that they will put up with random, not even expecting things to connect in a bigger picture. That's something I've found I have to make explicit; I no longer assume anything "meta" like that is obvious.

laurakgibbs Thank You for your willingness to share and your detailed answers to this question. I am teaching a class on how to be an effective online instructor right now, and last week I had someone ask how to calculate the amount of time students should spend in an online class based on its units. I'll reference this discussion in my response and kill two birds with one stone -- a thoughtful answer to the question I received *and* an introduction to the awesomeness of the Canvas Community.

I really love the time and effort you put into your class! I wish I had more time to really dig into your stuff. I was clicking on things and ended up on your extra credit for growth mindset. That stuff is great! Thank you so much for sharing!