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skhagen
New Member

How do time zones affect course analytics?

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I noticed in the evening the other day that in the Account Analytics page for our Summer 2018 courses, I could see page views and participation entries attributed to the following day (i.e., it was the 17th where I was, but we have students around the world for whom it was already the 18th--I'm assuming it was views from those students displaying).  

Shouldn't those entries be displaying in my own time zone? Or do accounts not have a time zone? Is this a bug or a feature?

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I've only noticed it on the Analytics pages themselves and in particular it's because I see activity in the "future" like what Sara showed.  For individual submissions and anywhere else the dates and times seem to be accurate based on my time zone.  I think it's either an oversight from when the Analytics page was designed, or possibly by design to just be displayed in UTC for consistency or some other reason.  

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10 Replies
stuart_ryan
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @skhagen ,

That is a very interesting question, I had noticed a few quirks before, but had always assumed that was because we were here in Australia and the data was probably collected in a different timezone, but that doesn't necessarily make sense now I think about it more.

So, on that note, I have shared this into the Data and Analytics‌ group, hopefully there is someone in there that may have encountered this and have some additional insights. I greatly look forward to finding this out as well!

Hope that helps!

Stuart

skhagen
New Member

Screenshot proof: (It is currently 10:29 p.m. central on 6/23/18. Yes, I will go to sleep now.)

279985_pastedImage_1.png

cholling
Community Member

Hi  @skhagen 

This may help: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-12939-4152218816  All times are the time zones where the course lives.

Cindy.

Hi cholling‌, Yes, I understand how the course time zones and user time zones interact. What I'm wondering is how the Account Analytics choose what to display. It seems to be pulling the page views based on local time instead of translating them into my own time zone. I'm not certain it really matters. I would just like clarification about what's happening.

robotcars
Community Member

Hi Sara,

I'm trying to track this down for us, because I have been planning to update an LTI we wrote and I want to mark students who are outside our timezone. I have quite the sample of roaming students, I actually map them with Tableau. Everything I'm looking at seems to indicate the the timestamps across the UI, Submission Analytics, and Canvas Data seem to localize it across data points. Which makes sense, because I collect the timezone of the user, and have to append/adjust timestamps to get the the user's locale of the event.

After a brief chat with the folks on #canvas-lms

They confirm, canvas stores all dates and times in UTC. Therefore, any time you see a date and time, it should be localized to you, the course, or the Canvas instance, based on what is set.

They also pointed me to this section in the source code that handles user locale

canvas-lms/locale_selection.rb at master · instructure/canvas-lms · GitHub 

So it would seem that at 10:29 on 6/23, you should see Student Activity for 10:29, despite the students local time zone.  No one should be in the future.

I have a sample of students that I can check later today and see if they are showing up "tomorrow".

rmurchshafer
Community Coach
Community Coach

I've noticed this same thing and I believe it only affects that Analytics pages; for Accounts, Sub-accounts and courses.  Data is store in UTC and in most cases Canvas displays the dates and times correct for my time zone (US Central time).  But not with Analytics pages.  I think it was an oversight when they designed the Analytics pages and they don't adjust for the time zone set for the user viewing them.

Rick

Rick,

Have you seen this on the Submission Analytics at all? When I check the submitted assignments on Analytics I see the same date/time as canvas data, and that seems inline with access report and page views.

I'm wondering if this is specific to Analytics/Activity by Date.

I've only noticed it on the Analytics pages themselves and in particular it's because I see activity in the "future" like what Sara showed.  For individual submissions and anywhere else the dates and times seem to be accurate based on my time zone.  I think it's either an oversight from when the Analytics page was designed, or possibly by design to just be displayed in UTC for consistency or some other reason.  

skhagen
New Member

I will file a "bug" report and see what happens.