Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Community Contributor

See who clicked on things

In my old LMS, I was able to both see what my student had clicked on in "content" as well as view the particular "content" item and see who had clicked it on it, how many times it had been viewed as well as time durations.  This is CRITICAL in freshman courses to be sure that these students are really grasping they have to utilize these resources/files/etc..  This is also huge in online courses as well as working with academic integrity issues.  I've looked and cannot seem to find anything like this in Canvas and it is beyond me how a product that is marketed to higher education doesn't have this feature that I've used in three other LMS systems since 2001.  If I'm just blind and missing this feature in my course/on my items/etc.. please someone, I beg you, point them out to me!  THANK YOU!

46 Replies
Community Participant

A fellow teacher is using google link shortened links to track clicks. It works like, etc., so one can replace any link within canvas and get a report for number of clicks across multiple links with some additional info (i.e. browser, referral, platform, origin, timestamp, etc. Google URL Shortener

I hope to try this soon myself!

Community Champion

I don't see that it's been mentioned yet, but if my understanding is correct and if Angel provided data about "time durations", I think they fudged it, since I don't think there's any way of knowing that with HTTP transactions.  I agree that lacking click information for the Canvas App greatly weakens the data set (possibly to "useless").  A web search indicates that others have figured out how to aggregate browser and app clicks and have been doing it for a long time.  It would be interesting to hear from Instructure why this is a challenge for them. 

One way to look at the weakness of Canvas that people have referred to is while much of the data is there, it's hard to find - especially if you need it only occasionally.  My wish is that all of the student data currently collected were in one, easy to understand place with a user-friendly interface designed for the occasional user.  FWIW, below is a response I sent to one faculty member who inquired about student access data. If you see errors or omissions, corrections would be appreciated.


If you choose "View Course Analytics" from the Home page, you'll see an aggregate view of Page Views, Submissions, and grade information. I find the table view more useful than the graphical view, which is the default.  Use the "switch" in the top right to switch between Table view and graphical view.

You can also go to People, click on a Student's name, and then click "Access Report".  That will show a table with Content items listed, how often the item was viewed by that student and when it was last viewed.

Below the "Access Report" link on a student's page is a "Analytics" link which is like the aggregate Analytics page mentioned above, but shows information just for the chosen student.  When you're in the sccess report, you can use the pull-down in the upper right to select another student.

If you're interested in the grading history, in the grade book, in the upper right, you can click on the gear icon and choose View Grading History from the menu.  I find the format Canvas uses very hard to follow.  Here is the Canvas documentation on it:

As an Admin, I can download and send to you a Page View history for a given student or students, if you send me his/her/their name (s).



Community Participant


I agree with you wholeheartedly. We need to see a complete picture of when a student accessed items (quizzes, discussions, pages, files, everything).

I come from an online asynchronous higher ed program. In a traditional brick and mortar setting you know if the student showed up to class for the lecture by whether or not they were in their seat. Online we can get similar information through detailed access logs and reports. That information gives us the ability to hold students accountable for both their actions and inactions.

Community Participant

Very interesting discussion.  We are starting a project with our EAB retention tool partner on understanding the most effective LMS activity data points for retention & engagement.  Creating intervention models will eventually require information about each student, but it should be extracted at a level even more general than the course and then measured against some pre-determined "at-risk" level that can direct our actions.  If achievable these are the kinds of capabilities that help us drive universal use at our institution.  Keep at it.

Community Champion

This part of Canvas really does need some love. We need to have better information for what students are accessing in Canvas, and the time they spend in each. There are many times we need this information for grade appeals and other issues.

Community Participant

If you are an admin, yes, you do have better information access.   When I initially developed our giant online course in Angel, and then transferred it to Canvas, I had an IT staff member who was my co-developer / collaborator.  She was able to get detailed logs of student access, comparable to what we had in ANGEL which is the gold standard in my experience for this particular function.  However it was time-consuming and I could not ask her to do it as often as I needed the information.  Since she left I don't have the same access.

What I (and a lot of people in my position) need is a simple log that shows the date/time of every interaction of a student with the course in sequence.  Nothing Canvas does supplies that for a normal faculty member, as far as I am aware.  The fact that an administrator might be able to get this type of detail is significant, because it means the information is there, but I can't go through an administrator every time I need a quick answer.  My question is, if Canvas HAS this information already, why not make it available to the faculty who need it and use it most often?  Canvas has never been responsive to this request and I really don't understand why.

The online course I mentioned at one time enrolled 1750 students, 5 instructors teaching 5 sections, a course manager and  25 preceptors grading papers.  Now it has morphed into a smaller operation with 450 students, 3 instructors, a course manager and 9 preceptors, but it is still a very large-scale course.  These are freshmen, with many at-risk students, and the more precisely we can track their interactions the better for them and for the course.  This is becoming even more critical here in Florida since the competitive "metrics" by which campuses are judged and funded emphasize retention and graduation rates, and we are under pressure to get a handle on this, provide data, and design robust classes that support better engagement.

Community Champion

Hi  @hesspe ​,

I do see 1 typo in the 3rd paragraph of your response to the faculty member:

"When you're in the sccess report...", should be access report.

Cheers - Shar


Hey guys, I love that this thread is active.

I agree that we could make understanding student interaction in Canvas easier. The question is, how to keep it simple (as several of you have asked for), yet complete enough to make important decisions from? I think the current Canvas Analytics dashboard errs on the side of simple.

Can I ask each of you with this particular interest to give very concrete examples of the kinds of questions or problems you have that you'd want to solve with this data?

Some (paraphrased) examples from this thread:

1. I want to know if and when students are accessing specific parts of the course in order to get a sense of each students' engagement (relative to their performance).

2. I want to know if and when students are accessing specific parts of the course so I can begin to ask if I can change my course design (e.g. to be more simple and efficient, or to improve navigation).

3. I want to compare the times that different students first accessed (and maybe participated in) an activity so I can mediate academic honesty issues.

4. I want to know if each student is "at risk" in my course (and I don't really care about how that's determined, so long as I trust the model), so I can target specific students for interventions.

5. I want to see a full sequence of each student's activity path through my course to-date, so I can understand their progress for a variety of reasons.


If you guys can either weigh in on the above examples, saying which best reflects your situation, or add your own, this will help our Product team get a concrete sense of what most people need here (looping in Deactivated user​ ).

Community Participant

Thank you SO MUCH for picking this up.  Here are some examples;  I have asked our course manager if she has any additions which I can pass on later.

(1)  I think you can solve the "simplicity" issue with layers.  Have a first, simplified report that displays initially, but link that to detailed logs with full information.

(2)  An example for why we need more detailed logs.  Today, trying to figure out when, and how often and to what end students are accessing content lessons, as well as which lessons they are accessing.  I see under Emily's access report a cryptic indication:

Softchalk Cloud                             112                        Oct 28, 2016 12:07 am

For the rest, I don't see any evidence of Emily, or anyone else, clicking on individual Softchalk lessons within modules.  The access report tells us that certain other pages or links of content are being accessed through modules, but not individual linked Softchalk lessons which are our "textbook,"   and the only source of content in the course besides assignments.

I would like to click on a "details" link or get a "detailed" report, and see a date-stamped sequential list of each time Emily accessed each lesson link in one of the modules, identifying exactly what she accessed,


Module 8, lesson 2     Oct. 27, 11:50 pm 

Module 8, lesson 3     Oct. 28,  11:52 pm

Module 7, lesson 1     Oct. 28,  11:55 pm

If I see a pattern like this one, I know she is just opening the lessons for a quick look, perhaps seeking a definition she needs for an assignment.  If on the other hand I see that she has been looking at the lessons in a module sequentially, at longer time intervals, over the course of the week, I know that she is probably reading the module lessons systematically, as part of the reading assignment for the week.  If students are not reading the modules, and are passing the quizzes anyway, we need to revisit our design and maybe make the quizzes more difficult or the assignments more intimately dependent on knowing the modules.

We strongly suspect, and in some cases know, that students are not doing the reading at all.  We would like to address this but without detailed access data it is very difficult to do.

(3)  A student comes to me towards the end of a semester, claiming that they had thought they had submitted their assignment but that something went wrong in the submission process.  I see that they have accessed the assignment quite a few times, but in Canvas I can only see the most recent date of access, not all the dates.  Or they claim to have had a personal emergency that prevented submission.   To evaluate those claims, we need to know whether the student had started the assignment when they were supposed to or not, and what their usual pattern is.  The kinds of detailed, dated logs we are asking for give us that kind of information.

(4)  Another piece of information that in the past we were able to get in the Angel logs, that we can't get in Canvas - the IP address for each access instance - that is, what computer was used to access each item.  This can be very helpful in cases where there is an academic integrity issue.   Once we had a ring of students selling test-taking services.   We were able to investigate, identify the perpetrators and successfully prosecute them them in part because we had, in the Angel logs, not only the date and time of each access (for example, when each quiz attempt was made) but also the IP address for the computer used for each attempt. 

(5)  Another example:  This semester I had an academic integrity case that was heard by the Student Conduct office committee.   The student claimed that she had not plagiarized her paper, but that another other student had plagiarized from her because she had lent him her laptop to write his paper, because his was broken.  It was more complicated but part of the evidence depended on knowing exactly when she first accessed and downloaded the instructions, and when he first accessed and downloaded the instructions.  Unfortunately Canvas does not give that information - only how many times the assignment was accessed, and the most recent date of access. 

(6) One more example:  I have been involved in initiatives about engagement and retention of students.  Since we developed and teach a very large-format online course that is part of the new Florida state-mandated core curriculum, we see a large number of first-year students in our course.   If we had faculty access to the level of detail I'm requesting, I could propose a method for using the courses in the state core to screen students for signs warranting targeted interventions.  If I don't have that data, we have fewer tools and have to wait longer, until more assignments are submitted and graded,  before we have enough information, by which time students are already in deep trouble.

 @jared ​ I will leave the actual workflows to the other folks in the group, but I will say that no matter the examples that come up, you and Deactivated user​ have to include data from mobile. This information is key, and I, like most others, support faculty with the question "I know they were in the course, but why doesn't it show they did anything!?"

If anything, this is actionable data to see how our students are utilizing the mobile applications, and with that we can work on training and growth initiatives around those key areas, or under utilized tools.