Hybrid and online learning have offered students with increased access and flexibility to participate in education. With this, however, comes the risk of disengagement between teachers and their students. Reduced contact with students makes it more difficult for us to manage student learning and measure the engagement of our students.

The Canvas feature New Analytics comes in handy here. It’s a kind of subject-level, learning analytics tool to determine and improve student engagement.

Learning analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs.

Phil Long and George Siemens

Timely intervention requires timely identification and action on the part of the teacher first and then the student. Some recent research (references below) has also identified that effective teacher-to-student interventions can:

  • improve students readiness to study
  • increase personal communication with students
  • offer early identification and intervention for at-risk students
  • enhance the quality of the learning experience
  • boost student engagement and quality of their higher education experience

New Analytics can be accessed from the Canvas Course Navigation and must be enabled before you plan to use it. It includes information on the weekly online activity, students’ participation with the subject resources such as the number of times a resource is accessed, date and time of access, students with missing/late assignments and/or received a scored less or more than a certain mark.

This feature provides us with access to real-time insights into the performance of our students. I have been using this feature in my postgraduate subject since spring 2020 – and more recently in two of my undergraduate subjects – to understand my students’ learning behaviours, sending them timely interventions, and using as in-class feedback for the assignments.

Here are some of the comments I have received in reply emails from the students:

Thanks for reaching out to me. I really appreciate that. I am sorry that I was irregular in submitting the Post Class activities. … It is very kind of you to reach out to us individually and check on us. I really felt that good care is taken of us.

International student (PG)

Given the fact that the subject coordinator took the time to send an email shows her enthusiasm about teaching and her willingness to engage with the students. She shows genuine concern about the students’ performance, something that I haven’t experienced in any of my previous subjects.

International student (PG)

I know I was a capable student, who just lacked major motivation. The email basically kicked me into gear and I completed all my class activities and a missing assignment post-email.

International student (PG)

I felt like I needed to actively work throughout the semester, rather than procrastinating.

Local student (UG)

This feature is an imperative step towards providing the support and help for teachers to find and reach out to the most disengaged students while they are still enrolled.


Kennedy, G., Corrin, L., Lockyer, L., Dawson, S., Williams, D., Mulder, R., Khamis, S., & Copeland, S. (2014). Completing the loop: returning learning analytics to teachers. In Rhetoric and Reality: Critical Perspectives on Educational Technology. Proceedings ASCILITE, Dunedin, NZ, 436-440.

Siemens, G. & Long, P. 2011. Penetrating the fog: Analytics in learning and education. EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 46, no.5, p. 30.

Tinto, V. (2012). Enhancing student success: Taking the classroom success seriously. The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, 3(1), 1. 

van Leeuwen, A. (2019). Teachers’ perceptions of the usability of learning analytics reports in a flipped university course: when and how does information become actionable knowledge? Educational Technology Research and Development, 67(5), 1043-1064. 

West, D., Luzeckyj, A., Searle, B., Toohey, D., & Price, R. (2018). The use of learning analytics to support improvements in teaching practice. Innovative Research Universities, Melbourne, Australia

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