There are a wide variety of analytics available in the LMS for teacher and student use.
The first analytics to look at are about classes the teacher has. I would need to know what classes I’m teaching along with start and end dates. I also need to know who is in each class, the session they are attending, and contact information for each student.
The first place I always look when I see low grades is frequency of visiting the course, how long they spent in the course, and see what resources are accessed. Progress made is also important to know. This tells me immediately if the student is really participating in the course since that is often the reason for low grades.
In the online environment it is very important to use the resources provided by the LMS that can give you information on how and when your students are using the class resources. This lets the teacher know how the students are doing in the class and what materials are being skipped over. It is as important to know what is being skipped as what is being accessed. If materials are skipped they may be part of a module that is too long or too repetitive and students feel they don’t need all of the information provided. This is important when reworking and updating the class the following year.
At that point student and parent contact is needed. I have found it very helpful to show those parents and students how I monitor course usage and make sure they know how to do so also. Of course, this is documented in the contact log.
Feedback information that students and parents can see is extremely important when it is attached to the grade book. This way you know the student sees it and then they can go back and look at the assignment. Targeted feedback helps the student know where they have done well and where they still need to put forth more effort. Feedback can be through email to specific students or parents and it can also be through comments in the grade book.
I really like the feature that allows the students to see the questions that they missed. This allows for specific review before the material is encountered again. I haven’t seen that feature before but I think it would be very useful to those students that want to improve their grades in the class.
Using all of the grade book resources to communicate with students and parents keeps everyone involved and updated on student progress. It allows targeted intervention from the teacher and specific questions from students and parents. Most of all, it keeps open the lines of communication and helps ensure that grading is transparent and you, the teacher, are accessible.
The teacher that uses data, both online and in the classroom, has a much better idea of individual student strengths and weaknesses than the teacher who doesn’t. The courses those teacher has improve each year as units that didn’t do well are reworked and material that students already know is condensed. Data, as annoying as it is to hear about all the time, does provide a wealth of information and it is a poor teacher who doesn’t try to utilize as much of it as possible.