Student Activity

The Desire2Learn learning management system recorded a log containing over 1.2 million ‘events’ that occurred during the first few months of the MOOC. Each event corresponds to the action of a particular student. Each action, as well as a timestamp, was recorded.  The image below contains a graphical representation of the elements of the course. The items on the horizontal axis (y=0) represent information about the course (syllabus, FAQ, how to contact instructors, etc.). The other items in the chart relate to the mathematics content; the (WebWork) homework, the quizzes, the online office hours and the live tutoring and lectures for the 9 math modules in the course. Hover over each bubble to see a short description of the item. 

Course Elements Map


To prepare for a more in depth study, the log entries for one student have been analyzed. Each log event was mapped to a grid (similar to the map above). The following motion map shows the path that a particular student traveled as they went through the course.

Each bubble in the motion map represents a visit to an item in the course in the order that the student visited them. The motion map quickly illustrates that the student visited nearly every course element, and, after completing the first few modules, they did not need to return to the course information module. This indicates that the student quickly understood the design of the course. In addition, the video indicates that the student occasionally jumped back to earlier material in the course. Such movements may indicate that the learning materials in the location of the jump may need to be reviewed. The size of the dot indicates the number of times that the student visited each item. 

The number of visits to each item will also help to inform the study. Correlating jumps and visit counts with performance (quizzes and homework) and student demographics (age, location, time since last math course, and reason for taking the course) will indicate possible improvements within the course and will help to inform others as they design similar MOOCs.

--> Be sure to click on the small circle at (-4,0) to select the student and then press the play button.

Chart 1

--> Be sure to click on the small circle at (-4,0) to select the student and then press the play button.

Example Learning Object (Green Dots)
  • Formulas: Area of Trapezoid