We are being asked to track student time spent on labs at our school.
I am trying to figure out a way to use the tracking tool but find the statistics confusing. e.g.
e.g. In this excerpt, it seems that it is saying the student spent total time of 20 hours logged in to webCT (CE 8),
but then the column for Assignments total time says they spent 106 hours!
How can the assignment time be more than the total time?
What does the 106 hours really mean?
Any academic administrator who asks about "seat time" in an online course doesn't really understand the nature of the Internet and the Web including web-based courses on various LMSs. This is not just a "Blackboard" thing but an issue with any LMS such as Blackboard LS/Learn, Angel, Desire2Learn, Moodle and any courses sites on a traditional web server. If you search past Dr C posts, you will find similar discussions all the way back to when Ask Dr C began 10 years ago.
The Web is basically "stateless" in that once a user clicks on a link and the server provides the web page, the server basically forgets about the user while going off to serve other users, until the first user clicks on another link. So there is no real means of measuring actual time spent on a web page.
Blackboard Vista/CE/LS/Learn and other LMSs base tracking on links and buttons clicked on by the student. For example, if a student clicks on the link to the Home Page, the time that click occurs is recorded. When the student clicks on another link, that time is also recorded. The difference between the click on the link to the Home Page and the click on the next link is considered the "time spent on that page".
In the classroom, if you tell students to open their book and start reading for an hour, does the student really spend an hour reading? Other than seeing the student sitting at their desk and looking at the book, you really don't know if any reading or learning took place in that hour of "seat time". The same applies to an online course. By the system, it appears they spent on hour on a particular page but did they really read the content or do the activity on the page? In many situations, the student may have accessed the assignment page, stayed on the page and then went off to read something from the textbook.
So basically, be careful when you see numbers like "total time of 20 hours, 39 minutes and 56 seconds" in a session. As with having students spend an hour reading a book in class, you need to use other assessment techniques to determine if learning actually took place.
As to your question of why is total session time 20 hours while assignment time is 106 hours, it may be how the course and Blackboard Vista/CE has been set up. If the system settings allow for "Display tool news icon as link to tool" in "My Blackboard", it is possible for a student to link directly to the assignment or a calendar entry then the assignment, bypassing the Home Page.
In some cases, depending on server environment and possible outages, the Tracking tables may not have been correctly updated and you might see a discrepancy between total time and time spent in a tool.
If your Blackboard CE 8 license also includes the "Powersight Kit", you can access the raw tracking data through the Course Instructor role and various reporting tables at the system level to do additional tracking analysis that may give you a better idea of tracking activity.
Hope this helps...
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