Tools - How do I get course reports to track usage statistics from student activity in my Blackboard coursesite?

How do I get course reports to track usage statistics from student activity in my Blackboard coursesite?

Statistics tracking in Blackboard can be a useful tool to see what content students are accessing and how frequently. It’s not as effective to use a mandatory grading component to track participation for complex reasons discussed below, but is most useful for getting a more general idea of which students are accessing which content and how frequently.

**It is important to read through this entire FAQ so you can better understand how the tracking functions for the items behave,  because we have found that it doesn’t function as most instructors intuitively expect it to. This will ensure that this feature will serve your needs the way you are hoping and that it is set up correctly the first time and alleviate potential future issues.

To use statistics tracking, it must first be turned on for an assignment, item or content folder. To do this, you would create the content item or folder that you wish to track and when creating the content in the settings area, you would click on “Yes” for Track Number of Views (toward the end of the settings options under #3) to enable statistics tracking on this content item or folder.

If you have already created the content but did not originally enable the tracking when first setting it up, you can turn on statistics tracking by going to the item you wish to track, hovering over the name with your mouse until the little gray edit arrow pops up, click on the edit arrow and then select “Statistics Tracking (on/off)” which will turn statistics tracking on if it was not on previously. The content area should say “Enabled: Statistics Tracking” if it is on. Please read how this functions below.

Once I’ve turned Statistics Tracking on, how does it function?

Statistics will be tracked each time a student enters a containing folder area. This means that the file itself (even if it is set to track views) does not actually need to be clicked on and opened/viewed to count as a view. Only the opening of the containing folder will mark it as a view

For example, if you have 5 readings posted together in a row under “Course Documents” and each reading has statistics tracking set up on it, each time a student accesses the Course Documents area (whether or not they look at any of the files) it will mark all of the assigned readings (1 view for each) as having been read simply from entering the containing Course Documents area. If a student enters the Course Documents area once, and opens only one of the readings, it will still display only one view for that reading, and all of the other readings as well, in that content area. Opening a file and viewing it will not count as an additional view. Leaving course documents and reentering the area will count (and it will again mark all items in that content area as having been accessed). See below to find out how to get around this.

For these above reasons, if you have (continuing our example) separate readings you’d like to track individually to see how many times each one was viewed by each student, it is best to put each one in its own containing folder by first creating a content folder, and then placing the reading inside that content folder and then turning on statistics tracking for that reading specifically (not the containing folder).  Even still, the file itself does not need to be clicked on or opened to be marked as read. Just the folder containing the information needs to be accessed to mark it as viewed. The reason for this is because the content can be placed, as is, on the page itself copy pasted right there on the page (rather than attached as a file as most instructors set it up) and would thus be viewed by the student upon opening the folder. Also, there is no way to track whether a student opened a file due to the various ways it can be opened such as right clicking and saving versus actually clicking on it and the fact that in Blackboard there is use of multiple types of browsers.

Keep in mind that even though statistics tracking will tell you how many times an item was viewed, that doesn’t necessarily mean the student actually read the assignment. For this reason and the other reasons mentioned about the complexity of setup, it does not function well as a participation grading protocol. Students often open and save all the documents to their computer with the intention of reading them at some point, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it happened or will happen. A better way to track participation would be to assign comprehension quizzes or have class discussions about the readings, or perhaps use the “Discussion Board” tool in Blackboard to have students post questions or impressions of the reading to track their actual engagement in the material.

Okay, got it! How can I generate the statistics report now that students have viewed the content?:

To get the statistics tracking data once an assignment has been viewed by students, go to the content item you’ve enabled tracking for, hover your mouse over the name until the gray edit arrow appears and click the edit arrow (See screen shot below).

On the resulting Course Reports page, once again hover your mouse until the gray arrow pops up, click on it and then click “Run” (see screen shot below).



On the next page is where you specify your report details. Most will want the output in a PDF format and is the recommended output. Then you can select your students and the date range for running the report. Be sure to specify the correct date range when going to access the results (See screen shot below).

**NOTE:  If you want information about views from “today’s” date, it will not provide information for today until you run the report the following day. The output PDF report will display today’s date if it was selected, but the output report will always be zero views for the date because it doesn’t officially start generating the data for that day until 11:59pm. So for example, say you want information from today, and today is 4/11/2013 and it’s currently 6pm. You will need to wait until tomorrow, 4/12/2013, to run the report and get results for 4/11’s date.


The file should download to wherever files normally download to your computer and you should be able to open the generated report and see information about when the area was accessed (date, time of day, how many times and by which students).

Something to keep in mind:
When you select "View Statistics Report" and run the report, the data collected on the end date that you select will not be reported. This is because when blackboard doesn't give the instructor the option to choose a specific time, it defaults to collecting data up until 12am on the date you select.

Below are the stats presented when the report hasn't fully run by the end date time.

Therefore, in order to include data from the end date you desire, set the end date to the day after, which yields the statistics below.


Watch a tour (from Blackboard Inc.) on how to run and save course reports.


Here are some other documentation available:

YouTube Video on Self and Peer Evaluation Tool in LJMU Student Tracking & Course Reports at Cal Poly Pomona & 10 page pdf on Creating Course Usage Reports at Machester