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CourseSmart Launches Analytics Tool

E-reader

November 9, 2012

CourseSmart, a provider of digital course materials, launched an analytics tool this week that can help measure how well students are engaged with the electronic materials they use in class. CourseSmart's analytics could lead instructors to identify those students who are struggling, but also provide them with feedback about the effectiveness of electronic materials they are using.

"We have long believed in the benefits of analytics as a means to improve learning outcomes, increase retention and graduation rates, and help lower the costs of higher education," Sean Devine, CEO of CourseSmart, said in a press release. "We are thrilled to bring these benefits to reality through our CourseSmart Engagement Score Technology which will provide faculty with meaningful metrics about students' engagement with digital course materials so they can offer guidance to maximize student performance."

CourseSmart Analytics will be used on a test basis starting at three schools: Texas A&M University at San Antonio, Villanova University and Rasmussen College, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. The program is then expected to be in wider use in 2013. The program takes a look at the total amount of time a student spends looking in an electronic book, the pages they view, the passages they highlight, the bookmarks they make, and so on. It even looks at whether the student opened the book in the first place. A CourseSmart Engagement Score is then obtained and the data is presented through the CourseSmart dashboard.

The score should enable professors to help identify students who are at-risk but also to assess the effectiveness of their curriculum selections. It could also provide administrators with a way to track student success rates in a program as a whole.

"There is a screaming demand in the marketplace for knowledge around what impact course materials have on learning," Devine said in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

While students who are struggling in classroom are sometimes easy to identify, this program could really help the professor tailor a learning method that could be specific for them, noted Inside Higher Ed. For example, a student who is showing a high interactive level with materials, but struggling on tests may need help improving their study and test-preparation skills. CourseSmart's analytics could also help a professor know what materials might need extra review when it comes to prep for an exam.

CourseSmart's engagement score dashboad is available free of charge to the institutions using it during the pilot period, which is expected to run through the spring of 2013, noted Inside Higher Ed. The company is also developing a dashboard specifically for publishers that can provide them with feedback about the effectiveness of their materials.

"Analytics will be a powerful tool in higher education, especially when data is reported in easy-to-understand, actionable ways," Ellen Wagner, executive director for WICHE's Cooperative for Educational Technologies, said in the press release. "The higher education community is hungry for actionable data that links student engagement to their learning content."


Compiled by Doresa Banning

Sources:

"CourseSmart Launches Beta Program for CourseSmart Analytics at EDUCAUSE 2012," sacbee.com, November 7, 2012

"Measuring Engagement (With Books)," insidehighered.com, November 8, 2012, Alexandra Tilsley

"Now E-Textbooks Can Report Back on Students' Reading Habits," chronicle.com, November 8, 2012, Marc Parry

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