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What is click tracking? How should instructors use it to improve their courses?

Posted by on Thursday, September 3, 2020 in News.

Click tracking refers to the ability that both instructors and students have in Brightspace to see where students have clicked within a course. This tool can be very useful for students trying to track their own progress in a course and for instructors evaluating their own course design and learning activities. However, this tool should not ever be used to police student behaviors online or determine a student’s performance in a course. The tool is not reliable as a measurement of individual student activity.


For certain kinds of activities in Brightspace, instructors AND students can see what students have clicked on and when. In the Content area, instructors can look at the Completion Summary for any linked Topic and see their entire class list along with the date and time of each student’s most recent visit to that Content item. Students can also see whether or not they have visited Content Items. Their Content screen comes with a progress tracker that checks off items they have already visited.

This video from D2L goes over pretty much everything related to progress tracking and completion summaries in the Content section of your course.

The completion summary will help you get an idea of how students are interacting with a Content item. But you can also get a sense for how specific students are engaging with the course in Class Progress and User Progress tools. Here are videos from D2L that will walk you through how those tools work.

If you notice that certain topics or kinds of activities are not getting the same level of participation from students, it may be a good idea to rethink those learning activities, provide more scaffolds, or review their alignment with learning objectives. Are students spending more time than you envisioned on certain modules? That information can help you adjust your instruction to meet students where they are.



A strong word of warning: Looking at click tracking data in aggregate can be useful for instructors evaluating their own teaching. However, click tracking data can be unreliable at the individual user level and should never be used as a way to police or evaluate students. Consider these scenarios.

  • A student has trouble with their wifi and so a classmates sends them PDFs of the reading. Click tracking will tell you they never clicked on the link when in fact they did the reading carefully as instructed.
  • A student downloads all the documents in the course at the beginning of the semester in bulk, but click tracking will have no way of communicating that information. It will just indicate that the student did not click on the link.
  • Another student clicked on all the links, but did not read carefully or process the content. Click tracking can’t tell you to what degree a student engaged with the content or whether they understand what they read.
  • A student clicks on a link within a course and completes the activity, but, for reasons we cannot ascertain, that click was not registered in Brightspace. To both the student and the instructor, it may look like the student never clicked on the link.

Rather than relying on click tracking to determine individual student engagement, faculty can focus on building engaging spaces for learning where students can process together and demonstrate their learning using a variety of available tools. These spaces might include tools like Discussions or Social Annotation with a tool like Perusall. Click tracking can tell us a lot about how students are engaging with the course, but they are not dependable or foolproof enough to be used as data for student assessment.


If you have questions about how to create engaging spaces for students to demonstrate their learning, you can reach out to Brightspace support at to learn about the available tools or to get connect with an iDesign consultant who can work with you to develop online instructional strategies for your course.

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