Students Staff
University of Essex

November 13, 2017

Small is beautiful – small data in Moodle can help track student engagement

Filed under: Uncategorized — Simon Kemp @ 9:41 am

When we think about learning analytics, we often imagine big data with complex systems mining databases of thousands of records gathered from whole cohorts of students. This is not necessarily something that individual academics can use to improve the educational experience of their students in the short term. ‘Small data’, on the other hand, can quickly provide academics with insights into student behaviour using very simple tools. Professor Clive Holtham and Dr Martin Rich at Cass Business School have defined small data as:

“The smallest amount of data that can provide actionable information, eg on student engagement, without front-line academics needing specialist expertise.”

The reporting tools in Moodle give academics access to just this kind of information. The video below shows one example of how to identify students who have not accessed a Moodle course for the past couple of weeks and send them an email reminding them it is important to engage with online resources.

Moodle can also show you how many times your resources have been viewed, when students are accessing the page and many other metrics of how your pages are performing. If you would like help to use these tools, please contact the Technology Enhanced Learning Team at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *