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Talis Elevate

How to use analytics from online tools to improve your learning and teaching approach

Natalie Naik

As we become more reliant upon online tools to support teaching and learning practices, it’s important to take time to reflect on what’s working, and what isn’t. This is particularly true for our current situation, where online or blended learning approaches are new and unexpected for academics and students in many cases.

In this article, we provide some tips on how to use analytics produced from your online tools to feed back into your teaching, to provide a better experience for students and encourage more engagement.

Be critical

There is a wealth of data available to us in Higher Education, from many different sources. It’s important to be critical of who owns the data, how students can opt-out, and why the data is being collected. At Talis, we’ve focussed closely on utilising the data collected to inform content impact, learning design effectiveness and student support, whilst ensuring we are transparent with our users by presenting data back to individual students. 

A single source of truth? 

Matt East, Learning Technologies Lead says ‘it’s important not to make assumptions based on a single source of data. Check information from a range of sources, for example when looking at engagement you may want to check lecture capture software, your Virtual Learning Environment and a content collaboration tool like Talis Elevate before making an assumption’.

Making deductions on student engagement from a single source of truth can be problematic, especially with one metric from one system. When considering student engagement in particular, we need to ensure we are utilising and questioning sources from multiple avenues afterall, student engagement isn’t one size fits all. 

Opening questions, not always providing answers 

When using any tool that provides insight, there’s often a lot of data that informs a lot of different elements. It’s important to decide exactly what can help you as you plan your course, or adjust it as you go. Is the insight useful or just interesting? What hypothesis does this help you prove or disprove? What change can you make with this data to improve your teaching, improve student support, or better understand the macro-level engagement on your module? 

Consider what problems the data is helping you solve, and how you can back up the data with other sources.

Find the opportunity

What can the analytics in the tools you use do to help you? Often the real value is in being able to reflect and adjust your practice so that you can improve, or evolve what you are doing to better support your students.

Looking at patterns and trends can help you support the entire student cohort, not just individual students. For example, Talis Elevate could tell you that students are consuming much more audio-visual content, rather than journal articles or book chapters. It could tell you that a majority of your students only view resources the day before a lecture. 

With Talis Elevate, one of the most insightful metrics is around annotation activity, showing more detail on how students are truly interacting with your resources. Not only does this provide a very valuable insight into individual student engagement, but at a module level, provides you with the opportunity to better understand the various taxonomies of learners in front of you right now. 

Analytics in Talis Elevate

In Talis Elevate we present three different types of analytics to provide academics with a way of understanding how their cohort is consuming content.

Resource focus

Overview of both cohort level interaction with a particular resource, as well as individual student activity. This is designed to give you greater insight into how an individual resource is being used by your cohort 


Module focus

Dig deeper into how students are engaging with all content within one particular module. Use the Module Manager to answer specific questions around resource usage at specific points in the academic year, identity repeat patterns of resource usage, and better understand individual student engagement across the duration of your module 


Weekly focus

Gives a snapshot view of Talis Elevate use in the previous week. Critically, this highlights who hasn’t been engaging with any Talis Elevate over the past 7 days. 


How are Talis Elevate users utilising analytics to support their teaching and learning?

Dr Toby Carter, Principal Lecturer and Chair of the Canvas Analytics Workstream at Anglia Ruskin University is using Talis Elevate to get a better understanding of how students are engaging with resources.

“It gave me a chance to get analytics on what students are actually up to on the resources that are shared with them and gives a unique opportunity to build deep discussion into a variety of resources. I’ve now posted around 50 resources, which include lecture recordings, papers, infographics, and videos, and have seen some very interesting patterns of activity and engagement.”

He gave students a collaborative environment both for conversation and discussion, but also for resources, which allowed him to shift and adapt based on the preferences and patterns he was observing.

Toby told us “It’s particularly interesting to see what resources students’ are gravitating towards, especially when they have a choice. A number of resources I thought would get lots of interest really haven’t and resources I felt would have little activity have been the most popular.”

Find out more about Toby’s use of Talis Elevate here.

Some academics are using Talis Elevate analytics to inform them of inactivity, as well as engagement. Dr. Renan Petersen Wagner an academic and course leader at Leeds Beckett University told about his use of Talis Elevate on his Sport Broadcasting module.

“A few weeks ago I got sent analytics on students that hadn’t engaged with any resource for two weeks in an automated email from Talis Elevate. I emailed them all individually and they all responded. The students were really happy to receive my email, and they were grateful for the concern. To them, it means that I care. It felt very personal and allowed me to connect directly. Some students re-engaged with content straight after the email.”

Find out more about Renan’s use of Talis Elevate here.

Matt East presented a webinar on the topic of analytics, and shared examples from the community of their use of Talis Elevate analytics and how it was helping them shape their teaching and learning practice. Watch it here:



To find out how you could start using Talis Elevate, email Matt East



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