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What works for tracking student progress in online learning

Tracking student progress is a core function of teaching. With online learning tools this function becomes not just easier, but more effective.

While grades remain an important indicator on how well your students are understanding the coursework, there are a myriad of other tools and techniques that will give you even more insight into their progress.

Tracking student progress operates across a number of vectors: their grades, their attendance and participation. When using online learning tools there are a couple of ways to track students progress.

LMS tracking tools

The swiftest and easiest way to set up an online student tracking system is by using a NEO’s Gradebook, where you can get a snapshot of all grades across all students. Besides that, have an overall view of missing assignments, past due assignments and an overall score. You can usually change the parameters to limit what you see. So if you need to track competencies across the class, or want to get a snapshot of assignments completed, these are all usually possible with the click of a button.

Other analytics tools can also include supplementary information such as how many attempts the student needed for getting the grade and how long they spent on the learning module (how many times they viewed the page and for how long).

Web analytics

If you are operating portions of your class work online via a class website, then tracking can also be relatively simple. By requiring students to log in to the site you will immediately get an impression (once you have accessed the web page’s logs) who has logged in, when and how often.

This type of online learning environment is also able to lock certain parts of the material until students have completed a quiz or other gateway activity. This will naturally also indicate student progress.

Other more sophisticated ways of tracking progress in these environments is to use click-analytics and hotspots. Here you will be able to view, on a page-by-page basis, what students are clicking on, as well as where their mouse hovers, you will see what, on the page, is attracting the most attention.

Self appraisal

An interesting module to build into your course work is the ability for students to appraise their own progress. Consider building in simple quiz or narrative style questions after every module completed, to see what students think of their own progress.

This is also a wonderful way to get feedback on your course design, and essential part of your overall instructional design approach.

Other tools

If you have not yet made the leap to full online instruction, but are keen to either engage your students using a different channel (via mobile or at home), or want to access the benefits of big-data style analytics to assist with your grading and progress tracking then there are a variety of stand-alone online tools that could prove useful. These include:

  • Google or Microsoft Forms: A handy space where you can design almost any questionnaire, require log-ins and measure and track progress across an infinite variety of subjects. This is also a useful way of partially automating your progress tracking.
  • Socrative: If your school has not yet engaged a full LMS solution this app may be able to help with the assessment end of your course. The platform makes grading and testing fun across a number of formats.
  • Kahoot: This easy-to-use game-based assessment tool is ideal for middle school assessment tasks. Create puzzles, quizzes and games which can be played in group or individual settings. With individual student log-ins it is then simple to track progress across a variety of metrics.


It’s clear that technology can help teachers shoehorn themselves out of grading drudgery. Automation, analytics and interactive engagement are available from a variety of assessment tools online, and with them comes the opportunity to get deeper, more meaningful insights into the learning progress of students.

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