School Districts

Use Online Learning Participation and Engagement Data to Support Learners’ Success

Data from Learning Management Systems (LMS), when connected with student information from the SIS, can surface participation and engagement patterns, enabling meaningful teacher interactions and just-in-time support for online learners.

Engaged Students are Successful Students, Especially Online

Learning management systems (LMS) organize courses and classes, deliver instructional content and resources, and provide environments for students to learn inside and outside of classrooms. But the flexibility and autonomy of online learning environments comes with classroom management realities. Both educators and students need to have an effective way to understand how a student is progressing and when they need help. Unfortunately that information is is often siloed between systems or demands that a time-strapped educator manually piece together a full story of their students. This is where interoperability plays an important role.

A central challenge for educators is to clearly know: are students currently engaged in their coursework, and how might they or other school staff best intervene if not? Student participation and engagement are compelling measures of progress and early indicators of learning outcomes — when those measures are timely and programmatically combined with other relevant student information so as to be most actionable and useful to educators in their student interactions. 

higher achievement is reached when students are in classes with high engagement

Students in classes with higher engagement had 22% higher achievement than students with low engagement.

months gained by students in classes with high engagement

Students in classes with higher levels of engagement gained 2.5 months of learning compared to peers.

of students report feeling engaged

Students report only feeling engaged in their school experiences 55% of the time (and among high schoolers, only 42% of the time)

Ed-Fi Makes Student Engagement Patterns Visible

Ed-Fi delivers student participation and engagement patterns for educators to understand and interact with their online learners. To tackle this challenge, Ed-Fi worked with our community members to identify signs of student participation and engagement from data sourced from the LMS, and that was cross-referenced with demographics and program information from the Student Information System (SIS). Assignment data is the highest-priority dataset, such as completion/non-completion, timeliness of submissions, and other participation data coming from LMS platforms like Google Classroom, Canvas, and Schoology. Participation and engagement data for every online learner is surfaced into data tools that give educators timely insights into their students to effectively support them, differentiate for their learning needs, or provide other interventions for their success.

Ryan Gravette

Idaho Digital Learning Alliance • Director of Information and Technology

"For us, engagement in online learning means two important and related things. First, for our students it means ongoing and sustained meaningful interactions with their assignments, their instructional material and resources, and with their peers & educators. And second, that our educators have real-time actionable insights which lead to interactions with their students at the right time and in the right ways to support them, to differentiate or intervene, and to bring their expertise to bear for each learner’s success and mastery. This is our vision for what we need our data and our tools to enable."

Common Questions Before You Get Started

  • How much will this cost?

    All Ed-Fi technology and resources are available at no cost.

  • How much time will this take?

    We recommend starting with the demonstration site which only takes a minute to load and explore.  You can follow up with a complete prototype pre-built in a virtual machine with test data.  This will allow you to have a clickable sample solution with sample data, so you can visualize the tool and see how it would work in your own district.  This prototype sample application only takes a couple hours to stand up.  Finally, you can deploy the Engage Online Learners use case data tools in your own computing environment with your own system and student data.  This may take longer depending on your IT and security processes.

  • What district systems will be involved?

    The key source systems you’ll need are your Learning Management System (LMS) and your Student Information Systems (SIS).

  • Who (and what roles) should be involved?

    We recommend forming a core team of champions to solve this student equity challenge with data:

    – Program and Data Leads: Central office departments like Learning & Teaching, Curriculum & Instruction, and/or Secondary Instruction.

    – Campus leaders or other key LMS champions in your secondary schools (sometimes these are department chairs, or media and library specialists) would also be strong team members with a valuable point of view in this work.

    –  IT Leads: System administrators, and your LMS & SIS administrators

  • What district technology will I need?

    To get started with the Engage Online Learners sample application, you’ll need to be able to spin up a virtual machine (VM) on Amazon Web Services (AWS). You can request access to a temporary environment provided by Ed-Fi if needed to help you get started. To build out your test environment for your district and connect your own source system data to it, you’ll need your own computing infrastructure (on-premises or cloud-based) to deploy a database server and a web server. Detailed installation requirements are provided in the starter kit reference guide.

Get Started with Ed-Fi: Engage Online Learners

Use our step-by-step implementation guide to deploy and engage online learners with data management and visualization tools in your district. Our goal is to make implementing Ed-Fi as simple and straightforward as possible, so you can start seeing results, taking informed actions, and improving student outcomes right off the bat.

Option 1

Do It Yourself

Our Engage Online Learners Starter Kit provides a step-by-step guide for both technical and non-technical district leaders to use together. With the starter kit, you and your team can learn how to implement Ed-Fi specifically to understand and interact with your online learners using data-based participation and engagement insights. The guide follows eight steps, summarized below, and includes an on-demand demonstration site that may be a good place to start.

Step 1

Try the Demo

Create an account and access the Engage Online Learners demonstration site. Use the walkthrough information provided to take a tour of the tool through the eyes of an educator.

Step 2

Setup the Virtual Machine

In this first step of the Quick Start Guide, you will download and set up a prepackaged virtual machine that contains the Engage Online Learners sample application and sample data. (If you can’t run a virtual machine in Amazon Web Services (AWS), Ed-Fi can help.)

Step 3

Explore the Starter Kit

Here you’ll follow the steps to explore and learn about the virtual machine you installed that hosts your Ed-Fi tools and your Engage Online Learners sample application with sample data.

Step 4

Install the Ed-Fi Solution

In this step of the Setup Guide, you will install the core components of the Ed-Fi solution needed to create a test environment for your district in which to build your own Engage Online Learners data solution.

Step 5

Load Test Data

In this step, you will configure your operational data store (ODS/API) with the Admin App tool you installed in the previous step, and then you will load your district’s data from your Student Information System (SIS). 

Step 6

Install the LMS Toolkit and Load Test Data

In this step you will install the LMS Toolkit, which will connect to your LMS via its API and then it will load the required data into the ODS that you deployed in your test environment in the previous step.

Step 7

Install And Test Your Dashboard

In this step you will install, configure, and run the data visualizations included in the Engage Online Learners data dashboard, populated by your district’s data sourced from the ODS/API and LMS toolkit you deployed in your test environment.

Step 8

Publish The Dashboard & Plan Your Rollout

Now that you have created a functioning test environment for your district’s Engage Online Learners data solution, you will publish the dashboard in a release targeted to your internal test users, to have them login, view, use, and test the data visualizations. You will then be in a position to:

– Verify functionality and support from key systems
– Understand what resources and technical skills you need to support it
– Test this solution with your key audience in a pilot
– Plan and conduct a production rollout of your solution

Get the Starter Kit

Option 2

Working With Tech Vendors

Step 1

Education Technology Vendors

Vendors are an important part to bring the benefits of interoperability to your district. It is always a best practice to communicate early and often with all of your vendors that provide you with systems, like your SIS and LMS vendors. Make sure these vendor-types are part of your planning process. 

Step 2

System Integrators

While each school district is different and has varying in-house resources and timelines, some districts have had success by working with a system integrator that is familiar with Ed-Fi. In any instance, you will need to have a working understanding of the milestones and pre-work necessary for a successful implementation but a system integrator can help you along the way. 

Contact us for a list of experienced Systems Integrators that are available to help you.

Step 3

Managed Hosting Providers

There are several vendors that now offer differentiated Ed-Fi software as a service (Saas) or Platform as a service (PaaS) offerings. These offerings range from implementing and onboarding your district, providing you with a platform experience with Ed-Fi native tools and value added tools they provide, technical support, analytics and data visualization capabilities, etc. Providers that have badged their solution offerings are published on the Ed-Fi Tech Docs site. Once you get a community account you’ll have full access to this list. 

Step 4

Cloud Providers

You may have the technical capability in-house to stand up your Ed-Fi implementation with the help of a cloud provider. All of the major cloud hosting platforms have templatized deployment options for deploying Ed-Fi technology tools that can help you get started fairly quickly, including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, and Inteport via Azure Marketplace.

Contact Ed-Fi

Option 3

Share with a Colleague

Want to start your Ed-Fi journey but need to get other teammates involved? Send them an email with a link to this page to share this important information with them and start building your data team.

Send Email

Not sure where to begin?

We’re here to help. Reach out anytime.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Sean Casey

Director, Vendor Partnerships