Using log variables in a learning management system to evaluate learning activity using the lens of activity theory

Yeonjeong Park, Il Hyun Jo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


As the advance of learning technologies and analytics tools continues, learning management systems (LMSs) have been required to fulfil the growing expectations for smart learning. However, the reality regarding the level of technology integration in higher education differs considerably from such expectations or the speed of advances in educational technologies. This research aimed to evaluate the current activation levels and usage patterns of a LMS. A large data-set was analysed, which included the online activity information from 7940 courses. Through data pre-processing, general indicators reflecting login frequencies of the virtual campus and activity-based indicators presenting the activation patterns of diverse functions provided by Moodle were derived. Activity theory was applied to interpret the results of analysis, since it has been recognised as a powerful framework to understand phenomena encompassing interactive systems. Further, time-series investigation over three consecutive semesters allowed observation of historical changes. The results revealed considerably low use of the virtual campus with only slight changes, as well as significantly different activity patterns across course attributes and colleges. Contradictions among components in the activity system are discussed, along with the implications for improving teaching and learning with LMS in higher education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-547
Number of pages17
JournalAssessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 19 May 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea; the National Research Foundation of Korea [NRF-2015S1A5B6036244]; RP-Grant 2014 of Ewha Womans University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • activity theory
  • analytics
  • learning management systems
  • virtual learning environments


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