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VitalSource CourseSmart (LAEP Inventory)

Cloud created by:

Rebecca Ferguson
11 February 2016


CourseSmart Analytics is available to teachers whose institutions participate in an integration between the institution's LMS and CourseSmart's eTextbook. The integration is effected using IMS Global’s Learning Tools Interoperability standard (LTI). CourseSmart’s analytics dashboard presents a measurement of students’ engagement with digital course materials. A centrepiece of this dashboard is the CourseSmart Engagement Index Technology™, a proprietary algorithm that evaluates standard usage data – such as number of pages read, number of times a student opened/interacted with the digital textbook, number of days the student used their textbook, time spent reading, number of highlights, number of bookmarks, and number of notes – and assimilates them into an overall assessment of students' engagement with the material.


Junco & Clem (2015) carried out a study of 236 students using CourseSmart in the Spring 2013 semester. They found that CourseSmart Engagement Index ‘was a significant predictor of course grades across disciplines, instructors, and course sections’. However ‘the number of days students spent reading was a more powerful predictor of course outcomes. This suggests that the calculated Engagement Index does not yet capture the important factors related to engagement with the textbook’. Juno & Clem conclude that the ‘CourseSmart Engagement Index needs to be refined’ and this may be happening.


VitalSource acquired CourseSmart in early 2014, and press-releases issued in October 2015 announced ‘the upcoming re-launch of our analytics product’. However, there have been no further announcements to date.


The analytics are intended to give teachers insights into their students’ engagement with and patterns of usage of e-books, with a view to enabling teachers make interventions based on this data.


Inventory type:

general analytics tool

learning environment tool

Role of analytics:


summarisation & description


Data sources:

uses own data, sources data from other system(s): virtual learning environment,



Tool in Context



Supply model:

self-hosted server software


CourseSmart: analytics vendor

Ethics and privacy:

VitalSource has a Privacy & Cookies Policy



Maturity and Evidence of Utility

CourseSmart was founded in 2007 by a conglomeration of publishers. Beta testing of CourseSmart Analytics started in late 2012, and the first version was released in summer 2013.

Further Information

Tool provider’s website:

Description by JISC consultant:

Descriptions from help material:Navigating the Analytics Dashboard,About Analytics


Junco, R., & Clem, C. (2015). Predicting course outcomes with digital textbook usage data. The Internet and Higher Education, 27, 54-63. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2015.06.001

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