Friday, 16 July 2010

Learning/teaching analytics - digging deeper

Following on from my last post, why isn’t the news on my Research skills required by PhD students cloudscape as good as it looks at first sight?

Here are the viewing figures. 856 page views of my Cloudscape. Lovely, regular peaks in the viewing figures every Monday. What happens every Monday? I go and check out how much people are using my clouds – that’s what. So at least 400 of those page views are me collecting data. That, in turn, affects my bounce rate – which is 0% on all those data collecting days. In this case, the site’s own analytics are more helpful – the cloudscape has had 323 views (it doesn’t count the logged-in author).

Something else I get from the viewing figures is a spike on 28 June. What happened there? It seems that someone from The Open University arrived three times from Google with related research queries and spent 2 hours 50 minutes on the site. That’s great, they were obviously finding it useful – but that cuts everyone else’s average time on the site considerably.

More depressingly, here are 20 of the 32 searches that brought people to this cloud – where they then spent no time and bounced away from the site again. Some of them are probably in the wrong place and need to leave to look for IT skills or UK skills. The majority, though, should be staying – I’m losing at least 12% of visitors who should have found this a useful resource.

What do visitors see in that fraction of a second they spend on my Cloudscape before bouncing away? Possibly the first line of text ‘Research Skills required by PhD students, as defined by the UK Research Councils’. And, yes, half of those bouncing visitors are outside the UK – although only an eighth of views originate outside the UK. Time for a rewrite – these are generic research skills, relevant worldwide.

More broadly, what have I learned about implementing analytics on a learning site?
  • Search for a way to set aside visits by the site owner and the content author – it looks as if this needs to be done on the site itself, rather than through Google Analytics.
  • Set aside outliers for separate consideration.
  • Give content authors access to the keywords that are working for that content, and the keywords that are not.
  • In fact, if the aim is to improve the learning/teaching effectiveness of resources, it would be good if authors could access short analytics reports without having to filter requests through the site owner.

1 comment:

  1. Great analysis Rebecca ... too bad about the depressing figures ... but at least you're learning how to rewrite/ redesign the page to best suit the incoming Googlers.

    Glad that you finally got the Google Analytics stats :)