Last week we looked at the reports and logs in Moodle as a way to find out how your courses are being used. I wanted to extend the idea slightly this week by looking at Google Analytics. Analytics is a free tool that you can add to any website to help track in a huge amount of detail what your visitors are doing. I use it on this blog, it’s on our school website, and we use it on Moodle too.
You can find out more about Analytics as a product and set yourself up an account here. Technically very straight forward if you are the administrator for you Moodle site- it just requires you to put some hidden code into your theme header. What I wanted to do is share a few of the things you can get from it that we can’t from the Moodle logs.
On logging in to Analytics you are presented with your dashboard. It contains a set of graphs and information as a general overview of your site. You can see some pretty clear patterns from this immediately, and the average time on site is a really interesting statistic for Moodle admins.
You can drill down through all the links here, including the graph. For example, drilling down through the average time information I can see that users are spending much more time on the site during evenings and weekends than they do during the school day. More interestingly, I can see time on site is decreasing as the term goes on. This is why I really like this tool- I’ve seen a pattern, I can now compare it to this time last year, then look at what is happening in the school to find out why, and finally do something about it.
As you would expect this section deals with people on your site. Number of visits, visitors, average page views, etc. All pretty simple, and not really beyond the scope of the Moodle logs.
But, further down the links on the left you can get some other really interesting data. You can overlay your information on a map, interesting if your users come from a wide range of locations. The tools that really interest me though are the ones that track what browser and Internet connection speed your users have, and also the page that details the mobile devices being used.
Possibly not the most important in education, but traffic sources deals with where you visitors came from to get to your site. Interesting for us that even though we have Moodle links everywhere on school homepages/etc 40% of our visitors still come from Google.
The content section somewhat overlaps the reports in Moodle, but you can use this section to get information about your most popular pages, how visitors get in, and where they go.
The ease in which you can view data over a timeline is a real strength of Analytics for viewing content. For example, I can look at the popularity of our GCSE courses for the last year to see just how the students were using them for revision.
The last thing I want to mention about Analytics is it has the ability to generate reports for you and then email them on. With a little bit of playing you can get it to do all the work for you, and once a week get a nice little PDF explaining the movement in key pieces of data you’re interested in.
Google Analytics is a hugely powerful tool, this post barely scratches the surface. If you’re a Moodle admin I would recommend getting it installed and giving it a go, surprisingly easy to lose quite a lot of time to playing with this!