I’ve been having fun with Google Analytics this week😃.
Yesterday, I needed to add statistical tracking to our Digital Education Team blogs on the University’s hosted version of WordPress. This has previously been no problem (eg with this blog), but with the new blogs, it didn’t work.
I created a new Google account for the team with our non-Gmail address, and that turned out to be fine.
I set up a Google Analytics account for the team, and that all seemed to work too.
But when I tried to connect my Analytics account to the Beehive Pro statistics plugin in the blog, it couldn’t find the website listed in my account. It said there wasn’t a ViewID. I was able to authenticate the Google account with the plugin, but the plugin couldn’t find anything in my Analytics account to associate with it.
Here is a summary of the Google Analytics account structure:
Organizations: An organization is an optional way to represent a company, which lets you access your company’s product accounts (e.g., Analytics, Tag Manager, Optimize), and manage product users, permissions, and cross-product integrations.
Accounts: You need at least one account so you can have access to Analytics, and so you can identify the properties you want to track. An account can be used to manage one or more properties.
Properties: A property is a website, mobile application, or device. When you add a property to an account, Analytics generates the tracking code that you use to collect data from that property. The tracking code contains a unique ID that identifies the data from that property, and identifies it in your reports.
Views: a View is (or was) a defined view of data from a property. Users are given access to a view so they can see the reports based on that view’s data. Analytics creates one unfiltered view for each property you add, and allows you to create more defined views using filters.
So, what could have gone wrong?
The first thing I checked was the Analytics account permissions, in case my plugin, although authenticated with Google, wasn’t actually authorised to do anything. But these all appeared to be correct: I had granted the default permission set of "Edit, Collaborate, Read & Analyse, Manage Users", so all the required permissions were there.
However, looking in the Analytics account, many things did look different from the various help and instructions available. They also looked different from my own personal account:
The Tracking info option wasn’t listed under Admin > Property.
There were no Views listed in the Admin panel, and I couldn’t see any way of adding one.
I noticed that the tracking code for my web property began with 'G-' instead of the usual 'UA-'.
There were a lot more interactions available for tracking
One of the unexpected but nice parts of my job lately has been editing the automated subtitles on some of our teaching videos.
This is a requirement for our course materials, to ensure our videos are more accessible for, for example:
Students with other hearing difficulties, for whom subtitles can help with comprehension of fast spoken or unclear dialogue, perhaps spoken with unfamiliar accents, mumbling, or with background noise
Foreign language speakers, for whom the subtitles might help with translation and following along with the spoken text
Students with learning disabilities, attention deficits, or autism, who may find subtitles help them to maintain their concentration on the videos
Students who need to study in a place where they can’t play sound
Students who need to see the spelling of proper nouns, such as full names, brand names, or technical terms
Students who just prefer to watch videos with subtitles as a habit
According to research by Ofcom in 2006, 7.5 million people in the UK (18% of the population) used closed captions, and of these, only 1.5 million were deaf or hard of hearing. 80% of those who preferred to watch with subtitles used them for other reasons.
Since we moved to hybrid learning, we have more and more teaching videos to work on, so that is an occasional silver lining to social distancing for me, as subtitling is a nice, quiet and absorbing task, and our videos are often very interesting 🙂
Because technology is often associated with flexibility and fast time, this can lead to assumptions that online learning is faster and better. Institutions need to provide education in ways that fit with the lives of individual learners, and that means restructuring teaching time in flexible and personalised ways. A key part of engaged online teaching is mitigating transactional distance by planning for how teaching can be structured in both synchronous and asynchronous ways.
Redefining Contact Time
Contact time generally refers to the tutor-mediated time allocated to teaching or providing guidance and feedback to students. There has to be a different way to define contact time online, taking into account student mobility, distance education and flexible patterns of study. Online contact time can be characterised by personalised tutor presence and input within a specified time-frame.
I thought this was a lovely activity to end the course with! I think my cohort had the bad luck to be disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak, so not as many made it to the end, but I know the current and future presentations of this course are packed (including with my manager), so I hope to see their word clouds at the end of it!
It’s time to reflect and review this part of the course.
We are asked:
Consider how the feedback that has been provided so far in this programme lends itself to a particular kind of assessment.
Consider how a misalignment with feedback and assessment might impact transactional distance.
How would you assess what we have done in this module so far?
What types of feedback would I need to provide in my own course to support the type of assessment that is expected in my discipline?
So, can I answer?
I think the feedback on this program has been timely, low-pressure and informal. That would seem to lend itself to small, frequent, informal, low-key, non-compulsory assessments.
If the tone and expectation setting of assessment and feedback didn’t match, it would drive students away. For example, either a seemingly very low key, informal assessment that was followed by an onslaught of harshly judgemental criticism, or a strictly defined and substantial assessment task that was followed by vague, brief, non specific and casual seeming feedback, would definitely be quite demoralising.
I’m not sure what this question is asking: do I think it was a good module, or what would be a good way to tell what we have learned from it. So firstly, I think this whole course has been incredibly interesting and I wish I could do the MSc in Digital Education because it sounds fantastic. But it’s more likely I’m meant to think of a way to assess knowledge gained through study of this module, in which case, inventing an assessment task sounds like the most obvious choice!
That first thing that comes to mind is that ‘feedforward’ assessments would be most useful for the practical aspects of scientific courses. I also think peer review would be an authentic assessment practice for scientific work. Another idea, which I suggested in the course discussion was that I think it would be interesting if some of our Environmental Science / Ecology students could do an Open Educational Resource (OER) as a group project relating to local environmental or sustainability issues and interacting with relevant local groups and officials. I think this would also be an authentic and relevant activity, with plenty of opportunities for timely and actionable feedback.
The theory of Transactional Distance states that as the level of interaction between teacher and learner decreases, learner autonomy must increase.
When talking about distance education we are typically talking about a teaching environment where the separation between the teacher and learner is significant enough that special teaching-learning strategies and techniques must be used.
Even though there are clearly recognizable patterns, there is also enormous variation in these strategies and
techniques and in the behaviour of teachers and learners. Within the family of distance education programmes there are many different degrees of transactional distance.
If any of my readers are (or know any) maths or science students who use assistive software or other assistive technology, I would love to hear from them to get their views and experiences of this. Please do get in touch - comment on any of my posts about accessibility and I'll get back to you!