Using Google Analytics with Moodle

Moodle already has a fantastic reporting engine which logs all user activity so why bother with Google Analytics?

By using Google Analytics with Moodle you can create instant reports on your users and their browsing habits, from the most popular pages to the last page a user sees before exiting your site. Learn where users come from and how they interact with your Moodle site. Learn how they found your site in Google, what keywords they used and much more. With Google Analytics you can create content rich graphs, custom reporting and motion charts.

Google Analytics works well not be replacing the default Moodle Reporting Engine but by adding to it. And the best bit, it uses Google’s processing power and resources to store and crunch the data, thus reducing then load on your own server!

Let’s get started

First of all you will need to sign up for a Google Analytics Account, you can use your existing Google account if you have one. Go to http://www.google.com/analytics, complete the registration form and begin by Adding a new website profile.

Once you have followed the onscreen instructions you will be given a snippet of code that you must paste into your Moodle Theme. Be sure to place this in all themes that you use on your Moodle site.

What now?

It may take a few days for Google to begin crawling your site so be patient, however some users have reported that they were able to use Google Analytics after just 1 hour of registering. Once we have a few days statistics under our belt we can begin to look at the reports Google Analytics has to offer.

Analysing the Reports

Once you are logged into Google Analytics you will see all the sites that you are monitoring. Click View Reports next to the site you wish to see statistics on.

The Dashboard

The Google Analytics Dashboard gives you a quick overview of your Moodle installation based on the date range in the top right hand corner.

Site Usage

Site Usage shows how many visitors you have had to your website, how many page visits and an average page hit per visit ratio. You can also view your sites bounce rate. A Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits from which a user left the site from the entrance (landing page). For example, the MyMoodle Page.

Traffic Sources Overview

This section of the dashboard shows how many of your users visited Moodle directly from the URL and how many were directed there by referring sites or weblinks. Let’s dig deeper into this reporting engine. The menu on the left hand site of Google Analytics is used to access and retrieve much more detailed information.We’ll begin by clicking on the Visitors Link.You will then see a detailed Visitors Overview Page which lists the number of visitors, the number of unique visitors, page views, average page views and the average bounce rate of the site.This page also tells us what browsers our visitors used and their internet connection speed. – We found we still had some users on dial up!

To break down this information further simply click on any data that is hyperlinked, for example, by clicking on the Internet Explorer link in the Browser Profile you will see which versions of IE your users have installed.From the visitors menu we can also see how long users spent on each page, what operating system they used, Flash Versions and Java information.

Traffic Sources

Traffic Sources tells us how our visitors landed at our Moodle site. The overview page shows the amount of direct traffic (those that entered your Moodle domain in to their browser), Referring Sites (where users landed on Moodle through a hyperlink on another site) and lastly Search Engine information and what search terms were used to find your Moodle site.If you run a Google Ads campaign on your site you can also track it’s effectiveness within the traffic sources menu.

Content Overview

Content by Title is perhaps one of the most useful reports you will use for gathering information about your Moodle site, this is found in the Content Overview Section.This report will breakdown each individual page/course and provide statistics such as page views, unique page views, time spent on each page, bounce rate and exit information.From this page you can see which courses are most popular with your students and how many students exited Moodle at this page.It is also possible to see a Navigation Summary (How visitors found your content), and an Entrance Path Summary (Paths visitors used to get to your content).

The Top Exit page display is used to inform you which were the last pages a user looked at before closing their browser or going to a different website.With information on the entrance pages, content and exit pages we can now form a picture of the average user’s browsing habits on your Moodle site.

In an ideal situation we would like our visitor to do the following: Land directly on our Moodle domain, view the MyMoodle Page, click on their course and view the weekly resources and log off. We would expect to see a high bounce rate on popular, well structured courses where the users finds what they are looking for in only a few clicks.

Site Overlay

Site overlay is a powerful feature which overlays Google Analytics Statistics over the top of your actual live Moodle site. Like a sheet of OHP acetate.You can now navigate your site and see how many people clicked on say a menu link or a banner and begin to map out typical routes users took whilst on your Moodle site.

Using Google Analytics to email you reports

Once you get the hang of Google Analytics you will find yourself immersed in a sea of graphs and numbers. These figures may fascinate you but maybe your team or management don’t share your passion for this application. Well, luckily for us, you can set Google Analytics to email you custom reports on a daily, monthly or yearly basis.The 3 reports of most interest to my institution are the Visitors Overview, Traffic Sources Overview and Content by Title.

I have set Google to email these overview reports each Monday and I simply forward them to the relevant bodies within the organisation.

How to set up email reporting:

Find the page you wish to have emailed to you and click the email icon at the top.From here you can enter the email address of the users you wish to receive the report and you can schedule the frequency of the delivery. Google can convert the data to PDF, XML, CSV and a TSV file.

Custom Reporting

As the title suggests you can build your very own reporting pages by dragging and dropping datasets from the menu on the left.The blue boxes contain metric datasets such as Bounces, Entrances, New Visits, page views etc… Then green boxes contain dimensions such as page depths, hours of the day, visitor type and so forth.By using a combination of Metric and Dimension boxes you can build a custom page which reports only the information you require all on one page. Building a page is simple and only takes a few seconds.The report can then be previewed or created so that it appears as an option in the main menu.

Conclusion

Google Analytics is perhaps one of the most powerful web application tools I have ever worked with. It’s fast, stable and reliable.When used in conjunction with Moodle once can really begin to form a picture of their site and how their users are interacting with it. Graphs are generated in real-time and the reports can be broken down by clicking on the hyperlinks to find further information on the page you are reporting on.

The email functions save time by reporting to you exactly what data you require and for what time period.And with the introduction of Motion Charts, statistics no longer look boring but become stylised and interactive.If you are interested in tracking user activity and promoting your Moodle site then Google Analytics is the way to go.

Combine this with Moodle’s own reporting engine and you have a complete system which tells you everything you will ever need to know about your site and your visitors.

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