Learning Web Analytics for #highered: Course Reviews

October 17th, 2011 Karine Joly 1 Comment

I’ve done a fair amount of talking (and writing) about web analytics in higher ed since I first decided to start the higher ed analytics revolution last year.

And, it’s fair to say that the bar of web analytics in universities and colleges has been raised with the contributions of several great higher ed professionals (Shelley Thayer, Seth Meranda and many more including great tips from Avinash Kaushik).

While all this talk about web analytics had an impact on the general state of web and social media analytics in higher education, many of you also told me that they needed to learn more to put all this data to good use. That’s the reason why I decided to develop a 4-week online course led by an instructor. My goal was to design a flexible online course where higher ed pros and executives could learn the art and science of web analytics, put to practice their new knowledge in class discussions and weekly real-life assignments and be evaluated to eventually receive a certification.

I worked with Joshua Dodson, a Higher Ed Google Analytics expert, on the development of this course all summer long. We designed the course exclusively for people working in higher education and aimed for a practical, useful and challenging course with a students/instructor ratio smaller than most college courses (with only 10 students per class). The inaugural session ended a week ago, as the second – that was sold out 3 weeks before its beginning – started.


I took the first session as a student to get a better idea of the student experience as part of our quality review process for the courses.

It was demanding, challenging at times and I was even late posting to the class discussions a couple of times, but boy, did I learn something I can put to good use!

This course forced me to take the time necessary to define website goals and KPis. It made me discovered the wonderful world of advanced custom segments in Google Analytics, segments that can even help you do some archeological research in your data. And, I even developed my first Google Analytics dashboard as part of our final assignment and designed to provide only the data necessary to inform my web strategy.

I understand that you might see me as a biased reviewer for this course, so I’m sure you’d be interested in what the other students in this first session had to say about the Higher Ed Experts course on Web Analytics for Higher Ed.

Students were asked to complete a short evaluation survey about the course:

  • For 5 out of the 5 students who completed the survey (I didn’t – for obvious reasons) this course helped develop their knowledge and expertise of web analytics as it pertains to their job.
  • Students were asked to grade the course on a scale from 1 (bad) to 5 (excellent). The average of the course grades given by students was 4.2.
  • Students were also asked to grade their instructor on the same scale. And, Joshua who scored a 4 for this first session has already implemented a few improvements to increase this KPI of his;-)

In the survey, we also asked students what they would tell people thinking about taking this course on Web Analytics for Higher Ed and here are the answers we got (one of the students preferred to provide feedback after the session was done, but hasn’t yet at the time of this writing):

  • Stephen Ross, Web Coordinator at Olds College (AB, CANADA):
    “This course is forcing me to pay attention to my neglected “analytics to-do” list. Analytics not reportrics!”
  • Natalie Bush, Interactive Marketing Manager at San Joaquin Valley College (CA, USA):
    “This course is highly relevant and very applicable. From day one it has help me turn information into knowledge. In just 3 weeks I’ve identified gaps in our web strategy, which may have gone unnoticed if not for this course. I would definitely recommend it to marketing professionals and web masters.”
  • Lisa Ware, Director of Outreach Programs for The Center for Professional Excellence at Wofford College (SC, USA):
    “I’ve been extremely happy with this course. I think the web interface is very well-organized. It’s easy to find what I’m looking for. I appreciate the reminders about assignments, and I think the amount of work has been very well-balanced. I was worried going into the course that I might not be able to follow the instructor or handle the work, but the material is as promised: you don’t have to have a high level of technical experience with GA to learn the material. All courses, essentially, help you discover what you don’t know as much as they teach you new things, and I know that I’ll need to review the material a few times to really become confident with it. But this has been exactly the in-depth explanation I hoped it would be.”
  • Joel Kunze, Web Services Director & Research Specialist at Upper Iowa University (IA, USA):
    “I found the course tremendously valuable. Obviously I learned new techniques to more fully utilize Google Analytics, but the course is much more than a practical “how-to” guide. The focus on KPIs and their connection to an institution’s goals and objectives was the most enlightening. This focus aided me in developing a strategic mindset with regards to the use of web analytics.”

So, what more can I tell you about this 4-week online course on Web Analytics for Higher Ed?

7 out of the 10 students from the first session earned the Higher Ed Experts certificate, an official document confirming they completed and passed this course with a final grade above 80/100 (and if you want to know, I did get the certificate myself ;0).

There are still a few seats left for the third and last session of the year.

Given the interest for the course, we might schedule a few sessions in 2012, but haven’t set the dates yet.
So, if you’re interested, I definitely recommend registering as soon as possible for the next session starting on November 7, 2011 – especially since the first and second sessions sold out so quickly. This session will be 5-week long as we decided to gave the Thanksgiving week off to students.

Got questions about the course? Just ask away by posting a comment below or sending an email to karine@higheredexperts.com.

One Response

  1. I have also enjoyed this course as the instructor. It was amazing to watch and participate in the discussions. The students were able to provide lots of ideas and recommendations for improvements to their web strategy overall. It is great to see students connecting data from Google Analytics to actual website needs. We start with the basics, but by the end we are able to turn data into actionable information. I am eager to see what happens in the next sessions, also.

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