Higher Ed Analytics


I was reading Karine Joly's post on the CollegeWebEditor blog about what the "next big thing" might be for higher education analytics. Big and small data has been a hot topic outside education for longer than it has been hot in education, so we have some catching up to do.

Karine got 11 speakers from the 2nd edition of the online Higher Ed Analytics Conference (Feb 5, 2014) who are analytics experts in higher ed to make some predictions.

Here are 6 that I think are good ideas to consider for your own institution's analytics roadmap.

Universal Analytics – Shelby Thayer from Penn State University "I’m hoping it can be to find a way to tie together the entire web presence and experience. Look for Universal Analytics to play a major role over the next year or two. I’m excited to see what the impact will be. Although, for higher education, I think the 'next big thing' is in our hands – something we can overcome ourselves with more resources and better collaboration."

Google Tag Manager – Colleen Clark from Ithaca College "I think higher ed institutions are starting to become more comfortable with the idea of integrating analytics with online marketing. As new digital campaigns are launched, multiple tags may need to be placed on the website. Tag Management solutions such as Google Tag Manager will begin to become more widespread in 2014 by replacing multiple tag requests with a single unified code on the website for all tagging needs."

Predictive Analytics – Michelle Tarby from Le Moyne College " I’d like to move into using Google Analytics to do predictive modeling. Can we use the behavior of our visitors to predict someone is more likely to apply, visit or request more information about us? What does that look like? How does the source of the visit relate to meeting a goal? Are other metrics a better predictor (number of visits, particular pages they end up on, number of pages viewed)? Once those models are built, how do we build content targeting? What increases the likelihood of conversion based on our models?"

Multi-Channel Integration – Stephanie Hatch Leishman from MIT "While this isn’t the 'next big thing' in the for-profit world, it’s something I believe we’re still aiming for in higher ed. In 2014, I see more universities focusing on analytics throughout all their communications, including email, social, web, print, etc. For many institutions, content creation still may not be fully integrated, and still in silos, so our analytics follow suit."

Real-Time Social Media Analytics – Tim Nekritz from SUNY Oswego "I expect better, more robust reporting of real-time analytics will really allow us to pivot and change content and delivery even faster. The main hitch in Google and social media analytics is the delay in receiving the most valuable quantitative and qualitative information. Once somebody figures out how to streamline that so that I quickly know, say, whether something I posted on the homepage that we think is important is or isn't getting any play, we can think about whether modifying its placement, related visual or phrasing can help it perform better."

Finally, here is one thing that doesn't require a lot of technology, but might be even harder than implementing analytics software on a campus.

Data Sharing Among Institutions – C.Daniel Chase from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga  "The next big thing that I would like to see is, cross-institutional sharing of data. The idea being that universities could voluntarily agree to participate and compete a short form describing their institution (public/private, 2/4 year, undergraduate & graduate enrollment) and add a short piece of javascript to their pages that would submit their data to a central account—perhaps using Google Analytics—that could then be used as a resource for site comparison to your peers. With this kind of data, everyone would have a better perspective on how well they were doing individually, and they would be able to review those that were doing well for good ideas! The ‘friendly competition’ would all help us develop better websites!"


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