ER&L 2015 – Understanding Your Users: Using Google Analytics and Forms

Google Analytics v2.0
“Google Analytics v2.0” by Panayotis Vryonis

Speakers: Jaclyn Bedoya & Michael DeMars, CSU Fullerton

There are some challenges to surveying students, including privacy, IRB requirements, and survey fatigue. Don’t collect data for the sake of collecting data. Make sure it is asking what you think it is asking to get results that are worth measuring.

Google Analytics is free, relatively easy to use, and easy to install. And it’s free. We’re being asked to assess, but not being given a budget to do so.

It’s really good about measuring the when and where, but not the why. Is it that you don’t see Chrome users because nobody is using Chrome, or is it that your website is broken for Chrome users?

If people are hanging out on your library pages for too long, then maybe you need to redesign them. We want them heading out quickly to the resources we’re linking to.

They’ve made decisions about whether to spend time on making sites compatible with browser versions based on how much traffic is coming from them. They’ve determined that mobile use is increasing, so they are desigining for that now.

They were able to use click data to eliminate low-used webpages and tools in the redesign. They were able to use traffic data to determine how much server support was needed on the weekends.

Google Forms are free and they can be used to find out things about users that Analytics can’t tell you. They can be embedded into things like LibGuides. There’s a “view summary responses” option that creates pie charts and fancy things for your boss.

They asked who they are (discipline), how often they use the library, where they use it, and what they thought of the library services. There were incentives with gift cards (including ones for In-N-Out Burger). The free-text section had a lot of great content.

The speakers spent some time on the survey data, but the sum total is that it matched their expectations, but now they had data to prove it.

ER&L 2015 – CALMing the cost of textbooks: How to create Affordable Learning Materials on your Campus

#erl15 session pics from Mallory
the audience listens attentively

Speakers: Carmen Mitchell & Barbara Taylor, California State University San Marcos

Cougars Affordable Learning Materials = CALM

Calming the price of textbooks and also faculty who are looking for textbook alternatives. It began in spring 2013 with funding from the Chancellor’s office. The academic technology folks started it and were welcoming when the librarians joined in.

They created a website with information specifically for faculty and for students. They developed a plan and piloted a course as a proof of concept.

The biggest hurdle has been getting the information out to faculty. A clear communication plan with customized presentations/examples will help tremendously. Try to have some funds that can be used as an incentive for faculty to do the research into open education alternatives and adopt them. They paid the faculty in tiers by how much they reduced the materials cost for the course.


  • The bookstore provides faculty booklists and the top 10 most expensive books, and they will purchased custom used books if the faculty member commits to using it for at least 2 years.
  • The faculty center promotes CALM on their website and newsletter.
  • The academic senate resolved to support CALM.
  • They have met with faculty colleges and departments, as well as student groups.
  • The library offers a high speed scanner (with copyright limit explanations).
  • Encouraged faculty to create assignments looking at academic journals.
  • Teaching copyright workshops across campus.
  • Provides additional support for reserves.
  • Faculty training and support for accessibility (ADA).
  • Institutional Planning and Analysis added questions to the student evaluation forms.
  • Worked with publishers to create custom texts with chapters from different books, offer digital rental services, and faculty negotiating lower prices with textbook adoption, and ebook access with the print version.

They are talking about automatically putting all books on reserve the library owns that are on the list from the bookstore. It’s going to be a lot of extra work, but they are pretty sure they are going to do it, at least once.

They are working on creating an API that will take the bookstore list and automatically indicate whether the book is available in the library or not.

They are working on scholarly communication initiatives that encourage faculty to negotiate their author rights for not only articles but books as well.

Some of their ongoing outreach includes creating faculty ambassadors that do the door-to-door work as peers (some of the grant money pays for this). They did a recognition ceremony for the university administration and faculty who were involved. They are also recognizing faculty who have been doing these kinds of things long before the program began. They have some really nice posters — check them out in the slides.

Over two semesters, they saved the students over $413,000 in textbook costs.

They are working with the other CSUs on this, as well as SUNY and Georgia.

ER&L 2015 – Supporting Online Creative Collaboration: Tools and Social Context

#erl15 Monday
Amy Bruckman speaking at ER&L

Speaker: Amy Bruckman

If we had created a traditional organization and said we wanted to have video that would have anything anyone would want to learn about, could we have created something as vast and comprehensive as YouTube?

Could we have predicted open source software? WordPress is 62% of content management market share, Apache hosts 58% of web servers, and Wikipedia is the 6th most popular website in the world.

How do we get together and create something? How do you do it when you don’t know what the end product is supposed to do?

Newgrounds is a site where groups of people create animations and share them. Bruckman looks at how these folks collaborate. They found that the narrative structure of “continuation” shaped the process, requiring one person to complete their portion before the next could start on it, causing bottlenecks and conflicts of interest. Narrative structures can work in parallel, and collection structures have more guidelines for what is and is not included.

Does the final product need all contributions or can it be filtered? Is the product finished or is it iterative? How much coordination is required? In many projects, a strong central leader is required to move forward, and can be a bottleneck if they drop the ball.

To address all of this, Bruckman’s group developed a suite of tools called Pipeline. This replaced the burden of the leader, allowing individuals to claim tasks and automatically attribute credits at the end of the project. They created more of a wiki-like structure. Collaboration works better when we can see each other working and know that we can see each other working. Distributed leadership views leadership as a set of behaviors, not roles.

Pipeline allows groups that are initially centralized in leadership styles to decentralize, and for decentralized leadership to get more organized. It has been used for Newgrounds projects and GISHWHES teams.

There will never be a tool that will solve all problems. Better to design something that fits into an ecology of tool use for task management, communication, collaboration, etc.

Do users understand “fair use” and how does this impact their remix behaviors? Bruckman interviewed 33 content creators, analyzed forum postings about copyright, the content of remix sites, and surveyed the users of those sites.

No one read the Terms of Service agreements. A reading level analysis required college sophomore level reading, with some behind postgraduate level (particularly audio sites). Some sites TOS indicate you are giving them exclusive and irrevocable rights to the content you post there. Many people would behave differently online if they understood that.

People are not sharing content online because they are afraid they will get in trouble or that someone will reuse their content in ways they did not intend. Site designers could remedy some of these problems if they scaffolded the information to help folks understand through the design of the sites.

We are just at the beginning. People will do more amazing things together, if we give them good tools and social support. Research on developing these tools is important.

notes from the Charleston Conference

My hotel was a little over a mile from the conference, and while it included free wifi, by the time I made my way back there every evening, I was thinking more about getting enough sleep to get back in time for the early morning plenary sessions than about editing and posting my notes. So, why didn’t I do it as soon as I got back, you ask? Seriously? Have you never come back to work with more piles of things that need your attention than were there when you left? Anyway, they’re all up now.