In the last several months, Technology_Tim and I have explored services that will give us analytics about traffic to our wikis (Google Analytics) and involvement in Twitter (Buffer, Twopcharts, etc.). There has been a lot of data to look at from these services and it has been an extremely time consuming experience quite often. It gets to be quite exciting to look at charts of traffic to a particular wiki and then dig deeper to see what browser the viewer was using or what State or country they were from. We’ve also spent a lot of time researching how particular Tweets and the timing of those Tweets affect the amount of hits on a link and retweets.
This experience has been entirely a side project built out of our own curiosity that is quickly becoming a standard expectation for any new web tool we are assessing. The thing is, most web tool are building analytics into their site or are allowing other services like Google to put analytic code into them. Why? As the infographic shows, market research is at a point where every user is a significant data point. Markets understand that customization is key. The only way they will be able to get there is by getting as much information about the user as possible. With analytics technology today, so much information is possible.
What I am seeing is a need to teach analytics in our schools. As a science teacher, on of the most lacking aspects of the lessons was relevant, interesting, and inspiring data. The students would usually need to spend entire class periods in labs before we’d get much data that requires significant analysis against a hypothesis and formulation of conclusion. Now website analytics won’t give us data on laws of thermodynamics, but it will provide relevant, interesting, and inspiring data for students based on their interests. They can compre the activity of twitter accounts for news programs or reporters. They can track the access to their website (wiki, blog, etc.) and see how adding key words or particular sharing techniques give them more access.
I could argue that this is necessary as a tool to help them get have a web presence because web presence is important in the 21st century… but I would rather argue this is necessary because they need to analyzing skills that apply across any curriculum. To be a critical thinker, you need information to think about… analytics are amazing tools for this.