Then today, I saw a post on TrDev about tracking without an LMS and thought I should maybe clarify what I often see as the choices around tracking:
a. Click tracking
b. Custom tracking
c. LMS tracking
In Click Tracking, you rely on looking at logs of what pages have been clicked on and get reports via log file analysis (web analytics) tools such as WebTrends. These tools will tell you:
- How many users have visited each page (HTML page)
- When users are visiting
- How long users stay
This is very standard technology that likely your IT shop can provide for you. If they cannot, then you can do what I've done on this blog and embed SiteMeter onto all of your web pages and it will give you similar kinds of reports. In fact, if you go to the link at the bottom of my blog (you can't see this in the RSS feed), you can see what traffic I get.
What you don't get with Click Tracking (without using some tricks) is the ability to see what any individual user did on the system. Thus, you couldn't tell if John or Sue finished the course. So, you have to answer the question:
Do I need to know if people are completing the course?
If the answer is no, then the other aspect to this solution is to create your course in a way that is easily tracked. Remember that Click Tracking only tells you what page was clicked on. This means that you need separate pages for your course. If you create a single, big Captivate Flash file, you will have no clickstream data. Instead you need to break the Captivate movies up (which is good practice anyhow) and put separate Captivate movies on each page.
I'm skipping Custom for a second. LMS tracking relies on creating a SCORM or AICC course which then communicates with the LMS in order to provide details of score, sections completed, which user it is, etc.
There are two issues with LMS tracking. First, many people do not have an LMS available to them. Second, even if you have an LMS you may not want to require users to login before they access content. This is discussed in Tools for On-Demand Information - An LMS?
While it is becoming less common as prices for LMS products have gone down and there are more hosted LMS products available, there are still times when we build custom tracking solutions. If you have no IT support available to you (i.e., simple programming), then this option is not available. However, there are some very simple things you can do to quickly and easily track your courses. While there are many solutions and lots of possible permutations, the basic approaches that are used are either a Simple Database or Enhanced Click Stream.
In a Simple Database approach, users will be asked to enter their name (sometimes at the start and sometimes at the end) in a simple form that will be recorded in a database. A simple web page is created that dumps out these results. There are lots and lots of subtleties here, but this is very simple to pull together and will give you a record of what a specific individual did. This approach is good when you only need a simple report of who has completed the content and do not need details of how they got there.
In Enhanced Clickstream, we will continue to rely on a tool like WebTrends, but we will put in place a simple bit of code that will enhance the clickstream data (the web log file) with information about the particular user. Normally, we rely on asking the user up-front for who they are (and then embed a cookie for repeat visits). This way, we can encode each page hit in the log file with the user information. WebTrends and other such tools can look at these parameters and give details of what pages that user has gone to. If you have a single completion page, it is easy to get a report on who has "completed" the course. This approach is good when you want to get more details of what individuals are doing on the system.
Keywords: eLearning Resources