The Main Event : tracking reuse using Google Analytics

On our Great Writers Inspire site pages, say an introduction to modernist poet Ezra Pound, there are a lot of possibilities for re-use. We have worked hard to maximize (and also simplify) OER reuse for any one coming to the site. However, much as making things both possible and simple is desirable, the gold in these very hills is not always this act, but knowing that this act has taken place. It is great people would visit Great Writers and use any resource, but it is a shame (for the sake of funding, and encouraging more content) that we can’t tell this act has happened.

With Great Writers we’ve tried to make sure we can tell people have at least expressed as interest in reuse. Apologies for segwaying into legalspeak – but we can record that  some one clicks on one our reuse instructions, we can’t tell if they action it further. So let’s look through one of our pages and see what information we can store (all anonymously, and yes, we have a cookie policy).

So on this example on a talk on William Blake we can record

1) The audio being played

2) How much of the audio is played

3) A share on twitter or facebook, or via an email

4) Whether the file is downloaded

5) Whether the embed HTML code, or HTML 5 is copied

6) Whether the “cite” text is copied

7) Whether any of the text is copied at all

These examples are all done via adding a Google Analytics Event to the <a> html element for that link.

As an example


Is all of the code we need to add to track this event in Google Analytics.

Download is the “Category” of the event, and Audio is the “Action” of the event. We’ve a schema tying categories to actions, and have aimed to create a lexicon we can share across all our projects, including our other current OER project on World War One

As this data goes to Google Analytics we can track this and generate reports on it relatively simply, with Google doing all the heavy lifting.

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