For many nonprofits, Google Analytics is the tool of choice for measuring traffic, reach, engagement, and action primarily because it is free. While it is somewhat easy to use, some of the more valuable features may require a little tutoring to understand and use. That training was either expensive or a hodge podge of low cost webinars and free video tutorials available on the web. But applying it on your own – unless you are an analytics genius – can be difficult.
Google has launched Analytics Academy, a three-week online course t three-week course offers the basics for those seeking to understand the how to improve results through better digital measurement. The instructor is Google Analytics Evangelist Andrew Cutroni. The syllabus includes:
- An overview of today’s digital measurement landscape
- Guidance on how to build an effective measurement plan
- Best practices for collecting actionable data
- Descriptions of key digital measurement concepts, terminology and analysis techniques
- Deep-dives into Google Analytics reports with specific examples for evaluating your digital marketing performance
Now, this isn’t just string of instructional videos and isn’t a series of webinars — that’s just old school. It is a combination of self-paced video tutorials created by analytics experts, along with practical exercises to help you apply the concepts to your work. There is also an online community learners where you can connect with others to help with your learning. And, of course, it includes some learning analytics (A pre and post test and your progress is measured along the way).
It sounds like they have adapted the Khan Academy model. Micro lessons on video, exercises, coaching, measure progress and put it online for free. It’s a revolutionary concept to scale the effectiveness of one-on-one tutoring. They are also working on software that uses this approach in the classroom and takes the passivity and lectures out of classroom instruction. In the 60 minutes piece, it is referred to the flipped classroom or peer instruction a mindset that directs attention away from teachers and puts it squarely on the students and their learning.
Peer Instruction and the flipped classroom is a research-based, interactive teaching method developed by Eric Mazur at Harvard University in the 1990s. It has been adopted across the disciplines, institutional types, and throughout the world. It incorporates many different ideas aligned with how people learn and how they learn best by moving away from the lecture and lecture notes and encouraging students to engage with their peers as they learn. For more about the techniques, see the Peer Instruction Blog: Turn to Your Neighbor is written by Julie Schell , a researcher for Eric Mazur.
It is also part of another educational technology trend of MOOCs (massively open online courses) which are seeing more widespread adoption in higher education and have become more popular options for online learning. MOOCs are appealing because they offer the possibility for continued, advanced learning at zero cost, allowing students, adults, and professionals to acquire new knowledge and skills. The more exciting models have evolved past the traditional lecture-style instructional styles and incorporate peer learning, self-directed learning, and collaboration. An experiment is the DS106 (an online course on Digital Storytelling) that is a “headless course,’ or one without a teacher, although the curriculum/syllabus was created by an instructor.
Taking self-directed and collaborative learning a step further is peeragogy. This form of peer learning is at the intersection of digital media/networks with self-directed learners and collaborative learning methods. In short, an example would be a group of self-directed learners coming together online to organize a course without the direction of an instructor. In 2012, Howard Rheingold facilitated the production of the “Peeragogy Handbook,” a practical how-to. Peeragogy is a collection of techniques for collaborative learning and collaborative work that allow any group of people to learn together in a smarter way making use of social networks and widespread access and adoption of these technologies.
These are exciting developments in education that have implications for professional development for folks who work at nonprofits and capacity builders who deliver these services.