Monday, January 10, 2011

Google Analytics and Google Docs Difficulties

I'm using a blog for one of the classes I will teach in the spring and it occurred to me I should movie away from the old (Sitemeter) which brands me for the dinosaur that I am and instead use the new (Google Analytics) with the main benefit as far as I can tell being that the free version of sitemeter that I use doesn't retain the historical data. They work in a similar way. You get code snippet and paste somewhere on your blog (sidebar or footer). It took a day for the Google Analytics to give me assurance it was actually tracking. Since then it has done a reasonable job.

Armed with that little success, for a different class I thought I'd use Google Analytics to track file downloads. I'm keeping the class files in Google Docs, so I have a publicly available repository for my class content. And because a while back I got a request/complaint from some MBA students who wanted a file folder for downloading stuff rather than by just having individual files linked from the source, with the links distributed around the class site. I don't really know how many students want that, but why not? It turns out that downloading may be an old concept. The pdfs I've placed there can all be read online. The Excel spreadsheets, have to be downloaded and they use functionality which isn't in Google Spreadsheets. So the notion of distributing a file for download still remains, at least for some of my content. Fine and dandy.

I really don't understand Google's approach across its product offerings. YouTube does it's own tracking of hits on a clip by clip basis, just the sort of thing I'd want for my Google Docs content. But rather than bringing that YouTube functionality into Google Docs there instead is supposed to be a way to get Google Analytics to work with Google Docs. So far, however, I haven't been able to get that to work. Google Analytics is not finding the site. I read somewhere, in addition, that Google Analytics only tracks documents that are "published" which, if true, makes it much less useful to me. For files that you upload and don't convert to Google format, you can't publish those. That's the case for me for both the pdfs and the Excel files. I am publishing transcripts for each of my micro-lecture videos. Those are text files and render fine in the Google format. But otherwise not.

If anyone has a suggestion for how to do this effectively, please let me know. Thanks.

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