Using log files to measure, evaluate and improve course websites

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Quality Conversations Vol. 25

July, 2002, 794 pages
Published by
Tony Herrington
0 908557 54 X

Although the mode of use varies and evolves, the Internet continues to spark significant changes in tertiary education. As course websites gain popularity, interest in measuring, evaluating and improving these sites is emerging. Educators seeking to optimize their sites have a prime source of website data in server log file. Unlike traditional end of term surveys that measure attitudes, opinions or intentions, server log files record online behavior. Aggregated log file data based on student access to online course materials can reveal the timing of interest in a page, how long on average students spend reading the page, the paths to the page and much more. This information helps identify best practice for improving accessibility and learning. In a study for two courses, commercial log file software filtered and presented customized reports from the impenetrable raw data. These reports highlighted student problems navigating the site, confirmed some student use, helped improve existing web pages and provided baseline information for future improvements.

Keywords: Server log files, Class websites, Flexible learning

Using log files to measure, evaluate and improve course websites

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Randolph, C., Murphy, J. & Ruch, D.