Journey Through Google Analytics: Part 1

Blog Post created by awilliams on Apr 7, 2017

From Google Analytics Terms of Service

7. Privacy.
You will not and will not assist or permit any third party to, pass information to Google that Google could use or recognize as personally identifiable information. You will have and abide by an appropriate Privacy Policy and will comply with all applicable laws, policies, and regulations relating to the collection of information from Visitors. You must post a Privacy Policy and that Privacy Policy must provide notice of Your use of cookies that are used to collect data. You must disclose the use of Google Analytics, and how it collects and processes data. This can be done by displaying a prominent link to the site “How Google uses data when you use our partners' sites or apps”, (located at, or any other URL Google may provide from time to time). You will use commercially reasonable efforts to ensure that a Visitor is provided with clear and comprehensive information about, and consents to, the storing and accessing of cookies or other information on the Visitor’s device where such activity occurs in connection with the Service and where providing such information and obtaining such consent is required by law.

You must not circumvent any privacy features (e.g., an opt-out) that are part of the Service.

Thanks to James Jones and Chris Ward who were more familiar with Google Analytics Terms of Service than I was, it has come to my attention that passing user names is a violation and you should have a privacy policy for any systems passing data to GA. Chris also passed along this very helpful article for related readings which includes some helpful suggestions. 



Part One

Ok, technically this isn't Part 1. Part 1 actually happened at instcon 2015 where I learned from Chris Long about using Google Analytics to monitor Canvas activity. But then, more pressing matters took over, the switch to new ui happened, and the JS was left behind.


Yesterday, I noticed Jeremy Perkins had created How to Set Up Google Analytics for Canvas in preparation for CanvasCon USF: Using Google Analytics to Understand Canvas Usage. This rekindled my interest especially because he documented how to create custom dimensions for Canvas User ID, User Name, Course ID, and Course Name and provided the necessary code to get it working.


Down the Rabbit Hole I Gorabbit


It didn't take long for me to get set up because most of the analytics side of things were already done. I just had to grab my tracking ID and Jeremy's code and add it to our custom JS file. True to his post, it was only 15 minutes later and I was seeing real-time data again.


What was new, was that this time I could add dimensions to the reports to find information that actually was useful to me in Canvas. Who is that 1 active user at 3am and what is their role, and what course are they in? Oh, right, it's me...


This is really a game-changer

The dimensions are a game-changer for the value Google Analytics insights can provide. These insights are a game-changer for admins and their institutions because THIS is what we (if I may be so bold as to speak for all of us) have been looking for from Canvas Data; "Here's a unique identifier, please give me a UI now to start immediately answering questions and thinking up new questions to ask."


Unanswered Questions from the Rabbit Hole


Some Pretty Data Visuals

My current favorite dashboard setup



Monitoring Activity: Pageviews vs Sessions, All Users vs Mobile/Tablet Users


Content Drilldown of Most Active Course down to the quiz question level