Data Mining Student Learning behaviours through URL Shorteners

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URL shorteners such as bit.ly, goo.gl, tinyurl are in the main used to make our use of the web more convenient, especially when it comes to giving out long winded web addresses to our students (and staff!). An 80 character url can be shortened into a format that only takes a few seconds to type in with minimal effort or room for error making them ideal to use in the classroom and within documents.

But apart from obvious advantages there are some interesting statistics that can be derived if you create a shortened URL from an account based service such as bit.ly. This is the service I use and have done for the past few years. I have found the statistics interesting – and one of the nicest uses (other than the obvious) is using it to see what time of day students are completing their homework.

Graphic of Bit.ly stats

Example of Bit.ly metrics

I set the majority of my Homework using Google Docs these days and use URL shorteners to:

  • Link the homework tasks – thereby seeing when the resource is accessed
  • Reference other sources that students may need to use using bit.ly as I then have usage data on what resources they have been using to complete the tasks.

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