Thursday, April 14, 2011

Google Analytics (9.0SP5, 9.1SP4)

Blackboard Learn 9.1SP4 added the ability to easily embed tracking javascript onto the jsp pages.

From the release notes:

Google Analytics™ is a free service offered by Google for mining web traffic data to a website or application. The process for setting up Google Analytics is the same for each Blackboard Learn codeline including 9.0 SP5 and 9.1 SP4 and beyond.

1. Register with Google Analytics (

  • Identify a test server outside your firewall and note its domain name
  • Create a Google Analytics Account
  • Register the domain name of your server through the Google Analytics setup pages
  • Save the script provided by Google Analytics

2. Open sharedDir/web_analytics/googleAnalyticsSnippet.vm (For example c:/blackboard/content/web_analytics/googleAnalyticsSnippet.vm), paste your script, and save the file.

3. You can restart Blackboard Learn Services for the changes to take effect immediately or wait until the .vm file cache is refreshed, once every 12 hours.

For information on Secure and Non-Secure sites, visit

How often does Google Analytics update your stats?

Google Analytics generally updates your reports every 24 hours. This means that it could take 24 hours for data to appear in your account after you have first installed the tracking code.

When you get into your google analytics account, you can see the list of sites (Website Profiles) you are getting stats on. Remember it'll take up to 24 hours (well, midnight) to start seeing stats.

View Report - you get to a dashboard view of pretty charts, maps, etc of the visits.

From there you can drill down into the various sub-areas: Visitors, Traffic Sources, Content, etc.

Visitors - How many people came to your site and how extensively did they interact with your content? This was probably the most interesting to me.

It is useful to see what kinds of browsers/operating systems are visiting your Bb site. Other things you can find out: Screen Colors, Screen Resolutions, Flash Versions, Java Support. All useful for folk who develop their own website content.

And you can see geographically where your visitors are coming from

My test server isn't available externally, so my map overlay doesn't show much. I'll try to find better results with an external Bb server.

Traffic Sources - This report provides an overview of the different kinds of sources that send traffic to your site.

It was useless with my test server since all the traffic was "direct" - visits from people who typed in the url directly.

Content - This report provides an overview of pageview volume and lists the pages (Top Content) that were most responsible for driving page views.

Content Overview screen

Top Content - guess which link has the most hits?


Everyone has to access the topframe, see My Institution (typically the first tab group).

Content by Title

Content by Title has limited usefulness in the context of Blackboard because most of the page titles aren't that specific (e.g., Courses, Home Page, Users, Blackboard Learn)


  1. Are you sharing this post with the developers? Seems like the Content by Title could be addressed.

  2. Ezra, just what I was thinking too.

  3. BTW, Matthew Riches (Suffolk New College, UK) had posted very nice article about using Woopra live tracking with Bb 9.1 at

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