The latest issue of Education matters (Primary)
Initially designed as a more secure method for teachers to access the Victorian Education Department’s online services network, eduPass has been put on hold after burning through its initial $2.6 million budget.
According to reporting by the Herald Sun, auditors have now been called in to investigate the “severe financial mismanagement” of the project, which was first scheduled for completion in 2015.
The Herald Sun has cited ‘leaked departmental documents’ that show only 27 per cent of the project has been completed with its entire budget gone, despite first estimates putting the cost of eduPass at just $1.6 million.
The independent audit has thus far recommended additional funding is needed to complete the job, which could bring the bill up to $4 million.
“Additional funding was required, as the complexity and scope of the project expanded,” Education Department spokesperson Steve Tolley told the Herald Sun.
“The increased cost will be absorbed internally.”
The events follow on the misguided Ultranet initiative, which was scrapped in 2013 after $240 million had been invested into the failed project.
eduPass has been put on hold after burning through its initial $2.6 million budget. According to reporting by the Herald Sun, auditors have now been called in to investigate the “severe financial mismanagement” of the project, which was first scheduled for completion in 2015. The Herald Sun has cited ‘leaked departmental documents’ that show only 27 per cent of the project has been completed with its entire budget gone, despite first estimates putting the cost of eduPass at just $1.6 million. The independent audit has thus far recommended additional funding is needed to complete the job, which could bring the bill up to $4 million. “Additional funding was required, as the complexity and scope of the project expanded,” Education Department spokesperson Steve Tolley told the Herald Sun. “The increased cost will be absorbed internally.” The events follow on the misguided Ultranet initiative, which was scrapped in 2013 after $240 million had been invested into the failed project.]]>
In this article, we’ll discuss how we find out if our previous hard work was worth it, and how we should measure the success of our website, and what we need to look out for. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to read the first four parts of this series: step 1, step 2, step 3 and step 4.
Now we’ve made lots of changes to your current site, or launched a brand new website, how do we know if the website is working, and what metrics should we use to keep an eye on our success?
Measuring website traffic
Most web companies or hosting providers include some form of website statistics package, however one of the best we’ve found is not only comprehensive, and it’s also free.
Google Analytics is a very detailed systems, and can be set up to send automated email reports or allow you to log in from anywhere to see near real-time statistics on how many visitors are coming to your website, where they are going within your website, and where they are from.
Installation is as simple as adding some code to your website, and there’s a great guide to how to use over at A Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics.
Google Analytics can even show you a world map view, and allow you to understand where your traffic is coming from. It’s pointless to gloat over 1 million website views, if 70% of those are coming from geographic areas that are not your target.
Many of us have increase enquiries as a goal. It’s great if you’ve doubled your website visitors over the last two years, yet unless the users are reaching the goals you have set out for them, then the time and effort has been wasted.
Measuring enquiries could be as simple as keeping a running tally of enquiries from your website in an Excel sheet, or could mean reviewing this data in some enrolments software or customer contact software. In any case, enquiries are a great measurement of success.
Measuring other goals
Depending on the goals we’ve created in the first chapter, we can measure some and others may be a little harder. For example, to increase payments online is easier to measure (simply by counting transactions or getting a bank report) than say, provide information on class activities, where there is no tangible results such as a form completion or a link click.
In cases that you find it hard to measure a desired outcome, you may want to consider running an online survey or including a request for website feedback in your printed or email newsletter.
A/B Split testing
We encourage many of our clients who have clearly defined goals, to consider running split tests to see which pages work better. For example, say you wish to increase enquiries for enrolments. You could run two identical pages, which feature only slight changes in headline or content.
A/B split testing is where we utilise software to determine which page gets better outcomes. We’ll send the same amount of users to both pages, and the one which generates more enquires wins. Then, in many cases, we’ll refine this page further and test it again.
There are many different packages out there to achieve this, and in an automated way. A good start is to read An Introduction to Website Split Testing.
More advanced methods to determine success, is to start tracking what parts of a page are actually being clicked on. This really helps web designers in determining what parts of a page need more emphasis, and look for ways to reduce issues, such as sections of a page which are driving traffic, but don’t add any value.
We call these ‘heat maps’. Most packages require a small bit of code to be added, and then they literally track where users click on the page. Heat maps are a great way to ensure your website isn’t causing any issues for users. For example, we had a client who had a lot of clicks on an image that didn’t actually link anywhere. Unfortunately, this image looked like it should be linked and therefore created frustration with their website visitors.
Reading this article should help empower you to be confident that you understand how to measure the success of your website, and what to look for with the basics of understanding website statistics. We have covered the further advanced ways of measuring user behaviour, such as measuring enquiries and goals, as well as optimizing the website by using A/B split testing and heat maps.
Miles Burke is an Author, Public Speaker and Managing Director of Perth-based digital agency, Bam Creative. His team has created websites and digital marketing campaigns for dozens of schools, and their work has been featured in the media, won plenty of awards and most of all, helped schools demystify the digital marketing space to attract enrolments and better communicate to their communities.
As educators, we all want to give our young people the best start in life. Naturally, we have high expectations of them and what they can achieve. However, how do high expectations impact on students and when does it become undue pressure? Fran Reddan, Principal of Mentone Girls’ Grammar School, reports.
An article published by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) on this very topic started with a quote from Calvin Lloyd, “Nobody rises to low expectations”. Author of the article, Geoff Masters, argues that high expectations model the outcome of hard work for students and show a belief in the child’s abilities. “Success in most fields of endeavour depends on an ability to visualise success. It has long been known that elite athletes mentally rehearse each performance prior to its execution. Advances in neuroscience show why this may be so important: the neurological processes involved in visualising a performance are almost identical to those involved in the performance itself.” (Masters, 2011)
He goes on to say that low expectations can be self-fulfilling prophecies because students feel that the key adults in their life do not believe they can stretch themselves, and their self-worth is harmed. This is supported by Psychologists, Weihua Fan and Christopher Wolters, who state that “Students who are confident in their learning abilities and are intrinsically interested in learning activities are more likely to have higher expectations for obtaining desired academic goals.” (2012) Therefore, it is a case of students growing self-belief from the belief that others have in them.
However, it is not entirely about how students feels about their own abilities. An article in the Contemporary Educational Psychology journal claims that when teachers and parents have high expectations of students, they themselves act in a way that encourages them to be met. Teachers and parents can feel compelled in their role to help students fulfil their potential and work towards the high expectations alongside the students, rather than dictating the goals for the students and leaving them to achieve them on their own.
This is where expectations can become detrimental to students’ wellbeing. While high expectations have been shown to have a positive effect on self-esteem and achievement, they need to be matched with support, resilience and the strategies to attain the end goal. Michelle Paccagnella, Psychologist at the ACT Academy of Sport, says that pressure is used often by sports coaches and can be an incredible motivational tool when applied in the right way. “Pressure isn’t necessarily bad – it can enhance motivation, concentration and enjoyment. That feeling of stress that often accompanies a pressure situation can help keep you on your toes, ready to rise to a challenge.”
Paccagnella goes on to argue that it is the way that students handle that pressure that makes the difference. Her strategy is to remind people that pressure isn’t real. “It doesn’t exist. It doesn’t have a form, a colour, a smell. Pressure is simply how we perceive the situation we are in.” Mental health organisation, ReachOut, advises “Reasonable expectations can be a positive pressure in your life, [but] too much pressure can cause you to burn out.”
How we handle pressure is often learned from a young age by watching the adults around us. We learn by observation to identify what is an acceptable reaction to pressure and what is not. In this sense, parents and teachers are role models for not only the importance that is placed on education, but also how to handle that pressure.
Fan, W & Wolters, C. ‘School motivation and high school dropout: The mediating role of educational expectation.’ British Journal of Educational Psychology. (Accessed via EbscoHost online 28 August, 2015)
Master, G. 2011. ‘The power of expectation’. Australian Council for Educational Research. http://www.acer.edu.au/occasional-essays/the-power-of-expectation (Accessed online 28 August, 2015)
Paccagnella, M. 2015. ‘Performing under pressure’. Australian Sports Commission. http://www.ausport.gov.au/sportscoachmag/psychology2/performing_under_pressure2 (Accessed online 28 August, 2015)
ReachOut. Managing expectations. http://us.reachout.com/facts/factsheet/managing-expectations (Accessed online 28 August, 2015)
The latest issue of Education matters (Primary)