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Elon is using WordPress, the popular blogging platform, in many interesting ways. We’re using it to promote university initiatives, to share reflections on study abroad experiences, as a repository of academic videos, to organize conferences and as a basic course communication tool. Here’s a quick snapshot of Elon’s WordPress blogs from June 1, 2014 – May 31, 2015, including which blogs are most viewed, which month brought the most readers, and a few other interesting details (including where the Technology blog falls in the top 10). 

Top 10 blogs by page views in 2014-2015

Elon blogs in 2014-15 had more page views than in 2013-14. Blogs in 2014-15 had 350,869 page views, compared to 344,684 in 2013-14. The chart below lists the top ten blogs in 2014-15 (by page views) and compares them to the previous year.

Some blogs in this list have more traffic, some have less and several are new this year. The blogs with increased traffic include the Technology, Tech Geeks, and the Admissions blogs. The South Africa Study Abroad and the Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring blogs had slightly fewer page views this year than last. Several of the blogs are new to the list because they were tied to specific initiatives that were launched in 2014, like Are You Ready and Learning on Demand. There are also two course-related blogs on this list. That’s rare because most course blogs are available only to the students in the course and have a very limited audience. However, these two blogs were public and available to anyone on the web.

Blog* 2014-2015 2013-2014
Technology 44,123 40,559
Are You Ready? (no longer active) 20,476
South Africa Study Abroad 19,439 19,478
Tech Geeks 18,716 7,750
Admissions 13,371 12,057
Learning On Demand 12,614
Teaching and Learning Conference 2014 10,729

COR110 – Dr. Windham, Fall 2014 (course blog) 8,612
Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring 8,472 9,225
COR110x – Dr. Windham, Spring 2015 (course blog) 8,141

*This list only includes blogs hosted at blogs.elon.edu. 

Most popular months for blogs

It looks like the the three months with the most page views in 2014-2015 were June, September and January. Possible reasons for the increase views are noted below.

  • June 2014 – 33,300 page views – The Are You Ready website was launched in June. This website was strongly marketed to all incoming first-year students.
  • Sept 2014 – 33,500 page views – The start of the new academic year likely had an impact on these numbers.
  • Jan 2015 – 42,400 page views – Many winter term courses require students to post to a course blog during their travels, and are often shared with parents, friends and other readers.

Blogs for courses

We have seen a drop in new blogs created for courses. A portion of the drop can be attributed to the different ways faculty are using blogs. Some have begun re-using their blogs so instead of having a new blog each semester, they reuse it each semester. As a result, there are fewer new blogs. Another cause for the drop maybe faculty becoming more familiar with Moodle. Some faculty have used blogs primarily for students to submit work so that other students can see. If that was their primary goal with a blog, I’ve been showing them the forums in Moodle. The forums also allow students to share assignments without the need to learn WordPress. Blogs have many advantages over Moodle forums but in this case, WordPress was overkill.

New academic blogs 2014-2015 2013-2014
Summer* 5 6
Fall 20 20
Winter 14 17
Spring 12 22
Total 51 65
 *Summer blogs for 2014-15 refer to both summer sessions in 2014. And 2013-14 refers to both summer sessions in 2013.

Technology blog in review

The Technology blog saw a lot of action this year. We launched the Writing with Thumbs project in September, followed the #MakeElon events in the spring and had several guest authors. Below is a breakdown of some of the numbers for the Elon Technology in 2014-15 compared to the previous year. We see an increase in the number of users but a decrease in pages per session. That decrease in pages per session usually means that readers are not exploring the blog once they get here. They read between one and two articles and leave. The number that I’m curious about is the drop in the average time on page (2:17 to 2:03), which is the average length of time someone stays on a page on the technology blog. I would have assumed that our time on page should have increased this year because the Writing with Thumbs posts were much longer than our standard post, usually pushing 1,000 words. It appears that’s not the case. The good news is that we’re still similar to the national average for time on page, 2:10, as measured by FireClick.

Technology blog 2014-2015 2013-2014
Articles posted 101 122
Authors 17 14
Users (higher is better) 24,593 21,345
Pages/sessions (higher is better) 1.41 1.47
Bounce rate (lower is better) 81.39 79.11
Avg. time on page (higher is better) 2:03 2:17

If you want to know more about WordPress at Elon, or want to explore blogging for your course, please contact Teaching and Learning Technologies at tlt@elon.edu.

Image via Pixabay.com | CC Public Domain

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Dan Reis

Dan Reis

Dan Reis is an Instructional Technologist with Elon University’s Teaching and Learning Technologies.

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