Red River College is the province’s largest post-secondary institution for diploma and certificate programs. In the 2011/12 academic year, the College had 9,135 students enrolled in full-time programs, 16,530 part-time registrations, and 3,408 apprenticeship students.
Not surprisingly, the college’s website generates a significant amount of web traffic on a daily basis from staff, students, prospective students, industry and employers and the general public. Looking at a snapshot of the last 3 months, the RRC website had almost 200,000 unique visitors viewing more than a million web pages.
To help the college get a glimpse of what’s going on, Research and Planning uses tools like Google Analytics as well as other web analytic tools to help understand what pages people are looking at, how they discover the website, and how long they stay.
The Wellness Blog: A Case Study
While there are many ways that web analytics are used to understand the RRC website, one interesting case study has been using these tools to get a better understanding of the College’s blogs – particularly the Wellness blog.
The Wellness blog was created in January 2012 to provide a collaborative communication hub for the Wellness Committee, other wellness stakeholders at the college, and for staff and students. Over the past fifteen months, the blog has featured 130 posts from twenty-five authors on topics ranging from recipes and recreational activities to meditation and mental health.
Along the way Google Analytics has been used to help answer three main questions:
- Who is visiting the blog?
- What drives traffic to the blog?
- What posts are people reading?
The Staff Survey is used to help support the People Plan and a variety of other stakeholders from across the College – including the Wellness Committee (see the FAQs about the Staff Survey post for more info).
Before wading into the data, I should disclose that I have been a member of the Wellness Committee since December 2008 and recently became a co-chair over the past year. So while I’m presenting the data-driven side of the story, many of the insights are drawn from having applied these findings as part of the Committee’s activities.
The Road Map
The staff survey was first used to gather wellness-related feedback back in February 2009, and it has been used many times since to explore and understand a variety of topics including:
- Understanding how staff define “Wellness” and “being healthy”,
- Identifying and prioritizing the strategies that the Wellness Committee should pursue,
- Gauging the types of wellness activities that people currently participate in and those which they’d like to do more of,
- Conducting market research on the effectiveness of Wellness events and activities – such as the Chili Cup and the Wellness blog,
- Developing some baseline measures to gauge people’s personal sense of wellness and the social/environmental conditions that could potentially improve it.
Part 1 is going to tackle the first two items on the list.
What constitutes wellness?
As a starting point, the Wellness Committee wanted to get a better understanding of how staff define “being healthy” to see whether there was a dominant definition to help guide the committee’s activities. Not surprisingly, the definitions of “being healthy” covered a broad spectrum of ideas – including physical health, recreation and athletics; mental and emotional health and stress relief; and spiritual well-being.
Read More →