Pressbooks Product Updates [January 2022]

We released several updates and product features in January, including web traffic analytics dashboards for all books on our EDU networks, support for theme & style cloning, better documentation for our Results for LMS product, and the ability for network managers to display a custom RSS feed on the user dashboard.

Web Traffic Analytics for All Books

We’ve added a clean, easy to configure dashboard which provides book creators with information about page views and web traffic for their books. This dashboard is powered by an open source plugin called Koko Analytics and is now operational on each network root site and each book on our hosted EDU networks. Each dashboard displays how many visitors your book has had over a given time period, which chapters/pages get the most traffic, and the most common referrers to your book. It also provides simple controls to change the date range and will dynamically adjust the displays, graphs, and tables shown for your chosen time period.

The integration also provides settings which can be configured at the book level. These settings allow you to exclude page views from certain types of logged-in users; to decide whether to use a cookie to anonymously determine whether a visitor was a unique or returning visitor; to set the default date period displayed when the dashboard loads; and to define how long page view stats should be stored for your book.

You can begin exploring these interesting insights into page view traffic on your public books now by clicking the “Analytics” link on the left sidebar menu of a book’s admin dashboard.

This integration has been operational on most of our PressbooksEDU networks for the last couple of months, though the accuracy of page visit data will be highest since the beginning of 2022.

For anyone who has been using our optional Google Analytics integration to track web traffic, you can continue to do so. These two methods for tracking web traffic are non-exclusive. We have simply begun providing a privacy-respecting default option that does not require special configuration as part of our PressbooksEDU offering. Learn more about our integration with Koko Analytics.

Cloning a Book’s Theme & Other Styling Information

Until very recently, our cloning routine focused exclusively on a book’s content and ignored the book’s presentation. This meant that when you cloned a book, the clone would include all of the text, images, and interactive components in the original, but would not include the book’s theme, theme options, or any custom styles created by the original authors.

In our most recent release of Pressbooks, the cloning routine will now attempt to fetch and apply presentation or styling information from the original book as part of the cloning process. This means that cloned books will now look like identical clones. This has been an often requested and long awaited improvement – we’re grateful to eCampusOntario (and Rama Kaba-Demanin in particular) for supporting the research and development of this exciting new feature!

Whenever a book is cloned, we now run a theme check after the content has been cloned. If the source book is using a theme and version which is present on the target network, we will proceed to clone the source book’s theme, theme options and any custom styles to the target book. When the clone routine completes, the success message will indicate that the styling information was successfully applied.

If we can’t find a matching version of the theme, we’ll clone the content only (just as before) and display a message informing the user the content was cloned but that we couldn’t apply theme/styling information because the source book’s theme was not available on their network. We expect this message to only be seen by users who are attempting to clone to or from a self-hosted Pressbooks network which is using out-of-date or customized book themes. When cloning to and from a hosted PressbooksEDU network, the theme cloning feature should always just work, since both networks will always be running the same, up-to-date versions of all themes.

Improved Documentation for Results for LMS Product

Thanks to the excellent work of @ThomasWeideman and @Amy_Song, we now have improved documentation (including videos!) for our Results for LMS product.

For instructions on how to configure Pressbooks Results for LMS with your LMS, see Configuring the LTI 1.3 Plugin with your LMS – The Pressbooks Network Manager's Guide

For instructions on how instructors can configure a chapter as a graded activity once this feature has been activated in their book, see Configuring a Chapter as a Graded Activity – The Pressbooks Network Manager's Guide

For instructions on how to add graded activities to your LMS, see Adding a Graded Chapter to the LMS – The Pressbooks Network Manager's Guide

To learn more about this optional add-on for our hosted EDU networks, see these videos created by our sales executive Sarah Fennessey:

You might also be interested in “Connecting Pressbooks to Your Gradebook: Active Learning in OER,” a recent webinar hosted by Open Oregon, which demonstrated the product and explored their recent experiences piloting the product with community college students.

If you’re interested in participating in a no-cost pilot of this product in an upcoming semester, or purchasing Pressbooks Results for LMS for use by students at your institution, please contact us at sales@pressbooks.com.

Display a Custom RSS Feed on User Dashboards

Network managers on our hosted EDU networks are now able to display a custom RSS feed on the user dashboard. You can use this to display news and updates from your library publishing program, or state wide open education updates, or any other RSS feed you think will be of interest to your users. The option to configure this appears at the bottom of the ‘Network Options’ menu:

When configured, this feed will be added to the user dashboard, along with two default RSS feeds containing ‘Pressbooks News’ and ‘Pressbooks Product Updates’. The example below shows a custom RSS feed from Open Oregon (‘Open Oregon News’).

Users can move dashboard items around by dragging/dropping in available spots. They can also choose to show/hide specific widget elements using the expandible screen options menu at the top of their dashboard:

These display preferences are unique to each user, meaning that any choices made by an individual user will apply only to their user dashboard.

Product Update Webinars

The January product update webinar in which several of these features were demonstrated and discussed can be viewed on YouTube: January 2022 Pressbooks Product Update - YouTube. The video includes chapter markers in the description and closed captioning.

Please join us at 2pm ET on February 24 for our next monthly product update webinar!