Excelsior OWL Users Double in One Year!

From 2017-2018, the total number of people using the Online Writing Lab more than doubled! In 2018, the OWL logged 535,642 users, a 102% increase from the previous year. Total sessions also doubled by climbing past 723,000, and total pageviews nearly doubled by reaching almost 2 million.

Image of users, sessions, and page views totals, averages, and changes from 2017.
These tremendous gains in usage are attributable to the outreach work that the OWL team has been doing since 2017 with support from a grant from the Kresge Foundation. This work has included presenting at a dozen national conferences; hosting dozens of webinars; mounting a social media campaign; creating and distributing new marketing materials; revamping the OWL blog to use as a resource for users; making targeted revisions based on focus groups, surveys, and web data; working with faculty to integrate the OWL with courses; and building a national advisory board to promote and advance the OWL.

As a result of this two-year project, the OWL has vastly exceeded the goals set for the project. The team set a goal of reaching 30,000 monthly users and 45,000 monthly sessions for the last six months of the grant period. However, for the entire year of 2018, the OWL averaged 45,000 monthly users and 60,000 monthly sessions.

Images of demographics, satisfaction percentages, and reason for going onto OWL pie charts.

The annual data for 2018 reveal some other interesting findings, as well. For 2018, nearly a quarter of all users were Excelsior students, with the rest consisting of other 4-year college students, 2-year college students, high school students, and educators. One take-away from this data is that the Excelsior OWL is gaining traction among 2-year and high school student populations that may be interested in degree programs offered by Excelsior University.

This data is confirmed by the average age of OWL users for 2018: 51% were 18-24, 24% were 25-34, and 12% were 35-44.

Some additional takeaways from the annual data is that most users (83%) reported being satisfied with the OWL, and the top reported reasons for finding the OWL include a class assignment (44%) and a search engine result (22%).

Best of all, the OWL is still growing strong in 2019! In the first two months of the year, monthly users continued to climb at an average rate of 62% compared to this time last year. It’s safe to say that the OWL is on track to achieve new records in 2019. Stay tuned!

Francesco Crocco

Dr. Francesco Crocco is a former Director of the Online Writing Lab at Excelsior College.