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11/23/2002 Archived Entry: "Scripting Resources for Hypertext Research"

In a posting today on the TESLCA-L mailing list, a request for help was posted seeking a program to measure how often students click on hypertext links. The intended use is for a dissertation research project on reading and hypertext.

My suggestion (which I also sent to the list) follows:

I recently created a research tool for use in a hypertext reading study that included such a function. I used Flash as the authoring software and then PHP as the middleware language to send data to a web-enabled mySQL database. (In fact, it was also part of a dissertation project--no, not my own. ;^)

Anyway, there are many other tools that could do this--and you may not even need an authoring tool at all. The readings could be presented as standard HTML and the data sent with PHP/CGI/ASP/ColdFusion or several other scripting languages. Plus, there are a variety of database solutions. I tend to recommend mySQL because it's free, open-source, widely supported, fast and secure.

Of course, all this requires a fairly sophisticated level of coding ability. I'm not aware of any easy, do-it-yourself solution for this sort of thing--though I wouldn't be too surprised to learn that one existed.

I'd suggest (after searching Google) to look up scripting resources on whatever language your friend might have some experience with. You might find customizable CGI or PHP code that can be adapted for your needs.

Here's one to resource to get you started:

http://www.hotscripts.com/PHP/Scripts_and_Programs/Click_Tracking/

Then again, this assumes that the program is intended for use in an online application. If not, then you'll probably need to look for another solution. An authoring tool like Director or Authorware (or possibly Toolbook?) can write text files with your tracking data to the hard drive (or to an Access database, for example).

I hope this gives you some helpful ideas. Please let us know what you come up with!

(Of course, I'll post any follow-up findings here in my archives.)


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