By @mhawksey

Opening the intercom with your open course participants: Tracking and engaging students

Earlier today I popped in the site to see if they had anything new. After login in, having a quick nose I moved on. Minutes later I got this email:

My initial reaction was:

Looking at how they did this there are some clues in the email. Notice the email contains a link with ?source=intercom (campaign tracking), and the email domain for the sender is Visiting the site it’s immediate to see the pieces fall in place, Intercom providing a customer relationship tracking/engagement service which allows condition based automated messaging.

If you click ‘Start using intercom’ more is revealed about how this service works. By embedding a code snippet to your sight which returns the logged in user email (in the advanced setting this can be encrypted/hashed rather than plain text it appears you still need to send either a user_id or email in plain text as well as hashing)

And true to their word in 30 seconds I was able to track active on the ocTEL testbed site.

Tracking user logins is a standard feature on most platforms (and can also be enabled in WordPress with the last login plugin), but there are nice features of Intercom that might make it a useful component within an open course situation. As well as tracking ‘last seen’ Intercom are able to track location, extended social profiles and levels of engagement. The fact it’s easy to install is a big plus, but if you are prepared to pay the $50/month you can get your hands on some nice additional features. As well as auto messaging you can reassign message replies to other users (the scenario I have in mind is reassigning messaging to other tutors).
So what would your reaction be if this tool was used in a course like ocTEL? Are there similar or better tools out there that you know about?
PS I’m currently having problems getting the email encrypted version of the embed code to work. Others might have more luck
Update: Here’s the code to add to your theme’s function.php to added support

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