Journal

Mahara newsletter April 2020 (Volume 10, Issue 1)

Welcome to the April 2020 newsletter. We only recently entered a new decade and are now in unprecedented times with the pandemic and lots of changes resulting in particular for education at a rapid rate. In this newsletter you can find tips on using Mahara in tried-and-trusted scenarios as well as in ways that you might not have considered in the past.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 July 2020, and you can send articles to [email protected].

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Mahara in use

Mahara to support changes in teaching and learning

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The current COVID-19 pandemic has all of us in its grip. No doubt, many of you have seen an exponential rise in requests for online delivery and how to continue teaching when physical schools and campuses are closed for weeks and potentially months, and even after that more remote options may be the 'new normal'. Rapid changes in course and content delivery are only the tip of the iceberg though.

Because of the general fear for one's own and other people's health, uncertainty, and in many places measures put in place to limit movements outside one's immediate home, it is not only switching to fully online learning and teaching that we are encountering at an accelerated rate. We need to consider how these changed circumstances affect our learners and how we can support them to cope and adjust. We can't have interactions like we are used to for the time being. So how can we help learners and keep the human touch without resorting to 24/7 in front of a web conferencing tool?

While Mahara is used primarily as a portfolio platform, it has capabilities beyond that and can assist in a wide range of education scenarios. Now more than ever, having a platform where learners can collect their thoughts, learning experiences, reflect on them, and in particular share with others is a good way of keeping in touch and connected. Mahara's motto is: Create. Share. Engage. Let's continue doing that.

You may also wish to think about changing assessment formats and how your Mahara instance can support that switch. Lisa Donaldson from Dublin City University in Ireland reports that several faculty are thinking of using Mahara more because there students can publish case studies, reports, and create online projects in a cohesive manner. For example, instead of being able to attend a performance, Arts students review online footage and focus on different aspects of a production that they then review and critique.

I'd like to share a 15 suggestions that relate to Mahara and how it could be used to support students and teaching staff. These are ideas that Mahara community members may already ponder or have lots of experience with, and I invite you to share your own ideas.

  • Set up a group where students can chat asynchronously and get in touch with them. The good old 'Lounge' (in a film studies course one instructor called it the 'Reel Café') that I've seen on learning management systems in courses where students could post anything and everything not related to a particular assignment can be replicated on Mahara. We do not need to do everything synchronously.
  • Add a picture to your group homepage and remove blocks that you don't need.
  • Research and write book reports, movie reviews etc. Carmel Unified School District has some examples. Templates can be used to guide the research.
  • Document case studies.
  • Write reports.
  • Participate in projects and document progress as well as what has been learned in a collection structuring the project utilising pages within the collection.
  • Encourage students to create their reflections as audio or video and upload them to Mahara, either via their computer or mobile device.
  • Set up plans filled with mandatory and optional activities. From Mahara 19.10 on you can create plans in groups (or create a master plan in your personal account and then copy it into groups and adjust there) and attach individual portfolio templates to plan tasks for students to get started quickly. Your students can then decide which tasks they want to complete and only these are copied into their personal portfolio area.
  • Encourage your students to give each other feedback on their work. This can be done privately so only the student and feedback giver can see the comment or publicly for everyone to see who has access to the portfolio.
  • Attach your audio (or video) feedback to an artefact or a page.
  • Submit portfolios for assessment purposes either directly to a Mahara group or via your LMS.
  • Don't work with an LMS? No problem. Create your course resources pages in Mahara either in a group or in your personal account.
  • Hold support sessions online and embed a web conferencing room (or link to it) into your support page for easy access for the students to join when you are live. Dublin City University had success with its first remote support session recently. Use the functionality of the tool to share your or a student's screen to walk them through an issue they are having.
  • Keep your professional portfolio up to date. You are changing your teaching rapidly and probably also innovate a great deal. Capture that and reflect now or later on it.
  • Collect learning evidence and document learning experiences using a competency framework that you can build in SmartEvidence (a site administrator needs to upload it or use the built-in framework editor, depending on your version of Mahara) to connect learning to particular competencies.

Mahara in upcoming events

79th Mahara developer meeting online, 29 April 2020

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Mahara developer meetings are an opportunity for those interested in contributing to Mahara through features and bug fixes to chat with other developers online. Our next Mahara developer meeting will take place on 29 April 2020 at 7:30 UTC. You are welcome to join this online session and participate. If you want to add anything to the agenda, please do so prior to the meeting.

Eportfolio Forum, Melbourne, Australia, 29-30 October 2020

Allison Miller (ePortfolios Australia)

The ePortfolios Australia Organising Committee are pleased to announce that the ninth Eportfolio Forum will be held on 29-30 October 2020 at Deakin University (Burwood campus) in Melbourne, Australia.

This year's theme is 'Digital Identity – Ethics and Experience'

The Call for Proposals is now open, and you can submit your proposals until 18 May 2020.

Proposal types include:

  • Short (peer-reviewed paper) presentation
  • 20×20 presentation
  • Digitally interactive poster
  • Intensive workshop
  • In-depth workshop
  • Facilitate a professional conversation

For more information or to enquire about presenting or the Forum, please contact [email protected].

Keynote presenters will be announced shortly.

Previous Eportfolio Forum resources are available.

To stay up to date about this year's Forum, other ePortfolios Australia activities and ePortfolio news, subscribe to:

Hui20, Zurich, Switzerland, 27-28 November 2020

Dietmar Johlen (Lpaso - Institut für Lernkultur, Germany)

Logo for Hui20Die Hui steht in diesem Jahr unter dem Motto "In Netzwerken lernen" und soll am 27. und 28. November 2020 in Zusammenarbeit mit tbfpartner, Zürich, stattfinden. In diesen besonderen Tagen können wir nur sagen, dass wir an dem Termin festhalten wollen, und wenn ein Zusammenkommen in Zürich nicht möglich ist, machen wir ein digitales Angebot. Wer tbfpartner kennenlernen möchte, kann sich z.B. ihre Keynote auf der letzten Hui über die Lpaso-Webseite ansehen.

Schaut das Video von Hui19 an, um einen Einblick in das Barcamp vom letzten Jahr in Kassel zu bekommen.

tbfpartner presenting at Hui19

---

The topic for Hui20 is "Learning in networks" and will take place in cooperation with tbfpartner in Zurich (Switzerland) on 27 and 28 November 2020. We are still planning to host the event, but if it were not possible to convene in Zurich, we will be offering an online version. If you'd like to get to know what tbfpartner do in the area of innovative learning, watch their keynote from Hui19 (in German) via the Lpaso web site.

Watch the Hui19 video for a recap of last year's event in Kassel, Germany.

Mahara in past events

Eportfolio Ireland National Forum Seminar Series event, 20 February 2020

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Eportfolio Ireland, with support from the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning, held a seminar at Dublin City University on 20 February 2020 to introduce the findings from the national ePortfolio survey that was open to Irish institutions since November 2019. Mahara plays a large role at Irish institutions and has a solid following there, being the most used ePortfolio platform. More detailed results from the survey will be available later this year. Right now, take a look at the infographic for a high level overview.

Eportfolio Ireland infographic for the national portfolio survey 2019/20

Mahara in development

Mahara 20.04

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Catalyst team in Wellington is working hard to deliver Mahara 20.04 by the end of April. We all relocated to our homes and have been working entirely remotely since 23/24 March 2020 and expect to continue to work from home for the majority of April if not longer due to the lockdown in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We are adjusting to working this way looking into how we can move normal office interactions into the online space, and also dealing with the restrictions that would typically not be part of a 'working from home' day or time period. We continue to work and are available to the Mahara community and our clients. Please bear with us when asking for free support in the community forums as we may not be able to reply as quickly as you are used to due to the current circumstances and also being in release preparation time.

Mahara 20.04 comes with a series of new features, in particular for organisations wanting to take more advantage of single sign-on and automating role assignment and some other administrative tasks. Watch out for the announcement of the preview version of Mahara 20.04 that will be released in the first week of April. We invite you to test it out in a test site on your own infrastructure to test all features, or on one of our test sites with access to a subset of features, i.e. all features but those restricted to site administrators. We look forward to your feedback to help us make some last minute adjustments for the initial official release of Mahara 20.04 by the end of April 2020.

We are thinking about organising a few online sessions to introduce the new features and be available for Q&A. Please watch out for the announcements in the 'News' forum, on Twitter, and other social media mid-April.

Mahara Mobile

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

There is more cooking in Wellington in the Catalyst Mahara team. We are working on a new version of Mahara Mobile, built using React Native. We are in the final stages of the development for the Android app and expect to make a preview version available to the community by the end of April. A version for iOS may still take a bit because of the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

Mahara new service: Extended security support

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Sometimes it can be difficult for organisations to stay in step with our development cycle and upgrade to a new version of Mahara every six months or even just once a year. We support each version of Mahara for 18 months with security updates and high importance bug fixes as they are made known to us and prioritised by our team. Once a Mahara version becomes unsupported, security updates are not provided for it though they may still apply.

We went over to the six-monthly timed release cycle several years to make new features available fairly rapidly yet still allow the organisations that work with Mahara stable releases for a good period of time. The majority of organisations using Mahara is in the education sector and thus operates on an annual cycle. Our releases fall into that nicely by offering one release for the Northern hemisphere before the summer holidays, the April version, and one for the Southern hemisphere, the October version. Of course, no matter where you are in the world, you can install any release.

Recognising that not every organisation may be able to upgrade once a year at minimum, we are now offering a premium service that extends the security support for a version of Mahara by two years, coming to a total of 3.5 years instead of the community-provided one of 1.5 years. If you are interested to learn more about it, check out the extended security support web page.

Mahara newsletter January 2020 (Vol. 9, Issue 4)

Welcome to the January 2020 newsletter, the first in this new decade. We wish you a successful year ahead in which you can spread your wings and flex your learning muscles. We look forward to learning and innovating together with you.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 April 2020, and you can send articles to [email protected].

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Mahara in use

Mahara for assessment

Marieke Guy and Chantal Schipper (Royal Agricultural University, UK)

Screenshot of the support resource of RAUThis semester has seen us use Mahara ePortfolio as the main assessment for our shared core first year module on academic skills. The module has just shy of 250 students on it, and so our approach has been to push a standard template out to all students on the module. While use of a locked-down template (all blocks are locked and students can only add in specified types of content) is not conducive to creativity, it has allowed us to introduce Mahara as a tool to both staff and students in a fairly secure and risk-free way. In a recent blog post we share the first stages in the process of integrating Mahara into the academic skills module.

Since then we have run a comprehensive training session with academic staff who will be carrying out the assessment on the module. The training supported in creating a Mahara portfolio, submitting it to our Moodle VLE (Virtual Learning Environment), and then marking each other’s submissions using a clear rubric. We have also created a number of guidance materials, including videos, for students on how to edit their portfolios, and we have run several 'surgery' sessions for students to trouble shoot issues.

The main submission date for the portfolios is looming, and the next challenge will be the co-ordinated release of the grades and feedback.

A few words of appreciation

Kelli Fleming and Truc Pham (Future Generations University, U.S.A.)

The Master of Arts in Applied Community Development students at Future Generations University use Mahara to create showcase portfolios of their work through the program.

Truc Pham, a recent graduate in the Applied Community Development program, shares "A Few Words of Appreciation":

I have changed from not being a big fan of Mahara at the beginning of the course to very much appreciative of this platform.

I remember in the survey after semester 1, I wrote these lines:

Technology is not my cup of tea.
It brings me stress and anxiety.
......................................................
But maybe next Spring,
I will be saying:
" Love you too, MAHARA!"

The truth is that it was not the "next Spring" but the next Fall that I realized how Mahara has brought me the rainbow instead of just the plain black-and-white style I used to present my work.

There was so much challenge. There was so much hard work. However, it worths all these seeing that I could improve my knowledge and with this capacity, I could make my community a better place to live.

I began my community presentation of this Spotlight ePortfolio by saying to them: "I started this Master course with Hope and Dram. And, this is what I have achieved. If I could do it, then everyone could do it!"

Screenshot of the reflections page

ePortfolios for educators - a workshop concept

Sam Taylor (Catalyst IT Europe, UK)

At Catalyst IT Europe I created a workshop concept for all those who want to explore the benefits of using an ePortfolio for evidencing growth: personally, professionally, or academically. It is full of activities that will help educators shape a great assignment brief and ensure all boxes are ticked with regards to planning all the way through to assessment. Although it's meant to be ePortfolio agnostic, it uses Mahara throughout.

This workshop idea is available under the Creative Commons license BY-SA 4.0.

Screenshot of the educator workshop resource page

Mahara in upcoming events

77th Mahara developer meeting online, 29 January 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Mahara developer meetings are an opportunity for those interested in contributing to Mahara through features and bug fixes to chat with other developers online. Our next Mahara developer meeting will take place on 29 January 2020 at 7:30 UTC. You are welcome to join this online session and participate. If you want to add anything to the agenda, please do so prior to the meeting.

Eportfolio Ireland National Forum Seminar Series event, 20 February 2020

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

This Eportfolio Ireland seminar and workshop event will disseminate national research on current levels of ePortfolio practice in Irish higher education. Currently, there is a dearth of literature on ePortfolio practice in Ireland This will be addressed by the recently launched research initiative conducted by Eportfolio Ireland, which will encompass all Irish Higher Education institutions.

The results of this research will provide an overview and analysis of the national ePortfolio context, document the types of ePortfolios used in Irish higher education, identify any significant issues relating to ePortfolio implementation, and offer guidance about future opportunities for ePortfolio development. The dissemination of this research will be of interest to all those considering ePortfolio use for assessment and the development of student and faculty digital literacies.

This event provides an evidence informed picture of ePortfolio practice, a focus on building digital competencies, and support for collaboration between and within institutions. Following the seminar presentation, a series of personalised workshops will be offered to support those at different stages of ePortfolio initiatives; from those in the planning stages who can avail of advice and support in the development of an ePortfolio strategy, to those approaching scale who will benefit from insights and approaches from international best practice. Participants may choose the workshop most appropriate to them.

If interested in attending this free event, supported by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning, please register.

Mahara in development

Plugin: Mahara library

Guillaume Nerzic (Birkbeck University of London, UK)

Screenshot of the Mahara Library pluginDeveloped as part of a Learning Technologies MSc project at Birkbeck University London, the "Mahara Library" is an artefact plugin (and associated group type) to manage a library of publications. Embedded within the library artefact is a simple and extendible recommender system that suggests publications that learners may choose to read based on a group's collective recommendations.

This plugin aims to provide a community of practice learning environment in two complimentary ways: first by allowing members of the group to learn collaboratively through the common task of managing, reviewing, and contributing to a shared library; and second through a recommender system that prompts learners to get a 360° view of the library's content and not simply focus on popular publications.

Future releases of the plugin will focus on implementing a smarter and more streamlined recommender system and a way to visualise the library's semantic structure.

Request for comments: SmartEvidence enhancements

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Screenshot of a proposal for SmartEvidenceSmartEvidence was first developed in 2016 following an idea conceived by Misty Kirby and Shane Nuessler from the University of Canberra in 2014. It makes it possible for learners to track their achievements against a competency framework and visualise the progress via an evidence map. In its initial implementation, SmartEvidence works with pages so that evidence can be displayed in context as not every single piece of evidence may fulfill the requirements of a standard but contributes to it and may also need a reflection going with it.

Over the past year, the Mahara team at Catalyst has been gathering more feedback from institutions on how SmartEvidence is working for them and what would be good to change on it to make it more useful in contexts where it has not yet been used. Together with Lisa Donaldson and Mark Glynn from Dublin City University we developed an initial idea for expanding SmartEvidence to work for more complex frameworks that are structured into different levels of accomplishment, which would make it possible to map competencies over larger time frames, without needing to create separate SmartEvidence collections. With a client of ours in New Zealand, we investigated the possibility of mapping individual pieces of evidence to competencies rather than pages as that was more in line with the assessment of the work of apprentices.

At Hui 19 in Kassel (Germany) in November 2019, I had the opportunity to chat with Alex Del Ponte and Karsten Wolf from University of Bremen, who recently contributed a large enhancement to the plans in Mahara 19.10. As they are also interested in competency frameworks, we discussed how SmartEvidence could be expanded to meet needs at their university (and others) better, drawing on previous discussions and ideas.

You can see a first draft of the idea outlined on the wiki. We'd like to invite you to comment in this idea. If you are interested in funding enhancements to SmartEvidence (or any other parts of Mahara), please get in touch with me.

Mahara newsletter October 2019 (Vol. 9, Issue 3)

This is the October 2019 edition of the Mahara newsletter. Happy spring or fall, depending on where you are in the world. You are probably wondering when you will be able to get your hands on Mahara 19.10. Read on...

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 January 2020, and you can send articles to [email protected].

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Call for participation

Success stories

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

We have lots of knowledge in our community on how people work, study, learn, and teach with Mahara. This very newsletter here is a testament to the multitude of ways of supporting students, faculty, and others on their learning journeys. Sometimes, these stories can get buried a bit after some time and may not be able to be found so easily again.

Therefore, we are in the process of collecting stories of Mahara use around the world to feature in our success stories. If you are interested in contributing, please get in touch with me so I can send you the details and the template. We have not yet taken this new section live as we would like to have a few stories already in it before making it available.

AAEEBL task force: Ethics and ePortfolios

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Association for Authentic, Experiential and Experience-based Learning (AAEEBL) is established the task force "Ethics and ePortfolios" and is looking for practitioners and researchers amongst its members to participate in this year-long programme. If you are interested, you have a few hours left to express your interest on 1 October 2019. Even if you are not participating in the task force itself, you may be involved by being interviewed and can learn about the outcomes.

Read the announcement for more information.

Mahara in use

Personal branding: Writing for a social media audience

Steven Bookman (Pace University, U.S.A.)

Pace University uses Mahara to assess students' knowledge and evaluate programs. It is also used to tell students' personal stories.

My reason for using Mahara is not about assessing a student's knowledge. The main purpose is to use it as a source for having a positive online presence, as well as for showing students' skills. Mahara is complete personal branding.

My students create an ePortfolio using Mahara by following a set of guidelines, which come from videos from recruiters, a lecture from Career Services, and my experiences. The purpose of this assignment with Mahara is to have students learn how to write for a social media audience, in particular recruiters. All my students, whether they are freshmen or seniors, do this assignment. It is vital for them to understand the world they will be entering when they apply for internships and look for jobs when they are about to graduate.

By having students create an ePortfolio, they have created a positive online presence for them. Creating an ePortfolio has opened their eyes to how they will be viewed by future recruiters and employers. Many students see their accomplishments differently, and they mean more to them having them on the ePortfolio. They feel much more comfortable in the search for internships and jobs now that they have created an ePortfolio.

Mahara in upcoming events

Regional Mahara Hui NZ at Waitematā DHB, 4 October 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Kiwi Mahara User Group is holding a free half-day regional Mahara Hui at Waitematā District Health Board in Auckland, New Zealand, on 4 October 2019. The event is just around the corner so be quick to get one of the last tickets.

75th Mahara developer meeting online, 17 October 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The next Mahara developer meeting will take place on 17 October 2019 at 7 UTC. You are welcome to join this online session and participate. If you want to add anything to the agenda, please do so prior to the meeting.

Eportfolio Ireland seminar in Dublin, 11 November 2019

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

Eportfolio Ireland – the Irish based ePortfolio community of practice – are delighted to have Kristina Höppner from Catalyst in New Zealand with us to keynote at a half day seminar / workshop at Dublin City University on 11 November 2019. The event will take place on St. Patricks campus, Drumcondra from 9.30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Kristina will offer a presentation on: "O portfolio, where art thou?", the tale of the portfolio in modern times, the struggles it has endured, the many twists and turns it has been on, and where you might see it in the future.

Following the keynote presentation, there will be a Connect & Converse session to share ePortfolio practice from institutions around Ireland. The format of Connect & Converse is a 10-minute presentation / discussion in small groups as participants rotate around the room (a speed dating format, if you will!).

The event will also formally launch a nationwide survey of Irish ePortfolio practice. If you are interested in attending, tickets for this free event are available.

2019 Eportfolio Forum in Canberra, 20-21 November 2019

Allison Miller (ePortfolios Australia, Australia)

2019 Eportfolio Forum (Eportforum) is a two day event of presentations, workshops, facilitated conversations, and networking on 20-21 November 2019 at Australian Catholic University (ACU), Canberra Campus (Signadou). This will be the eighth Eportforum.

A variety of interactive sessions will enable new and experienced eportfolio supporters to gain some 'hands-on' experience with using ePortfolios, including hearing from our keynote presenter - Professor Tristram Hooley, University of Derby, United Kingdom.

Hui 19 in Kassel, 29-30 November 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Poster for Hui 2019 in KasselMahara Hui DE is a well-established unconference in Germany. This year, the event acknowledges that there is more than portfolios at Mahara Hui DE and renamed the event to "Hui 19 - simply learning". Lpaso Institute of Learning Culture e.V. supports this event that is going to take place at Max-Eyth-Schule in Kassel in the middle of Germany from 29 to 30 November 2019.

As usual, participants will be able to plan the sessions for the two days on the days themselves, but are welcome to start discussing topics online prior to the unconference. As the title of this year's event says, everything centres around "simply learning". Topics can come from portfolio work with Mahara, agile learning, OER, and digital change in work and education.

Check out the programme and get inspired by the keynote presenters Benjamin Jaksch, Joachim Rutz, and Andreas Sägesser and then jump into sessions with fellow enthusiasts of learning and shape the rest of the programme.

Mahara in past events

MahoodleFest 2019 in Gloucester, 1 July 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The University of Gloustershire hosted MahoodleFest 2019, on 1 July 2019.

Richard Oelmann and the University team did a wonderful job organising this event. Read Richard's initial thoughts. Teresa MacKinnon created a Wakelet gathering social media posts. You can watch the videos on the event website or head over to YouTube.

If you are interested in hosting MahoodleFest 2020, please get in touch with Richard Oelmann and Sam Taylor.

Mahara in development

Preview version of Mahara 19.10

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

It is October now and you may be wondering when you will be able to take a look at the preview version of Mahara 19.10. Very soon is the answer. We have a large number of exciting new features and changes in this version. As many of them are quite large, they take a bit longer to finalise. We are working very hard to get this preview version out to you. Watch out for an announcement in the news forum early in the week of 7 October 2019.

Recently, I gave a presentation at Mahara Open Forum showcasing some of these new features. If you want to see the slides with English titles, check out the English version of the presentation.

A few of the new features include:

  • Placeholder block, whose working title was "Magic block" (thanks to Dublin City University)
  • More flexible layout options (thanks to Catalyst)
  • Plans enhancement to automatically create tasks and assign portfolios (thanks to University of Bremen)
  • Comments and details mode when viewing a page (thanks to Catalyst)
  • Re-submission of portfolios via LTI (thanks to University of Sussex)
  • Page header can have personal background colour or image (thanks to Catalyst)

There are many more that you will be able to test shortly. We look forward to your feedback.

Mahara newsletter July 2019 (Vol. 9, Issue 2)

Welcome to the July 2019 edition of the Mahara newsletter. The Mahara community has a few busy months ahead filled with events in various countries. We hope you will be able to attend one or more of them to meet portfolio enthusiasts and be inspired by their work.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 October 2019, and you can send articles to [email protected].

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Congratulations

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

Launched in 2016, Reflect is Dublin City University's learning portfolio platform based on Mahara. Available to all DCU students and faculty, the portfolio makes learning visible through the creation of a personalised and reflective living showcase of academic, professional, and personal achievements.

In April students from all programmes using Reflect were invited to enter the 3rd Annual Learning Portfolio Showcase and Awards. Eportfolio showcase competitions have been used across the globe from New Zealand and Hong Kong, to the U.S. and Ireland to promote portfolio practice, recognise and reward student attainments, and celebrate the hard work that teachers and students have put into making ePortfolios a success.

A large number of student entries were received and evaluated by a panel of judges. As in previous years, the standard of entries was very high. However, twelve students presented exceptional portfolios and were shortlisted as finalists. Winners were presented with their awards by Professor Mark Brown of the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL).

Some of the winning and shortlisted students have given permission to share their entries to the Showcase competition that can be viewed below. Huge congratulations to all our entrants!

DCU Showcase and Awards winner with Lisa Donaldson and Mark Brown
Winner Declan McGrath (centre) with Lisa Donaldson and Mark Brown

First place, Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Humanities
Second place, Bachelor of Business Studies International
Third place, B.A. Joint Honours
Special Mention, Bachelor of Engineering

Shortlisted, M.Sc. Nursing
Shortlisted, Bachelor of Religious Education
Shortlisted, DCU Mentoring Scheme
Shortlisted, M.Sc Public Relations

Thank you

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The award of "Tester extraordinaire" goes to Swe Lynn from The Australian National University (ANU). Lynn has been testing Mahara very closely and diligently over the last few weeks, in preparation of the annual upgrade. She discovered a few issues that were not picked up before, and ANU is having these issues fixed by Catalyst Australia, contributing the solutions back to the Mahara project.

Mahara in use

Support during an internship

Esta (Hanning) Su (Monash College, Australia)

Picture of former intern Esta Su at Monash CollegeAs an IT graduate, I completed my internship with the Central eLearning Team at Monash College. My main responsibility involved designing and developing student dashboards. After my internship, I was offered a wonderful opportunity to stay and work as an Assistant Learning Analytics Developer.

My experience with Mahara started during my internship. At Monash College, interns are asked to write a reflective journal using Mahara that is then shared with their supervisors and mentors for feedback. When writing the weekly journals I found it particularly useful to have a simple user interface to create ideas and write down thoughts, without being distracted by all kinds of tools. It is also handy to be able to publish pages and collections in private or public mode and grant access to a particular person or a group of people. Once I shared the weekly reflection, my supervisor was able to provide feedback through the same tool that led to having the content and feedback in one place. Also, it allowed the supervisor to understand how I was feeling about my work responsibilities and how I was managing them.

One of the most useful functions as a developer is Tags. I used it to document some of the errors I came across during projects in Mahara as pages. Adding tags to a page is like adding keywords, which gives me quick access to a certain page.

It is amazing to see how Mahara helps to simplify the feedback process and enhance connections within an organisation, and it does make a difference for developers.

Mahara can do more

David Bell (eCentre for Trinity-at-Waiake Methodist Church, New Zealand)

How does Mahara describe itself? What's it really on about? From the website - "...a simple, easy-to-use, creative platform for people to showcase their learning."

I like the sound of that, but I wonder how it stacks up when graduates leave school, when they learn beyond institutional frameworks. Will they continue to use Mahara in the cluttered social media environment? Without doing a point by point comparison, I highlight a couple of essential differences in various ePortfolios and indicate how it can do more.

We are all in it together

Louise Carr (Hadlow College, UK)

Presentation summaryThe Teacher Education team at West Kent and Hadlow Colleges deliver an in-service vocational teaching and training Higher Education diploma qualification (D.E.T.). This academic year they have led a pilot study to move a text based progress log into a Mahara ePortfolio of professional practice.

The team have found that the introduction of the ePortfolio has had a positive impact on teaching, learning, and assessment and resulted in not only changes to their pedagogical practices but also to the broader 'Landscapes of Practice' (Wenger-Trayner, 2014).

In a presentation to the Canterbury Christ Church University Learning and Teaching Conference in the UK on 19 June 2019, the team outlined their findings, including examples of how, following the introduction of journals, CPD pages and regular reflection 'on-action' (Schon, 1998) and through a variety of artefacts, trainees had identified and engaged more effectively with their dual professional identities. This had then transferred into their practice within faculties and subject specialist disciplines.

You can view the presentation resources.

SmartEvidence framework files

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

You can set up SmartEvidence frameworks in Mahara 19.04 directly via a handy editor. Nevertheless, the Mahara project provides framework files that you can import into your Mahara instance to be up and running quickly with frameworks that others have set up and shared. This allows you to upload a framework and then only make small adjustments on it via the editor instead of needing to set it up from scratch.

If you created framework files that you are happy to share with the community, please send them. We are looking to expand our collection of available frameworks in the SmartEvidence format. Recently, we added the European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework (hat tip to Mark Glynn from DCU) as well as the Tapasā and Tātaiako, two cultural competency frameworks for New Zealand teachers.

Mahara in upcoming events

MahoodleFest 2019, 1 July 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The University of Gloustershire will host this year's Mahoodle event in the UK, MahoodleFest 2019, on 1 July 2019.

The programme is filled with presentations talking about portfolios, competencies, and how to use Mahara and Moodle well in today's tertiary landscape.

For more information, please visit the MahoodleFest 2019 website. You can follow #Mahoodle19 on Twitter.

Mahara Hui Francophone, 3-5 July 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The French Mahara community is organizing Mahara Hui Francophone at the Université de Rennes 1 from 3 to 5 July 2019. It will be co-located with MoodleMoot Francophone.

10th Mahara Open Forum, 31 August - 1 September 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The next Mahara Open Forum (MOF), the Mahara Hui in Japan, is scheduled for 31 August to 1 September 2019. It will take place at Tokushima University in Tokushima. The theme of this year's Mahara Open Forum is "Eportfolio in a sustainable society". Presentation proposals are accepted until 21 June 2019.

Visit the MOF website for more information.

Regional Mahara Hui NZ at Waitematā DHB, 4 October 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Kiwi Mahara User Group is planning a free half-day regional Mahara Hui at Waitematā District Health Board in Auckland, New Zealand, on 4 October 2019. Watch out for more information over the coming months in the News forum.

If you are planning on an extended stay in Auckland, you may wish to combine attending this hui with the New Zealand Moodle Moot and H5P mini conference, held at Unitec, from 1 to 3 October 2019. The call for proposals is open as is registration for this event.

2019 Eportfolio Forum, 20-21 November 2019

Allison Miller (ePortfolios Australia, Australia)

2019 Eportfolio Forum (Eportforum) is a two day event of presentations, workshops, facilitated conversations, and networking on 20-21 November 2019 at Australian Catholic University (ACU), Canberra Campus (Signadou). This will be the eighth Eportforum.

A variety of interactive sessions will enable new and experienced eportfolio supporters to gain some 'hands-on' experience with using ePortfolios, including hearing from our keynote presenter - Professor Tristram Hooley, University of Derby, United Kingdom.

Mahara Hui DE, 29-30 November 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Summer is in full swing in Europe. Thus, it's time to prepare for Mahara Hui DE, the gathering of people interested in ePortfolios and other modern learning and teaching methods, in Germany. This year, the event is back in Kassel, in the heart of Germany, and will be held from 28 to 30 November 2019. While the main event language is German, attendees are welcome to offer sessions in English if they prefer.

This 7th Mahara Hui DE will be held in its well-established style: The first day will be a workshop day. Then each of the two unconference days will be kicked off with a thought-provoking keynote. After that, attendees will shape the conference programme by offering sessions in which they showcase their work, discuss topics of interest, and learn from each other.

The event is supported by Lpaso Institute of Learning Culture e.V. More information will be available on the Mahara Hui DE website over the course of July and August.

Mahara in past events

Regional Mahara Hui, 7 June at University of Waikato

Stephen Bright and Clementine Annabell (University of Waikato, New Zealand)

On Friday, 7 June 2019, the University of Waikato hosted a regional Mahara Hui with participants from University of Waikato, AUT, and Waitematā and Middlemore District Health Boards. Kristina Hoeppner from Catalyst provided us with some excellent input for the morning sessions. 

Kristina presented an overview of new features in Mahara 19.04, which were well received by participants. Key changes and new features are listed in previous Mahara newsletters.

Kristina also gave a demo of the Mahara mobile app, Mahara Mobile. Kristina’s phone was displayed on one of the large screens in the room via Chromecast. This enabled us to see a live demo of the app rather than screenshots.

In the afternoon mixed groups discussed a set of focus questions about the benefits, success stories, and challenges organisations face in implementing ePortfolios across their respective organisations. This gave an opportunity for people to discuss common barriers and reflect on possible solutions.

The day was very useful and affirming, and it was great to be in a gathering where ePortfolios were the sole focus. We’re already looking forward to the next Mahara Regional Hui on Friday, 4 October 2019 (immediately following the New Zealand Moodle Moot 2019) as the next meeting of the community of practice.

Mahara in development

New way of selecting blocks for a page

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Work on Mahara 19.10 is fully underway. A number of usability improvement as well as new features are being developed. One of these is the move to a placeholder block. This feature was conceptualised by Lisa Donaldson, Mark Glynn, and their team at Dublin City University.

The idea is to put a block onto the page without needing to select its type. That will greatly help template creation and not force lecturers to decide on the type of learning evidence they expect from their learners. Instead, they can leave it up to the portfolio authors to decide what sort of evidence they wish to display.

You can read about this feature and will also be able to give it a go before the release of Mahara 19.10.0 when we publish the release candidate in the second half of September 2019.

Simplify the layout selection

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Another feature the Catalyst team in New Zealand is working on is the simplification of selecting a page layout. With Mahara 19.10, you will be able to change the layout directly on the "Edit" screen and are not restricted to built-in layout widths. This will be realised by using the Gridstack JavaScript library. Take a look at the Gridstack site to get an idea of how this is going to work. You can drag and drop blocks and then resize them to your liking. This will give you more flexibility over the placement of content on a page.

We look forward to your feedback on these and the other new and changed features for Mahara 19.10.

Mahara newsletter April 2019 (Vol. 9, Issue 1)

Two people holding hands; Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/yH66cRzpNzQThis edition of the Mahara newsletter is published in sombre times. Half a month ago, on 15 March 2019, Aotearoa New Zealand and the rest of the world were shocked by the horrific attacks on mosques in Christchurch. It is still very difficult to comprehend what happened, and a sad and traumatic time in the home country of the Mahara project.

To support the victims and their families, you can donate to the specific Victim Support appeal, an officially recognized fund raising appeal.

What can we do in the Mahara community? We have a code of conduct in place that guides our interactions with each other. It does not distinguish between genders, races, religions, or countries of origin, but treats everyone equally as Mahara community members. People from all over the world contribute to Mahara to their best abilities wanting to improve the software and its use. And equally, people around the globe use Mahara to document their learning journeys, accomplishments, and reflections. Mahara is open source enabling people no matter where they live to install it, use it, and develop it further. Contributions to the core project are accepted from everywhere and reviewed for inclusion.

Together we stand strong for a better future. Kia kaha.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 July 2019, and you can send articles to [email protected].

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Congratulations

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

A huge round of applause goes to Dominique-Alain Jan (aka dajan) for having completed his Doctor in Education at The Open University last year. He's been a long-time Mahara community member, translator of Mahara into French, ePortfolio advocate, teacher, researcher, and organizer of many events in the Francophone Mahara community.

His doctoral thesis "Investigating ePortfolios from teacher training to the workplace" is an open access publication. From the abstract,

"This study investigates the transfer of ePortfolio practice from teacher training to the workplace, drawing on three case studies of secondary school teachers from different disciplines (IT, science, maths and foreign languages) who built their ePortfolios during pre-service training. It examines why teachers continue or cease ePortfolio practice, their trainers' and supervisors' perceptions of ePortfolio transfer, and the perceived usefulness of continuing ePortfolio practice at work. It also explores the hypothesis that ePortfolio practices, as a process, may be more subject to transfer than ePortfolios themselves, and compares results to other interviews with in-service teachers made during the preparation of this study and to the latest research on ePortfolio practice in teacher training."

Dajan was awarded the Vice-Chancellor Sir John Daniel Award for Education and Language Studies for his dedication and outstanding achievement in postgraduate research.

Toutes nos félicitations !

Mahara in upcoming events

Mahara Hui @ University of Waikato, 7 June 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The University of Waikato is the host for the next local Mahara Hui in Aotearoa New Zealand. It will take place on 7 June 2019. More information will be published in the Mahara News Forum when it becomes available.

MahoodleFest 2019, 1 July 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The University of Gloustershire will host this year's Mahoodle event in the UK, MahoodleFest 2019, on 1 July 2019.

The working title for the day is "Portfolios, Assessment and beyond - How openness can support learning and teaching". Presentation proposals can be made until 17 May 2019.

The organizers say that the "event is open to anyone who uses Moodle and/or Mahara, at whatever educational level - from schools, through further and higher education to workplace, adult and 3rd Sector training."

For more information, please visit the MahoodleFest 2019 website. You can follow #Mahoodle19 on Twitter.

Mahara Hui Francophone, 3-5 July 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The French Mahara community is organizing Mahara Hui Francophone at the Université de Rennes 1 from 3 to 5 July 2019. It will be co-located with MoodleMoot Francophone. Information on how to contribute to this event will be shared as soon as possible in the Mahara News Forum.

10th Mahara Open Forum, 31 August - 1 September 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The next Mahara Open Forum (MOF), the Mahara Hui in Japan, is scheduled for 31 August to 1 September 2019. It will take place at Tokushima University in Tokushima. The theme of this year's Mahara Open Forum is "Eportfolio in a sustainable society". Presentation proposals will be accepted until 21 June 2019.

Visit the MOF website for more information.

Mahara in past events

Designing your professional portfolio

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

Eportfolio Ireland, founded in 2017 by a small group in Dublin City University (DCU), is a professional learning network for ePortfolio practitioners and researchers. The aim of the group is to improve ePortfolio competencies across Ireland and support ongoing research and collaboration.

In 2018, we ran Ireland's first Eportfolio Unconference, a very successful dialog driven event. A call was made at this event to host a workshop on designing a professional ePortfolio for practitioners as most of the attendees, whilst ePortfolio enthusiasts, did not actually have their own ePortfolios.

Funding was received from the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, and the event took place in February 2019, titled "Designing your Professional Portfolio – Walking the Walk with Eportfolios". The workshop discussed the affordances of ePortfolio for recording and showcasing Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and participants received professionally designed resources to scaffold the development of a professional portfolio.

The resource was informed by the Irish National Professional Development Framework (PDF), the Advance HE Fellowships, and with a local focus from the DCU Academic Development and Promotion Framework. The Stepping Stones framework and associated prompts is also available on the Eportfolio Ireland website in the resource "Designing your professional portfolio (Donaldson, Buckley, O’Riordan, 2019)". Group of professionals in discussion

Mahara in development

Preview of Mahara 19.04

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Mahara 19.04.0 will become available at the end of April 2019. Until then you have the chance to preview this upcoming version and test it before we are finalizing the release of Mahara 19.04.0.

There are a lot of new features again that enhance and expand existing functionality, bring new features to Mahara, and also fix a number of issues that have been encountered. Some new feature highlights are:

  • Editor for SmartEvidence frameworks
  • Isolated institutions
  • Upgrade to Bootstrap 4
  • Revised page header
  • Forum post attachments
  • Moderation of forum posts
  • Disallowing unsubscribing from forum posts
  • Opening of links in a new tab or window

The preview version will be made available on 2 April 2019. Watch out for an announcement in the Mahara News Forum and on Twitter.

Mahara 19.04 with Bootstrap 4

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Mahara 19.04 will come with Bootstrap 4. We are upgrading from Bootstrap 3 to keep up with the Bootstrap development and take advantage of advances in this framework.

The overall look of Mahara has not changed making it possible to upgrade and still allow learners to have a familiar site look. There will be a change to the page header area, a first step into the direction of allowing more customization there.

All built-in themes have been upgraded to Bootstrap 4. You can access the upgrade documentation on the wiki. In contrast to the upgrade from our custom Mahara CSS to Bootstrap 3, i.e. from Mahara 15.04 or earlier to 15.10 or later, the upgrade to Bootstrap 4 will be smoother.

In our trials with a different designer / front-end developer than the one who did the bulk of the work, it took only about 4-8 hours to upgrade a theme. Highly customized themes may take a bit more time to change as Bootstrap did make some far-reaching changes, in particular around the naming of variables.

Feel free to grab the latest code for Mahara 19.04 or Mahara master from our Git repository and install it to get a feel for the changes. You can also start making changes to any third-party plugin that you may have in use to prepare for the upgrade to Mahara 19.04.

Japanese Mahara user manual

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Mahara user manual is updated for every version of Mahara. It is the companion to the Mahara software. In Mahara 18.04 we introduced direct links to the user manual from within Mahara making it easier to find the relevant section.

This user manual is now fully available in Japanese, including older versions of it. Masayuki Kuwada from the University of Electro-Communications in Japan continued and completed the immense job of translating the comprehensive manual. Mitsuhiro Yoshida, the Japanese Mahara Partner and overall Mahara software Japanese translator, had started the translation.

If you wish to contribute to the translation of the user manual, you can start right away on Launchpad.

Mahara newsletter January 2019 (Vol. 8, Issue 4)

We wish you a happy new year and all the best for 2019. May you have a great year ahead of you. At the Mahara project, we are looking forward to an exciting year again. We have already been working on a number of new features for Mahara 19.04, and are seeking feedback for some usability improvements. More on that further down.

If you want to share how you are using Mahara, please send us your article. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 April 2019, and you can send articles to [email protected].

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Congratulations

Gregor receiving the award for best computer science teacher in SloveniaCongratulations, Gregor Anželj, for having received the "Best Computer Science Teacher in Primary or Secondary School" award in Slovenia at the 21st international multiconference Information Society (IS2018) in October 2018.

Gregor was nominated for the award based on his contributions to the computer science teacher community, development of interactive content and unit plans as well as contributions to the final exam. He was selected by fellow computer science teachers in Slovenia who are a part of the Slovenian ACM branch, teachers' section.

Mahara in use

Making effective use of the Mahara ePortfolio platform and SmartEvidence as a tool for professional growth and reflection

Duncan Driver (University of Canberra, Australia)

Standards are designed as a tool for continual reflection and growth: they are exploited to best effect when introduced early in a program as a 'built-in' requirement. I introduced a new assessment task into my unit that required students to select an educational artefact and annotate it against their chosen standards using SmartEvidence. The purpose of the task was to familiarise pre-service teachers with the standards as early as possible and engage them in an authentic assessment instrument that could form the basis of a professional portfolio to be added to over the course of their degree, eventually being used for registration/certification purposes.

The result of this SmartEvidence trial has been significant and impactful. The Director of Professional Standards and Recognition at the Teacher Quality Institute reviewed one student portfolio and wrote back, saying

I agree this was a great early example of reflective practice. Through keen observation, the PST (Pre-Service Teacher) has identified key features of practice including enquiry and cooperative learning, questioning and formative assessment, and collaborative teacher practice. [The student] has described what she has observed well in narrative form and begun to interpret what she has seen in terms of impact on students and teachers. She has aligned the practice she has observed, and her own, with descriptors at the Graduate/Proficient level... I really appreciate this opportunity to see the level of insight achieved by a first-year student. It bodes well for the profession that this is the caliber of candidates.

Given the common application of Mahara ePortfolios as a platform for assessment at the University of Canberra and our strategic plan's emphasis on educating 'workplace-ready' professionals, there is a strong potential for SmartEvidence. Other professional standards or KPIs from a range of professional fields could be added to the extant list of options in SmartEvidence in Mahara.

Metaphors for introducing portfolios

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Metaphors are powerful tools to explain new concepts in familiar ways. They are often used in portfolio practice. The Mahara project designer Evonne Cheung created two illustrations for metaphors that are used by community members.

You can find them in the user manual for Mahara 18.10. Both metaphors, the gallery / museum and the performance, had been showcased in the January 2018 newsletter.

Illustration of the gallery / museum metaphorIllustration of the performance metaphor

What metaphors do you use to make it easier for your learners to grasp the concept of portfolios? Please share your ideas in the "Pedagogy" forum.

Mahara in review

Changes to page functionality

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

We are committed to keeping Mahara current and making improvements to its usability. One area of review is the look and feel of Mahara pages. It has been remarked that they are "blocky". I think this is mainly due to the fact that we have the possibility to comment on artefacts and thus have the commenting links as well as the "Details" links available directly on the page when it is viewed.

A review of online tools that allow the creation of web pages / portfolios has shown that many use blocks like Mahara as well to pull specific content into a page. However, typically, they do not have the feedback functionality available and the possibility to dig deeper to see metadata of an artefact.

Having identified that as a major contributor to making Mahara pages look somewhat "administrative" or less like a showcase portfolio, we looked into ways of dealing with that without loosing the possibility to comment on individual content items as that is important to many people.

You can see the result of these first ideas. We invite your feedback on the options that we've drafted.

Extending SmartEvidence

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

SmartEvidence has been in Mahara since version 16.10. Over the past year, we've received a bit feedback on it as well as numerous additional framework files that we are making available online. We are working on adding a visual editor to Mahara to facilitate the creation of the frameworks.

At the moment, SmartEvidence allows for the creation of frameworks that consist of standards / competencies on one level of expertise. Frameworks that combine multiple levels, e.g. graduate - first-year teacher - experienced teacher, would need to be split up and a SmartEvidence file for each level created. That is not always practical as it doesn't allow the mapping of competencies across these levels.

Therefore, we are proposing to change SmartEvidence to accommodate multi-leveled frameworks. Dublin City University initiated the investigation of this change. We'd like to hear from you if that would be a useful enhancement and what you think about the current proposal.

Mahara in past events

Mahara Hui DACH18, 29 November - 1 December 2018

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Mahara Hui DACH 2018 Mahara logo personificationAt the end of November, I had the privilege of attending Mahara Hui DACH18, Mahara Hui for Germany (D), Austria (A), and Switzerland (CH). The event was held at PH Wien, the University College of Teacher Education Vienna. There was a pre-hui day on 29 November 2018, and the two-day hui followed.

Mahara Hui DACH was for everyone invested in giving learners a supportive learning environment. And by learning environment I don't just mean an electronic portfolio, but also a learning management system, various other tools that help students progress in their learning, physical spaces that invite students to learn, and also an atmosphere that imparts on students that learning is not done by rote but by many other, more creative, means.

While a number of sessions did have a portfolio focus, many others didn't and allowed the participants to explore other areas of learning that can now enrich their own teaching repertoire.

The next Mahara Hui of the German-speaking countries will take place in Kassel, Germany, from 28 to 30 November 2019, and everyone is invited to attend. Conference languages are always German and English.

Read the entire blog post.

Mahara in development

Mahara 18.10: Facilitate reflections and assessment

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

On 25 October 2018 the Mahara core project team released Mahara 18.10. It was a big release for the time with a number of large new features that support reflecting on learning and assessing of portfolios. Since the release of this new version of Mahara, I've talked to lots of people about the new features, and three stood out in particular:

The new features are documented in the user manual, and the highlights can be found in the "New in Mahara 18.10" section.

We'd like to thank everybody who contributed to this latest release. Many participated again in different capacities, including UX, graphic design, front-end and back-end development, testing, translating, infrastructure support, user support. We also had numerous features sponsored by various organisations around the world. Read the release notes for the full announcement.

Mahara newsletter October 2018 (Vol. 8, Issue 3)

Welcome to the October 2018 newsletter. Today, 1 October 2018, is a milestone in the Mahara project. We made the release candidate for Mahara 18.10 available. We also have lots to celebrate, especially within the Irish community, and as usual have a number of stories of using Mahara in a variety of contexts.

If you want to share how you are using Mahara, please send us your article. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1/2 January 2019, and you can send articles to [email protected].

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Congratulations

Congratulations go to to Dublin City University for having received two notable awards recognizing the work the DCU teams have been doing to support students in their learning portfolio journey.

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

The Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Learning Technologist of the Year Awards celebrate and reward excellent research and practice and outstanding achievement in Learning Technology. This year the Awards and ALT conference were held at the University of Manchester, UK, from 11 to 13 September 2018. The Learning Portfolio Team from Dublin City University (DCU) was selected as the winner of the Learning Technologist of the Year Team Award for their support of the successful implementation of DCU's learning portfolio.

Lisa Donaldson from DCU accepts the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Team Award

The learning portfolio platform, based on Mahara, now has over 10,000 users and is used in many different contexts across all faculties. The team is led by Lisa Donaldson and Mark Glynn, and supported by student eterns Chloe Langan, Niamh Gurrin, and Mirenda Rosenberg.

In addition to this judges choice award, the team are very honoured to have been selected by ALT peers for the Community Choice Award. Watch the video to learn more about the learning portfolio initiative at DCU.

Earlier this year, DCU was announced as the overall winner in a very competitive Coaching & Mentoring Category at the Irish Institute of Training & Development (IITD) National Training Awards. Since 2013, over 600 students have been mentored by hundreds of DCU alumni. A feature of this year's programme was the integration of DCU's online portfolio called Reflect. Students were invited to record and reflect on their learning experiences in the Mentoring Programme. In addition, they uploaded their career action plan and CV for future applications.

Mahara in use

PhD research showcase

Sam Taylor (formerly Cranfield University, UK; now Catalyst, UK)

Here at Cranfield Defence and Security we have been using Mahara predominantly to record outcomes from problem-based learning tasks and for group ePortfolio assessments. Recently, we’ve been receiving requests from our (amazing) PhD students who were looking for a platform to promote their work. I’d like to present Antony Nyombi's portfolio and his feedback about his experience of using Mahara to share his passion for his research with the world.

Feedback on Mahara by Antony Nyombi

Transcript of the feedback shown in the image by Antony Nyombi, PhD Researcher at Cranfield University - Shrivenham campus:

Hiring / partnering with someone you know from all angles should be the best thing anyone would desire - according to me!

Leave alone "background checks" - if an organisation is built on mutual trust and integrity, then everyone should not be afraid to give all about their life - except a few minor privacy notes.

Creating a free fully-fledged personal profile / website may be expensive, tedious and may require extended expertise but NOT with Mahara!

When I was first introduced to Mahara by Sam Taylor, I thought it was like other platforms I had interacted with. I asked her lots of questions including describing my dream platform which she had no idea about.

I was eager to know what Mahara could do for me, so I followed Sam's training and started applying it, with intermittent consultations from her. Soon I realised that Mahara could do what I thought was not achievable with it. During the first attempts, I created a portfolio that I didn't like, yet it was all my information. Later with practice, and following the user guide and help from Sam, I now like what I have created and hope to make it even much better.

Mahara is the only free platform I have interacted with where someone can create a personal profile that "head hunters" would admire to get the right person for a job, partnership, even massive bids in big corporate organisations.

I love Mahara so far and I am sure it will assist me to achieve my dreams. I recommend everyone who is into creating personal profiles to use Mahara.

 

Showcasing the benefits of TEL

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand); with information from Sam Taylor (formerly Cranfield University, UK; now Catalyst, UK)

Staff at Cranfield Defence and Security (CDS) published the first issue of the CDS inTEL Review, an annual online magazine using Mahara features stories from around the campus on how technology enhanced learning using Mahara has benefited course delivery at CDS.

EPortfolio-based assessment: Getting the word out

Teresa MacKinnon (University of Warwick, UK)

Cover of the "Eportfolio based assessment" ebook published by DCU in September 2018When I was approached by Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University) about possibly contributing to an e-book about ePortfolios for assessment, I was delighted to contribute. I had written and published openly about how as a team of language teachers we had developed and implemented an ePortfolio approach as partial assessment for some of our modules in a language context. I was particularly excited about the opportunity to showcase this – now over 6 years of work – within a collection of examples from other disciplines as a contribution to rethinking how we assess.

We use Mahara as a reflective, personal space for students to reflect upon their skills development in language learning. The project has brought a better understanding between tutors and students, giving real agency in the learning process and creating renewable assessments as an open educational practice.

I sent Lisa lots of links to my writing and resources and somehow she worked her magic, pulling all the submissions together in a very effective and useful volume. The published e-book provides a really useful resource to any teacher wanting to find inspiration for ePortfolio assessment, whatever their context.

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If you'd like to get involved in MUM, the Mahara Users Midlands group, and chat with Teresa, join the MUM online community and watch out for event announcements for in-person meetings.

Reflective telecollaborative practice through Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange

Teresa MacKinnon (University of Warwick, UK)

The Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange initiative offers cross border interaction through telecollaboration, giving young people over 18 years old the opportunity to connect and better understand the lives of their counterparts in other countries in a structured way.

This initiative aims to support the international experience which may otherwise be impossible for those who, for reasons of family commitments or financial demands, are unable to spend time studying abroad. The scheme also offers free training for academics and administrators in higher education institutions who would like to include this sort of activity in their programmes.

Participation in training through a wide range of possibilities shown on the website is recognised through the award of Erasmus Plus open badges. For the next few years I am working as part of the EVOLVE project in support of this inclusive approach to internationalisation and I am pleased to say that we will be using Mahara as a reflective space for participants in order to:

  • help increase the impact of their learning and
  • to provide research data in order to better understand how such activities can transform the way we understand each other.

I am very excited to be part of such an innovative project and will keep you updated on our activities. Meanwhile, if you know of colleagues interested in telecollaboration, please share the links above with them and watch out for the twitter feeds from @evolve_erasmus and @ErasmusVirtual.

Mahara in upcoming events

ePortfolio Forum, 9-10 October 2018

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The ePortfolio Forum is the annual gathering of portfolio researchers and practitioners in Australasia. This year, it is going to take place at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, and marks the 7th annual event. The theme is "Exploring, Experiencing, Engaging, Energising, Expanding" and promises conversations that fit the theme very well.

Registration for this event is open. Check out the programme for more information. Follow #eportforum for updates.

Mahara Hui DACH, 29 November - 1 December 2018

H.D. Hirth (Lpaso, Germany)

Vienna Calling! We are glad to announce the 6th Mahara Hui for central European countries, provided and supported by Lpaso Institute of Learning Culture e.V.

The upcoming event with the title "Mahara Hui DACH18" will take place from 29 November to 1 December 2018 at University College of Teacher Education Vienna (PH Wien) in Austria. The organizing team wish to invite ePortfolio users from Germany (D), Austria (A), and Switzerland (CH). Other portfolio practitioners from across Europe are warmly welcomed to take part at this unconference as well.

The event language is German, but attendees are free to offer their sessions in English if that is more convenient.

Following the tradition, the event will begin with hands-on sessions on 29 November 2018 followed by a shared dinner near the venue.

The first conference day will start with a keynote by Dieter Omert (Audi AG, Ingolstadt, Germany). It will be followed by a full day of sessions planned by the hui attendees. We encourage participants to offer sessions of all kinds of topics and experiences around education. Later in the day, there is the possibility to learn more about the history of the city on a bus tour to historical places in Vienna before gathering for the conference dinner.

The conference dinner will be accompanied by the "Open Mic Band" of PH Wien. According to the conference motto, they will play hit songs by Falco, like "Vienna Calling".

The third day will be kicked off by Josef Buchner, university lecturer at University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. His keynote will be followed by more sessions offered by attendees before Mahara Hui DACH 2018 will come to a close in the late afternoon.

Mahara Hui DACH is again very affordable at 50€ per attendee for the main conference, 30 November to 1 December 2018, including coffee breaks, lunch, and conference dinner. The workshops of the pre-conference on 30 November and the bus tour of Vienna are charged separately.

You can register for the event. The organizing team from Lpaso e.V. and University College of Teacher Education Vienna look forward to welcoming you in Vienna later in the year.

Mahara in past events

Eportfolio Ireland unconference, 7 September 2018

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

Eportfolio Ireland, Ireland's first ePortfolio community of practice, recently held its second unconference. This flexible and discussion driven format proved a huge success with Irish ePortfolio practitioners in January 2018 and resulted in the collaborative development of an ePortfolio assessment e-book which was launched at the event.

The e-book "Eportfolio based assessment: Inspiring exploration and supporting evaluation for practitioners" contains sample ePortfolio assessments and reflections on the same from practitioners across Ireland and the UK. It can be accessed online. A number of collaborative articles are currently being developed by the attendees of the September unconference which we hope to publish shortly. Follow us at @EportfolioIRL.

Mahara in development

Preview of Mahara 18.10

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The preview version of Mahara 18.10 is available for download, installation, and testing. It's your chance to take a look at it and explore it before we are finalizing it for release at the end of October 2018. We are very happy to be offering you a large number of exciting new features. Amongst them are:

  • New navigation menu structure
  • Submit a portfolio to an LMS via LTI
  • View old versions of your portfolio in a timeline
  • Create a page based on tagged content automatically
  • Set up institution tags
  • Explore other people's portfolios via their tags
  • Support blind peer assessments
  • Sign off and verify portfolio pages
  • Set up a custom landing page after login
  • Edit plans directly within "Edit" mode of a page
  • Copy group portfolios into group member's accounts automatically
  • Set up instructions for a page
  • Moderate portfolios that were flagged as having objectionable content.

The user manual is being updated, and a large number of these features has already been documented. View them via "New in Mahara 18.10" in the manual's index.

View details in our announcement of the release candidate. We look forward to hearing from you about these new features.

Mahara newsletter July 2018 (Vol. 8, Issue 2)

Welcome to the July 2018 newsletter. It's the half-way mark for 2018, and we are well under way with the development of Mahara 18.10. Read on for some stories to consider during your summer reading in the Northern Hemisphere or those cold evenings in the Southern Hemispheric winter.

If you want to share how you are using Mahara, please send us your article. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 October 2018, and you can send articles to [email protected].

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Mahara in use

Mahara in the classroom

Jean Breton (Commission scolaire Côte-du-Sud, Canada)

My name is Jean Breton and I am a high school teacher in Québec, Canada. I was first introduced to Mahara by a pedagogical advisor for a class I have taught for many years. This class, "Projet personnel d’orientation", is a class where students learn about themselves, the education system in Québec, and the job market. To do so, they do different activities using computers and the Internet.

In order to keep track of my students' work and reflections, I used paper-based portfolios with them, but it was not efficient because some of my students were losing… their portfolios. That's when I was told about Mahara. It was such a relief for me! No more binders to manage and no more missing portfolios! And the students loved it!

But there was more! Last year, I met another pedagogical advisor, Stéphane Lavoie, and he made me realize I could use Mahara for myself. As a teacher, I can use Mahara to collect digital artefacts and keep track of my professional development.

SmartEvidence frameworks

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Now that many institutions have upgraded to a version of Mahara that includes SmartEvidence, it is great to see them start using it and exploring its potential. SmartEvidence allows you to work with competency frameworks in Mahara and visualize your progress across the framework. At the moment, entire portfolio pages are mapped to standards. Where do you want to take this functionality? Edd Bolton started a discussion a few weeks ago, and you are invited to join in.

Recently, Grégory David shared the SmartEvidence framework he created for BTS Services Informatiques aux Organisations in France. It is shared freely alongside other frameworks that you are welcome to download and adapt to your own requirements.

If you created SmartEvidence frameworks that you would like to share, please send them to [email protected].

The learning portfolio: A review by DCU

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Dublin City University (DCU) launched "The learning portfolio in higher education: A game of snakes and ladders", a critical review of the literature on learning portfolios in higher education around the world. It is a concise report discussing the origins of the learning portfolio, where it is at right now, and how it fits into the wider context of portfolio use. The report can be downloaded for free.

Portfolio-based assessment: An upcoming book

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

An output from the recent ePortfolio unconference organized in Dublin City University was the collaborative development of an interactive ebook of ePortfolio-based assessment. The goal of the publication is to support and inspire those exploring ePortfolio activities and assessment. Many educators from Ireland and the UK have contributed an ePortfolio-based assessment or video for inclusion. A collaboratively designed rubric to assess ePortfolios will also be shared. Lisa Donaldson, DCU, will be finalizing the ebook in the coming months. It is set for publication in September 2018. It will be available online and as a pdf.

Mahara in upcoming events

AAEEBL Annual Meeting, 24-26 July 2018

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Association for Authentic, Experiential, and Evidence-Based Learning (AAEEBL) is holding its annual meeting at Capilano University in Vancouver, Canada, from 24 to 26 July 2018. This year's theme is "Building bridges with ePortfolios". Portfolio practitioners and researchers from Canada, the United States, Australasia, and Europe are going to discuss many different topics in presentations, panels, and workshops. For example, an international panel of Mahara practitioners is going to share ideas around supporting portfolio implementations providing insight into different areas of support.

You can still register for the event and become part of the community to further ePortfolio practices.

ePortfolio Forum, 9-10 October 2018

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The ePortfolio Forum is the annual gathering of portfolio researchers and practitioners in Australasia. This year, it is going to take place at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, and marks the 7th annual event. The theme is "Exploring, Experiencing, Engaging, Energising, Expanding" and promises conversations that fit the theme very well.

Registration for this event is open, and the program will be shared as soon as it's been finalized.

Mahara Hui DACH, 29 November - 1 December 2018

H.D. Hirth (Lpaso, Germany)

Mahara Hui DACH 2018 Mahara logo personificationVienna Calling! We are glad to announce the 6th Mahara Hui for central European countries, provided and supported by Lpaso Institute of Learning Culture e.V.

The upcoming event with the title "Mahara Hui DACH18" will take place from 29 November to 1 December 2018 at University College of Teacher Education Vienna (PH Wien) in Austria. The organizing team wish to invite ePortfolio users from Germany (D), Austria (A), and Switzerland (CH). Other portfolio practitioners from across Europe are warmly welcomed to take part at this unconference as well.

The event language is German, but attendees are free to offer their sessions in English if that is more convenient.
Following the tradition, the event will begin with hands-on sessions on 29 November 2018 followed by a shared dinner near the venue.

The first conference day will start with a keynote by Dieter Omert (Audi AG, Ingolstadt, Germany). It will be followed by a full day of sessions planned by the hui attendees. We encourage participants to offer sessions of all kinds of topics and experiences around education. Later in the day, there is the possibility to learn more about the history of the city on a bus tour to historical places in Vienna before gathering for the conference dinner.

The conference dinner will be accompanied by the "Open Mic Band" of PH Wien. According to the conference motto, they will play hit songs by Falco, like "Vienna Calling".

The third day will be kicked off by Josef Buchner, university lecturer at University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. His keynote will be followed by more sessions offered by attendees before Mahara Hui DACH 2018 will come to a close in the late afternoon.

Mahara Hui DACH is again very affordable at 50€ per attendee for the main conference, 30 November to 1 December 2018, including coffee breaks, lunch, and conference dinner. The workshops of the pre-conference on 30 November and the bus tour of Vienna are charged separately.

You will be able to register for the event from mid-July 2018. The organizing team from Lpaso e.V. and University College of Teacher Education Vienna look forward to welcoming you in Vienna later in the year.

Mahara in past events

Mahoodle for digital assessment, 26 April 2018

Sam Taylor (Cranfield University, UK)

48 keen and eager 'Mahoodlers' attended this event at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom's Heaviside Lecture Theater. The focus was on Digital Assessment and followed a format similar to the previous event held in Cambridge in October 2017. You can read all the tweets by following #mahoodle18

The day consisted of a wonderful keynote by Dr Mark Glynn (Dublin City University); 10 'Show and Tell' sessions that gave a glimpse into various institutions' assessment processes, activities and work in progress; a workshop (delivered by myself and Aurélie) that explored the development and assessment of an ePortfolio activity; and a lunchtime presentation by Joey Murison of Catalyst IT on the importance of community engagement, supporting open source, and the future plans of Moodle and Mahara...

Read Sam's full report.

Mahara in development

Reorganizing the Mahara navigation

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The current organization of the menu items in Mahara dates back to 2011. Since then, many people have used the navigation and at times struggled to make sense of the order of the menu items. We are making a proposal to change the order and also combine certain menu items for a more streamlined display of the options with the goal to make it easier to find what people are looking for.

We invite you to take a look at our proposal and share your opinion.

Mahara newsletter April 2018 (Vol. 8, Issue 1)

Welcome to the April 2018 newsletter. Mahara 18.04 is right around the corner, and we are looking forward to making this new release available to you very soon. Find out about new plugins as well as use of Mahara in groups of students.

If you want to share how you are using Mahara, please send us your article. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 July 2018, and you can send articles to [email protected].

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Mahara in use

Group work perspectives

Angelique Bodart (Cranfield University, UK)

Going one step beyond group work... sharing group project progress with the sponsors, not just the final product.

When students are tasked with group projects to test their ability to apply learning in a real situation, often the sponsor only gets sight of the final product, which may or may not be what they were hoping for. This was the case for the MSc module, Organisational Development, at Cranfield University. Sponsors felt out of the loop and wanted the ability to guide the students in a direction that would ensure their needs were met at the end.

Check out how a Mahara page was designed and used to support this, from a learning technologist and a teacher perspective.

Mahara in upcoming events

Mahoodle for Digital Assessment, 26 April 2018

Sam Taylor and Aurélie Soulier (Cranfield University, UK)

Cranfield University and the Defence Technology Enhanced Learning team invite you to attend the Mahoodle for Digital Assessment day.

This free event is for those who support the design and delivery of assessment using Moodle, Mahara, or 'Mahoodle' (a combination of both). By assessment, we mean any activity that allows students and their teachers to evaluate where they are on their learning journey, and for which feedback can be given either via an automated response or by a designated reviewer.

The event:

The day will comprise:

  • a series of show-and-tell presentations from institutions from all over the UK,
  • an overview from our sponsor Catalyst IT who will be showcasing the new features of the next Moodle and Mahara releases,
  • a workshop on evaluating tools to support digital assessment,
  • a clinic and soundboard to troubleshoot any queries you have,
  • all kicked off by our keynote Dr Mark Glynn from Dublin City University.

This event would be particularly suitable for those who support the use of Moodle and Mahara, such as Learning Technologists, Platform Managers, eLearning Support Officers and anyone who is tasked with supporting academic staff with assessment design. We hope that all attendees will leave with ideas which they can implement at their own establishment.

Please note that attendance is limited to just 50 places, so please register your interest as soon as possible.

ePortfolios & more:  The developing role of ePortfolios within the digital landscape, 23-25 May 2018

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Dublin City University is going to host the "ePortfolio & more" event facilitated by AAEEBL (the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Experience-Based Learning) and the CRA (the Centre for Recording Achievement). The seminar will take place from 23 to 25 May 2018 in Dublin, Ireland, and will bring together ePortfolio practitioners from many different institutions. Visit the website for more information.

AAEEBL annual meeting, 23-26 July 2018

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The 2018 annual meeting of AAEEBL (the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Experience-Based Learning) stands under the motto of "Building bridges with ePortfolios". Join North American ePortfolio practitioners and researchers as well as those from other countries in discussing how ePortfolios can make connections. Read more about the annual meeting.

Mahara in past events

Integrating authentic ePortfolio assessment – An ePortfolio unconference, 26 January 2018

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

Ireland's first educational technology unconference took place at DCU on January 26, funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. The unconference format is a high energy and flexible approach for professional learning which features discussion and collaboration at it's core! The event focused on ePortfolio practice across Ireland and attracted attendees from 9 Irish institutes of higher education, as well as participants from Enterprise Ireland and UK colleges and organisations. Sam Taylor from Cranfield University was the featured keynote speaker.

The highly interactive day was captured through online and visual media to illustrate the energy, relevancy and collaborative nature of the discussions and in a blog post.

Eportfolio Ireland and Mahara User Group meeting online, 21 March 2018

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

On 21 March 2018 the newly founded Eportfolio Ireland user group (emerged out of the Mahara User Group Ireland MaharaIRL) and the Mahara User Group (New York) held a co-organized webinar that gave an introduction to the Irish ePortfolio context, talked about critical reflections, and ePortfolio assessment. You can watch the recording of this session.

Mahara in development

Assignment submission via LTI: New sponsors

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

In the last newsletter we shared the good news that the University of Canberra was the first sponsor to support the development work of the assignment submission functionality via LTI. Since then, four more colleges and universities have come on board, and we are excited to have them as partners for this development work. The Australian National University is funding 25% of the costs, and the Australian Catholic University, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and Monash College are each contributing $2,000.

Due to the support from all these institutions, we could start the development work, which will benefit schools, universities, and training providers around the world, no matter what learning management system they are using as long as it supports LTI.

If you want to co-sponsor this feature, please get in touch with me to discuss the details.

Mahara 18.04 release

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

It is April and thus the month of the Mahara 18.04 release. We are putting the finishing touches on this release, and are excited to have a large number of new features included.

Take a look at the user manual for the highlights. These include:

  • Support for the new EU privacy regulation GDPR
  • Password policy
  • Copying of portfolios as Leap2A
  • Support for object storage
  • Link to internal Mahara portfolio pages
  • Image rotation
  • Link to the user manual from each page to the relevant section
  • Auto-refresh of SAML metadata
  • Improvements to SmartEvidence

These are just a few of the new functionality available via Mahara 18.04. We will make this new version of Mahara available shortly, within the first two weeks of April 2018, so that institutions that need to comply with the GDPR have time to upgrade before 25 May 2018.

If you want to install the pre-release of this upcoming version, check out the necessary information. Alternatively, you can test the features at https://master.dev.mahara.org

If you want to see the changes for the GDPR, check out this video.

Object storage for Mahara

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Catalyst IT Australia team created plugins that will allow institutions to utilize object storage for files stored in Mahara. The necessary support in the Mahara infrastructure will be available in Mahara 18.04, but can also be backported to older versions of Mahara. The team has done that successfully for Mahara 17.04 for a client.

Currently, there are plugins available to support S3 from AWS and Blob Storage from Microsoft Azure. They allow you to store media files (except image thumbnails) in object storage, which is cheaper than conventional storage and thus allows institutions to save on hosting fees. The plugins that you will need are the following (besides having Mahara 18.04 or the backported support for objectfs):

Bevan Wishart, one of the developers, created a demo for the setup.

QR code generator for Mahara

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Ruslan Kabalin (Lancaster University, UK) created a "light" and upgraded QR code generator of the existing QR code generator plugin for Mahara. When the QR code block is placed onto a page, it creates a unique QR code to that page. This plugin was tested with Mahara 17.10.

Mahara newsletter January 2018 (Vol. 7, Issue 4)

Welcome to the January 2018 newsletter and thus a new year. We wish you all the best for 2018 and look forward to talking with you about Mahara. We hope you enjoy this first newsletter of 2018.

If you want to share how you are using Mahara, please send us your article. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 April 2018, and you can send articles to [email protected].

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Mahara in use

ANU coffee course: Introductory course to portfolio learning and ePortfolio

Rebecca Ng (Australian National University, Australia)

The Australian National University (ANU) recently launched Mahara ePortfolio as a new tool for academic and professional development. To coincide with its launch, the team at ANU Online ran a 'Coffee Course' introducing portfolio learning and ePortfolio. Our Coffee Courses are short, online, and open access courses (requiring up to 15 minutes a day) covering topics in educational technology, teaching online, digital tools, pedagogy, or trends in technology.

In the ePortfolio Coffee Course, we introduce pedagogical benefits of portfolio learning, provide examples of ePortfolios used in higher education, and discuss risk factors and affordances of the technology.

Field guide to ePortfolio

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

AAEEBL Field Guide to Eportfolio cover imageIn 2015, AAEEBL (Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning) had the idea to publish a short book on important aspects of ePortfolio use in higher education. More than 50 contributors - predominantly from the U.S.A., but also from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand - worked collaboratively on this guide to bring together research, experiences, and case studies.

The twelve chapters are all kept short and contain a wealth of additional reading for delving deeper:

  1. The promise of eportfolios for student learning and agency
  2. Redesigning learning: Eportfolios in support of reflective growth within individuals and organizations
  3. Authentic learning: Eportfolios across the divide
  4. Promoting student cognitive development: Integrative learning, reflection, and metacognition
  5. Learners and the digital era: Digital identity, digital literacy, and eportfolios
  6. On the right track: Using eportfolios to address institutional challenges
  7. New ways to demonstrate achievements: Warranting eportfolio evidence
  8. Transition to career and career development
  9. Learning analytics and the learner
  10. Faculty eportfolios: Teaching and learning and professional development
  11. Eportfolios and internationalization: Meeting the needs of the emergent global learner
  12. How important is the technology?

The book is available as free download, and you are encouraged to share it with your network, team members, administrators who make decisions about portfolios at your institution, and anybody else who's interested in ePortfolios and wants to have a quick overview.

Bibliographic reference: Batson, T., Coleman, K. S., Chen, H. L., Watson, C. E., Rhodes, T. L., & Harver, A. (Eds.). (2017). Field guide to eportfolio. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

I had the privilege to work with four ePortfolio researchers on one of the book chapters. We presented on our collaboration at the AAEEBL 2017 conference in Portland, Oregon, and provided a glimpse into our group work that spanned two hemispheres, four time zones, and three countries.

Introducing ePortfolios: Which metaphor do you use?

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

In November we asked in the forum and on social media what metaphors are used to explain ePortfolios. This question was prompted by a sharing of metaphors at Mahara Hui @Tauranga in New Zealand. The two metaphors shared there were: Stage / backstage and crime story. A few more were mentioned on in the Facebook group "Eportfolios community of practice":

  • Digital journey
  • Digital filing cabinet
  • Curated scrap book
  • Wardrobe

Kate Coleman dedicated an entire chapter to the topic of metaphors and ePortfolios in her PhD thesis An a/r/tist in wonderland: Exploring identity, creativity and digital portfolios as a/r/tographer.

In the following, you can read two metaphors. If you want to share your own, please email me. We are also looking at including the metaphors into the user manual in 2018 to make them more easily accessible.

Metaphor: Art gallery

Mandia Mentis (Massey University, New Zealand)

Using an art gallery to explain the creation of portfolios; Source: Mandia Mentis

Imagine your portfolio was like showing your work at an art gallery as the image illustrates. The steps to creating a portfolio would involve:

Steps involved in myPortfolio
Using the metaphor of an art gallery
Step 1: Store your content In the art gallery metaphor this would be like storing your artefacts / content in the basement of the gallery to use later. Organising your storage space well will help to find artefacts later!
Step 2: Create pages In the art gallery metaphor this would be like showing your artefacts /content in different rooms of the gallery – a  different room for each domain area.
Step 3: Create a collection (link pages into your portfolio) In the art gallery metaphor this would be like linking the rooms into a exhibition - your final portfolio made up of all the domain pages.
Step 4: Share your collection (open your portfolio to be viewed) In the art gallery metaphor this would be like allowing people into the gallery to view your exhibition - provide people with a link to view your myPortfolio.

 

Note: This metaphor has been reproduced with permission from Mandia Mentis who had shared it under a Creative Commons BY-SA license. "myPortfolio" is the instance of Mahara that Massey University uses.

Metaphor: Performance

Hazel Owen (Ethos Consultancy NZ, New Zealand)

A stage with backstage explaining the performance metaphor; Source: Hazel Owen

Thinking about how learners and educators use / experience ePortfolios, it is worth considering how they might be described conceptually. The idea of an ePortfolio as 'performance' can be developed to capture and illustrate the following notions:

  • Back stage: Collection of 'projects' – some half-finished, some ready for the next production, some still in the concept phase, some abandoned
  • Apprenticeship: Learning the 'language' and ways of being of a discipline (back stage and rehearsals; peer and tutor feedback – spend time as an apprentice, 'sweeping, painting scenery, learning the vocabulary')
  • Types of ePortfolio: Development & process (backstage & rehearsal); showcase/professional (final performance; multiple owner (the cast, director etc); working (combination of all the spaces)
  • Private / public space
  • Building trust/rapport and community
  • The performance as a production within and for a range of communities (see this diagram for more detail)
  • Rehearse as a group as well as an individual
  • Start to rehearse. Feedback from director/peers (work collaboratively to interpret a script)
  • Personality and creativity: interpretation of the script (role/assessment/rubric)
  • Audience: Who are they? Appropriacy. Don’t always know (global)
  • Dress rehearsal/first night: iterative feedback loop

Some of these points may be stretching the analogy a little :-) , but it seems to pull together the potential of what an ePortfolio might be, and also stresses the need for scaffolding and support – you wouldn't expect someone to become a fully fledged actor with it!!

The point I built from was that most definitions and descriptions recognise ePortfolios as "a collection of 'works' ... that represent physical evidence of achievements" (Mason, Cochrane, & Owen, 2008), but they all seem rather esoteric and dry. The human element and sense of everything happening in communities often appears to be missing.

Reference: Mason, C., Cochrane, T., & Owen, H. (2008, March). E-portfolios. Paper presented at the Centre for Teaching and Learning Innovation Lunchtime Series, Unitec New Zealand, Auckland.

Note: This excerpt from ePortfolios was published with permission from Hazel Owen. Text: Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0; Image: Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Mahara in upcoming events

Integrating authentic ePortfolio assessment – An ePortfolio unconference, 26 January 2018

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

This ePortfolio unconference, funded by the Irish National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, will support faculty integrating ePortfolio into teaching and assessment practices. It is demand led through feedback from the MaharaIRL ePortfolio community of practice – a group consisting of representatives from many Irish higher education institutions interested in exploring and sharing ePortfolio best practice.

The day will feature a presentation by Sam Taylor from Cranfield University, one of three founding members of an ePortfolio community of practice and key contributor to many ePortfolio initiatives in the UK. Following the presentation, the unconference will then dynamically address the individual interests of participants via electronic polling. These participant driven sessions will focus on the potential of an ePortfolio approach to assessment. Attendees may collaboratively develop and evaluate best practice principles for ePortfolio based assessment; design shareable resources and samples for ePortfolio use, to be disseminated to the wider community; or may choose to participate in / facilitate an ePortfolio conversation of their choice. Potential areas for discussion in the sessions may include:

  • First steps in considering ePortfolio based assessment
  • Developing discipline specific authentic assessment ePortfolio samples
  • Supporting critical reflection with ePortfolios
  • Documenting workplace learning through ePortfolios
  • Assessing ePortfolios through the generation of rubrics

...although you will decide and reimagine these on the day!

It is anticipated that best practices and resources developed through these breakout sessions will be shared back to participants and the National Forum to contribute to a body of knowledge on ePortfolio practices and assessment in Ireland.

Refreshments and lunch will be served. Please RSVP for logistics and catering purposes.

We look forward to welcoming you to DCU for an exciting and interactive unconference!

MoodleMoot Germany 2018, 13-15 March 2018

Pascal Fischer (Universität Kassel, Germany)

From 13 to 15 March 2018, the University of Kassel will organize the national practice-oriented conference MoodleMoot Germany with the Service Center Teaching and the German Moodle partner eLeDia at the University of Kassel. It is open to anyone interested in using Moodle and Mahara in their respective educational fields and institutions from different perspectives - whether as developers, users, or decision makers.

The main topics of the conference are:
• Designing educational offers in the process of social digitization
• Developing teaching and learning cultures, lifelong and barrier-free design
• Effective use of interfaces in the educational landscape
• Thinking about technology, law, and education in one context
• Developing together

There will be three keynote speakers: Moodle founder Dr. Martin Dougiamas (Australia), Elizabeth Dalton (U.S.A.), Research Analyst at Moodle Headquater, will talk about learning analytics, and Ralf Hilgenstock (Germany), co-owner of eLeDia, will report about data privacy when using learning management systems.

The final preconference programme as well as a first version of the main programme are available at moodlemoot.de. There you will also find more information and the conference registration form. Contributions to the programme can be submitted until 21 January 2018.

We look forward to seeing you at MoodleMoot in Kassel.

Mahara in past events

Mahara Hui EU17, 30 November - 2 December 2017

Jan Schulze (Lpaso, Germany)

The Lpaso team thanks all participants for a successful Mahara Hui EU17 and makes a review of the unconference available.

You can find interviews and opinions around learning and teaching in the audio journal. The video journal contains the edited recordings of the keynote presentations.

Listening and watching is worth it, and we'd love for you to share the links with others.

---

Mit einem Rückblick auf die erfolgreiche Mahara Hui EU17 bedanken wir uns bei allen Teilnehmern.

In dem Audiotagebuch findet ihr Interviews und Stimmen rund ums Lernen und Lehren. Im Videotagebuch sind die bearbeiteten Mitschnitte der Keynotes bereitgestellt.

Vorbeischauen lohnt sich und über eine Weitergabe des Links an Interessierte würden wir uns freuen.

Mahara in development

Assignment submission via LTI: First sponsor

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

In Mahara 17.04, we implemented the initial stage for making Mahara compatible with LTI: Single sign-on from a learning management system to Mahara. This work was made possible through funding from Instructure, the creators of Canvas.

The next stage would be to have assignment submission available via LTI so that Canvas, Blackboard, and other LMSs can integrate more comfortably into the assessment work flow because currently, assignment submission is only possible via Moodle.

The Mahara project is seeking sponsorship for this large piece of work. A few institutions have shown interest, and the first confirmed sponsor is the University of Canberra in Australia with $2,000. If you want to co-sponsor this feature, please get in touch with me to discuss the details to make this functionality happen.

Mahara and the GDPR

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is going into effect in the European Union on 25 May 2018. The Mahara project team is working on making necessary changes to adhere better to this regulation in order for institution to continue working with Mahara. These changes will be available in Mahara 18.04, which we are planning to release in the first half of April 2018.

Institutions should seek legal council before 25 May 2018 to determine what changes they may need to make to their privacy statement, terms and conditions, communication work flows, and whether they should upgrade to Mahara 18.04 before the end of May.

You can find information on the actions that the Mahara team is taking in the forum discussion and on the wiki.