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

Two people holding hands; Source: 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.


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.


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 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.


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

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 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.

Mahara newsletter October 2017 (Vol. 7, Issue 3)

Kia ora - welcome to the October 2017 newsletter of the Mahara project. No matter where in the world you are, you can benefit from insight of academics working with Mahara, receive some tips of implementing Mahara, and find out about past an upcoming events, besides looking forward to a new release of Mahara by the end of October.

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 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

Employability and careers portfolios using Mahara

Shaun Pulman (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand)

AUT trialled the use of Mahara as an employability portfolio over three months with a group of 25 students from various areas of the university. The trial was delivered in partnership between AUT's Employability and Careers team and CfLAT, the Centre for Learning and Teaching.

It marks a departure from the typical use of Mahara as an assessment or reflection tool for academic purposes at AUT, and instead allowed students to enhance their employability awareness and opportunities in two ways:

  • Development of a dynamic web profile containing diverse media, which can be shared with employers as a job application, but also with peers and AUT staff;
  • Employability information and resources (such as industry resources like AUT's Future Career Sheets, application information and videos) in one place and in various formats.

Two large employers (NZME and Auckland Council) partnered with AUT for the trial and offered advice and insights on the process. Other companies consulted were really positive about the idea, including Fonterra (NZ's largest company) and Air New Zealand.

The trial commenced with two workshops delivered to a combined total of 26 students in a computer lab. The workshop detailed the objectives of the trial and benefits to students, and then started the students off with using Mahara. Students then developed their own pages, with some submitting these as job applications.

Currently, students are submitting feedback through user testing and written surveys. The intention is that the portfolio will be used across the university in the future.

Shaun will be presenting on the trial at the NAGCAS conference in Sydney in late November 2017.

Who is using what down-under?

Michael Sankey (Western Sydney University, Australia)

A recent survey conducted by the Australasian Council on Open, Distance and e-Learning (ACODE) of which universities where using which ePortfolio tool, has found that 41% are using Mahara. The second most popular tool was PebblePad at 23%. Forty-four out of a possible 49 universities participated in this activity across Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. Despite ePortfolio being a topic that most universities have come to terms with over the last five to seven years, four universities were still struggling to come-up with a centralized solution for their students. Anecdotally, this is partly to do with how the market place is changing, with the plethora of social media tools that can now slot (although not comfortably) into this space. It is partly to do with different academic disciplines not be able to agree on a common tool to meet their various needs, while others are leaving it to commercial entities such as LinkedIn to be a default professional profile.

Distribution of ePortfolio systems at Australasian universities

Notwithstanding, among these 44 universities, there was a huge reported variance in use of their ePortfolio. So although they may have a centrally supported system, others within the university were bypassing this for other (non-supported) solutions. This is not necessarily a problem, but it does either point to the fact that the centralized system may not necessarily be fully hitting the mark.

This is a dynamic space, as we look to the future we see the need for our centralized university systems to be able to engage with a whole range of external systems, whether they be software as a service (SaaS) or self-hosted. This applies equally to the learning management system (LMS), content management system (CMS), and ePortfolio, not to mention staff and student reward and recognition systems, but I would argue it is particularly important for the ePortfolio. With the rise of digital credentialing, blockchain certs and badging, there is an increased awareness of the portability and validity of ones online persona and professional presence that transcends, or extends the now obligatory although simplistic LinkedIn profile.

On a personal level, all roads lead to Rome (or in this case my ePortfolio). My former university (USQ) allows their alumni to keep their ePortfolio for life, as long as they keep up their profile with them (their password current), so this has allowed me to make my ePortfolio the centre of my professional profile. So I link to my ePortfolio from all my other professional social media sites (not Facebook), my Twitter, my SlideShare, my ResearchGate, etc. There is a really practical reason for this, it means I do not have to keep extensive profiles on all these different systems, I just need to keep one major site up-to-date and do the bare minimum on the others. But it also means I can lead people to my full profile that gives them a fuller picture about who I am, if they are interested (not that I expect anybody to be necessarily).

The ePortfolio can connect to social media sites

So what does this mean for ePortfolio companies as we move to 'what's next'? It means I want be able to integrate feeds from all these types of sites and to allow for my credentials to be seamless. I think I would like to be able to use it as my backpack as well. If I were an institution, I would want to be able to use my site to credential student and staff learning outcomes linkable to my student management system and staff professional development system. Why? Because that is going to make the ePortfolio usable by most, if not all the disciplines, the careers people, HR, professional accrediting bodies and most importantly potential employees.

EPortfolios to document learning and assessment

By Andrea Ghoneim (Danube University Krems, Austria)

The project ATS2020 (Assessment of Transversal Skills) and its learning model puts the learner in the center. For the documentation of the learning process, a learner centered virtual learning environment (VLE, a.k.a. LMS) helps collecting multimedia artefacts, reflections and assessment.

ATS2020 has provided partners from 10 European Union countries and their schools with the learning environments Office 365/OneNote Class notebook (hosted by the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute) and its own Mahara site (hosted at Danube University Krems). At the end of the pilot, a total of 102 schools were using Mahara, 113 were working with Office 365/OneNote Class Notebook. A few schools (21) decided to go their own way, mainly using own developments.

You can read more details on platform use, and dood practices and learning designs can be found via the ATS2020 resources portal. You can also check out a heartwarming video of Spanish students, entitled "We are Maharers".

Mahara theming on a budget

Sam Taylor (Cranfield University, UK)

Cranfield University Mahara homepage with the new buttonsSome institutions are very lucky to have a team that can develop bespoke themes for their online sites. In our team (the Flexible Learning Support Centre) we don’t have that luxury, so we've often just gone for a theme that's 'out of the box' for our Mahara site.

This time around, we thought we'd be a bit smarter and try to customize our site so that the system better reflects our needs. Read our Mahara theme journey from the start to where it is now, and how we have created our own blocks on the dashboard using the "Static pages" editor.

Mahara in upcoming events

You can view all event listings online and subscribe to our events calendar.

Mahoodle Moot, 20 October 2017

Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Cambridge Assessment International Examinations is hosting its first Mahoodle Moot in Cambridge on 20 October 2017. The event will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. featuring speakers from across the UK, Ireland, and continental Europe allowing for discussions around Mahara and Moodle among the participants and presenters.

You can find out more about this free event and register on the event web page.

KiwiMUG, 3 November 2017

Anne Stevens (Bay of Plenty DHB, New Zealand)

Come join us in Tauranga, New Zealand, to network with other Mahara ePortfolio enthusiasts. See and hear what's happening with SmartEvidence, Mahara Mobile and new features in Mahara 17.10. Stephen Bright, Anne Stevens, and Pascale Hyboud-Peron will be co-ordinating this event. Register for this free event today to secure your attendance.

Mahara Hui EU, 30 November - 2 December 2017

Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Tickets are available for the first Mahara Hui EU to be held in Kassel, Germany, from 30 November to 2 December 2017. This unconference gives every participant the chance to share their ideas, insight, and questions in sessions that are going to be organized on the unconference days. Find out more about how you can contribute to the success of the event. Mahara Hui EU has both English and German as official event languages, but other languages can also be spoken in the sessions if all session participants agree.

Mahara in past events

Mahara Hui New Zealand

Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The third Mahara Hui in Australasia took place in April 2017. Educators from across New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, and Switzerland attended the event at AUT in Auckland. Presentations covered a wide range of portfolio use primarily in tertiary education and beyond. We could welcome long-time Mahara community members as well as newcomers like Shaun Pullman, who is now trialling Mahara for employability purposes at AUT as outlined in an article in this newsletter.

You can view the recorded sessions and learn more from each of the presenters.


Shin-Ichiro Kubota (Kumamoto University, Japan)

Mahara Open Forum 2017 (MOF2017) took place at Hiroshima University (Higashi-Hiroshima Campus) in Japan on 4 and 5 September 2017. MOF is organized by the Japanese Mahara User Group (MUG Japan) annually.

As a challenge for the Japanese MUG, MOF2017 organized a pre-conference workshop in which Prof. Takahiro Sumiya showed participants how to create a blocktype plugin. Attendees who found it difficult to set up their own plugins before received a number of tips to jump start their own development.

We had an invited online presentation from Kristina Hoeppner in which she talked about the latest features of Mahara 17.04 and upcoming ones in Mahara 17.10. As the keynote lecturer, Prof. Yasuhiko Morimoto reported on ePortfolio use cases, positioning of the ePortfolio and the importance of the learning community in an active learning environment in primary and secondary education.

After the lecture, we had seven presentations on various aspects of portfolio work. For example, one presentation showcased different use cases of portfolios at universities. In another session, portfolios were looked at from the lens of supporting learning outcomes across multiple subjects and classes and how to accomplish their evaluation. Attendees also had the opportunity to deepen their knowledge in specific areas of Mahara. In the panel discussion that concluded MOF2017, attendees discussed implementation issues and future directions for the use of Mahara based on the reports of six universities currently working with the ePortfolio platform.

For more information, please see the MOF2017 website. Next year, MOF2018 will take place at Kio University in Japan.

MaharaIRL autumn webinar

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

The MaharaIRL user group met for its first online webinar on 19 September 2017 following on from the success of the inaugural face-to-face meeting in April. The group was founded in early 2017 to build a community to share information, support learning, and aid collaboration on ePortfolios across Ireland. Originating from a small group of pilot leads adopting ePortfolios at Dublin City University, the wider MaharaIRL community encompasses faculty, learning technologists, and technical staff from many higher education institutions. Attendees from eight institutions were represented at the webinar which was aligned with the theme "Using ePortfolios to support and assess students on work placement and to track competencies".

Anne Stevens, a Learning Technology leader from New Zealand, presented a fascinating insight to using Mahara ePortfolios to track competencies of graduate nurses. Lively conversation ensued around the delicate balance between providing structure and inhibiting creativity when using a template approach with students as well as the positive impact of ePortfolio grading on the assessors.

A Q&A session around using ePortfolios to support work placement highlighted that the majority of programmes had a work placement element, but there was a three way split between those using, not using and those about to consider using ePortfolios to support same. Time, technical support, money, and resistance to change were identified as the main impediments to integrating ePortfolios.

MaharaIRL online chatFingers were flying across keyboards as those currently using ePortfolios in this capacity offered examples of how they were assessing experiential learning and what supports they were providing. Support referenced included: short videos, introductory lectures, follow-up emails, FAQs, prompt sheets, lectures on professional development and critical thinking, webinars, handbooks, weekly supervision, online forums and student eterns. The collaborative nature of the group was evident through the many offers to share these valuable resources.

The majority of cases discussed did not feature to a peer-to-peer component, but this came out strongly as an area attendees were interested in exploring further. Conversation again turned to templates and whether templating helps or hinders the development of the placement portfolio and digital literacies. Templates, prompts and rubrics proved to be commonly used among the group particularly when first introducing ePortfolios to students.

The webinar then moved on to Kristina's Corner. A specially recorded piece by Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst IT) on tracking competencies through SmartEvidence – many thanks Kristina. The functionality of SmartEvidence proved appealing and the video was posted online for further review.

With time against us, we had a whistle stop tour through attendees' wow moments and woe moments when integrating ePortfolios. Sample wows included: an oral showcase of final-year portfolios, a student expressing gratitude for the 'space' provided by the ePortfolio, and graduates reporting huge success in securing teaching jobs through presenting their portfolios at interviews. The inevitable woes featured educators' own lack of experience, students not being able to see past the need for technical skills, and a desire to see greater focus on softer skills / graduate attributes.

Our webinar closed after an hour of amazing and generous interaction with a suggestion for a next face-to-face meeting or ePportfolio day and perhaps a regular Twitter chat. We hope to plan for those before the end of 2017. Watch this space! If you would like to join our ongoing conversations around sharing impactful ePortfolio practice, please contact me.

Many thanks to attendees from Dublin City University, Marino Institute of Education, Hibernia College, National College of Ireland, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Sligo, Mary Immaculate College, and the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.

You can watch the recording of the webinar.

New term, new connections

Teresa MacKinnon (University of Warwick, UK)

Mahara Users Midlands group photoOur first meeting of the MUM group (Mahara Users Midlands) for the new academic year on 27 September 2017 was a welcome opportunity for the University of Warwick cohort to touch base. We were hoping to welcome Anne Stevens on a visit to the UK from New Zealand but unfortunately she became ill and was unable to come. I hope we will meet another time even if it is just via one of our webinars.

Changes afoot at Warwick meant there was plenty to talk about. Teresa MacKinnon gave a quick overview of previous MUM events and shared the G+ community. Jim Judges, who is moving to a full time teaching role in our Centre for Lifelong Learning shortly, gave us an overview of Warwick's Mahara user statistics and spoke about some interesting uses including Warwick Manufacturing Group who have a cohort of Jaguar Land Rover Masters students using it for their research. As the site [email protected] (a Mahoodle which has been used by the Language Centre for six years) is no longer to be supported, the ePortfolio assessment will now happen through MyPortfolio, the university's Mahara site. School of Modern Languages and Cultures tutors, including language centre tutors, are now to join and student and staff support groups are being set up within it.

We shared information about exporting between Mahara instances using Leap2A or HTML formats and free hosting beyond the institutional setup. The Language Centre has previously suggested to use folioforme and FolioSpaces. Teresa also showed the open badges display from her CMALT review page which automatically picks up public badges belonging to her user identity.

Bernadett Bus from the learning technology support team at the University of Gloucestershire showed us how they are growing their use of Mahara across modules where she currently supports over 1,000 students. A Moodle course is used to curate the key documentation, and face-to-face sessions provide student support. The discussion revealed many similar concerns to my own around the use of templates for ePortfolio creation. We briefly shared views around the importance of learner agency in the Mahara space, a technology which is unusual amongst many educational technologies as it respects the individual's right to experiment without constant tutor or assessor surveillance. We agreed that the use of this tool allows students to learn more about their permissions management, a digital competence which is increasingly important. This was also one of the conclusions arising from the Warwick International Higher Education Academy student engagement project where students reflected on their use of technology within their teaching context. Bernadett made the point that in her experience, user problems subside if they are given greater flexibility rather than a restrictive template.

Jim raised the issue of student push back on ePortfolio use and the discussion concluded that if the implementation is well suited to the learning purpose and good support is available in the early days, then students do overcome their concerns and they are legitimately challenged to move beyond their comfort zone and acquire important 21st century skills.

A brief photo session and some chocolate rounded off this first face-to-face meeting of the year and we hope to continue our connecting, making many new friends.

Mahara in development

Mahara 17.10 is on its way

Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

It feels like the Mahara 17.04 release was not that long ago, and now we are already getting closer to the 17.10 release. We are aiming to have 17.10.0 available either in the third or fourth week of October. That all depends on how the testing of the release candidate goes. And that is where we are looking to you.

We published the release candidate (RC), essentially a beta version of Mahara 17.10, on 29 September 2017. Installing this version on a test or development server, will give you access to all the new features of Mahara and allow you to test them to your heart's content. We look forward to your feedback as that will help make the stable release of Mahara 17.10 later in the month more robust.

This new version of Mahara will include the following, amongst others:

  • New reporting section consolidating all statistics and reports in one area
  • Advanced reporting (in conjunction with Elasticsearch) - initial results of the AAIM project
  • Elasticsearch upgrade to a modern version of Elasticsearch.
  • Search for notifications
  • Consolidation of the page settings screens and buttons on all editing screens
  • Support the upload of a second logo for small devices
  • Group homepage to list all members that have not submitted anything to the group
  • Display of image via data base64
  • Configuration of ADFS via the SAML authentication option

Find out more about the release candidate and how to test it.

Mahara for first-time users

Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Recently at Catalyst, we started a UX (user experience) project looking into the experience of people new to Mahara. We are planning on conducting a series of interviews (in Wellington, online, and at Mahara Hui EU) over the course of the next two months. If you recently gathered feedback from first-time users or are want to recommend people to talk to, please get in touch.

Shared SmartEvidence frameworks

Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Over the Northern hemispheric summer holidays, a number of academic institutions upgraded to a version of Mahara that includes SmartEvidence, which is either Mahara 16.10 or Mahara 17.04. I'm excited that the use of this comprehensive feature is now being explored more than over the last year and look forward to the resulting discussions.

Since competency frameworks are often required across institutions, we set up a space where you can download existing framework files. Recently, Paul Taylor shared six Learning Machine frameworks created as SmartEvidence files. At Catalyst, we set up the new New Zealand teacher standards in both English and Te Reo Māori (both will be included in Mahara 17.10 replacing the existing standards), the latter with support from Ian Cormack who provided translations for the assessment statuses. If you created frameworks and want to make them available, please send them via email for inclusion.

Mahara newsletter July 2017 (Vol. 7, Issue 2)

Welcome to the July 2017 edition of the Mahara newsletter. July marks the half-way point to the next version of Mahara, and It is always great to read the insight from educators around the world on how they encourage the use of portfolios. You can meet some of them in person at the upcoming events.

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 2017, 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

Portfolios for nurses via Nurseportfolio

Liz Manning (College of Nurses, New Zealand)

The College of Nurses (NZ) Inc., provides free access to Nurseportfolio to its membership. The whole site, including the links and help guides, has been designed to support New Zealand registered nurses (RN) and Nurse Practitioners (NP) to create their professional nursing portfolios.

There are 8 collections (templates) of Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ) competencies available to College members to copy as needed:

  • RN:  clinical, clinical management, education, policy, research, management.
  • NP, NP student.

The College also provides the opportunity for other health care providers and employers of nurses to become institution partners on the site and create collections specifically for their needs. Two institutions already take advantage of this:

  • Massey University: NP students use the site to submit a tailored portfolio to the NCNZ for initial NP registration.
  • CHT Healthcare: use the site for the clinical RN's and nurse managers to fulfil the requirements of a NCNZ recertification audit.

Access is via the College website and for College members access is free. Organisations who wish to offer their staff the use of an online portfolio should contact the College administrator. Read the original announcement.

Here’s why I’m advocating no choice in eportfolio platforms

Kerry Johnson (Adelaide, Australia)

At the university at which I work, some instructors feel it is too restrictive to insist students use the ePorfolio platform provided. Some instructors allow students to use whatever they want, others are unsure. Is it okay to allow freedom of choice in the type of ePortfolio tool students use? Hmmmm... I pondered this for a while. But when I heard that students and some instructors felt that ePorfolio assignments could and should be submitted via presentation tools and website creation platforms – I decided to come down on the side of no.

Read on why...

Supporting lecturers and students in the use of Mahara

Carina Sommer (University of Education Weingarten, Germany)

Mahara is the central ePortfolio system of the University of Education Weingarten and comes as a Mahoodle (Mahara connected to Moodle). Mahara is used in all kinds of courses by nearly 3,300 students and lecturers and plays a huge role in assessment using portfolios.

The Center for Information and Media Technology (ZIMT) employs well-trained student "Media Tutors" who share their know-how about Mahara and give practical advice to those that have questions about getting started with Mahara or using specific functionalities. They also developed and maintain materials such as video tutorials and handbooks about Mahara (download the Mahara handbook in German) and other eLearning tools.

By creating these resources, the Media Tutors themselves learn a lot about digital media, solving problems, communicating, and creating didactically meaningful trainings. But they are not alone: The Media Tutors are supported by the eLearning team and heads of the ZIMT Media Center, Dr. Erika Ladurner and Carina Sommer M.A.

Mahara for learning and teaching

Hermann Klocker-Mark (Breitenwang, Austria)

At our school Moodle has been used for more than 15 years widely, and it is maintained by our IT department. This is not true for Mahara.

So to use, i.e. installing and maintaining, my own Moodle/Mahara (Mahoodle) there had to be good reasons, and although I knew some, my experience added more in the last five years of doing so. I would like to share some of them. Recently, I asked my students about their experience when using Mahara, and some of the results will be reported soon.

The short version: my students in our secondary school (aged 10-18) love Mahara and use it very happily. They are very eager to show their products to each other by sharing in our closed classroom group. Grades are very important to them so they turn in their views/collections to Moodle and get teacher feedback. Peer feedback via commenting is used too with great joy and fun.

Read on for more insight.

Mahara in upcoming events

You can view all event listings online and subscribe to our events calendar.

Mahara Open Forum, 4-5 September 2017

Shin-Ichiro Kubota (Kumamoto University, Japan)

The 8th Mahara Open Forum (MOF), MOF2017, will take place at Hiroshima University (Higashi-Hiroshima Campus) in Japan on 4 and 5 September 2017. This Forum is organized by the Japanese Mahara User Group. Details will be announced soon on the MOF2017 website.

Mahara Hui EU: Bring together Mahara users from around Europe

H.D. Hirth (Oskar-von-Miller-Schule, Germany)

Mahara Hui EU will take place for the first time from 30 November to 2 December 2017. It is being organized by the Mahara Hui DE team who wish to invite ePortfolio users from across Europe to the middle of Germany, Kassel, for this unconference.

The conference languages are English and German, but attendees are also free to offer their sessions in other languages if that is more suitable.

The event will be kicked off with hands-on sessions on 30 November 2017 followed by a shared dinner near the famous fairy tale Christmas market in the heart of Kassel.

The next day, Prof. Thomas Strasser (University of Vienna, Austria) will deliver the first keynote. 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 the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Hill Park Willhemshöhe before gathering for the conference dinner.

The third day of Mahara Hui EU will be kicked off by Prof. emeritus Gunter Dueck, an unorthodox thinker who worked at IBM for many years. His keynote will be followed by more sessions offered by attendees before Mahara Hui EU 2017 will come to a close in the late afternoon.

Mahara Hui EU is very affordable at 50€ per attendee for the main conference, 1-2 December 2017, incl. coffee breaks, lunch, and conference dinner. The workshops of the pre-conference on 30 November and the bus tour of Kassel are charged separately. 

You will be able to register for the event on its website from mid-July 2017. We look forward to welcoming you to Kassel.

Mahara newsletter April 2017 (Vol. 7, Issue 1)

Welcome to the April 2017 issue of the newsletter. We are excited to share a lot of development news and to announce numerous events that are happening this year.

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 2017, 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

Dearborn tech coaches help students and teachers explore portfolios

Christopher Kenniburg (Dearborn Public Schools, U.S.A.)

Dearborn Public Schools operates a "Mahoodle" service for students and staff. We have 20,000 students in grades K-12. A new initiative in the district focuses on students taking ownership of their learning and creating individual learn plans. We call this initiative "My Learning Plan", and while the initiative doesn't spell out any one tool, we believe Mahara is the best choice.

There is a lot of innovation from both teachers and students as they get more comfortable with the tools. More importantly is that the tool allows for creativity and not a prescribed way to display portfolios. This creativity is getting all of us to think differently and to look at things in ways we have not before.

We have two tech coaches that tour the district training teachers every day. From blogging to email and everything in between, they are in the classrooms and schools working one-on-one with teachers. I couldn't possibly do their work justice so I will link to several key blog posts about how we are utilizing Mahara.

Developing an online academic presence: Fordson High School students are building My Learning Plans and using Mahara to display and organize everything for them.

Fordson photography students are using Mahara to display their amazing work: Students at Fordson have been using Mahara ePortfolios to collect and curate their best work.

Elementary students are starting off the year with Mahara ePortfolios: This school year started off with a specific focus on goals and artifacts in several elementary schools around the district. Teachers at Geer Park, William Ford, Haigh, Maples, and McDonald have begun using Mahara ePortfolios with their classes to keep track of goals and collect important artifacts throughout the school year.

Transversal skills and ePortfolios

Isabell Grundschober (Danube University Krems, Austria)

The latest ATS2020 (Assessment of Transversal Skills) meeting took place in Zagreb, Croatia, between 13 and 15 March 2017. During the project, a student-centred learning model based on the ePortfolio approach was established. It aims at supporting the development and assessment of transversal skills in K-12 schools in Europe fostering autonomous learning, information competency, collaboration and communication as well as creativity and innovation.

CARnet, the Croatian Academic and Research Network, hosted the meeting in Zagreb. Experiences from implementing the ATS2020 learning model in 10 EU countries were shared. Schools used either Mahara or OneNote/Office 365 when applying the learning model in class. Furthermore, possibilities for using learning analytics were explored.

At the moment, teachers all over Europe are testing the ATS2020 learning model and apply an ePortfolio approach centered around the Mahara plugin "My Learning", which is also available as a template for Office 365. Lesson designs are available via the ATS2020 resources portal. Find the best-of collection of the meeting tweets at "ATS2020 in Zagreb: Our Twitter Story".

All in all, 12,349 students are engaged in the pilot implementation in the following countries: Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Galicia, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, and Slovenia! Read more about the classroom experiences with Mahara/OneNote.

Mahara in upcoming events

MUGSE meeting, 25 April 2017

Anne Hole (University of Sussex, UK)

The University of Sussex will be hosting the spring meeting of the Mahara User Group Southern England (MUGSE) on 25 April 2017. The day will begin with coffee and networking at 11 a.m., move on to presentations and discussions at noon, and finish at 3.30 p.m. A sandwich lunch is very kindly being provided by Catalyst.

Presentations will include:

There are also opportunities for participants to share with the group in either a five-minute lightning talk or a short (15 minutes) presentation. Please complete the registration form to book a place and let the organizers know if you want to offer a presentation.

MaharaIRL user group meeting, 27 April 2017

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

The MaharaIRL user group is looking forward to its first face-to-face meeting at Dublin City University on 27 April 2017. This user group hopes to build a community to share information and support learning and collaboration on ePortfolios across Ireland.

We welcome all ePortfolio users to join us at St. Patricks Campus, Drumcondra, for a morning of speakers from many institutions and roundtable discussions for ePortfolio users of all kinds and stages. Speakers from Dublin City University, University College Dublin, and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland will share their experiences of ePortfolios and Enovation Solutions will present on the new features of the April Mahara release. Round table discussions are planned to enable the sharing of problems (as well as solutions!) and best practices with ePortfolios for teaching and learning. A light lunch will follow the event.

Register for the event.

Mahara User Group meeting, 23 May 2017

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The next Mahara User Group (MUG) meeting will take place online on 23 May 2017 at 3 p.m. EST. If you want to present at the meeting, please send an email to the MUG organizers.

Mahara Hui FR, 28-30 June 2017

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Mahara Hui Francophone will be held in Lyon (France) from 28 to 30 June 2017. More information is available on the MoodleMoot FR Mahara Hui FR website. If you are really quick, you can still propose a session by the end of 1 April 2017. Registration closes on 29 May 2017.

Eportfolio Forum, 20-21 September 2017

Allison Miller (Digital Capability, Australia)

This year's 6th Eportfolio Forum will be focussing on owning, supporting and sharing the ePortfolio journey. The Forum will take place at Monash College/University in Melbourne, Australia, on 20 and 21 September 2017. You can propose a session until 22 May 2017, and and registrations open in May.

Keep up to date with what is happening with this event and other ePortfolios Australia activities by either subscribing to the eNewsletter or by following the blog.

Mahara Hui | EU17, 30 November - 2 December 2017

Dietmar Johlen (LPaso, Germany)

The first Mahara Hui EU will take place in Kassel, Germany, from 30 November to 2 December 2017. The Mahara Hui DE team invites Mahara users from around Europe to attend this first European Mahara Hui. The keynote speakers will be Thomas Strasser on Friday and Gunter Dueck on Saturday. The event is under the motto "agile learning for success". Mahara Hui will be organized as a barcamp. Join us for three days of learning and sharing.

More information will be shared soon on the website and Twitter.

Mahara Hui EU 2017 flyer

Mahara in development

Mahara 17.04 upcoming release

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

It's April again and that means that there will be another Mahara release in the last week of April. You can help us test the release candidate to make the stable release as best as possible. It would help if you tested the new functionality on one of your test installations or used our development instance (for the non-site administration features).

We have a number of new features for you to look forward to:

  • App-style navigation for Mahara
  • Support for single sign-on via LTI from an LMS
  • Pages and collections are displayed on one screen
  • New "Default" theme
  • Portfolios of your friends that you have access to can be tracked easily on your dashboard
  • MochiKit JavaScript has been removed from Mahara
  • Language packs can be updated via CLI

Check out the forum post for more information.

Enhanced analytics in Mahara

David Walker (University of Sussex, UK)

The reporting capabilities within Mahara will be fundamentally enhanced in version 17.10 as a result of a project led by the University of Sussex and Dublin City University.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) funded Advanced Analytics in Mahara (AAIM) project aims to provide Mahara administrators with more fine grained insights into how portfolios are used over time and how learners engage with the system.

A scoping exercise open to the global Mahara community captured requirements to inform the design of the new analytics reports with input from an expert reference group providing further direction to the project team on the proposed developments. 

Four key reports emerged as a result of the scoping exercise:

  • Page activity
  • User activity
  • Collaboration
  • Group activity

The project has engaged Catalyst to deliver these enhanced analytics capabilities which will be available to the entire Mahara community.

Europass plugin for Mahara

Gregor Anželj (POVSOD, Slovenia)

The last minor update of the Europass plugin for Mahara happened in July 2015 when some Europass service features were deprecated. The last major update was back in December 2012. Since then both Mahara and Europass saw major changes. So it was time for a major upgrade of the Europass plugin for Mahara.

The new Europass XML format resulted in changes to the official online editor and these are also reflected in the new version of the Mahara plugin. The user interface of the plugin was rewritten from scratch, and there are many improvements that are hidden under the surface (for web developers that want a bit more insight: SOAP API was replaced with REST API).

The latest update of the plugin contains the new user interface, better support for language-related information (language knowledge as well as language diplomas, certificates and experiences), computer and digital literacy, and other aspects of a curriculum vitae (CV).

Data entered into the plugin in Mahara can be exported into formats such as PDF, Microsoft Word and OpenDocument. Making it possible to import a CV is a priority for the next release of the plugin alongside allowing importing from and / or exporting to professional social networks like LinkedIn and XING.

Download the latest release of the plugin to give it a go.

Mahara newsletter January 2017 (Vol. 6, Issue 4)

Welcome to the first newsletter of 2017. We wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best. In this edition of the newsletter, we share an award-wining implementation and other exciting uses of Mahara, an update on LTI as well as upcoming conferences so you can make sure to put them into your calendar.

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 2017, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Mahara brand refresh

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Mahara project celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016. We looked back at the past 10 years and now are looking forward to many more to come to provide the best ePortfolio system to our growing community.

As part of moving into a new decade of the project's existence, the Catalyst design team updated the Mahara logo and also introduces a new color palette. The new logo will be revealed on 6 January 2017 along with a new look for our project website.

We are excited about our new logo and how it represents the Mahara project in the coming years. We will provide the logo in various formats. The new logo is also going to be used in our mobile app, Mahara Mobile. The current "old" logo will be replaced over time. The Mahara characters, e.g. for user groups and contributors, will remain as they are for the time being.

Follow the Mahara project on Twitter to be informed directly when the new website has gone live.

Mahara in the news

Multi-award winning 'Developing Employable Students within an Authentic & Active Learning Experience' project

Ali Hastie (Scotland's Rural College [SRUC], UK)

SRUC Barony Campus team and award-winning portfolio conceptAccording to a recent JISC report (Technology for Employment), student employability is becoming increasingly important in policy and strategy across higher education, further education and the skills sector. The report concludes that there is evidence of an 'employability gap' in the skills that students are starting on day one of employment.

Employers are demanding that students are better prepared for work and not only have the knowledge but the important skill sets.

Since 2011, at SRUC's Barony Campus, Arboriculture students have carried out the team-based extra-curricular Practical Contract Management (PCM) activity, giving students an opportunity of a real-life learning experience with real work-based contracts.

Both the Arboriculture lecturer and the e-Learning Developer at SRUC's Barony Campus, with support from SRUC's Research Division, and teaching departments at Barony Campus have produced a ground breaking initiative in developing and digitally showcasing 'Employable Students' within an authentic and active learning experience.

SRUC's virtual learning environment (Moodle) was used effectively for the Arboriculture student teams for e-Communication, e-Collaboration, knowledge and digital evidence sharing and team-based e-Assessments.

SRUC's Mahara helped Arboriculture student teams to collaborate, build and embed rich digital evidence, including the use of GoPro and Drone video evidence, according to online guidance, findings and conclusions prepared within the team-based Moodle forums.

More information surrounding the award-winning project can be found within the online report on Barony Campus' Mahara site and a news article.

Mahara in use

Integrating ePortfolio in classroom using group pages

Kátia Aiko Murata Arend (Universität Leipzig, Germany)

Portfolio example from Uni LeipzigThe Language Center at University of Leipzig has been using ePortfolios for foreign language learning for over ten years. Currently, we are looking at what is working well, what we have to improve and what is the best way to introduce the portfolio in new modules in a research project. In order to answer these and other questions, we analyzed 74 ePortfolios and asked 75 students to answer our questionnaire.

Our research areas are:

  1. The importance of integrating the ePortfolio into classroom work
  2. How to make learning processes visible in ePortfolios
  3. How to support reflection around learning process in ePortfolio
  4. Components that help students and teacher working with ePortfolios
  5. Assessment with ePortfolio

In this article, I present our results about the importance of integrating the ePortfolio into the classroom. I will share results from the other areas in future articles.

The evaluation showed that the first and most important step to successfully introducing the portfolio in a course or module is to plan the course / module according to the portfolio use. The success depends on how the teachers embed the portfolio in the respective didactic scenario. The portfolio has to be part of the curriculum and part of the class. It should not be used separately from the classroom. If the portfolio is implemented isolated from classes, for example, just as a personal learning environment for students or mere documentation, there is the danger that the students regard the work with the portfolio as a burden and the greatest potential of working with portfolios is lost. The portfolio shall be the beginning, the middle and the end of a lesson.

But how can we bring the portfolio into the classroom? The group page offers a great instrument to involve the entire group in the preparation of the class, during the class as well as afterwards.

Using portfolios before class

The students are invited to prepare the next class together, creating a paradigm shift, i.e. changing the role of the learner from consumer to producer, working collaboratively. This approach can also help to increase the motivation of students. The preparation should involve the entire group and can be collected and presented in a group page, for example:

  • Students should read a text in preparation for the class: each student gets the task to ask a question for the text and answer a question asked. Both questions and answers are saved on the group page.
  • A topic is introduced and explained through different examples or sources: Each student receives a task to familiarize themselves with an example, whether in the form of pictures, video or words. The participants save what they have discovered in the group page.

Here is an example of a group page created by students studying Brazilian Portuguese. The theme of the week was "Tourism in Brazil". Each student received the name of a place, was asked to research the place and add their findings to the group page.

Using portfolios during class

The information that the students researched about the topic they were given is presented in the classroom. The teacher opens the group page and each student shares with the whole group what they have learned, and what the uploaded picture, video or text means. If the activity was to prepare questions about a text, the teacher collects the questions and discusses them with the whole group.

Using portfolios after class

Right after class, the students continue with their research or summarize what they have learned and write a short reflection about it in their individual portfolios.


The group in which this activity was trialed last semester rated the activity as very motivating as they could learn from others' discovery rather than just from their teacher, and they could contribute effectively to the class. Each student could share their point of view and discuss it. Besides, this group showed more acceptance and motivation to use the ePortfolio regularly than other groups.

As a side effect of this activity, it was possible to discuss copyright of online material, specifically the use of pictures and videos, with the students as they conducted their research online. Most of them heard about Creative Commons for the first time, learned how to interpret the licenses and how to find material permissible to use.

The good acceptance of this activity by the students encouraged other language teachers at the university to give it a go and introduce group portfolios into their classes. They met with the same enthusiasm for the activity and the students enjoyed compiling their portfolio pages.

KidZ-Showcase-Portfolios as an instrument to support school development

Petra Szucsich (PH Wien, Austria)

Map of Austria to reach KidZ Showcase PortfoliosKidZ ("Klassenzimmer der Zukunft", engl. "classroom of the future") is an innovative educational project initiated by the Federal Ministry of Education in Austria (2013-2016) with the main objective of making learning with ICT (Information and Communication Technology) part of regular school life.

In the context of KidZ, the Centre for Learning Technologies and Innovation (ZLI) at University of Teacher Education in Vienna collected numerous experiences of participating students and teachers and made them available via an ePortfolio collection on Mahara.

Starting out from a map of Austria linked to the various Austrian provinces, users have access to the 39 individual participating schools. The school portfolios illustrate figures and facts about the school, its vision and objectives concerning the project, participating classes and teachers as well as projects and good practice examples.

In addition to the portfolio pages, more than 100 useful tools and resources for learning were collected via the social bookmarking tool Diigo, and around 100 videos created by both students and teachers were assembled on Vimeo.

Apart from that, the showcase portfolios represent a valuable resource for further research. The hypothesis is that they can be taken as a basis for drawing general didactic conclusions in regard to lesson and school development. The ZLI is currently involved in researching in how far these development showcases can be a useful instrument to accompany, evaluate and support school development processes in general.

The showcase portfolios are in German, but there is a short summary in English.

Mahara in upcoming events

New York Regional ePortfolio Conference, 2-3 March 2017

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

AAEEBL, CUNY and Pace University organize a regional AAEEBL conference in New York City on 2 and 3 March 2017. While it is not strictly a Mahara conference, we do want to alert you to this great opportunity to meet fellow ePortfolio enthusiasts, especially since Pace University, a long-time supporter of Mahara, is co-orgainizing and hosting the event.

Check the conference website for more information.

Mahara Hui New Zealand, 5-7 April 2017

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Mahara Hui camp fireIn 2017, Mahara Hui New Zealand will be held again in Auckland and is organized by AUT University and Catalyst. We invite Kiwi and overseas Mahara users and those who want to get to know Mahara. The past events were an opportunity for teachers, lecturers and learning technologists outside of academia to share their uses of ePortfolios and learn from each other.

The first day will be a workshop / hackfest day allowing participants to collaborate together in defining a new feature, working out an issue they are having and experiencing Mahara hands-on. The following two days are reserved for presentations of using Mahara in different contexts.

The call for papers is still open until 27 January 2017. You can also already register for the hui.

Mahara Hui FR, 28-30 June 2017

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Mahara Hui Francophone will be held in Lyon (France) from 28 to 30 June 2017. More information will be made available on the MoodleMoot FR Mahara Hui FR website later in the year.

Mahara Hui | EU17, 30 November - 2 December 2017

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The first Mahara Hui EU will take place in Kassel, Germany, from 30 November to 2 December 2017. The Mahara Hui DE team invites Mahara users from around Europe to attend this first European Mahara Hui. More information will be shared later in 2017.

Mahara in past events

Mahara Hui DE16, 25 November 2016

Dietmar Johlen (Herwig-Blankertz-Schule, Germany)

Mahara Hui DE coasterThe 4th Mahara Hui DE16 in Germany took place at the Werner-Heisenberg-Schule in Rüsselsheim on 25 of November 2016.

We started the barcamp with a keynote by Joachim Worf, Senior Education Delivery Manager at Dell EMC on "Digital learning today and tomorrow". Directly after the keynote, Kristina Höppner gave us a short introduction to the Smart Evidence functionality in Mahara by video call live from Wellington, New Zealand.

The 40 participants set up a program of parallel sessions, including Mahara for newbies, sketch-notes digital and on paper, examples of portfolios and of course the classic cool tool session.

Markus Bloos and his team did a great job organizing this hui in a wonderful way. He even composed a song.

We look forward to Mahara Hui EU17 in Kassel from 30 November to 2 December 2017. 

Read the full report in German.

Participants of Mahara Hui DE 2016; photo by Thomas Eichmann, used with permission
Photo by Thomas Eichmann, Used with permission

Mahara in development

Learning analytics for Mahara

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

An ePortfolio Analytics research project, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and being led by the University of Sussex in partnership with Dublin City University is seeking your input to enhance the analytic reporting tools available within the ePortfolio platform Mahara.

We are seeking to understand what additional analytics will support individual academics and institutions to evaluate learner engagement and support academic retention activities. Your contribution to this study will form the basis of work to enhance learning analytics within Mahara and will be shared back to the community.

We would really appreciate you clicking this link and completing the Google Form with your input (approx 3 minutes).

Funding opportunities

LTI integration

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

With the maturing of ePortfolio use at schools and universities, more and more look into connecting Mahara to their learning management system (LMS).

Currently, Mahara and Moodle have a tight integration, which does not only allow for single sign-on (SSO) between the two but also the transfer of certain activity content from Moodle to Mahara and the assessment of Mahara portfolios directly in Moodle.

Institutions that work with a different LMS cannot take advantage of this tight integration and either have to make do without it and employ workarounds or develop custom solutions that can be costly to maintain.

We received an increased level of questions around LTI integration in November 2016. Since it has become important for many institutions to integrate their portfolio with LMSs other than Moodle, the Mahara project makes LTI integration a development priority for 2017 and is prepared to implement phase 1, SSO support, in Mahara 17.04 if the majority of the funding is available by the end of January 2017.

If you are interested in contributing to this project, please check out the forum post, and get in touch.

Enhancing the Mahara assignment submission plugin

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Australian National University uses the Mahara assignment submission plugin to assess Mahara portfolios in Moodle. It is looking for partners to co-fund an enhancement to the plugin to update settings properly when the assignment settings are changed. Please see the forum post for more information and to get in touch with Swe Lynn.

While the Mahara project is moving towards the LTI integration to replace the existing Mahara assignment submission plugin for Moodle, the plugin would still be relevant for at least one more year.