Journal

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 newsletter@mahara.org.

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.

MOF2017

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 Languages@Warwick (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 newsletter@mahara.org.

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 January 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 newsletter@mahara.org.

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 newsletter@mahara.org.

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.

Findings

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.

Mahara newsletter October 2016 (Vol. 6, Issue 3)

Welcome to the October 2016 edition of the Mahara newsletter. This is the month for a new version of Mahara to be released. You can also find great inspiration from the user stories and meet with other Mahara users at 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 January 2017, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

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

Happy anniversary

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Happy anniversary, MaharaThe Mahara project can look back at 10 years of development. The idea of creating an ePortfolio system as personal learning environment was conceived in 2005 by a number of New Zealand tertiary institutions to complement their learning management systems, and development work started in 2006. Penny Leach, one of the original developers of Mahara, pushed the first lines of code into the Mahara codebase on 27 September 2006.

Over the past 10 years, the Mahara project saw lots of activity and growth both in its user community as well as functionality thanks to the contributions from around the world.

Mahara is now not only used at the tertiary level, but also by schools, training providers, associations, and businesses world-wide.

We'd like to thank you all - developers, translators, graphic designers, testers, bug reporters, UX designers, administrators, user support, learners and teachers - for your contributions in growing Mahara over the years.

Mahara in use

Mahara LearningWheel - A model of digital pedagogy

Jaye Ryan (Birmingham City University, UK)

Captain's wheel for the LearningWheelAs the Captain of this new ship, the Mahara LearningWheel, I would like to welcome you on-board for the 'maiden voyage'. On route I beseech you to cast your nets far and wide and share this amazing resource which began at Birmingham City University.

As the LearningWheel gained momentum, support, suggestions and ideas for enhancement were gained from 'near', Kent, Milton Keynes, Scotland, Southampton, Swindon, Warwick and 'far', Canada, New Zealand, Slovenia and Switzerland.

The resource has collected ideas and suggestions for digital teaching and learning within four key areas, namely Collaboration, Learning Content, Assessment and Communication. Mahara ePortfolio is a learning strategy and so much more than a digital collection, it has the capacity to encourage a self-regulated learner. Zimmerman (2002) identifies three phases of self-regulation, that of Self Reflection, Performance Control and the Forethought Phase, which inspires task analysis and self-motivational belief. 

At Birmingham City University, Mahara is used widely within nursing and midwifery, with a strong emphasis towards personal development planning and reflective writing. The Nursing and Midwifery Council has recently updated its processes of revalidation, whereby registration is achievable upon successful completion and authorisation of up to five pieces of reflective writing. Additionally, registrants must demonstrate 450 practice hours and 35 hours of continuing professional development. Mahara is an ideal way to enrich and support this process towards self-regulation and self-awareness.

[Jaye Ryan will be a keynote speaker at Mahara Hui UK 2016]

Project "KidZ Showcases 2015/16"

Petra Szucsich and Klaus Himpsl-Gutermann (PH Wien, Austria)

Screenshot of a KidZ showcase KidZ ("Klassenzimmer der Zukunft", English "classroom of the future") is an innovative educational project initiated by the Austrian Ministry of Education and Women in 2013. It involves around 80 Austrian schools that strive to make learning with ICT part of regular school life.

The primary goal of the project "KidZ Showcases 2015/16" was to document processes and experiences of the KidZ project. For this reason a team of researchers from the ZLI (Centre for Learning Technologies and Innovation) at PH Wien (University of Teacher Education Vienna) created an ePortfolio collection of 36 KidZ schools on Mahara during the school year 2015/16.

All 36 schools were visited by the PH Wien team, and participating teachers and students were asked to reflect on their projects and experiences collected and carried out in the context of KidZ. Numerous good practice examples and innovative educational concepts are now documented in these experiences. For example, check out the overview page for all participating schools in Vienna and the showcase of AHS Heustadelgasse.

Mahara Inductions the easy way!

Sam Taylor, Angelique Bodart and Aurélie Owens (Cranfield Defence & Security, Cranfield University, UK)

New academic year = time to revisit and rethink the past year's activities.

Example of student having created first page in an induction workshopAs with many other education institutions, we at Cranfield University (Defence and Security) have been working on developing a suite of online help guides for our staff and students that often get overlooked. In many cases, users just want to know 'How does it work?' and don't want to read through pages of information.

As the Mahara word is spreading across both the Cranfield and Defence Academy campuses (approximately 2 hours apart by car), a new approach was needed that could help users evaluate Mahara's potential without having to schedule a training session.

We have devised a new induction session that can be either completed online (self-directed) or in an IT room (teacher-led). The session lasts for around 30 minutes and covers all the basics:

  • How to find Cranfield Mahara
  • Creating a page
  • Adding content (text, image & YouTube video)
  • Choosing a theme and layout
  • Sharing the page

It was decided that instead of the usual 'create a page about yourself' approach, we would give them a topic to research and report back on. This allowed the session to maintain its focus on how Mahara works, rather than distracting the user with having to reflect on what they could be showcasing. For this activity we decided on 'lesser-known animals' and randomly assigned an animal to each participant. Of course, with Mahara originating in New Zealand, we had to include one of its own unique inhabitants: the Kakapo!

Once the user has finished their page they are encouraged to email the secret URL to our team to receive a Mahara Induction Badge (via our Moodle VLE). This allows us to keep a log of who's done the induction. Not only does this provide us with evidence of their learning but also highlights that it really doesn't take long to get to grips with Mahara, leaving more time to invest in content creation. Showcasing a few of the examples also illustrates that creativity is a big part of using Mahara; you might be required to gather the same type of content but how you present it will be different.

We recently ran this induction session with our specialist library staff who all completed the activity with very little intervention from us. One colleague in particular has emailed to say how much she enjoyed the activity!

The induction page is available for you to look at. If you would like to use our page to form your own induction, then please drop us an email to let us know - we like to feel useful. :)

From zero to live in 27 days

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

Screenshot of the DCU Loop Reflect siteIt's been a whirlwind journey, but our Mahara instance, named Loop Reflect, is now live. Dublin City University students and lecturers returned to classes on 19 September 2016 to find new opportunities to record, assess and showcase their learning journeys.

Initial internal discussions to review our objectives for a learning portfolio and examine suitable platforms took place in early summer. However a first meeting with our technical integration partner Enovation to plan our Mahara implementation only took place on 9 August 2016. Over 27 working days, a platform theme was developed, supporting videos and guides created and pilot projects identified. Backend work to enable a single sign-on via the LMS is now complete and the pilot leads, our learning portfolio champions, are now ready to seamlessly introduce Loop Reflect to over 600 students.

Amazing what you can accomplish in 27 days. We hope to present our journey at the upcoming Mahara Hui UK in November 2016.

Robotics in primary school: A teaching and presentation portfolio

Andrea Gumpert and Urs Wildeisen (PH Bern, Switzerland)

Two girls with a robotic dog in handAt the Institute for Primary Education at the University of Teacher Education in Berne (PH Bern), Mahara has been in use since 2009 for collaboration, networking and reuse of learning materials, which are created and shared in ePortfolio projects during the teacher training program. These are key features enhancing the quality of education at PH Bern. 

The result of the project "Robotics in primary school" is a presentation portfolio, which documents a robotics project in a primary school. This example shows that Mahara can be used as connection platform for different target groups (university students, lecturers and school students). The aim of the portfolio is to combine artifacts of all three target groups and to represent an inter-institutional platform. You can update the content dynamically, share new reflections or reports and add comments. Ideas of technology-enhanced education are presented and made accessible to university and school students, lecturers as well as external stakeholders via Mahara. Read the full article in German and explore the project resources.

Munich University of Applied Sciences launches customized Mahara online guide

Katja Latteier (Hochschule München, Germany)

This summer the team of the E-Learning Center at Munich University of Applied Sciences (MUAS) launched an online guide for users of its Mahara platform. The guide was developed specifically with the University's lecturers and students in mind.

An introduction explaining ePortfolios in general and detailing the advantages of Mahara is followed by a collection of pages with step-by-step information for using Mahara at MUAS. Users learn how to create, manage and share pages, collections and groups. Screenshots illustrate and highlight where to find specific buttons and settings in Mahara.

Thanks to many of Mahara's special features, such as the customizable navigation menu and the retractable content blocks, it was possible to create a user-friendly layout, which allows for simple navigation. The online guide, which is in German, can be accessed freely.

Mahara in upcoming events

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

KiwiMUG invites to Mahara Hui @ AUT, 4 October 2016

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

This year, the Mahara community in New Zealand organizes a series of local Mahara events. Earlier in the year, we met at the University of Waikato. On 4 October 2016, we will gather at AUT University for a half-day of sharing Mahara experiences and taking a look at Mahara 16.10. Last-minute registrations are still accepted if you want to come along to this free event.

A local Mahara Hui will be held in Wellington at the end of October 2016. Check our website and Twitter for more information in the next few days.

Mahara Hui UK 2016, 17-18 November 2016

Joey Murison (Catalyst IT Europe, UK)

Mahara Hui UK, the biggest Mahara community gathering in the UK, will be heading to the University of Sunderland on 17 and 18 November 2016. This year we will have a number of UK and international guests, including Lilian Hugues from Eticeo Santé (France) who will deliver one of the keynotes, focusing on his application of Mahara to capture informal learning in the health sector. The second keynote speaker will be Jaye Ryan from Birmingham City University, the Captain of the Mahara LearningWheel.

On the agenda will be a showcase of Mahara 16.10 functionality and key themes including:

  •     Implementation and adaptation
  •     Student experience
  •     Employability and work-based learning
  •     Enhancing teaching and learning, including digital literacies
  •     Technical, administration and developers

As always there will be a strong technical and student focus in the presentations, complemented with an evening of networking over nibbles and a glass or two.

The call for proposals closes on 9 October 2016. You can register for the event.

Please register on the website to receive updates and follow us on Twitter, or get involved using the hashtag #maharaUK16.

Mahara DE16 – Mahara Hui Rüsselsheim, 25 November 2016

Dietmar Johlen (Herwig-Blankertz-Schule, Germany)

Stakeholders in all areas of education can share experiences, ideas, recipes and concepts in an open barcamp atmosphere.

While learning management systems like Moodle are widely used in many places around the world, ePortfolio systems like Mahara are not yet as popular. As you pursue knowledge and development through lifelong learning, it is necessary to record and capture the acquired knowledge and skills. In addition to recording learning evidence, Mahara allows you to visualize and showcase all learning processes thru lifelong learning.

Barcamps are user-organized conferences (unconferences). They are open participatory workshop events, the content of which is provided by participants in the form of a presentation or a work example. To participate, you may submit your work examples and presentations at the conference. All presentations should be provided under the context of schools, universities and organizations' education strategies.

The conference languages are English and German. The conference will be held in Rüsselsheim, Hessen, in Germany, on 25 November 2016. For unconference information and registration, please visit the Mahara DE website, which will contain more information soon.

Mahara Hui New Zealand - Australia, 5-7 April 2017

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Save the date for the next Mahara Hui in New Zealand. We will gather for a hackfest / workshops on 5 April 2017, which will be followed by two days of presentations on 6 and 7 April 2017. The hui will take place at AUT in Auckland. Watch for further information on our website and Twitter, in particular the call for contributions, which is going to be released before the end of October 2016.

Mahara in past events

Mahara User Group South England, 25 July 2016

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

In July I had the privilege to participate in a MUGSE (Mahara User Group South England) meeting organized by Sam Taylor, and Aurélie Owens (Cranfield Defence & Security). Mahara users came from all corners of South England to share their ideas and work together with other participants in a workshop. For more in-depth information, you can read my blog post.

Mahara Open Forum, 7-8 September 2016

Shin-Ichiro Kubota (University of Miyazaki, Japan)

The Mahara Open Forum 2016 (MOF2016) took place between 7 and 8 September 2016 at the University of Yamanashi in Japan. MOF is organized by the Japanese Mahara User Group (MUG).

As a challenge for the Japanese MUG, MOF2016 had a poster session. There were five posters, which included scenarios for a teaching portfolio, career portfolio, research journal, Mahara for HRD and reflective portfolio. For more information, please see the MOF2016 website.

Next year, MOF2017 will take place at Hiroshima University (Higashi-Hiroshima Campus) in Japan. Join the Japanese MUG Facebook group to receive updates and stay in touch.

Mahara in development

Release of Mahara 16.10

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Work on Mahara 16.10 is going to be finished soon. We are looking to release this latest version of Mahara around mid October 2016 and are very excited about the new features that we were able to include in this release. You can watch a brief presentation on the new features or a longer demo on SmartEvidence, the biggest new feature in Mahara 16.10, which allows you to set up competency frameworks and map portfolio evidence to them.

We are in the last stages of testing. You can still help.

Mahara newsletter July 2016 (Vol. 6, Issue 2)

Welcome to the summer / winter 2016 edition of the Mahara newsletter. Take out your calendar and mark all the dates of Mahara events starting tomorrow for the Northern Hemispheric summer.

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 2016, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

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

Mahara in use

Introducing ePortfolio into undergraduate nursing

Carmel Haggerty (Whitireia New Zealand)

Portfolios are a common assessment tool used in undergraduate nursing education internationally (McMullan, 2005; Oermann, 2002). As nursing educators move to ePortfolio, there would appear to be little consistency in how to use the ePortfolio most effectively for student learning and / or assessment. There is much discussion and disagreement between and within nursing programmes in regard to the platform to use. Add to this the fact that the use of technology in undergraduate nursing education can be stressful for both students and tutorial staff (Andrews & Cole, 2015; McMullan, 2005).

We decided to go with Mahara, mainly as it was available through our existing LMS and would be internally support by our ICT Helpdesk and Online Learning Team. However as we became more familiar with the platform and were upgraded to the latest version (including the CPD plugin), we found that Mahara met all of our needs for a professional undergraduate nursing degree and would continue to meet the needs of graduates into their careers. 

Although Andrews and Cole (2015) saw the ePortfolio platform Mahara as complex, they also saw its benefits and recommended to introduce small components of it at one time rather than all at once. They identified a three-stage approach over the three years of an undergraduate nursing degree, with complexity and technical skill increasing over the three years. The end output would be that students develop over time an extensive portfolio of evidence that could be used for assessment and employment purposes. Our research project supported this approach and recommended that the implementation of ePortfolio into any programme of study needs to be well planned, supported by sound pedagogy, and evaluated overtime.

Scaling the social media mountain using Mahara

David Bell (Kiwiconnexion, New Zealand)

On the social learning site kiwiconnexion.nz, the overwhelming majority of users are in the 50+ age group. Understandably, perhaps, the most frequent user criticism of Mahara is that it is hard to learn.

The reality is that Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are also hard to learn for the majority of older adult users who are not used to working with software like this.

Let's acknowledge there is a problem here. And then ask a different question.

What does the finished output of an experienced Mahara user look like? How well do their pages and collections scan? Do they stand out? Is the result a handsome design that invites participation?

If the answer to that is yes, then users will want to learn not just how to curate and display their content in their Mahara instance, they will want to design it so that others will want to participate in it.

Our site was begun under the premise that creative work has to be designed to both inform and be marketable.

Our objective is social learning around leadership and design within a voluntary organization.

It's an ongoing project, always a work in progress, an evolution of ideas and concepts. You can check out how we are encouraging Mahara as the platform of choice for social learning of this kind, And how Open Badges are integral to social learning development.

Dual@eCommunity: Mahara ePortfolios in career-integrated study programmes

Angelika Köhnlein-Welte and Christiana Nolte (Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany)

The Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University Villingen-Schwenningen has 2,500 students and, in cooperation with almost 1,000 selected companies and social institutions, offers  career-integrated study programmes in the Business and Social Sciences schools. At the School of Social Science, we have been using Mahara since 2009.

Today our current Version is 15.10. We appreciate the regular updates, the added and improved important features, and enhanced usability of our Mahara installation.

Active participation varies between 30 and 240 students on a yearly basis. We employ Mahara for study deliverables that are created by the students while they are working in a social institution away from the university. We use Mahara to provide continuous support and counseling, information and communication, for feedback, for group organization and networking, as well as encouragement for peer learning.

The students develop individual reflection portfolios and deliver these portfolios as a structured study deliverable. The reflection portfolios are shared and discussed in student peer groups. We call a set of portfolios shared to one group of students transfer portfolios. These portfolios show different approaches to the transfer of theoretical concepts to practice in the field of social work.

Further information, especially about the strong and the weak points of the approach you can find in a recent presentation.

ATS2020 getting prepared for classroom piloting

Andrea Ghoneim (Danube University Krems, Austria)

ATS2020 project partners convened in Dublin, Ireland, on 9 and 10 May 2016 to discuss further milestones of assessment of transversal skills. Piloting of the ATS2020 Learning and Assessment Model in classrooms across Europe will start in autumn. Students, aged 10 to 15 years, and their teachers will practice assessment for learning based on an ePortfolio approach. Following the ATS2020 framework for transversal skills, the pilot will focus on autonomous learning, information competency, collaboration and communication as well as creativity and innovation.

ATS2020 aims to provide teachers and students with an innovative model for learning through assessment. The model is going to be piloted in classrooms throughout Europe. A brochure and the project website give a good overview over the project which is funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union. Assessment for learning is done within ePortfolio platforms, following a model of self-evaluation, setting learning targets, collecting artefacts to document the learning path and assessment thorugh peers and the teacher.

The ATS2020 partners had a close look at a range of ePortfolio platforms and other personal learning environments to decide upon the suitability for this approach to assessment for learning. On this basis and on the basis of the input of a range of key teachers, Mahara and Microsoft's Office 365 were chosen as the main platfoms for the pilot. Mahara provides tailormade support of the ATS2020 learning cycle with its plugin MyLearning.

In the framework of the ATS2020 project a range of CPD material, including guides for Mahara users, have been developed. They are openly available via the project's Mahara space. Find out more.

Mahara on the look out

Experienced PHP developer for Mahara core

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Mahara core team is looking for an experienced PHP developer to start immediately. We are based in Wellington (who doesn't want to live in New Zealand?) and are looking for a new team member to join us in the city where the Mahara project was founded. You can learn more about he role on the Catalyst job page. Working in the Catalyst Mahara team is exciting because you contribute almost all work to Mahara core.

Researching portfolios as learning and qualitative evaluation tool

Laura Muñoz González (Universidad de Málaga, Spain)

Mahara started to be used in the Faculty of Education of Universidad de Málag six years ago in 2010. Its implementation was due to interest by three university teachers: Encarna Soto, Mª José Serván and Rosa Caparrós.
 
Starting this year, their students have been using Mahara as the only evaluation and qualification tool through an interdisciplinary project in Early Childhood Education with an innovative methodology where experience and mentoring are fundamental pillars. For these student teachers, Mahara ePortfolio is a valuable tool for developing teaching competencies stimulating critical and reflective thinking, creativity, definitely, the reconstruction of practical knowledge of future teachers.

At present, I am researching these educational experiences. The focus of my PhD study is the portfolio as a learning and qualitative evaluation tool in initial teacher education and its influence on the development of practical thinking skills. I would like to learn from others in the community who have similar experiences at other European universities. Please get in touch via email.

How do online portfolios change readability?

Shen Zhang (AUT University, New Zealand)

We ran a workshop for a group of students who are studying Public Policy. A question came up from the lecturers on the differences between reading essay documents v.s. Mahara pages. 

Traditionally, a lot of essay type of assignments are written in word documents. The way how you read it is from the top to the bottom line by line. If the same essay is created in a Mahara page to incorporate rich media to help with expressing ideas, it's a very different way of reading information from the audience point of view.

The lecturers want to understand how the page design affects the person who reads the information. Is anyone here aware of any research around this aspect? Is there any kind of guideline we can provide to the students when they are designing their pages. Please share your thoughts or research online.

Mahara in upcoming events

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

Moodle-Mahara-Barcamp Hessen 2016, 2 July 2016

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Moodle-Barcamp in the German state of Hessia will feature Mahara as well this year. If you haven't made any plans for 2 July 2016 yet and are in the area, you will be able to catch up with and share your own use of Moodle and Mahara in Dreieich. View the website for more information.

Mahara Hui Francophone, 6-8 July 2016

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The MoodleMoot / Mahara Hui Francophone is also very close with well over 350 registered participants who will make their way to HES-SO Valais-Wallis for the kick-off of this event on 6 July 2016. Martin Dougiamas from Moodle HQ will attend in person, and this event is the latest in a series of successful events where both technologies are featured besides talking about learning concepts and dicussing pedagogical questions.

MUGSE Summer meeting, 25 July 2016

Sam Taylor (Defence Academy, UK)

Roger Emery, Domi Sinclair and Sam Taylor would like to invite you to the next MUGSE meeting!

Mahara Users South England logoThe next Mahara User Group South England (MUGSE) meeting will be taking place at the Defence Academy for the United Kingdom, hosted by Cranfield University. All are invited, but priority will be given to those in the South as there is a limited number of spaces.

Find out more about MUGSE.

This free event is a chance for you to meet key Mahara users across the South of England, share your knowledge and experiences, and put questions to developers and teachers.

Date: Monday 25th July 2016, 9:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Venue: Global Classroom, Cranfield Defence and Security, Defence Academy for the UK
Register: fl@cranfield.ac.uk

The loose agenda is as follows:

  • Workshop with Kristina Hoeppner
  • Case study from Cranfield Defence and Security
  • Show & Tell: Supporting Mahara Implementation (6 mini demos from across the region)
  • Mahara Clinic: A chance to put your questions to other Mahara users and developers
  • Networking time from 2:30pm onwards

We look forward to hearing from you!

Mahara User Group logoMahara User Group meeting, 9 August 2016

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The next Mahara User Group (MUG) meeting will take place on 9 August 2016. The details still need to be finalized, including whether it will be held as face-to-face meeting somewhere in New York, as online meeting or as a blended one. If you are interested in hosting this MUG meeting, please get in touch with Heather Askildsen. Join the MUG Facebook group to receive a notification as soon as more information is available.

Mahara Open Forum 2016, 7-8 September 2016

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The call for proposals as well as pre-registration for the next Mahara Open Forum (MOF) open today. Submissions are accepted until 22 July 2016. The organizers of MOF invite participants to the University of Yamanashi in Japan. For more information, please see the MOF website and join the Japanese Mahara Users Group.

Mahara DE16 – Mahara Hui Rüsselsheim, 25 November 2016

Dietmar Johlen (Herwig-Blankertz-Schule, Germany)

Stakeholders in all areas of education can share experiences, ideas, recipes and concepts in an open barcamp atmosphere.

While learning management systems like Moodle are widely used in many places around the world, ePortfolio systems like Mahara are not yet as popular. As you pursue knowledge and development through lifelong learning, it is necessary to record and capture the acquired knowledge and skills. In addition to recording learning evidence, Mahara allows you to visualize and showcase all learning processes thru lifelong learning.

Barcamps are user-organized conferences (unconferences). They are open participatory workshop events, the content of which is provided by participants in the form of a presentation or a work example. To participate, you may submit your work examples and presentations at the conference. All presentations should be provided under the context of schools, universities and organizations' education strategies.

The conference languages are English and German. The conference will be held in Rüsselsheim, Hessen, in Germany, on 25 November 2016. For unconference information and registration, please visit the Mahara DE website, which will contain more information soon.

Mahara in past events

Mahara Users Midlands (MUM): Looking forward, 22 June 2016

Teresa MacKinnon (University of Warwick, UK)

The second meeting of the Mahara Users Midlands took place on 22 June 2016 in the beautiful Curzon Building at Birmingham City University hosted by Dr Andrew Hollyhead and provided the perfect opportunity to share and plan our way forward.

Birmingham City University

Jaye Ryan
shared the work she is leading on creating a Learning Wheel on the use of Mahara. This visual way of highlighting the skills and approaches that work well for ePortfolio implementation is a great way to share the impact of Mahara use. Once the wheel is ready, we will be sharing it through the usual social media channels. So look out for that #mum #mahara share!

The Learning Wheel as per http://learningwheel.co.uk

Mahara Users Midlands logoOur future plans include having a physical presence at the Association for Learning Technology conference at University of Warwick in September and following up with an online meeting on 13 September 2016 at 3 p.m. All those using Mahara in the UK who are geographically between Scotland and the South / London (where user groups already exist), whatever your sector or role, are very welcome to join our group. Help shape the agenda and share tips and tricks.

Teresa also had news of the new business partnership between Moodlerooms (host to Languages@Warwick) and Mahara, which brings the latest Mahara instance to the site.

You can find the MUM network on mahara.org and on Google+ and we love our new logo, which perfectly combines the crafts and industries at the heart of the UK.

Mahara in development

Onto Mahara 16.10

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Work on Mahara 16.10, scheduled for release in the second half of October 2016 is well underway. Several features have already been committed to the codebase and several more are already in review along with numerous bug fixes. If you want to propose features for Mahara 16.10, please submit them to our code review system in July for consideration. Bug fixes are accepted at all times.

Or you can join a translation team and translate Mahara and / or help translating the Mahara user manual.

Mahara Newsletter April 2016 (Vol. 6 / Issue 1)

Welcome to the second newsletter in 2016. In this edition, we have our usual mix of people sharing how they use Mahara, upcoming events and software news. We are delighted to be announcing the Release Candidate for Mahara 16.04.

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 2016, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

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

Mahara in use

Plymouth State University's Mahara journey

Melinda Barnsley (Plymouth State University, USA)

Plymouth State University (PSU) first installed Mahara in 2010. Over the course of six years, the use of Mahara has grown steadily. We have used it for certification programs and the faculty Promotion and Tenure (P&T) program. The first-year art and meteorologist students use it to collect their portfolios digitally and students create portfolios for required projects. Templates have been created for all areas that utilize Mahara to help with standardization.

We first started using Mahara for students' special projects in a variety of areas such as languages and art. Some faculty decided to document personal projects of their own using Mahara. The platform has benefited certification programs like Elementary Education, Health Education, and School Counseling to name a few. Mahara templates containing all the standards have been created for each certificate program.

Read more

About me: Present yourself with Mahara

Michael Drawe (Freiherr-vom-Stein-Berufskolleg, Germany)

Keeping a portfolio is perfect when students leave our vocational college and look for a job or an apprenticeship. To promote the students' development, we organize a meeting and face-to-face application training between representatives of our local businesses in industry, trading and banking and our students every year. To be prepared, the students write a cover letter for their job application. We also collect a digital version of this letter as PDF file.

This year we expanded the tasks. The students prepared an "About me" website built with Mahara. The content should contain a photo, a short text about themselves, and the formal digital cover letter as PDF. 

The benefit for the students is to present themselves in a different way. In Germany ? we think it is the same in other countries ? the written application is standardized. In this case Mahara is like a pretty package to introduce a person more distinctly. Another benefit for the students is that they always have a digital copy of their certificates and references available. 

We collected a total of 400 portfolios in a Moodle database to have easy access to them. 

The students were prepared for the use of Mahara because they prepared and presented a case study with Mahara in another context a few months earlier. 

Some public examples of simulated "About me" pages made by students for students 

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Mahara in upcoming events

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

Mahara Hui @University of Waikato, 21 April 2016

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Kiwi MUG (Mahara User Group) will hold the first local New Zealand Mahara Hui this month. Instead of organizing a national Mahara Hui this year, local Mahara Hui are organized around the country, and a bigger event is intended for 2017.

The event will take place at University of Waikato on 21 April 2016 between 10:00 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. This is a free event, but you are asked to register.

Mahara developer meeting, 28 April 2016

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Mahara developer meetings take place roughly every 4-6 weeks. The next one will be held on 28 April 2016 at 7:00 a.m. UTC (check your local time). You can propose items for the agenda and find information on how to join the meeting on IRC there.

MUG meeting, 11 May 2016

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The next Mahara User Group meeting will take place on 11 May 2016 at 2 p.m. Eastern time (check your local time). If you would like to give a brief presentation or lead a discussion, please send an email to the MUG organizers. This meeting will be a one-hour online session. If you want to stay informed about the event, you can join theMUG group on our website and the MUG Facebook group.

Mahara Hui Francophone, 6-8 July 2016

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The MoodleMoot / Mahara Hui Francophone will take place in Switzerland this year from 6 to 8 July 2016. The organizer HES-SO Valais-Wallis invites Moodle and Mahara enthusiasts to Sierre in Valais. You still have until 15 April 2016 to submit a presentation or workshop proposal.

Mahara Open Forum 2016, 7-8 September 2016

Shin-Ichiro Kubota (University of Miyazaki, Japan)

The Mahara Open Forum 2016 (MOF2016) will be held at University of Yamanashi in Japan on 7 and 8 September 2016. Join the Facebook group (in Japanese) for an update when more information about this event will be available.

Mahara in past events

Mahara Open Forum 2015, 10-11 October 2015

Shin-Ichiro Kubota (University of Miyazaki, Japan)

The Mahara Open Forum 2015 (MOF2015) took place at the Open University of Japan in Chiba, Japan, on 10 and 11 October 2015. There were 47 participants, two keynotes, three sessions, and one panel. The topics of this forum were: Mahara toward application of educational big data. In total, MOF2015 had 11 speakers. We shared experiences and discussed Mahara and ended MOF2015 on a high note.

For more information, please see the event page and join our Facebook group (in Japanese).

Mahara Users Midlands (MUM) launched, 11 February 2016

Teresa MacKinnon (University of Warwick, UK)

During a Mahara webinar last summer a discussion with Andrew Hollyhead led to a decision: We would try to see if there was a taste for a local network of Mahara users in the Midlands. He is based at Birmingham City University and I am at University of Warwick. We put feelers out through Twitter and a Google form and soon had a reasonable list of names. In November at Mahara Hui UK 15 hosted by Southampton Solent University, Andy and I met up and Kristina Höppner agreed to create a space for us on Mahara.org and allocate a designer to create a logo based on the attractions of our area. We emphasised the mix of both creative cultural attractions (such as Shakespeare) and our industrial heritage (e.g. the potteries, glass, needles, automotive) as this unique mix of both is significant to the economic success of the Midlands. We have interpreted this geographical area quite broadly to include Warwickshire, West Midlands, East Midlands, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, indeed anywhere between the domains already covered by Mahara Users Southern England (MUGSE) and Machara in the North!

Responses from the initial Google form showed that the vision for the group revealed an interest in both face-to-face on online collaborations, sharing of practice and resources and help with understanding how to make feature requests through Mahara.org. Our first agenda therefore included an opportunity to set up plans to meet the needs expressed and the minutes are available. So our first steps have been taken, and we would like to enlist the help of all Mahara users in order to extend membership to all those based in the Midlands. We are using the hashtag #MUM to connect and welcome student and staff Mahara users.

Mahara User Group Midlands (MUM)

Mahara in development

Mahara 16.04 release

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The first release candidate for Mahara 16.04, the April 2016 edition of Mahara, is available for download and testing. The release candidate phase is a crucial time in the release cycle of Mahara and allows you to test the new features and changes made since the last release in October 2015 and report any issues to us before we bring out the final stable release of Mahara in the second half of April. We invite you to download the release candidate and test it on your non-production sites or a dedicated testing site. Please report any issues on our bug tracker.

There are a number of new features again in this release. Many of them have already been documented in the user manual for Mahara 16.04. We look forward to hearing from you how you like the new and changed features.

A few highlights that you'll be able to take advantage of in this upcoming version of Mahara:

  • HTML5 media player for select video and audio formats replacing the Flash player
  • Support for displaying Open Badges from the Mozilla Backpack and the Open Badge Passport (no need for the plugin anymore as it was incorporated into Mahara)
  • Native support for Embedly embed code
  • Notifications from wall posts to owners of the wall

You can read more information in the release candidate announcement.

With the release of Mahara 16.04 later in the month, the support for Mahara 1.10 will end. We recommend that you move to one of the supported versions of Mahara. Mahara 15.10 is supported until April 2017 and both 15.04 and 16.04 are supported until October 2017. Mahara 15.04 is supported longer than other releases because it is the last release before we moved to the Bootstrap framework requiring changes in CSS and HTML.

OpenID Connect authentication plugin

James McQuillan (Remote-Learner, USA)

Remote-Learner is proud to announce the first release of its OpenID Connect authentication plugin for Mahara. This is a standards-compliant OpenID Connect implementation allowing integration with any identity provider that supports OpenID Connect. OpenID Connect is a standardized identity layer on top of OAuth2, providing an interoperable method for authentication.

This plugin is an extension of Remote-Learner's work with Microsoft on the Office 365 Moodle plugins we've developed over the past year or so. Office 365 supports OpenID Connect so we were able to build generic OpenID Connect plugins that not only serve as our connection to Office 365, but also support an open standard. We built this Mahara plugin as our first venture into Mahara, but Microsoft is really interested in what you'd like to see in the future!

If you use or want to use Office 365, let us know what you'd like to see integrated with Mahara in the future.

Czech and Spanish translations

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Jesús Basco López announced in the Spanish community group that Campus Virtual de la Universidad de Málaga created a complete Spanish translation of Mahara. You can download the translation. 

Viktor Fuglík from Univerzita Karlova provided a Czech translation that you can download.

We will get in touch with the teams to investigate options for bringing these translation into our regular translation tool so any updates can be made available via the language pack page.

Mahara Newsletter January 2016 (Vol. 5 / Issue 4)

Welcome to the first newsletter in 2016. We wish you all the best for this new year and look forward to discussing, collaborating on and advancing Mahara with you. Towards the end of last year, a number of Mahara and ePortfolio events took place in Europe, and of course, we released Mahara 15.10. Please read on to find out more.

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 2016, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

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

Mahara in use

Innovating equine graded unit at SRUC with anonymous 'Digipals', Moodle and Mahara

Ali Hastie (Scotland's Rural College, UK)

Scotland's Rural College, Barony Campus specialises in training and education for the land-based and animal care industries. The campus is set within a working 260 hectare estate, which is situated in the rolling landscape of Dumfries and Galloway in South West Scotland.

Graded unit is a mandatory element of the framework of all Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) HNC and HND frameworks within Scotland’s Colleges. Both staff and students find the complexity of the Graded unit requirements in comparison to other units within the framework challenging.

Staff at SRUC within the Animal and Equine Department decided to approach SRUC Barony Campus' eLearning Team to look for innovative approaches to engaging students and staff within the HNC Equine Graded Unit 1.

The project team has created a transferable and flexible model using instructional scaffolding for the two of three stages of the graded unit assessment.

Technologies effectively applied with this flexible model included the use of Mahara as a means of collecting and collating information for investigative and practical elements and the incorporation of the Moodle workshop module to develop peer assessment processes and a support podium.

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

Trying out Mahara – an ePortfolio adventure

Colin Simpson (Australian National University, Australia)

Managing your online identity – particularly your professional identity – is arguably now one of the core digital literacies. This is why I've long taken an interest in the use of ePortfolio tools.

As Learning Technologist in the "Education Innovation Office" in a college at a major Australian university, it's my job to keep us moving forward and to find the best ways to do so. I'd previously dabbled with ePortfolios before coming here but had never really used them for a project and thus had no direct evidence to support a case that they are worth pursuing.

A few months ago I came across CMALT – Certified Member of the Association of Learning Technologists – a useful seeming accreditation and connection to a community of practice of my peers. The application process lends itself very well to the use of ePortfolios so I decided to take the Mahara ePortfolio platform out for a spin. You can view my application online.

Introducing Mahara at Miyazaki International College

Debra Occhi (Miyazaki International College, Japan)

After ten years using Moodle, Miyazaki International College received an Accelerated Program grant from the Japanese government and installed Mahara in September 2015.

We now have an integrated ePortfolio system which allows easy submission of Mahara work into Moodle for rubric-based grading as called for in the grant.

As an active-learning based liberal arts college in a Japanese EFL context, our ePortfolios will help students analyze and show evidence for what they are learning in this unique environment.

Initially, the first-year students will use Mahara to show they have acquired college study skills, understand the meaning of liberal arts education, link first-year goals to long-term goals, and apply critical thinking skills to real-world issues. As they progress, we will add criteria for second-year, study abroad, and upper division studies until all students create ePortfolios. Some faculty are already using Mahara for their class work as well.

Contribute to the AAEEBL Field Guide to ePortfolio

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

AAEEBL, the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning, is working on the "Field Guide to ePortfolio". This is a collaborative initiative between researchers and ePortfolio users worldwide. The field guide will cover the following topics:

  • Maker Learning
  • Real World Learning
  • ePortfolio and Metacognition
  • ePortfolio Bringing Emerging Learning Designs to Center of Planning
  • ePortfolio as an Enculturating Instrument into Digital Age
  • ePortfolio and Institional Challenges
  • New Ways to Demonstrate Achievements
  • Transition to Career and Career Development
  • Internationalization
  • Learning Analytics and the Learner
  • Creative Teaching Portfolios
  • How Important is the Technology

I am on the team for the section "Transition to Career and Career Development". If you would like to contribute material such as examples, literature and other resources for this topic or any others, please get in touch with me.

Mahara in upcoming events

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

MUG meeting, January 2016

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The date and time for the January 2016 Mahara User Group meeting has not yet been finalized. If you would like to be informed when it takes place or are interested in giving a brief presentation or leading a discussion, please send an email to the MUG organizers. The online session will also be announced in our events calendar, on Facebook and in the MUG group on our website.

Mahara in past events

Mahara Hui UK, Southampton, 9-10 November 2015

Domi Sinclair (University College London, UK)

Mahara Hui UK 2015 took place at Southampton Solent University in Southampton between 9 and 10 November 2015. Mahara Hui UK is the title of the official UK Mahara conference. It is a gathering of the community that often boasts an international participants list. To honour Mahara's New Zealand roots, the conference is referred to as a 'Hui' from this year on, which is a M?ori term for a social gathering or assembly. The conference is held annually in different locations around the UK and features a variety of talks and workshops on all aspects of Mahara.

There was a lot of Twitter activity during the conference and you can review it with the hashtag #maharauk15 to see what people were tweeting.

As with most conferences, there were some key themes that seemed to emerge and repeat over the two days of the event. The key themes were learner control and learning versus studying. Let me explain these in more detail in my blog post.

Swiss ePortfolio and Personal Learning Environment event, 20 November 2015

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Photo by Dominik Aebli (SWITCH)On 20 November 2015 academics from across Switzerland gathered at SWITCH in Zürich to discuss ePortfolios and Personal Learning Environments. The event was organized by eduhub, a Swiss community promoting the use of new learning technologies in Swiss higher education institutions.

I was privileged to attend and learn more about the use of Mahara and other tools in Switzerland as well as share a few tips and tricks on using Mahara. You can find the presentations from the day online and see for yourself that Swiss institutions of higher education are to watch for innovative ways of using technology.

Photo by Dominik Aebli (SWITCH)

 

Mahara | DE15 in Kassel, 26 to 28 November 2015

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

Photo by Bodo Schlüter (used with permission)
Photo by Bodo Schlüter (used with permission)

(English version is further down)

Unter dem Motto "märchenhafte Wohlfühlmoot" fand in der Zeit vom 26.-28.11.2015 die 3. Maharamoot des deutschsprachigen Raums statt. In der Heimatstadt der Gebrüder Grimm und im historischen Ambiente der Zeughausruine an der Max-Eyth-Schule in Kassel trafen sich mehr als 100 Teilnehmer zum Austausch über das Lernen mit ePortfolios. Professoren, Lehrende und Studierende aus Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz bereicherten die im Barcampformat organisierte Konferenz mit Beiträgen zu Technik, Anwendung und Konzepten rund um Mahara.

Besondere Highlights der Märchenmoot waren die beiden Keynotes von Prof. Max Woodtli, PH Thurgau (CH) und Kristina Höppner, Catalyst (NZ). Max Woodtli berichtete in seiner Freitags-Keynote mit dem Titel "SterntaLern" davon wie Lernen gelingen kann, während Kristina Höppner in ihrer Samstags-Keynote mit dem Titel "Lasst mich was erzählen" einen Einblick in die Entwicklungsgeschichte und die weiteren Aussichten zu neuen Versionen des Mahara ePortfoliosystems gab.

Um dem Veranstaltungsmotto "märchenhafte Wohlfühlmoot" gerecht zu werden, wurde die gesamte Veranstaltung von einem bunten Rahmenprogramm begleitet. Eine geführte Bustour folgte den Spuren der Brüder Grimm und gab an Originalschauplätzen Einblicke in geschichtliche Ereignisse der Stadt Kassel. Teilnehmer trafen sich auch auf dem bekannten Märchenweihnachtsmarkt am Donnerstagabend, wo sie Neuigkeiten austauschten und neue Bekannschaften schlossen, aber auch Glühwein probierten.

Das Organisationsteam des Veranstalters, dem Lpaso-Institut für Lernkultur e.V., plant aktuell bereits an einer D-A-CH - Mahara Hui in 2016 sowie einer Euro-Mahara Hui, inspiriert von Sam Taylor, die 2017 stattfinden soll.

Weitere Informationen werden zeitnah auf http://maharahui.de und http://lpaso.de veröffentlicht. Eindrücke können unter Storify und Twitter nachgelesen werden.

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The 3rd Maharamoot of German speaking countries took place from 26 to 28 November 2015. The backdrop was the hometown of the Brothers Grimm, Kassel, Germany, and the historical ambience of the armoury ruins at the Max-Eyth-School. It operated under the slogan: “Fairy tale-like comfort moot” as the organisers emphasized participants' comfort, a relaxed atmosphere conducive to the sharing of ideas and knowledge as well as tying it in with the historical fairy-tale traditions of Kassel.

More than 100 participants exchanged ideas and practices about learning with ePortfolios and related pedagogical topics. Professors, teachers and students from Germany, Austria and Switzerland enriched the event, which was organised as barcamp,  by contributing sessions around Mahara with subjects ranging from technology, application and concepts.

Particular highlights were the two keynote presentations at the fairy tale moot by Prof. Max Woodtli, PH Thurgau (CH), and Kristina Höppner, Catalyst (NZ). Max Woodtli reported in his keynote on Friday, entitled "SterntaLern" (referencing the fairy tale "Star Money / Star Talers" which reads to emphasize the word “Lern”, “to learn” in German), of how learning can succeed, while Kristina Höppner in her keynote on Saturday, entitled "Let me tell you a story", gave an insight into the evolution and the future prospects for new versions of the Mahara ePortfolio systems.

To meet the event's motto "fairy tale-like comfort moot", the entire event was accompanied by a colorful social program. A guided bus tour to locations throughout the city of Kassel followed in the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm and gave insights into historical events of the city. Participants also braved the cold visiting the well-known fairy tale themed Christmas market to catch up, make new acquaintances and sample some mulled wine.

The planning team of Lpaso (Institute of Learning Culture), a recently formed non-profit, is currently working on plans for D-A-CH Mahara Hui in 2016, a gathering of German, Austrian and Swiss users of Mahara, and a Euro Mahara Hui event to be held in 2017, inspired by Sam Taylor.

More information will be published on http://maharahui.de and http://lpaso.de soon. Participants used Storify and Twitter to document parts of the event.

Mahara in development

Mahara 15.10 is available

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Mahara 15.10 has now been available already for a few weeks. We are very proud of this latest version of Mahara as it is a good base for future development. One of the biggest changes has been the move to the Bootstrap CSS framework. We've already seen a number of institutions upgrade or install Mahara 15.10, and it's looking very good. Plugin and theme developers also already started upgrading their contributions. Since Mahara 15.10 uses Bootstrap, plugins and themes need to be carefully upgraded (plugins) or created new (themes) in order to continue to work.

Work on Mahara 16.04 is in full swing. If you'd like to contribute a new feature, please submit your feature by 5 February 2016, feature freeze, for it to be taken into consideration for the April 2016 release of Mahara.

Updated Mahara assignment submission plugin for Moodle

Ruslan Kabalin (Lancaster University, UK) and Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

A new version of the Mahara assignment submission plugin is available (also in the Moodle plugin database). Its major improvements are: 

  • use Moodle events for the locking / unlocking behaviour,
  • the locking behaviour configuration is more flexible and includes site defaults and per-assignment settings,
  • grading workflow support has been added

These features were contributed by Lancaster University.

If you are using Moodle 2.7 or newer, you do not require the Mahara assignment feedback plugin anymore. Everything is contained within the Mahara assignment submission pluin.

The plugin is compatible with Moodle 3.0.

 

Mahara Partners

Kristina D.C. Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The new Mahara Partner Programme was launched in September 2015. Since then, a number of previous partners renewed their commitment to the project and a series of new partners - both Business Partners and Supporters - came on board. Please find out about them in the Partners section on our website.

Mahara Newsletter October 2015 (Vol. 5 / Issue 3)

Welcome to the spring issue - or fall issue if you live in the Northern hemisphere - of the Mahara newsletter. This newsletter is jam packed with use cases, future and past events as well as information on the upcoming release of Mahara 15.10. Read on to find out more.

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 January 2016, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

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

Mahara in use

Living the American Dream: An international student’s ePortfolio journey

Sarah Koppalakonda (Pace University, U.S.A.)

As an international student, I have a wide scope of experience when it comes to education, but Mahara’s ePortfolio platform is the first learning tool that has inspired me to reflect on my journey from India to the United States. During my time studying in the U.S.A., I have grown as a person and a student. I believe in action rather than words, and ePortfolio has enabled me to reflect on this mantra and continues to motivate me towards my goals.

My pages express who am I and what I believe in. They allow my peers, my professors, and potential employers to get to know the "Me" beyond the classroom. I have shared my Public Administration career aspirations and my research interests to gather feedback on Pace University's anti sex-trafficking initiatives. An exciting component of my American journey were my two internships this summer—Restore NYC, an anti sex-trafficking organization that works to rebuild the lives of trafficked women, and Historic Richmond Town, a museum complex that celebrates the ordinary men and women who helped build America. This work was both fulfilling and inspiring, and ePortfolio gave me the opportunity to document and reflect these experiences.

EPortfolio has also encouraged me to connect with the Pace community. I have something new to add to my profile every week and am continually connecting with new people through it. With the freedom to choose my viewers, I can comfortably reflect on my experiences in a privet sphere and build pages that I can then proudly share with the world.

Tiny Mahara site goes global with micro-MOOC

David Bell (The Methodist Church of New Zealand, New Zealand)

The Methodist Church of New Zealand has been promoting a social learning site called 6senses.nz which is powered by Mahara. We are a very small church and attempt to put lay leaders and clergy in contact as a community of best practice.

Recently, we have explored the concept of what we call micro-MOOCs (micro-Massive Open Online Course). Our aim is to get anywhere between 5 and 50 people participating in free professional development.

Schedule Google Hangouts-on-air form the core video conferencing and a range of short videos feed the forum interaction. The micro-MOOC can be completed within a day, although it is open for 6 weeks. An award in the form of a badge issued through the (wonderful!) Open Badge Factory rounds off the experience.

You can view our first micro-MOOC and follow our 6senses.nz newsletter, another really useful concept from the Mahara toolkit.

Mahara connected to Sakai via LTI

Siboniso Ronald Sithole (University of South Africa, South Africa)

The University of South Africa has opted to use the Mahara ePortfolio system as an alternative form of student assessment. The Mahara solution was selected for a pilot project following an investigation and subsequent report by the Academy for Applied Technologies in Teaching and eLearning (AATTeL). The main justifications for its selection are that it meets most of the functional requirements of potential users, it is LTI enabled and enjoys wide use by many tertiary institutions globally.

Sakai is Unisa’s current learning management system. Since Sakai makes use of LTI, this necessitated a configuration where Mahara resides on an independent server acting as an LTI provider. A plugin is necessary to allow Mahara to be the LTI provider. Although this solution is not elegant, it is highly functional. Challenges remain with the implementation of Mahara on Unisa systems. Firstly, Mahara cannot run within an iframe, mandating the use of a new tab when launching. Secondly, when students access the settings page, they are able to change their usernames. This is a problem since Unisa uses those usernames as a shared identity tracking system between software installations. The development team's main desire at present is to harvest the marks from Mahara via LTI to the Sakai gradebook where marks are consolidated.

Principal Network: Using Mahara to build a global education leadership community

Alan Harrland and Mark Sparvell (Principal Network, Australia)

Principal Network is a community of shared professional practice, targeted towards leadership teams within K-12 education settings globally. The site has a simple HTML-based landing page which channels visitors to the Mahara site for registration or login. A range of language extension packs have been incorporated to ensure accessibility for the global audience. Google Analytics code has been embedded to supplement the rich user data available from the Mahara reporting tools.

Icon sets have been utilized to create a more visual navigation experience and to highlight functions which are most useful to this audience, e.g. the Continuous Professional Development Tool. The site has been live since August 2015 and is continuously updated with new resources and information for the profession. The site is free and completely independent, providing a space for leaders in the education profession to connect, communicate and collaborate.

Mahara was chosen as the platform due to the power and potential of the tools available within it. The ability to create private and public groups, the provision of journals for users, creation of media rich pages, the improved integration with social media content and the ease of administrative use all add to the rich user experience we wish to provide.

Principal Network is continually evolving with new resources and tools, and we continue to strive to use Mahara to its full potential.

A short story of Mahara usage at Blackburn College

Victoria Newens (Blackburn College, UK)

Technology is increasingly becoming embedded in all aspects of society and our lives in general while eLearning is becoming ever more present in the role of teaching, learning and assessment. The changing context of Higher Education (HE) means a significant shift is needed to ensure smarter, more efficient and up-to-date methods are employed. With resource limitations, a rise in social networking, internet usage, widening participation agenda and the digitalisation of teaching, learning and assessment, this becomes an important issue for all of us, in ensuring opportunities are provided for students to learn through multimedia platforms.

The implementation of Mahara at Blackburn College, to some degree, has aimed to address these changes with many higher education students now opting to use Mahara as an assessment tool within the module Reflective Practice and Personal Development Planning. Participation has increased over the years and students are now becoming experts in developing their portfolios often, and showing staff many of the key functions. It is hoped that Mahara continues to be a success as the new students commence their studies in the academic year of 2015.

Mahara celebrates five years at Central Michigan University

Rob Alford (Central Michigan University, U.S.A.)

undefinedCentral Michigan University is going on its fifth year of using Mahara. We have customized our Mahara environment to limit the amount of space each student can utilize for their uploads. We created portfolio templates for students and faculty to copy to ensure we have all the information we need. Recently, we started experimenting with the groups feature in our affiliated Georgia and Canada environments outside of Michigan.

Our portfolio assessment team has seen increases in the use and utilization of Mahara in post-graduate use in job interviews and entrance materials for graduate schools. The ability of attaching third-party items like YouTube videos, Prezis, and other multimedia forms have made our lives much easier with assessment of student work all in one location. We are excited to see where Mahara will take us in the near future. If you are interested in chatting about how we have implemented Mahara in our higher education environment, please email me.

Electronic portfolio development in three professional programs in British Columbia

Tim Hopper (University of Victoria, Canada)

New technologies such as electronic portfolios have the potential to create powerful learning opportunities within personalized virtual learning environments. The electronic portfolio accesses the quality of new professionals' experiences, recognizing that their professional knowledge is situated and socially constructed. That innovative practice develops from the relationship between content and expertise formed within professional learning communities.

In this study we consider how Folioz.ca, powered by Mahara 15.04, influences students' learning and instructors' pedagogical practice in three professional programs (Education, Nursing and Social Work). Taking professional programs as dynamic systems, a complexity theoretical lens is being used to interpret and note the emergent processes in the study. Case studies of each program's ePortfolio innovation are being developed in regard to emergent ePortfolio processes and professional learning, and also in regard to the differences between students and instructors in and across programs.

The screenshot below shows a sample data source from an exit interview. Student responses, as shown here, are coded in YouTube and then compared across cases. Critical for ePortfolio success is instructors developing activities and assignments that enable student choice, authentic learning and the use of rich media.

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Read more about this ePortfolio project.

How Venture Centre uses Collxtion

Pascale Hyboud-Peron (ThinkAgency, New Zealand)

Venture Centre is a innovation hub operating in Tauranga New Zealand. Venture Centre works with early stage entrepreneurs, freelancers, learning institutions and local government organisations. It provides services and technologies to grow the innovative community and foster entrepreneurial competences through learn-by-doing and knowledge transfer experiences.

Venture Centre maintains Collxtion, a hosted, multi-tenanted instance of Mahara. Collxtion is an online service for:

  • individuals who want to develop their own portfolio or port their existing one
  • organisations who want to implement:
    • a cost effective solution to their alumni ePortfolios
    • a user-centred communication service for their teams

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Venture Centre customers are using Collxtion to improve collaboration, support constant learning/iteration, provide repository for ideation, validation, and development documentation and streamline due-diligence and reporting.

Read on to find out more about the use of Mahara at Venture Centre.

Mahara in upcoming events

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

MUG meeting, 14 October 2015

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The next meeting of the Mahara User Group (MUG) will take place online on Wednesday, 14 October 2015, between 2 and 3 p.m. EDT (check your local time). If you are interested in giving a brief presentation or leading a discussion, please send an email to the MUG organizers.

6th Mahara Open Forum, 10-11 October 2015

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Mahara Open Forum (MOF) is in its sixth year in Japan. This year it will take place at the Open University of Japan from 10 to 11 October 2015. For more information, please refer to the MOF website and the Facebook group.

Free webinar: ePortfolio introduction and demo in Spanish, 27 October 2015

Sach Chaudhari (Paradiso Solutions, U.S.A.)

Paradiso Solutions would like to announce the webinar "Mahara Introduction in Spanish" to be held on 27 October 2015 at 11:00 a.m. CST (Bogota, Colombia time; check your local time). This webinar will give you the opportunity to participate in an introduction and live demo of Mahara.

With the growing popularity of online learning, there is increasing need and demand for ePortfolios. This webinar will show you one of the best and open source ePortfolio platforms - Mahara. View more information on Mahara in Spanish.

The webinar will cover:

  • A quick overview of Mahara
  • A few case studies of Mahara
  • Live demo
  • Q and A

The entire session will be in Spanish.

Please email Laura Gómez for registration details.

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Webinar gratuito, Introducción a E-Portafolio, 27 octubre de 2015

Sach Chaudhari (Paradiso Solutions, U.S.A.)

Paradiso Solutions quiere anunciar el seminario ( Mahara ) que se celebrará el 27 de octubre de 2015 a las 11:00 AM, Hora local Colombiana, este seminario ofrece la oportunidad de participar en la introducción y demostración en vivo de Mahara.

Con la creciente popularidad del aprendizaje en línea, se crea la necesidad y demanda de E-Portafolio, este seminario le mostrará una de las mejores y más abiertas plataformas E-Portafolio - Mahara . Para obtener más información sobre E-Portafolio , visite ParadisoSolutions/Mahara.

El seminario cubrirá:

  • Una visión general de Mahara.
  • Estudios de casos de éxito, Clientes Mahara.
  • Demo en vivo.
  • Q y A.

Registrese al correo electrónico Laura Gómez.

Mahara Hui UK 2015, 9-10 November 2015

Caroline Lynch (Catalyst IT Europe, UK)

The annual Mahara Hui UK for the European region will be hosted this year by Catalyst IT Europe and Southampton Solent University.

Keynote speakers are Kristina Hoeppner, Mahara Project Lead, who will be covering the latest release of Mahara and taking you through the new features, and Sigi Jakob, a Moodle and Mahara veteran, who will be sharing her personal learning story.

The programme is still being finalised but you can expect the usual exciting mix of proposals, workshops, networking and sharing from the Mahara community.

You can find more information on our website and purchase tickets.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Swiss ePortfolio and Personal Learning Environment Day, 20 November 2015

Nathalie Roth (SWITCH, Switzerland)

The SIG E-Portfolio, SIG Personal Learning Environments and SWITCH are pleased to announce the next national event, which will take place on Friday, November 20, 2015, in Zurich. The event will be split in 2 parts. The morning will be dedicated to different presentations about the SIGs' activities, such as the Swiss Chapter, Traveling Workshops, Personal Learning Environments in e-portfolios as well as a roadmap of SWITCHportfolio. In the afternoon Kristina Hoeppner from Catalyst will lead a hands-on workshop Hidden Treasures in Mahara for e-portfolio.

We are looking forward to your participation! Join us at this event, by registering until Friday, November 13, 2015.

Mahara DE15 – "Cantuccini MaharaMoot Cassel"*, 27-28 November 2015

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

*Seasonal cookies for the first Sunday of Advent, hence Cantuccini - MaharaMoot.

Good Cookies need good recipes and that ist what we learn at Mahara DE15. Stakeholders in all areas of education can share experiences, ideas, recipes and concepts in an open barcamp atmosphere.

While learning management systems like Moodle are widely used in many places around the world, ePortfolio systems like Mahara are not yet as popular. As you pursue knowledge and development through lifelong learning, it is necessary to record and capture the acquired knowledge and skills. In addition to recording learning evidence, Mahara allows you to visualize and showcase all learning processes thru lifelong learning.

Barcamps are user-organized conferences (unconferences). They are open participatory workshop events, the content of which is provided by participants in the form of a presentation or a work example. To participate, you may submit your work examples and presentations at the conference. All presentations should be provided under the context of schools, universities and organizations' education strategies.

The conference languages are English and German. The conference will be held in Kassel, Hessen, in Germany, from 27 to 28 November 2015. For unconference information and registration, please visit the Mahara DE website.

Mahara in past events

AAEEBL Annual Conference, Boston, U.S.A., July 2015

Domi Sinclair (University College London, UK)

July saw the 2015 AAEEBL conference hosted in Boston, Massachusetts. Although this was not a specific Mahara conference there were a number of session about Mahara, and the rest of the portfolio sessions were general enough to benefit all platform users.

The main themes to come out of the conference were: a consensus to use the term "portfolio" rather than "ePortfolio" to prevent distraction, collaborative use of portfolios and the use of badges to compliment a portfolio system. To read more about these areas and to find out what AAEEBL stands for please see the full review on my blog.

Presentations at the AAEEBL Conference on / with Mahara:

YouTube channel for Mahara presentation recordings

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

For Mahara Hui we set up a YouTube channel earlier in the year. This has now been expanded to also include recordings from user group meetings and other events so we can have one place where the Mahara community can access presentation videos. If you would like to share your videos, please send us an email.

Mahara in development

Mahara 15.10 ready for testing

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Mahara core project team at Catalyst is happy to announce that after many months of development work by people around the world, Mahara 15.10 is ready for more extensive user testing. We published the first release candidate (RC1) on 29 September 2015 and invite everyone to give it a spin and check out the new features and also the Bootstrap themes.

If you cannot set up a testing instance, you are welcome to use http://master.dev.mahara.org. For more information, please read the forum post.

Mahara Partner Programme

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Over the last year, we had conversations with Mahara Partners and others over making changes to the Mahara Partner Programme. We re-launched the Mahara Partner Programme in September 2015 which will now consist of two tracks: One for companies offering Mahara support services (Mahara Business Partners) and one for other entities that actively support the Mahara project (Mahara Supporters).

There are no fees associated with the Mahara Partner Programme. Instead, partners are expected to contribute actively to the Mahara project and community.

For more information on the Mahara Partner Programme, please review the Partners section on the website.

Mahara Newsletter July 2015 (Vol. 5 / Issue 2)

2015 is shaping up to be a year full of Mahara events around the world. There are lots coming up in the second half of the year. Take a look below so you don't miss any. We also have reviews of past events if you want to follow up with them.

If you haven't submitted an article yet, please consider to do so. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 October 2015, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

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

Mahara in use

The joys of starting again from scratch

Sam Taylor (Cranfield School of Defence and Security, UK)

It's been almost 3 months since starting my new post at Cranfield School of Defence and Security. Since being here I’ve been able to see the tools that I've been using for the past 8 years with 'fresh eyes'. One tool in particular would be the Mahara ePortfolio system which has only just been installed here since my arrival.

Read on to find out what changes Sam is making.

Using Mahara to support information literacy at Hadlow College LRC

(Jacob Knight, Hadlow College, UK)

At Hadlow College Learning Resource Centre (LRC), we are working on two Mahara projects. Mahara is being used to highlight our work to support information and in turn digital literacy skills as part of an eLearning day to be held at Hadlow on 6 July 2015. We've created a range of linked pages; key areas of focus include Moodle as a portal to e-resources, ways in which eBooks are promoted in the physical space of the LRC and advanced search skills in the online environment. This initial project allows staff new to Mahara to become more familiar with it.

We are moving on to develop Mahara templates our Higher Education students can use to create information literacy ePortfolios. Students will be supported to develop essential skills that Mahara will allow them to showcase to potential employers and universities. Key areas of focus will be skills in finding, using and presenting information.

EUfolio – EU classroom ePortfolios on Mahara and O365

Andrea Ghoneim (Danube University Krems, Austria)

In the framework of the EUfolio project, ePortfolios were piloted in lower secondary classrooms across Europe. With the end of the project in April 2015 a broad range of resources are now available for further use via the EUfolio website and the EUfolio resources portal. The most heartwarming document is a video that summarizes the project outcomes and the importance of ePortfolios as a catalyst for a new approach to teaching and learning – with statements of learners, teachers, and project partners.

EUfolio ePortfolios were based on a Microsoft ePortfolio solution (a combination of O365, Yammer and OneDrive) and an open source solution, for which Mahara was chosen as a platform: http://mahara.eufolio.eu. A Mahara collection (what else? ;-)) serves as documentation for the setup of, training with and the use of Mahara by EUfolio partners and piloting schools.

Mahara in the Czech Republic

Linda Pospisilova (University of Pardubice, Czech Republic)

ePortfolio tool Mahara was introduced to the Czech higher education in 2009 at Brno Masaryk University thanks to Petr Sudicky and especially to Sigi Jakob-Kühn, aka the Networking Lady, who gave her Mahara workshop there. Since then there has been some pilots and studies run and ePortfolio has been adopted with certain difficulties at some institutions. At the University of Pardubice Mahara ePortfolio was installed in 2012. In the past two years it has been successfully tested, implemented by several teachers and used in language teaching and learning, in international cooperation and projects, and piloted in teacher training. 

In 2014 MaharaCZ was established and has been maintained mainly by the University of Pardubice. Thanks to DisCo15, networking possibilities there, hard work of Sigi Jakob Kühn, international community support and learning possibilities provided by numerous experts in the field there is a potential to create a small but active community of several Czech universities and professionals employing ePortfolio in their learning and teaching.

Learn more about the Czech community and the recent DisCo conference at which Mahara played a big role.

Mahara at the University of Paris Descartes

Anne Soussay-Cazier, Thierry Koscielniak, Ludivine Alvarez, Iman N'hari (University of Paris Descartes, France)

The University of Paris Descartes developed a Mahara ePortfolio model via Cap Emploi workshops, which are workshops to help with and prepare students for their job search by identifying their particular skills.

In this context, since 2007 the SOFIP (Studies Programme and Professional Integration Department), which offers guidance and career services to students and graduates, has developed a methodology for creating its portfolio of experience and expertise: The students, through the analysis of each of their experiences (academics, professional experiences and extracurricular activities), connect them with the skills they gained and then present them in their portfolio.

Mahara was chosen to help students in both the analysis of their experiences and in the establishment of their portfolio. The ICT services and SOFIP collaborated to implement a pilot of this model with a small group of eight students in the Psycho-Social Health Masters degree in March 2015.

We used the artifact "Booklet" developed by Christophe Declercq at the University of Nantes (view more information on this plugin). Booklet allows you to set up an enhanced Mahara CV by changing, adding or removing fields.

Moreover, a Mahara group was created so that students and their workshop facilitators can benefit from collaborative features (document sharing, exchange via forums) during and between sessions.

The next step is to propose this model to all Cap Emploi trainings and then to the students in a more self-study way.

Don't forget the "e" of "ePortfolio"

Toni Soto (Colexio Apóstol Santiago, Spain)

For some years now, the Colexio Apóstol Santiago of Vigo (Spain) has had a Mahara ePortfolio available to students and teachers of the secondary school. Our Mahara is linked to Moodle for single sign-on. I started to use Mahara to introduce my students (and myself) to the concept of ePortfolios.

The goal was to create an ePortfolio for science to present at the end of the course. I already had an idea about what I wanted and expected from my students. But the first problem I had to face was not a pedagogical but an ICT issue. I soon realized that I had to teach my students to use Mahara.

Although the usability of Mahara is getting better with each new release we must admit that it’s still difficult for those who want to log into their account and start creating a simple text page from scratch. If you also ask for some graphical evidences of learning such as pictures, charts or diagrams you’ll soon realize that implementing a digital portfolio with young students is not as easy as it looks.

Read on for more insight from Toni.

Mahara in upcoming events

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

Mahara User Group Australia, 7 July 2015

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst IT, New Zealand)

MUGOZ (Mahara User Group Australia) will meet at Monash University's Clayton Campus on 7 July 2015 at 5 p.m. It's a great opportunity for Mahara users attending the MoodleMoot to catch up with others. For questions, please send an email to the organizers or post it in the Google+ community.

Europortfolio German Chapter online meeting, 9 July 2015

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst IT, New Zealand)

The fourth community call of the Europortfolio German Chapter is dedicated to teaching portfolios and their place in the professional development of higher education instructors. Join Thomas Czerwionka, Oliver Tacke and Timo van Treeck as well as other community members.

The event will take place online on 9 July 2015, 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. (check your local time).

MUG meeting: Join in the ePortfolio conversation! 24 July 2015

Heather Askildsen (Pace University, U.S.A.)

The Mahara User Group (MUG) will be hosting an in-person meeting at Teachers College, Columbia University in Harlem, New York City, on 24 July 2015 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. with an open invitation to lunch from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Join educators from around the world to discuss the evolving role of ePortfolio in an international context. Topics will include ePortfolios for faculty promotion and tenure, strides made with ePortfolios in Switzerland, a Mahara improvement feedback session, and much more. There will also be a free forum to open the discussion up to your thoughts on using ePortfolios in the current academic landscape.

Have an idea for a topic? Get in touch with us.

6th Mahara Open Forum, 10-11 October 2015

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst IT, New Zealand)

The Mahara Open Forum (MOF) is in its sixth year in Japan. This year it will take place at the Open University of Japan from 10 to 11 October 2015. The paper submission starts on 10 July 2015 and ends on 7 August 2015. For more information, please refer to the MOF website and the Facebook group.

Mahara Hui UK 2015, 9-10 November 2015

Trish Stevens (Catalyst IT Europe, UK)

Mahara Hui UK, the biggest Mahara community gathering in the UK, will be held at Southampton Solent University on 9 and 10 November 2015. This year we will have a number of international guests, including Kristina Hoeppner from Catalyst IT (New Zealand) who will deliver the first of the keynotes.

On the agenda will be a showcase of Mahara 15.10 functionality, a strong technical stream and student focused presentations. A Titanic evening of celebrations is planned.
Registration and call for papers will be announced by mid July 2015. Please register on the website to receive updates.

Please follow updates from Mahara Hui UK on Twitter using the hashtag #maharaUK15.

Mahara DE15 – "Cantuccini MaharaMoot Cassel"*, 27-28 November 2015

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

*Seasonal cookies for the first Sunday of Advent, hence Cantuccini - MaharaMoot.

Good Cookies need good recipes and that ist what we learn at Mahara DE15. Stakeholders in all areas of education can share experiences, ideas, recipes and concepts in an open barcamp atmosphere.

While learning management systems like Moodle are widely used in many places around the world, ePortfolio systems like Mahara are not yet as popular. As you pursue knowledge and development through lifelong learning, it is necessary to record and capture the acquired knowledge and skills. In addition to recording learning evidence, Mahara allows you to visualize and showcase all learning processes thru lifelong learning.

Barcamps are user-organized conferences (unconferences). They are open participatory workshop events, the content of which is provided by participants in the form of a presentation or a work example. To participate, you may submit your work examples and presentations at the conference. All presentations should be provided under the context of schools, universities and organizations' education strategies.

The conference languages are English and German. The conference will be held in Kassel, Hessen, in Germany, from 27 to 28 November 2015. For unconference information and registration, please visit the Mahara DE website.

Mahara in past events

Mahara Hui NZ, 9-10 April 2015

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst IT, New Zealand)

The second Mahara Hui in New Zealand took place on 9 and 10 April 2015 with a pre-hui day of workshops and discussions on 8 April 2015. Mahara enthusiasts from New Zealand, Australia, Europe and Japan gathered to showcase their Mahara work, discuss ideas and learn from each other. Sam Taylor from Cranfield University in the UK (formerly from Southampton Solent University) and Mark Osborne (CORE Education, NZ) were the keynote speakers and challenged attendees to think about ePortfolios in a wider education context.

You can view the slide decks of the majority of the sessions as well as the video recordings.

Swiss // Moodle // Mahara // Moot, 20 June 2015

Martin Vögeli (HWZ and PH Thurgau, Switzerland)

The Swiss // Moodle // Mahara // Moot 2015 #smmxv was small but beautiful! We had two tracks mainly about Mahara and Moodle. Other topics about (blended) learning and (online) teaching were welcome, too!

If you understand German you're welcome to watch two of our talks "This is probably the best button to press" and "Was Sie schon immer über URL Variablen wissen wollten" as screencasts on YouTube.

We also offered a juicy selection of workshops about the "Five stage model", instruction in a language using ePortfolios as well as eTesting with the help of a learning management system.

The first session in the morning was a hackathon where we identified areas for future investigation in our online forums MaharaCafé and MoodleCafé. Dear reader, your contribution is welcome, too!

German Mahara Granny's Mission at DisCo2015 in Prague

Sigi Jakob-Kühn (Germany)

Another mission to get the ePortfolio spirit with Mahara implemented took me to Prague from 21 to 24 June 2015 to attend DisCo (Distance Education Conference). I could also support my Mahara "daughter" Linda Pospisilova from Pardubice, who has become the Czech Mahara expert and is doing a great job at her university.

Together with Linda, I facilitated a workshop on how to use Mahara in various settings from schools to universities and asked participants to create their first ePortfolio in Mahara.

We made them aware of the great international Mahara network and invited them to join the community and get connected.

I also had the opportunity to deliver a keynote where I stressed the importance of student driven learning and giving evidence of learning progress and achievements by having an ePortfolio.

For my resources and reflections around the conference, please view my Mahara conference page.

Mahara in development

Mahara 15.10 feature freeze

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst IT, New Zealand)

Development at Mahara HQ has been frantic over the past months as we are nearing feature freeze for the October 2015 release of Mahara (Mahara 15.10). If you want to propose new features for Mahara, please put them into our code review system before 2 August 2015. We will then consider them for the October release.

Mahara bootstrapped

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst IT, New Zealand)

A few weeks ago we announced that Mahara 15.10 will be fully bootstrapped for the design. Catalyst IT front-end developers have been refactoring Mahara's entire CSS so that it is now using Bootstrap to be generated. The changes have been merged into the master branch of Mahara so everyone can give it a whirl and bugs are discovered more easily.

Changing to Bootstrap is a monumental task and has implications for the Mahara code, designs and also Behat test suite. We are in the process of creating entirely new themes for Mahara. They will all be responsive and thus work well on mobile devices.

If you want to help test the upcoming version of Mahara, please do so and let us know what you think.

Learn to code with Mahara

Jinelle Foley-Barnes (Catalyst IT, New Zealand)

Working on the Mahara ePortfolio project has proven to be a great way for students of all ages to learn programming – from Rylee, aged 9, to the many high school students who have made their first contributions to an open source project, as well as university students who gain work experience through internships, part-time work or university projects.

Recently, Rylee contributed her first Behat test. These tests are written in a human-readable programming language, using a pseudo-language called Gherkin. Behat allows test scenarios that are normally completed manually to be run automatically. This makes it possible to perform these scenarios repeatedly during the software testing process, much more quickly than would be possible for a person. Rylee copied and pasted steps from the Mahara Behat wiki page into a document and filled in the blanks with the names of links and buttons she was clicking on to create a journal entry. Rylee's test is now run every time a piece of code is added to Mahara, to check that the links in the journal entry are still always clickable by users.

Continue reading how Behat tests are a good introduction for children to programming.

Open Badges displayer plugin now also for the Open Badge Passport

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst IT, New Zealand)

The Open Badges displayer plugin, the plugin offered by Discendum to connect to the Mozilla Backpack and display Open Badges in Mahara, was updated by the Discendum development team. It is now possible to connect to the Open Badge Passport alongside the Mozilla Backpack. Read on for more information from the developers or check out the code itself.