Welcome to the July edition of the Mahara Newsletter. This quarter we have fresh, exciting stories for you from Mahara users as well as information about upcoming events and gatherings, and development work. Enjoy this summer / winter reading.
Mahara in use
National Aspiring Principals Programme (NAPP) and MyPortfolio
The NAPP 2012 and 2013 cohorts have taken advantage of MyPortfolio, a Mahara instance available to all schools for free in New Zealand, to collaborate and share learning while building leadership portfolios.
Each year 210 members in 20 professional learning groups (PLGs) across New Zealand share their leadership pages and participate in online discussion on a diverse range of school leadership topics under the guidance of experienced leadership kaiarahi.
Members develop leadership pages as running records of their whole year leading change in- school inquiry and support this with shared journals of their reflections. These records have included a digital summary of their leadership in the form of a korowai.
NAPP uses MyPortfolio to support intense online activity during their annual Hui.
The NAPP 2013 cohort applied through MyPortfolio using digital presentations built around the criteria for selection.
Over 120 teachers interested in looking ahead to become principals have joined an informal Aspiring Principals group to find out more about the NAPP curriculum and the programme prior to application.
kaiarahi – facilitators
korowai – cloak – (in this case their leadership cloak composed of images of the elements of their heritage, skills and experience)
hui - gathering
Today, I’m applying MyPortfolio to support me in the redesign of my assessment model, to track the learning progress of my students and as a tool for collaborative knowledge building in my classroom. My use of this tool has evolved over the past 16 months and for anyone just starting their journey I have a few secrets of success to share with you:
1. It’s all about pedagogy! Before you look to integrating etools or eportfolios in your classroom you need to have a reason to do so. You MUST have a pedagogical purpose - you should be passionate about this purpose. If you cannot yet articulate your purpose or if you don’t believe in it, STOP HERE. Failing to get this step right means you are in danger of modernising your classroom - trying to do the same thing in a new way - instead of truly transforming learning opportunities for your students. For me, I am passionate about improving the opportunity for my learners to self-direct their own learning. My vision was to facilitate this through a focus on learning as inquiry and collaborative processes.
The power of groups
I began working with Mahara to create templates for my students who needed to create ePortfolios, and through that process discovered the groups function. Discovering the power of the groups function completely changed my involvement with Mahara and I moved from using it simply for assisting students with their portfolios to managing accreditation materials, coordinating program faculty, and creating program pages for reviewers.
I have even used it for creating an archive for a non-profit on whose Board I serve as secretary and to compile and organize my materials as I completed a Permaculture Design Certification!
Now we are moving toward using Mahara for Plymouth State University’s Promotion and Tenure system and encouraging advanced graduate students to create their own groups and portfolios. Feel free to contact me for more information or to share ideas! I am beginning a research study and anticipate using Mahara to share what I learn.
There is a big push these days for shared services across the SUNY system of campuses. SUNY Purchase and SUNY Delhi are taking advantage of the open architecture and lack of licensing fees for Mahara and Moodle to show how this can be done. We have done a Mahoodle integration between Delhi’s Moodle and Purchase’s Mahara to provide ePortfolio services to Delhi’s students and faculty, a service that they’ve not had in the past. Early pilot projects have included several service learning courses in Psychology this past semester, and interest is quickly spreading to other programs including the Hospitality and Architecture majors and their new Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing.
In addition to the project with Delhi, Purchase College is now providing pilot ePortfolio services to a number of SUNY campuses, including Empire State College, Oswego, Morrisville State College, among others.
Mahara is taking off at the University of Canberra
There are a number of discipline areas employing portfolio practice and Mahara at the University of Canberra. The adoption of Mahara and portfolio practice provide students with the skills and abilities to provide evidence of their learning, achievements, skills development, attitudes etc., with students often re-using artefacts for multiple purposes.
Evidence may come from curricular or extra-curricular activities and can be used to suit multiple purposes and multiple audiences such as teachers and employers. ePortfolios provide flexibility for students to be anywhere in the world yet still communicate rich evidence of learning and achievements to these audiences - which is an important contributor to realising flexible teaching, learning and professional development. Please read on for just some of the reasons why the University of Canberra is adopting ePortfolios.
Mahara in upcoming events
Mahara UK13 in Birmingham
Mahara UK 2013 is only a few days away. Its jam-packed program offers presentations, workshops and a developer hackfest. View the full program and follow the conference at #maharauk13 if you can't attend in person.
Gathering at AAEEBL 2013
The 2013 AAEEBL Annual ePortfolio Conference in Boston (29 July - 1 August 2013) offers attending Mahara users the change to catch up and discuss Mahara and its many use cases in person. Watch out for fellow Mahara users and come to the lunch table on 30 July 2013.
Mahara DE13 near Kassel
2013 Eportfolio Forum in Canberra
Key Speakers are:
- Prof Phillip Long, University of Queensland: ePortfolios in the New World of Learner Driven Pathways
- Dr Alan McAlpine, Queensland University of Technology: Career Development, Employers needs and ePortfolios. Is there a connection?
The program includes over 30 workshops, 20-20 sessions and facilitated conversations based on the theme Digital Identities, Footprints and Networks. Opportunities to present a poster are still available by emailing a title of the poster and brief description (up to 150 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registrations are now open, but don't wait too long, as last year's Forum was a sell-out - and there are very limited places for the half-day workshops on 2 October. You can follow the forum at #eportforum.
Mahara in development
Mahara 1.8 feature freeze
Hi Mahara Developers! If you've got a feature you'd like to contribute to Mahara 1.8, be aware there are some important deadlines coming up soon. Feature Freeze is on 29 July 2013; all new features for 1.8 should be submitted before then. Three weeks later is UI Freeze on 19 August 2013; no changes to the user interface (including language strings and theme changes) will be accepted after that date, unless they're of high importance.
If you've got a feature you'd like to contribute to Mahara core, we'd love to see it! We try to include as many community contributions as we can, but we do have limited resources to code review everything. So if you've got a large feature, please try to get it to us as early as you can before these deadlines. And if you don't make it into 1.8, don't worry, 1.9 is only 6 months after that.
"Booklet": a meta-artefact to implement résumé-like artefacts
Statically defining fields in the résumé, has led many institutions to define specific artefacts to adapt Mahara to their specific approach about skills development.
To overcome this difficulty, we have developed "booklet", a new artefact for Mahara. It's a highly configurable artefact which allows designers to create a new artefact in a very short time. We only have to define tabs, then in each tab we have to define frames, then in each frame we have to define objects like text areas, dates, checkboxes or radio buttons.
We use "booklet" to generate a digital version of the "University roadmap", a professional development project used in our university. We also defined a standard résumé from Mahara with "booklet".