Journal /
Mahara Newsletter July 2014 (Vol. 4 / Issue 2)

Welcome to the July 2014 edition of the Mahara Newsletter. We have the usual stables of case studies, ideas, event suggestions and also notes from the developers. This time though, we also ask you get involved and help out. Read on to find out more.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 October 2014, 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

Viticulture students at Marie Durand College enthusiastic about Mahara

Ariane Branger

For the past two years Marie Durand College in Nîmes, France, has been using Mahara for a group of 20 students preparing for a Higher National Diploma in viticulture and oenology. And today we can say that our initial objective of making this digital portfolio a regular part of their educational experience has met with success.

Mahara has proven to be a powerful and flexible tool for personalized tutoring, sharing assignments and managing both group and individual projects.

Thanks to Mahara we have progressed from traditional teaching to collaborative learning. Read the full story (in French).

EPortfolio system for post graduate courses in teacher education

Peter Groißböck

I use Mahara for post graduate master studies at University College of Teacher Education in Lower Austria. My system demonstrates the possibility to use the ePortfolio software Mahara without any other software like Moodle. Students don’t have to learn how to use yet another software. This aspect is important to us because students are on very different levels of computer skills.

The model we employ consists of three parts. The first part, the study programme ePortfolio, contains all basic information about the study programme itself, the modules students can take, the curriculum and date and place of seminars in the programme.

The group functionalities feature in the second part where a learning platform for the course is created. Administrators manage the members of the group and their roles. Group members work together in forums, use the file management system to share files and collaborate on projects.

The main part of the model is the learner's personal ePortfolio. There, teacher students show their learning progress and personal interests. Read the entire article.

EPortfolios and assessment

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Stephen Bright, eLearning designer at the Waikato Centre for eLearning at University of Waikato, pondered the user of Mahara for assessment purposes and shared his findings. They are to the point making them a great quick read for anyone interested in using ePortfolios, and in particular Mahara, for assessment purposes. We will also include his findings in the Mahara user manual to provide teachers and instructors some ideas of how to incorporate portfolio work into assessment requirements.

Mahara needs you

Call for Mahara case studies on employability-focused assessments 

Sam Taylor

Mahara is used for so many different purposes including the compilation of case studies, the presentation of research, and career planning. For my Masters research I'd like to look more closely at how Mahara is being used to support the identification and recording of employability skills with regards to personal development.

For this reason, I'd like to ask the worldwide Mahara community for their help!

Do you use Mahara to support employability and personal development? Do you want to be part of my research which aims to develop a framework / teachers tool kit for developing authentic assessments? Learn more on how you can help.

What shall Mahara look like in 2020?

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The development of Mahara started in 2006. It is now in its young adulthood according to Mark Nichols in his keynote at Mahara Hui in Wellington in March 2014 (slides for a quick view). These years are very important as we must ask ourselves which path to take into middle adulthood and maturity.

We would like to invite you, the users of and contributors to Mahara, to let us know what your vision is for the future of Mahara. We started to look at the wishes of the community in New Zealand and Australia at Mahara Hui (photo with summary categories, video, slides) and want to extend the quest to everyone around the world. What do you want to be able to do with Mahara in the future? Where do you think we should focus the development effort? Let us know.

Mahara in upcoming events

Mahara UK14 in Brighton, UK, 17-18 July 2014

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Head to the UK in just a couple of weeks to meet Mahara users in the port city of Brighton. The two-day programme is filled with great presentations and possibilities to chat with other Mahara users from near and far. Don't miss out and find out more on the conference website.

MUG meet-up at the 2014 AAEEBL Annual Conference in Boston, USA, 28-31 July 2014

The Mahara User Group (MUG) will have multiple opportunities to meet in person during the AEEBL Annual Conference this month. On 30 July 2014, MUG will host a panel presentation with representatives from various institutions titled “Reflecting and Connecting with the Mahara Community.” Later that day, MUG will participate in a “Spark Conversations” lunch meet-up for those interested in discussing open source solutions for ePortfolios. All are welcome! To connect with MUG before or after the conference, find our group on Facebook and on Mahara.org.

Mahara in past events

First MUGSE meeting in Brighton, UK, on 31 March 2014

Domi Sinclair

On 31 March 2014 the first ever MUGSE meeting (Mahara User Group for Southern England) took place in Brighton, UK. Although this meeting was organised on short notice, it was reasonably well attended. There was a mix of Mahara veterans and some novices looking to find out more about what the system is and what it can offer. For this reason the conversation was rather varied, which was very useful.

Don Christie (Catalyst IT) was in attendance to talk about Mahara 1.9 and offer some idea of what Mahara 1.10 would look like. The session also opened up to a general conversation about alumni access to Mahara, and several suggestions on how to tackle this problem were made. In order to support the Mahara novices in attendance, there were a number of demonstrations of current institutional Mahara installations, amongst them University College London, Southampton Solent University, and Southampton City College.

After a brief sneak peak at the Mahara UK conference, the user group rounded out by discussing its own future, and an open invitation for any willing institutions to host. If you would like to read more details about the first ever MUGSE then you can do so via the DigiDomi blog.

MaharaMoodleMoot 2014 in Paris, France, 4-6 June 2014

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The latest edition of the French MaharaMoodleMoot took place in June 2014. Delegates from all over France travelled to the capital to engage in discussions around Moodle and Mahara. The organisers recorded the sessions and made the videos available on the conference website (in French). Meredith Henson (Catalyst IT Europe) was invited to present the Mahara keynote (in English).

Mahara in development

Feature freeze for Mahara 1.10

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Mahara 1.10 is projected to be released in October 2014. In order to achieve our target time frame, new features put forward for review by 3 August 2014 will be taken into consideration for inclusion in that release. If you are a developer and work on something that you would like to see included in Mahara 1.10, head over to our review system and add your feature or change before the deadline.

The core Mahara team will review the feature and do its best to work with you to include it in the next release. If this cannot be achieved for one reason or the other, don't fret. There will be another Mahara release in April 2015. :-)

Enhancements to the Mahara assignment submission plugin

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Birmingham City University funded work to enhance the Mahara assignment submission plugin (the one updated by Lancaster University and Catalyst IT) to allow for collections to be submitted amongst others. The University of Canberra is expanding on that work and is funding important infrastructural work to allow for the archiving of portfolio submissions both in Mahara groups and Moodle assignments as well as the porting of the plugin to be usable via LTI instead of MNet. This latter work is dependent on the changes to be proposed for Moodle to integrate with a newer version of LTI.