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

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

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

The next newsletter will be published on 1 July 2018, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

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

Mahara in use

Group work perspectives

Angelique Bodart (Cranfield University, UK)

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

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

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

Mahara in upcoming events

Mahoodle for Digital Assessment, 26 April 2018

Sam Taylor and Aurélie Soulier (Cranfield University, UK)

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

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

The event:

The day will comprise:

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

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

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

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

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

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

AAEEBL annual meeting, 23-26 July 2018

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

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

Mahara in past events

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

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

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

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

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

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

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

Mahara in development

Assignment submission via LTI: New sponsors

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

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

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

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

Mahara 18.04 release

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Object storage for Mahara

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

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

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

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

QR code generator for Mahara

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

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