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Feedback on Mahara 1.4 test 1

François Marier's profile picture
Posts: 411

20 December 2010, 9:29 PM

The profile stuff ("about me" and "profile icons") could be under a "My Profile" link in the top right corner of the page where we have Settings, Inbox and Logout. That's a familiar idiom on websites these days.

It would leave Files, Résumé and Plans for that "Files" section.

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 3753

20 December 2010, 10:24 PM

As we have difficulty putting elements that are alike under one tab and nothing really fits (Profile, Manage, Repository all have some deficiency when it either comes to the profile art or the other things), I support François' suggestion of moving Profile out of that area. That may also make it easier for users to find their profile and update it.

I would not call Files, Resumé and Plans "Files" as they aren't all files. Wink "Repository" would be a better name as suggested earlier because it's where you collect evidence that you use for putting your portfolio together.

The discussion around renaming "views" to "pages" seems to be a hot item as well and we are divided over the term. Having "View" made it easy to separate the creation / collection of artifacts from the organizing of artefacts in the portfolio because others could only view the portfolio. Although a second phrase in trainings was always "Basically it is a web page that you create". Simply having "Page" does bring up images of books, worksheets etc. ("web page" not so much I think). Thus, having a different name that gets away from this traditional metaphor that allows for more creativity around the display of artifacts was a good idea. Unfortunately, I don't have an alternative to "View" if that is difficult for others to work with.



Dirk Meyer's profile picture
Posts: 424

20 December 2010, 11:33 PM

I like François' idea of moving profile stuff to the top right. This would help separate strictly personal information from achievement and artifacts. Students eventually will get the meaning of a 'View' but I could imagine 'Canvas' or 'Display' or even 'Portal' as I want them to use many external sites.

21 December 2010, 2:04 AM

"View", "Page" or something else. That is the question. I have to admit we have the same problem in French and from the beginning, Nicolas Martignoni has translated View to "Exposition". This term made started a discussion about it in the French community and when I have taken over the maintaining of the French translation I kept Nicolas proposition, but community would like to change it to "page" (Guy Vessière) or "publication" (Jérôme Démiaux). This because "Vue" which is the litteral translation means nothing in this context.

Nicolas defends "Exposition" with the idea that users are presenting their artifacts to some public as artist are presenting their work in a "Expostion". So in a way, Views are Exhibits or Exposition.

Jérôme's idea is that users (students) are publishing their for themselves, for assessment, for other groups' members, or publicly. So "publishing" could be the term. Moreover, working on a portfolio implies Collecting evidences -> Reflecting on the learning -> Demonstrating skills -> Publishing results.

Guy prefers "page" because, as your said Kirisitina, often users in training sessions say "Eh but this is making a web page".

Hope this review help to take decision, but using words that carry clear concepts are more easy to transpose these in other languages too.



anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 808

21 December 2010, 3:20 PM

I think having a separate 'My Profile' link in the top right corner to edit your profile artefacts would also be confusing.  In the past we've had people confused between the Edit profile artefacts screen and the editing of the Profile view/Profile page.  People who have used Mahara already don't have trouble with it because they're familiar with creating new views/pages, but new users found it confusing.  That's why we removed the link to edit the profile view from the edit profile artefacts page.

My preference is still to keep the pages where you store/edit private content all in one place, but I still don't think we've found the right name for it.  I like Dirk's idea of trying to match the names of the three tutorial boxes on the homepage with the top level menu items.

I also agree with Stacey that we shouldn't have too many clicks to go from editing a view/page to your files area and back again.  Perhaps we could solve this with some javascript (or maybe just css) to overlay the menu, so that the second level of menus would appear instantly when you click or hover on one of the top-level items, without reloading the page.

François Marier's profile picture
Posts: 411

21 December 2010, 5:02 PM

I think that editing your profile information from the top right would be less confusing to new users because that's what most sites do. Of course, the profile view itself should stay in the regular list of views.

anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 18

21 December 2010, 9:46 PM

First let me say I am very happy this project is moving forward. I really hope it goes where I am thinking. I'm pretty excited about the concept. I'm using Mahara on my public site at

So. My two cents:

Dashboard, to me, means something with a list of controls to operate the site. The way the dashboard is setup here is that it shows the same static garbble on top and then when I scroll down I can see recent activity on the site. When I click on one of those links in recent activity it takes me somewhere on the site. Kind of confusing I think.I say just mix recent everything and make a wall of recent activity with links to friends, groups, or forums.

If I were a student I would want to see the front page of my portfolio with editable boxes and page create buttons on the side or as little drop downs within the template boxes on my views. The tabs up top would be to my "Front Page" (like a newspaper), "Activity" (Like the dashboard now), "Friends" (To invite, share and keep in touch with them), "Groups" (for groups), "Forums" (for forums), and "Files" (sub Media, Movies, Audio, Documents, Other). The "Settings" link would contain links to edit my profile info and privacy settings.

Hope this helps the process.

Thanks for the hard work.

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 3753

22 December 2010, 1:26 AM

Hello Mike,

Most of the "garbble" on the Dashboard can be hidden. Looking at the page again, I guess, we could also make the intro text above the three boxes hidden so that you truly only see the dashboard.

Personally, I like that the different activity streams are separated out and not one continuous stream as on Facebook et al. There, it's difficult to differentiate between status, links etc. and you just scroll endlessly. Maybe a possibility could be to let the user decide whether they want the stream or the individual boxes.

"If I were a student I would want to see the front page of my portfolio with editable boxes and page create buttons on the side" -> What would be displayed in the editable boxes? Do you mean the current blocks? If so, what is the front page of your portfolio? Would that be the current view overview page? A portfolio is not necessarily just one view, but it can consist of many.

What are the "template boxes"?



anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 808

22 December 2010, 12:31 AM

We need a bit longer to decide on this, so I've only added what I hope are the relatively uncontroversial changes from '1.4 test 1' to the master branch for eventual release in 1.4.  I've left out any big language & menu changes for now, apart from the removal of 'My' from most of the names in the second level.

anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 12

22 December 2010, 5:10 AM


It seems there are conflicting structural concepts here for: (1) a structure based on popularity so that most common tasks appear as top-level; (2) a structure based on a hierarchy of artefact types; and (3) a structure based on learning action types (e.g. create or reflect). For me, the key to usability will be a structural and semantic consistency through adopting one of these structures and not mixing them as the current site seems to do.

The problem I see is that while the conceptual type model (2) is debatable it can at least be system defined and communicated whereas the other two models (1 and 3) are based on action which is user defined. This appears blurred when one wishes to promote reflection by pushing journal up to top-level, whereas file or plan remain second-tier. If the system attempts to define user action it can become de-contextualised.

Regarding terminology 'journal' seems better than 'blog' and 'view' and 'page' are pretty similar. However these should be easily manageable by local language packs, how users are inducted into the system and what documentation they receive. For example in the UK 'resume' is not used so 'C.V.' is more appropriate. Creating local language packs is crucial to usability but need not affect core system. 

My impression is that a navigation bar in its current design is hierarchical and so should reflect a conscious grouping of tools/artefacts (model 2). For conceptual grouping a typical portfolio would tend to have 'information about me', 'content by me', 'content showcases', 'groups to whom I belong' which Mahara caters well for.

The dashboard or 'Home' is user customisable and so can provide tools for quick-links, recent activity, and popular activities for a user (model 1). Users can then decide how they want to manage this for speed of access to their interests or current projects.  

The learning action types such as create, reflect, plan should be supported by the system but should be introduced through learning activities and user guides (3). These may use multiple elements of Mahara and represent metacognitive processes rather than programmable actions. You cannot proscribe these through navigation.

Having found the the existing navigation hierarchy useful in this respect and a relatively simple way of introducing portfolio concepts, the changes seem to complicate things. Localising language is different to re-structuring and I would stick with more generic conceptual groupings:

Profile = 'information about me': personal details, contact details, CV/Resume, profile pictures;

Content/Repository = 'content by me': Journals, Files, Plans, (future artefacts)

Portfolio = 'content showcase': Views, Collections, Publish/Share, Export (future collections)

Groups = 'groups I belong to': Friends, Groups

These are all crucial to portfolio practice so I would not relegate 'Profile' to the top-right as it is part of the overall 'e-portfolio' and should be seen alongside other artefacts. 

This also seems appropriate for developing further plug-ins which can attach to one of the four concepts without seeming out of place. 

Thinking ahead 'Content' (or 'Repository') seems likely to evolve to include 'Acquired' content or that which is 'produced by others and used by me' and 'Derivatives' or that 'created by me but used by others'. The 'Portfolio' seems likely to include collaborative collections in line with this, and Profile might contain a range of diagnostics, competencies and similar tools useful to planning and reflecting on learning.