Forums | Mahara Community
Thoughts on more flexible use of profile information
08 May 2011, 12:57 AM
[This is a re-post from the developer and pedagogy forum. We moved the discussion to the "Comments on feature proposals" forum, formerly known as "Roadmap & Funding" to have the discussion in one place.]
Through discussions with teachers who use MyPortfolio (powered by Mahara) in NZ schools it became clear that the standard profile page needs some adjustments to allow for more flexibility. For example: A primary school wants to allow all its school members to see the full name and a profile picture on the profile, but not every logged-in user on MyPortfolio. At the moment that is not possible. Thus, they have to leave the photo off.
I have posted a proposal for dealing with profile information that is stored in Mahara more flexibly on the Mahara wiki and invite your comments on.
08 May 2011, 12:59 AM
ensuing conversation from the post in the developer forum:
It's great to see a focus on primary learners.
One question: Once a relationship has been esthablished between users of different institutions, could they then be able to see each others' last names and profile picture? For eample, by accepting someone as a friend from another institution, could that open more priviledges?
Yes, when somebody becomes a friend, his profile picture and full name as well as contact details are shown (if the user chose to put them on their profile page). That's displayed in the mockup with the number 4.
I like it. Friendship overrides institutional settings ;)
14 May 2011, 3:24 AM
Heath Sawyer, a facilitator for MyPortfolio Taster Sessions in New Zealand sent me his comments via email as he could not comment on the wiki at the time (the wiki works again and is now on MediaWiki). My comments are inline:
I've tried posting to the proposal on the Mahara wiki, but with no success. I have a mahara account but .....?????
Anyway, your recommendations look great and definitely a step in the right direction for schools (especially primary).
- First names by default - yes
- Profile pictures - yes but with the following considerations.
When it comes to profiles and the dashboard, the access to random members has little purpose for 'johnny" from room 5, in fact in my view it is a purposeless distraction. I think limiting the number of online users from the dashboard for students to members of their institute and friends and possibly group members from the wider community that they belong to would be sufficient. I'm not suggesting that it be walled but if they want to find someone then they need to search for that person or persons that meet their search criteria, thus providing 'purpose'.
comment Kristina: That is something that the institution admin will be able to do. They can decide to either have no online users sidebar / only their institution / all online users. The suggestion that John made [in a discussion forum on MyPortfolio] on dividing the list in friends etc. is not in scope for the current work on the online sidebar. The sidebar will be reduced to showing only 10 people and the rest on a separate page.
It comes down to the difference between independent learners (old folks) and learners that need guidance. If we are to teach them to become responsible elearners then the processes on the system need to provide a teachable moment.
Talking about purpose:
It would be great if information made available by a user could be used to suggest groups or friendships that maybe of interest to them. This is nothing new of course, most social networking sites have this type of function. The value of it would be to build communities of like minded people.
comment Kristina: Yes. I have written the specs so that they reflect the scope of what may be possible to do at the moment. Such recommendations would be related to groups but independent of them in a way as that is not connected to group types.
Those are my initial thoughts. I strayed a little but mostly because I just agree with your proposal but wanted to add a bit more. Maybe you could add these comments to the Mahara forum for me?
14 May 2011, 12:08 PM
In regards to the software being able to suggest friends and groups brings up several red flags for me for various reasons. If integrated I would need to see a sitewide and individual optout feature at the very least. Ideally, at installaton time of Mahara, the optout would be presented to the site admin also. Thanks
16 May 2011, 2:01 AM
Thank you for your feedback. Let's keep it in mind when we get to such a recommendation feature. I am with you that you should be able to opt out.
The proposal for the user profile page and the online user sidebar (institution admin can say whether no / only institution members / all members are shown) show that Mahara goes into the direction of giving more permissions to institution administrators (and users for the profile information). This is necessary especially on larger installations that are not only used for one institution, but multiple ones where rules may not be the same.
22 May 2011, 7:04 PM
I put a second proposal for using profile information more flexibly on the wiki because the proposal I had made initially would mean a whole lot of re-architecturing and even then may slow down Mahara quite a bit due to the increased calls to the database. The available budget for this development also needs to be taken into consideration. As I am not a developer, I wrote down a somewhat ideal scenario. We took that and scaled back and checked what can be done.
Richard Mansfield and I think the revised version of the profile information will already do a number of things necessary and help institution admins to make some default settings (as many users don't change those).
Comments are welcome.
04 June 2011, 7:05 PM
In the MyPortfolio.school.nz community (an e-portfolio site for school students and teachers in New Zealand), this topic is also discussed. Mark Simpson makes the following comments that I wanted to share here as well, partly also to keep his remarks in a central place. The following text is copie with permission from Mark.
Other comments are welcome.
This is a great discussion and I think a very important one. One thing that I think could be beneficial in the profile & profile page is clearer information and/or warnings regarding privacy/publicity of that unique page. Users have a lot of control over all aspects of MyPortfolio, particularly security, and that's brilliant - but I think a lot of these controls carry with them the assumption that users understand their purpose and know where to find them + how to use them. At primary level, and also at the other end of the spectrum for adult users of Mahara 1.2 that I am currently working with, I think the Profile Page is one area of concern where it's better to assume a complete lack of knowledge, re: privacy on the internet, on the user's part and warn them about anything that could be a problem.
My suggestions (on 1.2 or 1.4) would include:
- On the contact information page include a note in a red box using plain English to emphasise that these fields are optional. (e.g. "You don't have to include any of this information if you don't want to" - or "Do you need to present this information somewhere else in your MyPortfolio? If not then you probably don't need to store it here"). I have found that some adults (I don't know about the kids, but probably the same) assume that they have to fill in any fields they can or there'll be "holes" in their account. (like an unverified address on trademe or something).
- Take the description that subtitiles the profile page link in the 1.4 version list of pages ("Your profile page is what others see when they click on your name or profile picture") - put this notice in a more prominent position on the actual editing window for the profile page (where this concept really matters), perhaps with the inclusion "other myportfolio users can see this page even if they are not on your friends list" (I guess that would depend on their school admin settings, but you know what I mean).
- And if we really want to ensure users know what's going on - include another little warning in the configuration windows for both the profile information block and the contact information block emphasising "remember that your profile page is visible to other users on myportfolio so please think twice about putting personal information here").
I think the current warnings make sense to us, but not necessarily to primary kids and internet noobs. And realistically the people who will make sense out of the current warnings probably know this stuff already.
Currently it's not hard to imagine an internet noob (of whatever age) ending up with a contact page that includes a picture, phone number, address, school, etc, etc without realising that they don't have the same extent of control over access to this page as they do for other pages (whether the level of publicity extends to everyone on myportfolio as with ~.ac.nz or to a walled garden as discussed above for certain schools it's still something the user needs to understand before presenting their profile page).
Sorry if this has been discussed earlier - I haven't kept up with the discussions on this forum recently.
05 June 2011, 3:24 AMI agree with Mark suggestion. I also think that the new guide (to be written) for users, tutors and administrators has to have a strong chapter on security, personnal data protection and privacy This is often forgotten or lost among technical and insipide information. dajan
05 June 2011, 8:24 PM
Good point. I'll put it on my ToDo list.