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blackboard eport vs Mahara


Tim Molnar's profile picture
Posts: 42

09 September 2011, 5:38 PM

Hi everyone,

I have some information on the utility of Mahara versus Blackboard eportfolio but would like to gather more information if anyone has some links to send along or documenation.

 

Background:

I am faculty in a teacher education program. I have been using earlier versions of Mahara/Moodle with groups of students. I have been advocating for Mahara as a flexible learning/sharing environment and as a collection/sharing point/experience that acts as a lattice for the coursework and field experience of our teachers. Our new program is very inquiry oriented and tied to the field.

IT people at my university are more interested in BB eportfolio, but I feel this is less intiuitve and less flexible than what Mahara offers. 

Anyway any feedback/insight/opinion you have on this I would be happy to receive.

best

tim

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 3832

10 September 2011, 8:44 PM

Hello Tim,

I am not familiar with Blackboard's portfolio. Do you have more information why your IT staff thinks Blackboard is better?

Cheers

Kristina

Tim Molnar's profile picture
Posts: 42

11 September 2011, 11:43 PM

Well..it may be more a matter of conforming to one "platform"

Our uni has settled on using Blackboard as the central platform for student and faculty use for various online interactions.

From what I can tell with the BB eport it's not as flexible as Maraha, and is less user friendly/centered.

I asked my question before looking up more info on integrating Blackboard with Mahara. There does seem to be possibiliies for doing that.

And that would save me from having to make some argument for a Moodle/Mahara setup, which would not be seen favourably because of our IT's conforming to a BB environment and there resistance to replicating services with something like Moodle.

Anyway, after talking with one of our tech managers, they seem very willing to hook up Mahara with BB, but not to provide support for me to create a Moodle/Mahara set up.

best

tm

anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 61

12 September 2011, 12:41 AM

At the outset I should say I am biased. I do not like Blackboard, and increasingly I am liking any LMS less an less. If I had to have an LMS (which sure we often do) then I would choose Moodle because it is easy to plug anything (or embed)  into it . We all talk about user owned portfolios, yet most institutions crave control. Thus the appeal of something like Blackboard. You can keep everything in one place, generate reports, integrate assessment etc. If a student uses blackboard for an ePortfolio it will be little more than a glorified assignment. What is the access when the subject is finished? 

Now after me ranting and raving, what are the options? If you must use Blackboard as an LMS, you don't have to use it for an ePortfolio. There are lots of free options  including blogs, wikis, Google sites, or free Mahara sites. That would be my choice. I am currently trialing a course using Google+ , Google apps and our Mahara, with 35 students, and it has been fantastic. I have all the content on Mahara, communicate mainly with + and Twitter and the students have their own choice of tools for their journals and reports. I am only half way through the semester but to date I have been blown away by the students enthusiasm.

Cheers, Ian 

anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 31

12 September 2011, 3:32 AM

Tim, I know little baout BB but know that our recent work (via Catalyst) to place a web service stack on Mahara will open up many integration options. With three preferred LMS for NZ schools I believe the integrations with a 4th would be cost effective. Somebody from Catalyst can easily explain more or provide the links.

Paul.

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 3832

12 September 2011, 6:53 AM

Hello Tim,

Thank you for the additional information. You write "There does seem to be possibiliies for doing that." What did you hear / read in particular? I am not aware that any integration has already been achieved. If so, could you please point me to the relevant info so that I can catch up?

Paul mentioned the work that the developers here at Catalyst have done. You can find more about the project and what it wants to achieve at http://wikieducator.org/LMS-MyPortfolio_Interoperability_Project

Phase 1: Authentication from the LMS to Mahara is currently in trial with one LMS vendor. After that, displaying notifications from Mahara in the LMS that is hooked up is the next step followed by the actual exchange of content (via Leap2A).

As Paul wrote, this is done for 3 LMS here in NZ, but as the underlying technology is standards-based and implemented in Mahara (1.5), you can adapt it to work with other LMS and the effort should not be too great as the bulk work has already been performed.

Support for this development work has been made available by the Managed Learning Environment Group within the NZ Ministry of Education who give as much as possible back to core Mahara instead of just implementing it for myportfolio.school.nz

Cheers

Kristina

Tim Molnar's profile picture
Posts: 42

12 September 2011, 1:37 PM

Thanks for the replies everyone.

As I said, I am just trying to get back up to speed on Mahara use and so maybe unaware of the linkages and "holes" in what is happening.

Here's what both our IT fellow and myself ran across:

http://connections.blackboard.com/posts/09cd3eaf46 has a PowerPoint slide from the Australasia blackboard conference in 2009. Interestingly the presentation was done by AUT University, one of the primary developers of Mahara. 

I guess you are correct Kristina in not finding much/anything on BB and mahara integration as this is the only thing that came readily up with searching.

Thanks for the link to your site on interoperability. 

I like Moodle too, but at our university they have made the decision to go with BB.

So I  guess I am looking for information on how to hook it up with BB.

Here's the response the I got from one our tech planners:

"I personally am very interested in integrating Mahara or a similar eportfolio system into our core LMS.  Having Mahara available alongside Blackboard would improve both systems greatly. If we implement Mahara integrated with Blackboard and available to everyone on campus then I am certain that ITS would absorb many of the setup, integration, and ongoing operational costs, assuming Mahara can meet the needs of campus."  

Anyway..in many ways I am the tail trying to wag the dog of the university.

As Paul mentioned....univ. like the control and uniformity of single systems.

Anyway...I will send your link to our IT fellow and hopefully he can learn something from it, that can help me in establishing the latest Mahara incarnation.

Thanks so much for discussion.

tm

anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 10

12 September 2011, 2:36 PM

At Pace University, we're very interested in this topic as well since we also use Mahara with Blackboard.  At this point, they aren't integrated but we would be very interested in trying to make this happen.  We have started a semi-local Mahara User group in our area and are holding our next meeting online on October 13, 2011 from 1-2 Eastern Time, in case anyone would like to join us. 

 

Beth

anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 31

12 September 2011, 4:35 PM

Tim and Beth, I am pleased to hear that there is interest in BB - Mahara integration, as here in NZ I have heard the same from some schools (ACG) and AUT (albeit a year or two ago). Further to Kristina's link to our requirments and solution approach (published in WE) I want to report that we have started the work and made good progress on provisioning. Notifications (of events in Mahara that the LMS needs to know about) and then moving content (both ways) are still ahead of us, with notifications being scoped as I write.

While Piers/Richard could provide you with more information the documentation for the Web Services framework is at https://wiki.mahara.org/index.php/Plugins/Artefact/WebServices and the example clients are part of the download material https://gitorious.org/mahara-contrib/artefact-webservice/trees/master/exampleclients, and you can get the entire download (including dependencies) here https://gitorious.org/mahara-contrib/artefact-webservice/archive-tarball/master .

I would be pleased to see a number of BB institutions combine to make this type of integration a relaity.

Paul.

anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 33

12 September 2011, 8:54 PM

Hi there,

We have been meaning to post the script we use (which Steve Lord has created) to feed students from Blackboard to Mahara and this discussion has prompt us to do so. This script is linked to a course request utilit,y which is a building block Steve has written specifically for AUT University. This means you will need to adapt the script to fit in with your course utility (if you have one) you have with Blackboard. However, this maybe of some assistance.

You need to take the script and put it into your own building block. It is a JSP file. The script links to a custom database table we have created within Blackboard. The table is a list of all the blackboard courses within the system, with a field to indicate if it is Mahara enabled.

At the Mahara end there is a specially written script, which imports the data feed into the Mahara database.

See the wiki plugin area for the file.

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