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Very young students - how best to manage?

anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 5

17 May 2013, 7:05 PM

Our Early Childhood teachers are using Mahara to create e-portfolios for our 3- and 4-year old students. They're happy with the system but I'm not happy with how we (I) have set things up.

The teachers are creating the student portoflios as collections in their own teacher accounts - the children really are considered too young to manage uploads, create pages, etc. So it's complicated - and transitioning to next year is a bit of a nightmare (I haven't really started addressing yet!). The older students should get their own portfolios, the younger ones... not sure. (Can't keep them attached to their previous teacher's account!)

Is anyone else using Mahara for very young children? How do you manage their portfolios? Do you have 3-year olds log on themselves? Do you have teachers log on as individual students?

Any tips or advice greatly appreciated!

Gordon McLeod's profile picture
Posts: 192

17 May 2013, 9:05 PM

Hello John,

Just a thought - but why not create a separate 'cohort year' group for the students, with a page for each named student, rather than pages tied to an individual teacher. That way the group stays with the students year-to-year, and you can simply switch administrator rights to the new class teacher each year. As students become more proficient and comfortable with using Mahara they will be able to take their portfolio onto their personal pages if you enable copying of the page that was held within the group.

While I can't speak as a teacher of 3 year olds, my own daughters had pretty good computer skills at that age - navigating websites with the mouse and searching. Certainly by the time they were four they understood concepts like passwords - as a parent familiar with the internet I control their computer passwords so they can't browse unsupervised (until I'm satisfied with their eSafety skills), but Mahara is a different environment to the unrestricted web. The more practice they get the quicker they pick up the skills.

Regards, Gordon.

anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 7

24 May 2013, 1:12 AM

Hi John,

I am currently rolling out an e-portfolio solution for Argyll and Bute council and the system is set for pupils to be able to use for age 3-18.

Although we use Mahara as an e-portfolio we have also added in a Drupal front end so that a teacher can create an achievement along with the skills for life learning and work that the pupil has gained, then distribute it to a group or the whole class. We have created a bespoke arefact so all they need to do is drag it in and pick from a list , that the teacher has created, and then maybe get help to add some evidence.

The reason we created the ability for a teacher to create and then distribute multiple times as we find in early years and lower primary that they do work on the same thing quite a bit of the time and it was just too much work for them to add to each pupils portfolio.

Obviously the lower down the stage the more teacher input that is required. We also have older children working with the younger ones to help them build up their e-portfolios. I personally think it is important for pupils to have thier own account from as young as 3 as that way we can track their learning journey right through and hopefully beyond 18.

We have only started this session and hopefully some good practice will bubble to the surface..whatever I hear I will keep you posted and I also look forward to hearing from others so that we can share ideas.

Cheers for now





anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 112

26 December 2013, 3:45 PM

I am also in the same category.  Although I am homeschooling, my goal is the same and I am dealing with the same issues.  I am currently homeschooling 1 2nd grader.  There are a couple of different page types that we are doing.

Page about a specific person.  We are creating a page about Thomas Edison.  We read a story about Thomas Edison.  We watched a video about Thomas Edison.  Then on regular paper, I have to student do a 4 square (through dicttation) about Thomas Edison.  Then I type the paragraph into the computer for that page.  The rest of the page is a gallery of images about Thomas Edison.  So the page is 1 paragraph and 10 images.

Other times, we are dealing with a topic, for example, the weather.  From my teacher's handbook, I get the list of vocabulary words.  I made a header for each vocabulary word.  Since weather is a lot of images, together we went through YouTube and WikiCommons to find videos and images.  I taught the student how to copy the links from YouTube.  That was fine. But the images the student did not want to deal with, because they have to be saved to a hard drive, resized, and then uploaded to the correct location.  It was too many steps for the student to do themselves, and the student just refused.  I got as far as keep the window open for the images you want, but then I had to do everything else.  Copy from URL feature would definitely help solve this problem.

I usually masquarade as the student.  It would be nice if Mahara had the ability to add a class group with me as the teacher, then I could just one click to masquarade as the student instead of having to go to the admin tab, click users, and then find the student, and then select the student, then click login as student.

For the images, I first tired to upload in the institution, but the permissions for that are messed up.  Then I tried the group, but then it gets confusing as to which images should be in the group and which should be in the student account.  I wish there was an easier to move images from an indivudal account to a group account.  So after I figure out what works and what does not, I can put images were they should go.  Although, it might be nice to just display images as a library like Windows does (groups and individual files are displayed together).

Now if I was working with a whole class ....

I think that I would stick with groups for the class (or maybe a sub-class of 4 - 8 students).  Until 6th grade, it is unrealistic to expect that the children can create all of their own pages.  They don't have the typing skills,and it would too much for a teacher / parent to maintain.  But if a group of kids worked on pages together, then it is possible.  For example, you are learning about animals.  Each student is assigned an animal.  They add pictures of their animal, but then all of the pages are shared with the students, so they all benefit.

But again, when they got into 6th grade, there would need to be the ability to take all of the collections that were created between preschool and 5th grade and copy them into individual accounts, so the students could from that point on, maintain their own pages.

Bottom line, changing from an individual page to a group page or a group page to an individual page is a "pain" if at all possible, but when you are dealing with small children and the model we are dealing with, that ability is going to be needed.



Dirk Meyer's profile picture
Posts: 424

02 January 2014, 12:30 PM

I never understood the need for masquerating, although I have to deal with teachers all the time who insist on having access to this feature. Usually they want to login as the student and make the student page conform to what the teacher is asking students to do. In my mind it has very little to do with actual trouble shooting or helping.
Resolving real or perceived help would be much better dealt with by properly showing students how to do tasks in the software, not matter how youg they are. I taught a first grader in a few minutes how to make pages for example.
In my mind teachers need to unlearn their role when it comes to supporting eportfolios. A eportfolio space considerably different to say a webly website or a google site. It is student owned and often contains private information and as such, how support is provided should be adjusted.

anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 112

06 January 2014, 3:52 PM

I also taught my students how to make a page within a very short period of time.  But there is a very big difference between creating a page for English where the page can be whatever the student wants the page to be, and creating a page for History or Science.

In History and Science there HAS to be specific sections, and the student is done with the assignment when all of the sections have something in them.  A teacher cannot take a page that they make (a template) and say "copy this page to the student account".  The only option is to go to the student account and copy the page from the teacher's acocunt.  This is a flaw in Mahara that is being discussed in a different thread.

So unless a teacher wants to waste valuable class time in having the students setup the pages (even something as simple as copying a page from the teacher's account), this needs to be done before class time.

Personally, I want class time to be focused on the actual content of the page, not the setting up of the page.

Also, my students don't have the writing skills or the stamina to write 3 pages a day: one for English, one for History, and one for science.  It is too much.  They don't know how to spell.  They don't know grammar.  They don't know how to type.  And they are still learning how to write a paragraph properly.  To expect them to put all of those things together for all of their course work in unrealistic, in my opinion.

Personally, I would rather have the student dictate their work to me, and I type it in.  That way their knowledge of the subject in science and history is not limited by the technical skills in physical act of writing.  In a year or two they will not need their hands held as much, but for right now, it is the way that it is.

Melissa Newman


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