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Comments on feature proposals /
Social Networking Enhancements in Mahara

Yuliya Bozhko's profile picture
Posts: 21

21 March 2014, 12:00

Hi everyone!

At MaharaHui 2014 we announced some new development which would be led by Totara Learning Solutions and would introduce a lot of exciting improvements and features to Mahara. I wanted to give you some more information about that Smile

We are focusing on improving and adding various elements of social networking to Mahara. This will include but is not limited to implementing Mahara activity streams with user and group status updates, adding sharing at the artefact level, and developing features that would improve user engagement with the community such as sharing ideas and asking questions.

The document with the outline of what we are going to do can be found here:

Feel free to share it with others and give us some feedback. We are really interested in you opinion and we want to make sure that we captured all aspects around existing Mahara features. Contact details are provided in the document in case you would like to email me directly.




Don Presant's profile picture
Posts: 255

22 March 2014, 5:55

Hi Yuliya:

This looks *very* interesting...I like the notions of ideas, updates and questions. It's great to see the Totara Social development benefiting the Mahara core.

Just a couple of comments off the top of my head as I continue to digest...

Ideas seem a bit like polls..I guess we can also use them as polls?

What about Group Journals? This has been discussed several times here on I think it fits thematically with what you're discussing. I'd love to see that in this context.




Yuliya Bozhko's profile picture
Posts: 21

25 March 2014, 12:31

Hi Don,

Thanks for the feedback!

Polls is something we might convert ideas artefact into in the second version. We would like to make it simple to begin with and add more enhancements later.

Not sure about Group Journals as they are not in the scope at the moment and we might not be able to squeeze it in for the initial release. I will definitely take a note on that one and we'll have a look at adding it to our roadmap.

If you have anything else to add, feel free to contact me directly or add your comments here :)




Jasmin Hodge's profile picture
Posts: 33

11 April 2014, 16:55


Thanks for sharing, it was interesting to read proposals for Social Networking Enhancements in Mahara v10 and having a chance to feedback.

I have mixed opinions about the features and have my preferred ones.  I am sure every organisation will have different views.

Delighted about 'dashboard' being changed to 'homepage'. I feel that this change alone helps with engagement.  Feedback from listening to learners at FVC over the past 4 years, requests to change the dashboard to 'home' was the most consistent highest trend in reponses.

New features.....

I like the proposed layout on users home pages displaying a newstream and users can, from here, use these 3 new features : -

- Add a status

I don't really see the value in using the status.  Perhaps within individual institutions such as our 'creative industries', every member would have a good chance of being interested in the statuses, if they were subject or topic related.  There is a lot of control for user, but I feel status maybe become a barrier rather than engage? Guidelines, support and advice needed to support users in the use of status would have to be considered in plan in using this release.  Resources for staff to help motivate or encourage good practice of the status has to be considered.  I also see this as a barrier for staff and learners who are new to mahara and also for current users. 

It's a completely new approach and fits in with building collaborations and teamwork, but a huge assumption on status streams being relevant and used in a beneficial way.  Learners may just update their status with information that is really no benefit to anyone, or could be inappropriate. 

- propose an idea

Nice idea for proposal of ideas that can include attachments etc, maybe a bit ambitious to expect site wide collaborations on ideas.  I think great for groups or subjects as ideas can be tagged and will build up over time into a learner created resource, but again needs good communication of good practice to users to inspire use.  Would be good for future planning in evaluating users within the site for immediate and reactive rich feedback on ideas, voting or preference requests. 

- ask a question

Asking academic questions or questions about where a new student can get cheap milk or cashback in an organisation can be very useful and a model like this has tried to be created previously to support learners moving courses, colleges or bridging the gap to university perhaps.  Projects I was involved in used approaches where champions were appointed and a responsibility was given to a role that would manage the questions.  Ultimately this was to try and ensure every question is answered.  Beneficial again to learners when they are learning a new topic for example: asking experienced peers in the questions for opinions and reading other experiences of learning the said topic. 

A resource can be built up with tagging and learners will continually add knowledge and information to this learner created site resource that can be used as a learning resource for future learners.

Again value has to be given to the questions, so guiding and advising users in writing questions, what audience to share your questions with, and clear instructions on participation with an agreed role given to champions in each area to monitor and encourage the process of the questions be completed.   


An institutional approach on using these features will help engage use and this will help make them valuable to users on the site.  So I see this being a barrier for certain organisations.

A lot of assumption and most likely wouldn't be consistent across subjects across sites?

The addition of messages and notifications visually displaying new reactions that I have defined in my preferences is a great feature with a familiar layout users maybe used to? This can be very encouraging to users when they are new to mahara.

Other new features feedback....


Nice user friendly chat window - will this have issues using outwith organisations domain at users homes?  Would be utilised by users spending a particular amount of time in their mahara site. I think as long as it could be switched off in preferences or at site level if ocs or another alternative is available. 

Support can be given from technologists and lecturers to a certain level and a SLA should be made clear.  I can see possibilities for all types of individual peer reviews, personal learning plan reviews with lecturer Or learning development workers using chest feature for instant feedback and could encourage more dialogue in the feedback.

Sharing options in blocks within shared pages

A great feature which gives more power in the creation of a secure page or collection which gives the user more power to share their content in a way that is secure and with more options which gives responsibility and ownership of their pages.

Hope this is of use :)

Jasmin Hodge's profile picture
Posts: 33

11 April 2014, 17:17

An idea for getting feedback from the community for new features like these which are very important changes, could be to approach each mahara user group and ask for feedback from each group.

Machara, Mugse, MUG etc  Each group will collectively return their feedback and suggestions prepared  as a group collaboratively.  Would be interesting to see what features seem positive with one group and not others, could help see particular teaching Methods and styles in different parts of the world and maybe trends that could help with making mahara more personalised to support the use of mahara in your organisation.  Could also help with decisions on mahara partners and development work that has been identified.  Requesting dev work could be better negotiated as a group and shared smarter with community that contributed to the spec?

Yuliya Bozhko's profile picture
Posts: 21

15 April 2014, 12:05

Hi Jasmin,

Thanks for your feedback!

You are right about trying to deliver our ideas to as wider audience as possible. We did presented this spec during MaharaHui conference as well as Mahara Hackfest following after the conference and had a great feedback from the participants. Also I believe a presentation was done on our behalf at Mahara User Group in the UK. This forum was one more way of reaching out to more people Smile

I can also assure you that all our development is done in collaboration with Mahara project core team and we wouldn't offer anything that they wouldn't consider useful for Mahara. The features we are going to implement will follow Mahara's pluggable architecture and will be easy to manage by administrators like any existing functionality in Mahara (i.e. disabling plugins, enforcing institutional settings, etc.) as well as users (by setting their default preferences).

While it's quite difficult to make sure that everyone is happy with the new features, we will make them as generic as possible so that they can be used in a variety of contexts. I believe there will always be a room for improvement in any outcome and we are not going to stop at the initial release. We will try to listen to community's feedback and adjust our roadmap accordingly.

Thanks again for your feedback! If you have anyone to share our ideas with, feel free to do so. It's always good to hear what people think about the proposal.


Jasmin Hodge's profile picture
Posts: 33

16 April 2014, 1:00

Hi there

Excellent, is all very exciting :)

I'll share out to UK groups and get some more feedback for you.....


jas :)

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