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Is Mahara suitable for our requirements?


Thomas Kollewe's profile picture
Posts: 12

02 August 2019, 19:15

Hi everyone,

we're currently planning to implement a portfolio for our teacher training.

What we want to have is a pre structured page for every course we offer so that the participants can just fill them out. We offer 10 courses but our participants only need 5 of them. Possible fields are something like "Upload your course plan here", "Please formulate 3 learning objectives and write down why they are good in terms of the SMART scheme", "Please describe what you want to improve for you next course and how". 

After the fields are filled out we want that another participant from the same course is able to look at the submission and give feedback to each part and rate it on a three-level scale ("not fulfilled", "partly fulfilled", "fulfilled"). These "tandem partners" differ from course to course.

In addition we want to link each of the tasks to an underlying competency framework that contains six competencies, so that the participants can see in what filed they are good (e.g. "Planning") and in what they need some more training ("Assessment").

Another thing we want to have is a mentoring system, where every participants has a more experienced participant that already finished some courses to be their mentor and goes through their portfolio once or twice a year to discuss their progress and planned steps to improve.

This is a rough overview of our needs and if something needs some clarification pleas just ask.

So, can we do this with Mahara? I've seen that there is SmartEvidence but for what I've read this is just for whole pages and not for single items on a page. Is it possible to have this pre structured forms/pages?

Thanks in advance,

Thomas 

 

 

 

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 4055

07 August 2019, 19:47

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for outlining your project. You can achieve the structured pages by setting up various templates that your students can then copy as needed. Since it sounds like you can have different combinations of courses they are taking it doesn't seem to be easy to automatically give them these templates based on their selection as there are just too many combination possibilities.

Templates can be set up on any level in Mahara: Individual account, group, institution, site. The difference between a regular portfolio and a template portfolio is that the regular portfolio is made copyable when you share the portfolio (it's under "Advanced options" on the "Edit access" screen). Since you are setting up portfolios institution / school wide, I'd recommend setting up the templates on the institution or site level, depending on how you structure your Mahara site.

Students can then share their portfolio with their assigned peer who can comment on the portfolio. If you turn on comment ratings in the plugin administration (plugin type "comment"), they can give thumbs up, a star etc. as part of their comment. You decide on the size of the scale.

As for the competencies, I thought immediately of SmartEvidence. Yes, right now you can only align an entire page to one or more competencies as the idea was to show evidence in context. We started a project at Catalyst that will make it possible to align individual pieces of evidence to a competency, and the client has given the go ahead to open source this functionality. So we will look into getting this into Mahara core, hopefully for April 2020 as we are in feature freeze for the October 2019 version of Mahara, Mahara 19.10.

The other interactions can be achieved by the students sharing their portfolios with the people whom they ask to give feedback.

Cheers

Kristina

Thomas Kollewe's profile picture
Posts: 12

13 August 2019, 20:39

Hi Christina,

Thank you for your detailed reply!

Yes, you're assumption is correct: Our learners have to attend a base course and then chose 4 different courses from different modules. 

I played around with the demo a bit and tried to create and share  a template. It worked quite well although I found out the hard way that if you make a mistake that you can't delete a block ;b

I wasn't able to find the  (plugin type "comment") though. 

When switching to the learners role to find the shared template I found it a bit overwhelming because of the very long list of sites. Is there a way to limit this view and show only the 10 sites for the single courses? I'm a bit worried that it become too much of a hassle for our learners.

Since we are lacking a good hosting solution and could definitely could need a more detailed instruction I'll get in touch with Catalyst.

Best wishes,

Thomas

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 4055

21 August 2019, 8:33

Hi Thomas,

Great that you could make more progress. When you say that you couldn't find the "comments" plugin, what do you mean by that? Could you not find the block?

You are correct. When a template is copied, you can't make any changes on it. One idea we had was to allow changes when a student hasn't yet edited the template, but we haven't been able to create that feature yet.

There are several ways of finding templates:

  • By clicking the "Copy" button on "Pages and collections". I'd say that this is the old way. It is a bit overwhelming. However, you can ask them to search for a specific tag. Thus, if you give each template a unique tag relating to the group, they can find that easily.
  • By clicking the "Copy" button when they are on a template. You can provide a link to your template and ask them to copy it directly.
  • By creating templates in a groups and then automatically copying that template into all student accounts who are already members of the group. That's a nifty feature because you don't need to give your students any instructions besides "The template is already in your account". :-)

Hope that helps.

Best

Kristina

Thomas Kollewe's profile picture
Posts: 12

22 August 2019, 0:17

Hi Kristina,

I was referring to this part which I wasn't able to find:

"If you turn on comment ratings in the plugin administration (plugin type "comment"), they can give thumbs up, a star etc. as part of their comment. You decide on the size of the scale."

For the blocks, I wasn't able to remove any of them after I added them to my template. So when I made a mistake I always had to start from scratch.

The option to create a template for a group sounds great. I'd like to have it as hassle free as possible for our learners.

Best wishes,

Thomas

 

 

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 4055

22 August 2019, 7:41

Hi Thomas,

You can turn on comment ratings in Admin menu -> Extensions -> Plugin administration and then the "comments" configuration.

When you create a template you should be able to make changes to blocks before you roll it out to students. I don't know why you wouldn't be able to continue editing a page. Do you ahve problems editing any other pages once you've created them?

Cheers

Kristina

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