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Timestamp student's work as evidence of when they did it?

11 January 2021, 16:10

Is it possible for to record when students make changes to their work in Mahara and what changes they make? For example, turn off the student's ability to modify journal entries and record all changes to an e-portfolio.

I want to ask student's to "show your work". STEM graduates in professional fields, such as computing, will be routinely required to provide evidence of what work they did on a project and when they did it. To get them used to doing this, I want students to submit their e-portfolio and journal of their project work, with all updates timestamped. An examiner can then check the student did the work over a reasonable period of days or weeks.

14 January 2021, 12:22

After much searching, I found that the journal tool in Mahara was upgraded a few years ago to have a second timestamp: "Last updated". The original timestamp "Posted on" says when the post was originally created and does not change.
There is a thread on this in the support froum: "Journal entry time stamps - not updated when edited...?" by Don Presant, 30 September 2014, 0:32 (apologies, I can't link to it as apparently I am a new user).

This is sufficient for students to provide a record of when they did what. We just have to tell students not to update their old posts, as there is no version control and so we could not tell what changes they made.

Is anyone using Mahara journals in this way?

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 4707

12 February 2021, 9:44

Hi Tom,

Thank you for your patience. Mahara does track when artefacts are created and updated, but the information is not always displayed directly on screen. One reason is that it's often not necessary. When you can see additional information for an artefact such as a journal entry or an uploaded file, you do see the dates.

When students submit their portfolios either via a Mahara group or via the LMS, journal entries and files will be locked and can't be edited for the duration of the assessment.

The journal always only displays the last updated date but not any intermittent ones like a version history. You can use the timeline feature and ask students to make snapshots of their pages after they did some significant editing to see how the page grows. That feature is still in the early stages. It would be good to give it some good testing with your scenario to see whether it would already be useful as is.



12 February 2021, 10:57

Kristina, I am not sure how well this idea of asking students to keep a logbook will work. I wrote "Why a Student Logbook? A Personal reflection" to explain the idea.

If my students were using Mahara to create an e-portfolio, then the journal would be worth using as a logbook. However, a few years ago we stopped using Maraha for e-portfolios, partly because it was not worth the staff and students learning an extra tool and partly because they were not convinced of the value of an e-portfolio.

So I have decided the journal function on its own was not worth using. Instead I will be using the WiKi function in Moodle, as that has full version control and the students are already using Moodle. I made this decision reluctantly, having used Mahara for almost a decade as a teacher and student at three institutions in Australia and North America.

If use of logbooks does catch on, then it would be worth building version control into Mahara. This might also be useful for group work, where more than one student is working on the one piece of work.

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 4707

03 March 2021, 20:18

Hi Tom,

Thank you for sharing another blog entry. The idea of updating a logbook entry is interesting as the old ones didn't have that capability. Version control is one option to see what was available on which date, but couldn't that also mean that some entries are never finished? Journal entries in Mahara display when they have been updated, but we don't provide a version history with the changes for that as mentioned before.

Would there be a benefit of not being allowed to update a logbook entry to ensure that it is not changed after the fact and thus changes history? For forums, we allow the editing for a specific time, per default 30 minutes, and also comments can be updated within 10 minutes of posting. That allows for incidental mistakes to be corrected, but not to be changed any more once the post has gone out as notification to others.

I'd be interested to hear from you and others which version (if any) is more desirable. Is there any research on how often version history is consulted?



04 March 2021, 11:24

Kristina, I envisioned version control allowing the examiner to see what the student did when, rather than just the state of their work when submitted.

In the absence of version control, being able to disable updates would be a way to ensure the student doesn't accidentally update an entry, thus negating its value as evidence of the progress of their work.

A time limit of 30 minutes for updates of forum entries is fine, as these are meant to be quick off-the-cuff entries. A longer time limit would be needed for logbook entries. I frequently run over the 30 minute limit for forum posts (some posts take me days to prepare).

I am not aware of any research on the use of version history for assessment.

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 4707

10 March 2021, 8:17

Hi Tom,

Thank you for the additional information. The edit limit for forum posts can be changed in the plugin section., but I wouldn't set it to days as a notification will still be sent to subscribers, and they are not alerted to any changes made afterwards.

When a portfolio is submitted, journal entries are prevented from being edited while the portfolio is locked, ensuring that a learner doesn't update it at the last minute. If that isn't working on your instance of Mahara, that might need to be looked into.



Dianne Tennent's profile picture
Posts: 13

12 October 2021, 14:16

Hi there, 

Mahara currently has a 'save to timeline' feature which takes snapshots of portfolios at specific points in time. If there was a way to set up an automated 'save to timeline' feature that took snapshots of student work at regular intervals, that could be a good way of identifying when students did what. See attached screenshots.



  • savetotimeline.png.1
  • timelineview.png
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