Mahara Newsletter (ISSN 2230-4045)

The Mahara Newsletter is published quarterly. The first issue appeared on April 1, 2011. Everybody is welcome to contribute to the newsletter by sending articles or links to longer blog posts / articles already published online.

The newsletter is from the community for the community to let Mahara users know how others are using Mahara, what cool things they do with it, what new developments are cooking, where feedback is required, what Mahara events are coming up.

(Details)

Mahara Newsletter April 2015 (Vol. 5 / Issue 1)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 01 April 2015, 8:56 AM

The Mahara year got off to a great start. We have lots of stories to share, many events coming up, and a new version of Mahara coming out soon. Take a seat and enjoy this latest newsletter. Did you know that this is the first issue of the 5th year of the newsletter already? Time surely flies. We started the newsletter on 1 April 2015 and since then have been receiving stories, news, event announcements, award notifications etc. from around the world. The variety of the submissions shows the many ways in which Mahara can be used.

If you haven't submitted an article yet, please consider to do so. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 July 2015, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Mahara in use

Integrating an ePortfolio assessment into a pre-sessional academic English course

Dustin Hosseini (Coventry University, UK)

Some international students who come to the UK require a 'boost' of their English language and study skills in order to study on a degree program at a university. These students usually study on pre-sessional English programs at a university before their course starts. One way that we at Coventry University will assess students is by integrating an ePortfolio assessment. Students' ePortfolios will consist of 3 parts: a reflective learning journal, video tasks and written tasks - all situated within our Mahara site. The learning journal will be more heavily weighted in terms of marks earned as this reflects the nature of the ePortfolio: to become a more reflective learner who uses reflective practices.

Most UK-based pre-sessional programs don't take this approach, but we hope to break ground by having students construct an ePortfolio within Mahara by reflecting upon their learning in a journal, creating short videos where they practice English individually and within group discussions, and documenting the development and progression of their writing skills. All of this will take place while developing students into autonomous, independent learners through exercising their ICT and digital literacies. We feel this approach has potential for transferability to other second and/or foreign language programs.

"Show what you can do": KidZ EPortfolio Study 2014

Petra Szucsich and Klaus Himpsl-Gutermann (University of Teacher Education Vienna, Austria)

kidz.pngKidZ ("Klassenzimmer der Zukunft", engl. "classroom of the future") is an innovative educational project which was initiated by the Federal Ministry of Education and Women in Austria in the year 2013. Its main objective is to make learning with ICT part of regular school life, thus fundamentally adjusting and modernizing didactics to the requirements of modern times. The research is conducted by the Zentrum für Lerntechnologie und Innovation (ZLI, Center of Educational Technology and Innovation) at the University of Teacher Education Vienna.

In context of the Austrian KidZ project, the KidZ EPortfolio Study 2014 first of all evaluated the existing Mahara entities in Austria. In a second step, good practice examples at Austrian schools were collected and five teachers who had already gained a lot of practical experiences in the use of ePortfolios in class were invited to take part in virtual interviews via Adobe Connect. The major aim of the study was to illustrate and analyze the use of ePortfolios at Austrian schools and to document and share examples.

Conclusions

EPortfolio work enables teachers to offer their students very individualized learning settings. In these settings traditional structures such as time, space, subjects and roles of teachers and learners have to be redefined. The conclusions drawn from the analysis as well as the good practice examples of the participating schools were collected and presented in an ePortfolio collection.

Lecturers have a life, too!

Richard Farr (University of Bolton, UK)

richard_farr.pngThrough my use of Mahara, I aim to become more 'human' to my students. I travel internationally to teach intensive, weekend-long workshops after which I seldom meet the students again. This doesn’t leave long for getting to know one another!

Our Moodle learning environment gives students most of what they need in terms of study materials, forums, exercises and the like, but I appreciate a space (accessible with a university login) where students can see something about my work, hobbies and interests – such as photos of my house restoration project, and an RSS feed from my sustainability-themed blog. I also link to presentations and academic papers not directly related to current teaching.

I wouldn't want to invite current students into my 'Facebook life', nor the LinkedIn presence I maintain for professional contacts, but having Mahara just a click away on all our Moodle courses allows me to demonstrate – gently – that a lecturer doesn’t always sit at the keyboard, waiting to answer their queries!

Turnitin and invigilation Mahara pages

Marylise Tate (Adam Smith Business School at the University of Glasgow, Scotland)

adam_smith_1.pngThe Adam Smith Business School started using Mahara in October 2014 in order to communicate student information relating to Turnitin more efficiently. This was suggested by the College Learning Innovation Officer to help avoid the duplication required in Moodle. He also provided basic training on how to set up a page.

The School has now four Mahara pages:

  • Turnitin
  • Information for GTA invigilators
  • Information for Registry invigilators on the School TeleForm project
  • PGT events (administered by the Accreditations Administrator)

The benefits of using Mahara were immediate. Prior to the introduction of theTurnitin Mahara page, all Programmes Administrators had to update their individual Moodle course / programme pages with updates on Turnitin and upload revised guidance documents.

With Mahara, there is one central source of information. Programmes Administrators no longer have to apply any updates using the Mahara link on their Moodle pages.

The revolutionary use of Mahara for Turnitin opened the door to create a page for GTAs (Graduate Teaching Assistants) who assist the School with invigilation during in-course exams. Instead of communicating information by copious emails and attachments, the GTAs now only need to add a Mahara page to their watchlist in order to be notified about important updates.

The feedback received from the GTAs on the page so far was very positive.

Due to the success of the use of Mahara for Turnitin and GTA instructions, the School has set up another information page for its TeleForm project where registry invigilators are briefed on the use of TeleForm answer sheets.

I, personally, love Mahara!

adam_smith_2.png

EPortfolio diversity at Pace University

Megan Burke and Heather Askildsen (Pace University, U.S.A.)

Megan Burke – Accounting

megan_burke1.pngI attended my first ePortfolio demonstration in my Writing in the Disciplines course back in the fall of 2011. Little did I know, my professor was the co-director of ePortfolios at Pace University. Her passion for the tool was infectious; my fellow students and I couldn’t help but be excited about our first lesson using ePortfolio.

At the end of the demonstration, the student assistant who was teaching us mentioned that her department had available positions, and I decided to go for it. The first time I edited my pages, I was in a hurry. I wanted to make a fantastic ePortfolio and land the job. But as I further developed my ePortfolio throughout my time in college, I continually updated the content to reflect my professional development.

During my sophomore year, I had filled my pages with descriptions of my volunteer work, career goals, and personality.  By the time I got into the graduate program, I had a wide array of content to include. Since I had many different intern experiences, I created a separate page for each internship to reflect on my experiences there.

Audit coursework

After deciding that I wanted to be an auditor, I created a page called "Audit Coursework" to showcase everything I learned in my audit courses. Content included images of me participating in mock audits with classmates and reflections on what I learned in these classes.

You can view Megan's public portfolio.

 megan_burke2.png

Heather Askildsen - English and Communications

I was introduced to ePortfolio in a graduate capstone course. All Pace University undergraduates now develop their ePortfolios as part of the freshman "Pace Path" program, but I was a transfer student and was new to the idea of an online portfolio. At first, I regarded it as visual-centric resume. But as I began to develop my pages, I slowly started to reflect on what all this content I had produced over the years meant. This prompted me to create two additional sections of my portfolio, my Academic Philosophy and Writing Portfolio page.

heather_askildsen1.pngAcademic Philosophy

This page encapsulates my central theme of my portfolio; active learning. I used the "File(s) to download" tool to upload content I had produced and the "Image" tool to incorporate visual examples of me taking my passion for learning beyond the classroom. The text editor allowed me to link to external blogs posts I had written and pages for events I had helped coordinate.

heather_askildsen2.pngWriting Portfolio

As an English and Communications major, I had amassed a great deal of written material by my senior year at Pace. EPortfolio gave me a space to showcase my writing and academic achievements, encouraging me to reflect on my educational experiences and craft a multi-media narrative of my undergraduate career. My "Writing Portfolio" page is a collection of my undergraduate work, both creative and analytical. It highlighted my diverse range of writing.

Mahara in action

Bringing Mahara's mobile app into the 21st century 

Scott Allen (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)

For a university paper, I am looking at the usability of MaharaDroid, the Android app for Mahara, and modernising the app. I would like to get in touch with users of MaharaDroid to learn how they are using it. If you are not a MaharaDroid user, but are interested in having a mobile app available for Mahara, please also get in touch quickly so we can talk in April 2015. Please send an email to allenscot@myvuw.ac.nz if you would like to participate in this study.

Looking for user stories

Paul Gillary

We are battling with IT to have Mahara setup college wide. They want us to use Sharepoint! To better make our case I was looking for a good set / list of user stories or scenarios, i.e.

Story ... so that / Reason
As a student I want to create an online ePortfolio... I can chart my personal development.
As a student I want to create an online ePortfolio... I can show potential employers what I have been doing and why I'm suitable for a role.
As a student I want to share my work with peers... my work can be reviewed.
As a teacher I want to access ePortfolios... to mark them for assessment.
As teacher I want to write comments... to leave feedback for my students.

Does anyone have anything like this that might cover creation, assessment, sharing etc. Please respond in the forum topic.

Usability improvements for Mahara

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst IT, New Zealand)

The ease of use of a website is important. As community, we are always looking for ways to make Mahara better and more user friendly. We already have lots of suggestions in our wish list to that effect. To get down to business involving users, community members are leading a series of design workshops at Mahara events looking either at usability of Mahara in general or focusing on a particular feature. Later in April we will invite users to check out an idea for improving the management of pages and collections in Mahara to gather feedback which will inform further development. If you are interested in getting more involved, e.g. run a session at your school, university or workplace, please get in touch.

 

Mahara in upcoming events

You can view all event listings online and subscribe to our events calendar.

Mahara Hui in Auckland, 9-10 April 2015

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst IT, New Zealand)

Next week, Mahara Hui will take place in Auckland on 9 and 10 April 2015. Action-packed presentations, show-and-tells and demonstrations of new Mahara functionality are on the agenda. And for those that want to try their hands in workshops, those will take place on 8 April 2015.

It is the second Mahara Hui in New Zealand. This year we will have a number of international guests, including Sam Taylor from Cranfield University (formerly from Southampton Solent University) who will give one of the keynotes and talk about "Growing up with Mahara".

If you cannot attend in person, you can follow updates from the event on Twitter using the hashtag #maharahui15.

Moodle-Mahara Meetup will showcase diverse ways to support learning and development, 16 April 2015

Allison Miller (Vanguard Visions, Australia)

In a world with many challenges and constant changes, people need to be flexible, resilient, collaborative and innovative. To ensure people have these skills, education and training is being designed, developed and delivered differently. To support this, the 2015 Moodle-Mahara Meetup will showcase diverse practice in the use of Moodle and Mahara coupled with the use of open badges, technical innovations to capture learning on the go and systems which shape and record 70-20-10 learning. The Meetup will be held in Adelaide, South Australia, on 16 April 2015. Follow announcements and more on Twitter via #MMMup.

Australian Mahara Users Group - Do we need one? 17 April 2015

Allison Miller (Vanguard Visions, Australia)

The 2015 Moodle-Mahara Meetup will be followed by a coffee meeting discussing whether an Australian Mahara Users Group is needed or not. This event will take place in Adelaide in the morning of Friday, 17 April 2015.

Find out more and / or register to attend.

MUG meeting: EPortfolios All Around the World, 28 April 2015

Megan Burke (Pace University, U.S.A.)

Join the Mahara User Group virtually on 28 April 2015 at 2 p.m. EDT (check your local time zone) for an international student showcase. We are tuning in to hear student voices and ePortfolio experiences from all around the world.

If you have talented students that you would like to feature, please invite them to join the meeting. It is a best practice to have them prerecord a 3-5 minute presentation of their ePortfolio as per the outline below in case of scheduling conflicts or cancellations.

Student presentation outline

  • Slide 1: Student quote
  • Slide 2: Overalls reflection with screen shots of student ePortfolio
  • Slide 3: Student's favorite ePortfolio feature
  • Slide 4: Q&A with student

If you would like to participate, please send an email by 24 April 2015.

Europortfolio German Chapter online meeting, 21 May 2015

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst IT, New Zealand)

The Europortfolio German Chapter plans to meet every other month to talk about ePortfolio-related matters. Two webinars have already been completed successfully, and you can find the recordings on the website.

The next community call is scheduled for 21 May 2015, 6:00-7:30 p.m. German time (please check the time zone converter for your time) in Adobe Connect. Sibylle Würz will discuss how competencies can be represented in a portfolio and what job application portfolios can look like. More information about the webinar will be published soon on the website.

Everyone is welcome to participate. Please note that this event will take place in German.

Mahara UK

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst IT, New Zealand)

Mahara UK, the conference on all things Mahara on the Birtish Isles and beyond will take place again this year. The date and place have not yet been confirmed, but will be done shortly. In the meantime, you can already think about what you would like to share at the event and prepare your abstract to be amongst the first to submit one. Watch out for further announcements around date, place and the call for presentations.

Mahara at the AAEEBL Annual Conference, 27-30 July 2015

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst IT, New Zealand)

The organizers of the AAEEBL Annual Conference accepted the proposal by the Mahara User Group to offer a panel presentation on the place of ePortfolios in today's rapidly changing world. If you are interested in joining the group with an example from your own institution, please get in touch with Heather Askildsen and Megan Burke from Pace University.

Mahara DE15 – "Cantuccini MaharaMoot Cassel"*, 27-28 November 2015

Heinz D. Hirth (Oskar-von-Miller-Schule, Germany)

*Seasonal cookies for the first Sunday of Advent, hence Cantuccini - MaharaMoot.

Good Cookies need good recipes and that ist what we learn at Mahara DE15. Stakeholders in all areas of education can share experiences, ideas, recipes and concepts in an open barcamp atmosphere.

While learning management systems like Moodle are widely used in many places around the world, ePortfolio systems like Mahara are not yet as popular. As you pursue knowledge and development through lifelong learning, it is necessary to record and capture the acquired knowledge and skills. In addition to recording learning evidence, Mahara allows you to visualize and showcase all learning processes thru lifelong learning.

Barcamps are user-organized conferences (unconferences). They are open participatory workshop events, the content of which is provided by participants in the form of a presentation or a work example. To participate, you may submit your work examples and presentations at the conference. All presentations should be provided under the context of schools, universities and organizations' education strategies.

The conference languages are English and German. The conference will be held in Kassel, Hessen, in Germany, from 27 to 28 November 2015. For unconference information and registration, please visit the Mahara DE website.

Mahara in past events

MUGSE 6 March 2015 meeting

Domi Sinclair (University College London, UK)

The third meeting of MUGSE (Mahara User Group for Southern England) took place on Friday, 6 March 2015, at the Royal Veterinary College in London. As usual there was a mix of experiences in Mahara and we were once again lucky enough to have Don Christie from Catalyst in attendance.

The session began with a group round table, with everyone having the chance to contribute problems or question and then the rest of the group offering solutions or answers based on their own experiences. After this there were a series of presentations, including help files and case studies from Roger Emery and Sam Taylor at Southampton Solent University, a look at the April Mahara upgrade from Don Christie and finally Domi Sinclair talking briefly about the importance of getting involved in the Mahara community.

If you would like more details about this user group please read the article from Digi Domi and follow MUGSE on Twitter.

Mahara in development

Mahara 15.04 to be released mid-April

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst IT, New Zealand)

Mahara HQ is very busy at this time of the year as a new version of Mahara is about to go out of the door. We would like to thank everyone who has already been downloading the release candidate, i.e. the beta version, of Mahara 15.04 and giving us feedback. So far, everything is looking good and we only have minor to medium issues to fix. Thus, we are still on track for the release of Mahara 15.04 around mid-April.

If you haven't had a chance to give Mahara 15.04 a spin yet, please read on to find out where you can download it. You are also welcome to use our development instance master.dev.mahara.org to check out the new features. The user manual is being updated with the new features, but we are not quite done yet. There are a lot of exciting new things in Mahara this April!

Looking ahead to Mahara 15.10

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (Catalyst IT, New Zealand)

While we are still finishing up Mahara 15.04, work on the October version already started earlier in the year as we have a number of major changes that we want to get into Mahara later in the year.

For Mahara 15.10, we have a lot of interface changes planned. One of them is to switch the design to use the Bootstrap framework and also to modernize built-in themes. We will reveal more over the coming months to give you an insight into what Mahara will look like from October on.

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Mahara Newsletter January 2015 (Vol. 4 / Issue 4)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 01 January 2015, 11:29 AM

Welcome to 2015! The Mahara core team wishes you a wonderful new year with much excitement ahead of you. We look forward to this new year in the life of Mahara which will bring a lot of new features and improvements as well as discussions with users.

Although the deadline for this issue fell right into the holiday season parties and getting-thing-done-last-minute-before-the-holidays, we have an amazing range of news from Mahara users around the world who want to share what they have been up to. Sit back in the sun wearing your Mahara jandals (a.k.a. flip flops) or curled up under a blanket on your couch with a hot chocolate in your Mahara mug and have a read. Also keep you calendar handy to enter the dates of Mahara events or subscribe to our newly created calendar.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 April 2015, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org. What do you want to share with the rest of the community?

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Mahara in use

Implementing ePortfolios in a secondary school in Spain

Concepción Fernández Munín

The secondary school Instituto de Educación Secundaria Monte Das Moas where I teach is in A Coruña, Spain. Recently, I began to use the Mahara platform for digital portfolios with my students. These twelve-year-old students are studying Technology in the second year of ESO (Enseñanza Secundaria Obligatoria - secondary education). The portfolio has helped me to make a collection of pages to explain different activities about the tangram. The students can show and share their work with me and the rest of the class. The portfolio contains several activities with images and video tutorials, surveys and assessment rubrics. My impression of using Mahara for the ePortfolio work is very positive. I think it's a very accessible and intuitive tool that allows us to carry out high quality work.

Mahara integrated in an interdisciplinary simulation game – Quest 3C

Hazel Grünewald and Michael Moser

Mahara ePortfolios will play an integral role in documenting the development of business engineering students participating in Quest 3C, an interdisciplinary simulation game created at the ESB Business School in Reutlingen, Germany.

The motto of the game is "connect – collaborate – grow as a leader". As students undertake complex problem-solving in cross-functional teams in March 2015, they will be expected to communicate, collaborate and negotiate successfully across hierarchies, disciplines and cultures. The students will use Mahara to reflect on their experiences: "How did they deal with the challenges they faced?", "To what extent have their leadership competencies and knowledge increased as a result of the game?", "What strengths and weaknesses have they perceived in their behaviour over time?"

These reflections will be systematically reviewed by the trainers who will provide both timely face-to-face input and online feedback with respect to the students’ individual growth and development. Additionally, learners will receive information on career management and applications including instruction on how to use their Mahara ePortfolio to showcase their skills, abilities and experience in a unique way. Get more information on the simulation game and also take a look at a Mahara video we made.

The core Quest team is comprised of the following members:

An integrated ePortfolio in linear algebra classes

M. Isabel Garcia-Planas and Judit Taberna

In September 2014 we began a pilot project for the development of ePortfolios in a core mathematics subject for undergraduate students at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. The aim of this pilot project is to create "integrated ePortfolios" in linear algebra classes using Mahara. That is to say an ePortfolio that makes use of a number of different ePortfolio techniques.

The Mahara ePortfolio allows us to integrate reflective activities for learners and professors through blog functions and the creation of critical incident diaries in which students of linear algebra classes reflect on their learning and experiences over a given period of time or for a given learning activity. It is the first time that a project using ePortfolios is run in a large learner group. In this case, there are 10 groups of about 80-85 students per group and all of them work individually on their portfolios. Approximately 280 of the participating Engineering School students chose to work with Mahara.

The Institute of Education Sciences of our university is also involved in this pilot project. It provides us with technical as well as pedagogical support for both teachers and students. In order to ease the work in this platform, we have prepared a template that is shown in the following figure.

 jan2015_catalunya.png

EPortfolios for food scientists

Emilie Lenel

In 2014, the Université Caen Basse-Normandie (University of Caen Lower Normandy) in France deployed the use of ePortfolios in a number of its courses.

For instance, the ESIX Normandy Engineering School at the university decided to start using the Mahara ePortfolio for its Food Science department. At the ESIX School, some students alternate periods of theoretical training with technological and industrial work placements in France and abroad. Each student is managed by a university tutor and an apprenticeship tutor in the company.

In the past, we used to assess students' attitudes, skills and competencies with a paper-based portfolio. However, it was difficult to share information and track the student progress between the student, the university tutor and the company tutor. As a consequence, ESIX, together with the e-learning department (CEMU), launched a project to deploy the Apprentice e-booklet (based on Mahoodle) in early 2014.

Read more about the project.

Expanding ePortfolio use in Western New York

Martha Gold

Keuka College, a small liberal arts college in Western New York, U.S.A., was very pleased to welcome Kristina Hoeppner from Catalyst IT in Wellington, New Zealand. Kristina Hoeppner, who came to the United States last summer to participate in conferences and a Mahara User Group meeting on the east coast, came to Keuka College to demonstrate some of the many ways to use Mahara.

Keuka College uses Moodle hosted by Moodlerooms for its learning management system. The Wertman Office of Distance Education, part of Keuka College's Center for Professional Studies, has adopted Mahara as its ePortfolio for various programs on campus as well as in its accelerated studies for adults program, ASAP. Keuka College first connected with Kristina Hoeppner in the fall of 2013 to help set up Mahara in its LMS. The college will be expanding its use of ePortfolios in general, and Mahara specifically, over the coming months.

Storing and sharing PhD research material

Wendy Holley-Boen

I am exploring the affordances of technology for my PhD journey. Mahara offers me a space to story my research journey privately and publicly in multimedia ways. By creating pages for each chapter and topic area of my thesis, I have a dedicated space for the words, images and videos that underpin and stretch my thinking. These pages blend outside materials, such as inspiring TED talks, with my own audio- and video-recorded reflections over time. Hyperlinking essential websites, for instance Google docs, Zotero and the University Library, renders Mahara my one-stop shop.

Mahara also allows me to connect and share with others, creating a community of practice around my study. My supervisors can view my latest work, and we are always working on the same draft. Mahara has supported me in storying the changes to my personal and professional identity through the PhD. I would be very interested in connecting with others using Mahara in similar ways.

Mahara in upcoming events

Mahara developer meeting online, 22 January 2015

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Everyone is welcome to attend the monthly Mahara developer meeting. The next one will take place on 22 January 2015, 8 a.m. UTC (check for your time zone). If you want to discuss anything development-related, please feel free to add it to the agenda. The meeting will take place on IRC in #mahara-dev, and you can join in your browser if you do not have IRC installed on your computer.

Mahara User Group meeting online, 22 January 2015

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The next Mahara User Group meeting (MUG) will take place online on 22 January 2015 at 3 p.m. EST (check for your time zone). Everyone is welcome to attend. If you would like to add something to the agenda for this hour-long meeting, please post your suggestion.

Europortfolio German Chapter online meeting, 29 January 2015

Sibylle Würz

The Europortfolio German Chapter was launched in the context of Online Educa on 3 December 2014. Europortfolio is a European ePortfolio initiative which is organised on EU-level and on the level of each member state – the so called Chapters.

The Europortfolio German Chapter understands itself as a Community of Practice that aims at connecting stakeholders and practitioners in the field of education who are interested in furthering the use of ePortfolios. We intend to document and foster current ePortfolio developments in Germany and would be pleased, if members of the Mahara community would like to join our activities.

Please find more information on the Europortfolio German Chapter web page.

Our first online community meeting will take place on 29 January 2015 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. CET (check for your time zone) in Adobe Connect.

This webinar will be held in German.

Mahara Hui New Zealand in Auckland, 8-10 April 2015

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

After a successful first Mahara Hui in Wellington in March 2014, we are organizing a second conference for users in Australasia (and beyond). A pre-hui day (pre-conference) is scheduled for 8 April 2015 to be held at the Catalyst IT office in Auckland and the two presentation days will be held at AUT University.

The Mahara Hui team welcomes proposals for presentations and posters as well as sessions on the pre-hui day from school students to university graduates, school teachers, lecturers in tertiary education, learning and technology support staff, developers and others who are interested in Mahara. Please review the information for proposals. You will need to register on the site and enrol in the conference to write your proposal.

The call for proposals is open until 6 February 2015. The Mahara Hui team reserves the right to accept proposals before the call for proposals finishes. Thus, early proposal submissions are encouraged.

For more information about Mahara Hui, please visit the website, subscribe to updates on Twitter and follow the Twitter hashtag #maharahui15.

2015 Moodle-Mahara Meetup in Adelaide, 16 April 2015

Allison Miller

The 2015 Moodle-Mahara Meetup (MMMup) will be held on 16 April 2015 at the University of South Australia, City West Campus, Adelaide.

The 2015 Moodle-Mahara Meetup (#MMMup) will help attendees to 'think outside the box' when using the open source learning management system Moodle and the ePorfolio system Mahara in education and training.

The call for proposals closes on 2 February 2015. You can find more details on the Meetup website.

Australian Mahara User Group meeting in Adelaide, 17 April 2015

Allison Miller

Do we need an Australian Mahara User Group (AMUG)? The original Mahara User Group (MUG) was established by a group of people from colleges and universities in New York State looking to improve Mahara for their users. Other such groups have now been established in Europe and New Zealand, so this leads to the question: Do we need an Australian Mahara User Group (AMUG)? To test this out, interested folks are invited to attend an AMUG meeting on 17 April 2015 (following MMMup) in Adelaide, South Australia, from 10 am to 12 noon (ACST). Register if you are interested in attending this event in Adelaide.

French Mahara Hui and MoodleMoot in Tours, 10-12 June 2015

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

In France, Mahara Hui and MoodleMoot will take place as a combined conference in Tours, France, from 10 to 12 June 2015. The event is a project of COMUE Centre Limousin Poitou-Charentes. You can find out more about the conference on its website starting at the beginning of February 2015.

Mahara Hui UK, July 2015

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Dates for Mahara Hui UK (formerly Mahara UK) have not yet been announced, but this annual Mahara conference on the British Isles will take place again this year. Keep your diary free for the first two weeks of July 2015 and watch out for an announcement about the conference in the news forum.

Mahara in past events

Mahara BarCamp 2014, 14-15 November 2014

Sam Taylor

My recent trip to the Mahara BarCamp 2014 in Karlsruhe, Germany, was a real eye-opener! I had the pleasure of meeting and conversing with a number of interesting and enthusiastic teachers who all use (or want to use) Mahara to help their students develop their skills in a variety of subjects.

I was also asked to be a keynote presenter and facilitate a workshop - something I'll be forever proud of! My talk was on how we at Southampton Solent University support such a large number of users and lecturers, and gives examples of the types of portfolios that lecturers are expecting of their students. You can see an edited version of my talk in the video on my blog.

Please feel free to read my notes and view my workshop via my two blog posts: Part 1 and Part 2.

Sam Taylor - Mahara presentation from Learning Technologies on Vimeo.

Second MUGSE meeting, 21 November 2014

Domi Sinclair

November saw the second ever MUGSE meeting, that is the Mahara User Group for Southern England. It was kindly hosted by Sparsholt College, which has a lovely campus in the Hampshire countryside. As with the previous meeting there was a mix for veterans and new users as well as a mix of tutors and administrators.

The meeting featured demos, tips and insider updates about future upgrades and the 2015 UK Hui (formerly Mahara UK). The next meeting is likely to be in London during the first quarter of 2015, although details still need to be confirmed.

You can read more on the Digi Domi blog.

Mahara in development

Important information for the April 2015 release of Mahara

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

New version numbers

For the next version of Mahara, we are going to change the release numbering system. Our current numbering system does follow any numbering system strictly and thus, it does not offer too much insight into where Mahara is up to and how much change has occurred from one release to another.

We have decided to move to a date-based release versioning system for the Mahara releases. The format will be YY.MM.x where

  • YY is the year in 2-digit format;
  • MM is the month in 2-digit format;
  • x is a minor version number, i.e. for security updates or any other important updates within a given release.

So instead of 1.11.0, we will release 15.04.0 in April 2015, and that will be followed by 15.10.0 in October 2015 and 16.04.0 in April 2016 and so on. After April 2015, we will be releasing 15.04.1, 15.04.2 etc. as security and important minor updates to the stable release of the 15.04 version.

One of the biggest advantages I see for moving to the date-based versioning system is that you as users know when your version of Mahara was released by simply looking at the version number and thus know how old or recent your version is.

Feature freeze

In order to release Mahara 15.04 around mid-April 2015, all new features need to be submitted to our code review system latest in the first week of February to be taken into consideration for 15.04. Please submit any new features as soon as possible to give the code and feature reviewers and testers enough time to check out your feature. We cannot guarantee that all new features make it into the next release, e.g. if there is more discussion for the implementation of the feature necessary, but we will do our best.

If you are planning to contribute a feature that is not yet in code review, please come along to the next developer meeting on 22 January 2015 (see announcement above) and let us know.

French translation of the Mahara user manual completed

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Dominique-Alain Jan, the Mahara project's primary French translator, completed the translation of all Mahara user manuals into French right before Christmas. This was no small undertaking as each version is between 176 and 425 pages long (incl. screenshots) if printed as PDF. Congratulations dajan for this great job!

The user manual is also available in German and Dutch (partially). If you want to help translate the user manual, you can do so directly in the online interface of Launchpad or download the files to translate offline.

Mahara this and that

New community characters

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The Mahara community is a group of talented people who have different strengths. Some are developers, others are translators or testers, and yet others event and user group organizers and users.

To honor the contributions from all these various different people to the Mahara project, we created swag in the form of T-shirts, mugs, jandals, stickers etc. some time ago. These have now been updated to include some more contributors. Check out the new characters and find yourself.

If you purchase something from the shop, please consider sending us a photo or tag it with @maharaproject on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you how you contribute to the community.

mahara_community.png

Where are community members active online?

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

You may already be an avid reader of the general Mahara forums. But did you know that community members are also active in other spaces? If you want to connect with particular user groups in your region or follow project updates elsewhere, check out the list that we compiled. Please feel free to add your group if we have not mentioned it or let us know so we can add it.

Subscribe to the Mahara events calendar

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

We have had the "Events" page on the Mahara website for a few weeks now. If you want your Mahara event added to the list, please let us know. For the new year we also started a calendar that you can subscribe to for these events. You can also view the calendar online. Many events are set up with notifications 1 week prior to the event and then 1 day / 30 minutes before the event depending on whether it is a full-day event or a shorter event respectively. When you subscribe to the calendar and you wish to get these notifications, please double-check that you have the calendar set up to display these notifications.

For conferences we include two entries: One for the call for proposals and one for the event itself so that you do not miss out on submitting a proposal. We hope, it will be easier to keep track of all Mahara events that way. And as said before: If you organize a Mahara event, send us a message, and we will add your event to the calendar.

Happy new year!

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Mahara Newsletter October 2014 (Vol. 4 / Issue 3)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 01 October 2014, 11:31 AM

Spring has arrived in Mahara land (or fall depending on where you live) and thus it is time for the October edition of the Mahara Newsletter. Users from around the world sent in their stories, event reports and development ideas, and the core Mahara team announces the Mahara release candidate for version 1.10. Also stay tuned for the release of a new plugin today, 1 October 2014. Find out more by reading on.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 January 2015, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Mahara in use

Evidence sharing in Next-Tell

Fabrizio Giorgini

Since the beginning of 2011, Mahara has been the ePortfolio system in the European Union co-funded research project Next-Tell. Next-Tell was created in answer to the key challenge of the 21st Century technology-rich school, "how to keep track of students' learning across time, location, media, and networks".

The Next-Tell Mahara is the central evidence holding element used to create and store collections of artefacts to share with fellow students, teachers and peers as evidence of the assigned learning activity. Mahara is also meant for meeting the needs of established and emerging pedagogy and approaches to learning like reflective learning. The Mahara ePortfolio allows for integrating reflective activities for learners and staff through blog functions and the creation of "critical incident diaries" in which students of select Norwegian, Austrian and German classes reflect on their learning and experiences over a given period or for a given learning activity. Explore the prototype for yourself with the following credentials:

  • username: testuser
  • password: demo

Professional development staff pilot: An ongoing project at the University of Canberra

Misty Kirby and Shane Nuessler

In August 2014, we began a staff pilot for developing ePortfolios for annual review using Mahara in anticipation of the August 2015 review. Thirty academic staff across 3 faculties at the University of Canberra (UC) have come together in smaller groups, communities of practice, to work together to create a career portfolio to support their own meaningful professional development.

The goal of this pilot is to engage staff to a greater degree in the developmental aspects of the annual professional development review process at UC. The desired outcome is that staff are empowered to identify their contributions to the university, its strategic directions and their own career path. The PDR Pilot team is comprised of stakeholders from key areas of the university:

Mahara in upcoming events

MUG online, 4 November 2014

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The Mahara User Group (New York) will be meeting online on 4 November 2014 at 1 p.m. EST (check the timezone converter for your local time). The agenda will be made available soon in the discussion group and on Facebook. Everyone is welcome to join this one-hour online meeting in the webinar room.

Mahara | DE14 in Karlsruhe, Germany, 14-15 November 2014

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The second German Mahara Barcamp will take place in Karlsruhe, Germany, on 14 and 15 November 2014. This unconference is headed by three organizers who invite current and potential Mahara users to join in the conversation and share their experiences using ePortfolios.

Registration is open and you can suggest session topics. If you want to follow the activities of the barcamp and stay up to date with news, follow #mahDE14 on Twitter or join the Facebook group.

Mahara Hui 2015

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Preparations for Mahara Hui 2015 in New Zealand are under way. We will be publishing the conferences dates within the next few weeks. Please stay tuned and check Twitter or the website for more information.

Mahara in past events

Mahara UK14

Meredith Henson

Hosted at the University of Brighton and co-organised by the University and Catalyst EU, the Mahara UK14 conference saw representatives from across the UK, New Zealand, Finland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Republic of Ireland and Germany.

This year MaharaUK was the biggest yet with delegate numbers jumping from the usual 70 to around 130.

Keynote speakers Lisa Gray, Dr Judith Wayte and Gordon Joyes presented their JISC funded research on eportfolios "Crossing the threshold: Moving e-portfolios into the mainstream", and Aaron Wells (Mahara Technical Lead) delivered a brilliant "State of the Mahara Nation" address. You can watch both keynotes on the MaharaUK website.

Over the 2-day event an evolution of breakout presentations was noticeable, with session topics moving away from initial implementations to managing ongoing use and fostering successful user groups.

For the week leading up to, and for the duration of the conference, organisers ran the Mahara UK14 Game. The game was managed via Leaderboarded and Twitter and delegates earned points for tweets, retweets, mentions and various photo challenges. At one point delegates had the hashtag #maharauk14 trending within the UK.

Mahara UK14 was a hugely successful event, with many attendees commenting it was the best UK conference so far.

Read the entire press release.

Mahara at AAEEBL 2014

Samantha Egan

Mahara made a splash at AAEEBL's annual ePortfolio conference in Boston this summer with three different sessions. Topics included a Mahara User Group panel, a session on supporting ePortfolios in online and blended environments, and a presentation showcasing how ePortfolios were integrated in a microbiology course.

The Mahara User Group (MUG) panel was comprised of ten members from various institutions: Linda Anstendig, Samantha Egan and Beth Gordon from Pace University; Michelle Forte from SUNY Empire State College; Gale Justin and Nancy Seidler from Pratt Institute; Marylena Sevigney from Plymouth State University; Kristina Hoeppner from Catalyst IT; and Samantha Taylor and Roger Emery from Southampton Solent University who presented virtually from the United Kingdom. The panel discussed various Mahara projects from each institution and how collaborating with MUG members helped them along. You can view the recording of the panel discussion.

MUG presenters at AAEEBL

Beth Gordon's and Kristina Hoeppner's presentation focused on methods of supporting ePortfolios both online and face-to-face. For example, Beth Gordon discussed her strategy for integrating ePortfolios into her online counseling course. Rather than introducing ePortfolios at the end of the semester, she used a weekly checklist to get students comfortable with the platform in small increments, with support from student ePortfolio "eTerns".

Andrew Wier from Pace University presented the evolution of his ePortfolio use with biology students and then focused on the current state of his microbiology assignment which used ePortfolios to harness social pedagogy and enhance student learning. Rather than spend class time covering bacteria phylum, Andrew had students pick a bacteria to research and build an ePortfolio page with their findings. Students were required to view their peers' pages to learn the content, from which ten percent of the final exam questions were taken. Andrew Wier found that students scored higher on the bacteria content than any other part of the exam.

In addition to these three sessions, MUG also hosted a lunch table where they connected with several new Mahara users who participated in the MUG meeting at Pratt Institute the following week.

The First KiwiMUG Event at AUT

Shen Zhang

The 1st Kiwi Mahara User Group event was run at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in Auckland, New Zealand, on 15 September 2014. There was good attendance from people around the North Island. A Mahara user from Sydney, Australia, also attended virtually via Blackboard Collaborate.

Lyn Lewis' (AUT) presentation titled "Student perspectives on Mahara as a platform for learning through ePortfolio" prompted a good pedagogical discussion on the use of ePortfolios and their support through faculty.

Jawyei Wong and Shen Zhang from AUT demonstrated a new plugin for displaying shared pages in an image display view on the group homepage.

Attendees were able to share how they use Mahara in their organisations and what challenges and successes they have.

Kristina Hoeppner from Catalyst IT outlined new features of version 1.10 of Mahara that will be released in October 2014. This was well received as there are some exciting (and long awaited) changes that we can look forward to.

If you want to participate in Kiwi MUG and stay informed about events, propose your own events and discuss topics specific to New Zealand, follow #kiwimug on Twitter and join the group on Mahara.org.

Mahara Open Forum 2014: Two perspectives

Jono Migard

The fifth annual Mahara Open Forum took place in Hiroshima, Japan on 27 and 28 September 2014. A wide range of thought-provoking presentations were given on various topics including ways to contribute to Mahara, how various institutions are using the software, the improvements made in recent versions, and the areas that the Japanese community would like to see improved. There was also a panel discussion on the merits of Mahara versus Manaba folio and Karuta.

A particular highlight was an explanation and demo of the new rubric plugin developed by Makoto Miyazaki, which will be released as open source software on 1 October 2014. This plugin aims to be a way of helping students learn and helping teachers understand their students' strengths and weaknesses. The plugin adds the new rubrics artefact type that allows staff to create new rubrics and students to use them for their evidence, as well as a blocktype to display the rubrics as a table or graph. The plugin is already in use by several Japanese institutions.

I feel privileged to have taken part in this conference, and I hope that as Mahara becomes ever more widely used, we can continue to build relationships with Mahara users around the world and become a truly global community.

For some more insight, you can also read Jono's forum post.

Shin-Ichiro Kubota

The fifth Mahara Open Forum (MOF2014) took place at Hiroshima Shudo University, Japan, between 27 and 28 September 2014. There were 51 participants, 2 keynotes, and 1 panel discussion. The first keynote speaker was Kristina Hoeppner from Catalyst IT. She showed how users can contribute to Mahara in her talk and showed a few new Mahara 1.10 features. The second keynote speaker was Makoto Miyazaki. He showed the rubrics plugin of Mahara and announced that version 0.8beta of the plugin will be released on 1 October 2014. The topic of the panel discussion was: "What is an easy-to-use ePortfolio?".

In total, MOF2014 had 11 speakers. We could share experiences and discuss Mahara and ended MOF2014 on a high note. For more information, please see the MOF resource page that also includes information about past events (in Japanese; parts in English).

Connect with the Japanese Mahara user community on Mahara.org or on Facebook.

Share your Mahara

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

At the Mahara User Group meeting at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, on 5 August 2014, attendees suggested to have a place to share portfolio templates and also work flows or even lesson plans. Sam Taylor from Southampton Solent University shared a number of the things that she's been doing at Solent and attendees were keen on having access to these resources. Everyone can share their resources, be they templates, work flows or lesson plans, on the Mahara wiki now.

Mahara in development

This month we are very happy to be able to announce a lot of new development work for both Mahara core, the software that everyone gets when installing Mahara, and third-party applications.

Mahara 1.10 is almost here

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Developers from around the world contributed to the latest release of Mahara 1.10, which will be made available to everyone in a few short weeks depending on how the release candidate phase goes. You are all invited to give the release candidate a thorough testing over the next couple of weeks so that we publish the best possible version 1.10 and don't have to fix too many issues once 1.10.0 gets out of the door.

You can download the testing version from Launchpad (or also get it from git). We identified 35 new features that make 1.10 an exiting release. Usability improvements have been made alongside admin and back end enhancements.

If you find bugs during your testing, please report them. 

If you cannot install a new version of Mahara on a test server or upgrade your existing test server, you can use http://master.dev.mahara.org, create an account and do some testing there. As you do not have administrator access on that site, you will not be able to test everything, but you can already test a number of the new features.

Read on for the announcement in the community forums.

Artefact feedback display on a page

Robert Lyon

Now that the Mahara 1.10 release is almost upon us, it means we can look towards what we want to work on for the next release cycle.

As we are continually focusing on usability, one of the issues that the community has raised is the inability to see artefact and page feedback all at the same. Currently, you can see page feedback directly on a page, but to see any artefact feedback, you need to click through to each details page of an artefact.

New York Institute of Technology sponsored the development work for displaying artefact feedback on a page undertaken by Catalyst IT. All artefacts that currently can have feedback, will show whether there are already comments left and whether you can leave new feedback. Users can easily to toggle between displaying and hiding the feedback without having to navigate away from the page. NYIT will be trialling this new functionality from October 2014 on, and it will come to all Mahara users in April 2015.

The screenshot shows an artefact with no comments (left), with comments and comments opened (middle), and comments closed (right).

Artefact feedback display on page

Enhancing the "Tagged journal entries" block

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The University of Canberra is sponsoring Catalyst IT to develop a new feature for Mahara that is pegged for release in April 2015. This feature will allow users to choose more than one tag in the "Tagged journal entries" block.

The idea is to use the new auto-complete functionality in Mahara (view it in action when sending a message to multiple users in Mahara 1.10) for selecting the tags that a journal entry must have in order to be displayed. However, since some super users utilize tags quite heavily, we are also looking into being able to exclude certain tags.

In more technical terms that means that we will be supporting Boolean operators "and" and "and not". We decided against implementing support for additional operators at this time in order to keep the user interface as simple as possible for this functionality and not offer too many choices that would warrant an advanced search screen.

If you are interested in testing this feature early once the initial development work is complete, subscribe to the wish list item where updates will be posted, test the new functionality when it is available in the review system and let us know what you think.

Mahara group page image display plugin

Shen Zhang

Recently, Auckland University of Technology (AUT) developed a plugin that displays shared pages in an image display view on a group homepage.

This is how a group home page will look using the plugin.

This plugin can be added to the group homepage as a block by the group administrators. Once added, it displays all the shared pages using image icons. There is a mouse hover effect for each of the image thumbnails that brings up a menu, which provides links to the page itself, the full-sized image that is used as thumbnail and the author's profile page.

This plugin provides a visually attractive view, compared to the original text based page list. Currently, it is used by the School of Art and Design at AUT. Lecturers from the School of Hospitality and Tourism are interested in using it as well. Our Mahara support team is also planning to use this plugin to share sample ePortfolios created in Mahara as help resources for students.

The plugin is based on functionality developed by Mike Kelly for the University of the Arts London's Mahara site Workflow. We are working on finalising the first release of the plugin and will make it available soon.

Crowd funding PortfolioUP development

Leo Gaggl

PortfolioUP, an Apple iOS image and video uploader for Mahara users, already has a number of existing devoted users that would love to see the functionality of it further developed. In order to keep the application free for student use, Brightcookie is seeking support through crowd funding for the development of a new and improved version to be called ExperienceUP.

The new app will enable students to compress video and images during the upload process, create journal entries and pages directly from their iOS device, assign location data and tags to entries, have QR code support, and change the user interface language. Tablet support for the iPad will be tested as well. If you are interested in funding this project, read on for the details.

MyLearning never stops…

Gregor Anželj

MyLearning, intentionally written in that form, brings back a lot of good memories as well as new challenges for the future.

MyLearning was the name of my first plugin for Mahara – the one that I am still proud of. The plugin allowed Mahara users to fill in a multiple intelligences survey and a learning styles survey and display the results of both surveys on their pages. The plugin does not exist anymore in this form and became part of the plugin "Survey". The MyLearning plugin allowed me to learn about the Mahara architecture and coding style.

Recently, the new MyLearning plugin was built for the EUfolio project and presented at a workshop. The main goal of the project is to research how students in the European Union could benefit from using ePortfolios in their classrooms.

The primary goal of the new MyLearning plugin is to allow students to organize and plan their learning. When planning their learning, the students go through five stages. They identify their prior knowledge, set their goals, become aware of the strategies that might help them achieve their goals, provide the evidence of achieving their goals, self-evaluate the result and self-reflect on the path of achieving their goals. At each stage of this process, they are provided with supporting questions and they can upload supporting files for each of the stages.

Hopefully, this plugin will help not only students participating in the EUfolio project but others as well on their learning journeys (currently only available on EUfolio, but soon also for other Mahara users). As for myself I am sure that my learning will never stop.

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Mahara Newsletter July 2014 (Vol. 4 / Issue 2)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 01 July 2014, 8:40 PM

Welcome to the July 2014 edition of the Mahara Newsletter. We have the usual stables of case studies, ideas, event suggestions and also notes from the developers. This time though, we also ask you get involved and help out. Read on to find out more.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 October 2014, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Mahara in use

Viticulture students at Marie Durand College enthusiastic about Mahara

Ariane Branger

For the past two years Marie Durand College in Nîmes, France, has been using Mahara for a group of 20 students preparing for a Higher National Diploma in viticulture and oenology. And today we can say that our initial objective of making this digital portfolio a regular part of their educational experience has met with success.

Mahara has proven to be a powerful and flexible tool for personalized tutoring, sharing assignments and managing both group and individual projects.

Thanks to Mahara we have progressed from traditional teaching to collaborative learning. Read the full story (in French).

EPortfolio system for post graduate courses in teacher education

Peter Groißböck

I use Mahara for post graduate master studies at University College of Teacher Education in Lower Austria. My system demonstrates the possibility to use the ePortfolio software Mahara without any other software like Moodle. Students don’t have to learn how to use yet another software. This aspect is important to us because students are on very different levels of computer skills.

The model we employ consists of three parts. The first part, the study programme ePortfolio, contains all basic information about the study programme itself, the modules students can take, the curriculum and date and place of seminars in the programme.

The group functionalities feature in the second part where a learning platform for the course is created. Administrators manage the members of the group and their roles. Group members work together in forums, use the file management system to share files and collaborate on projects.

The main part of the model is the learner's personal ePortfolio. There, teacher students show their learning progress and personal interests. Read the entire article.

EPortfolios and assessment

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Stephen Bright, eLearning designer at the Waikato Centre for eLearning at University of Waikato, pondered the user of Mahara for assessment purposes and shared his findings. They are to the point making them a great quick read for anyone interested in using ePortfolios, and in particular Mahara, for assessment purposes. We will also include his findings in the Mahara user manual to provide teachers and instructors some ideas of how to incorporate portfolio work into assessment requirements.

Mahara needs you

Call for Mahara case studies on employability-focused assessments 

Sam Taylor

Mahara is used for so many different purposes including the compilation of case studies, the presentation of research, and career planning. For my Masters research I'd like to look more closely at how Mahara is being used to support the identification and recording of employability skills with regards to personal development.

For this reason, I'd like to ask the worldwide Mahara community for their help!

Do you use Mahara to support employability and personal development? Do you want to be part of my research which aims to develop a framework / teachers tool kit for developing authentic assessments? Learn more on how you can help.

What shall Mahara look like in 2020?

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The development of Mahara started in 2006. It is now in its young adulthood according to Mark Nichols in his keynote at Mahara Hui in Wellington in March 2014 (slides for a quick view). These years are very important as we must ask ourselves which path to take into middle adulthood and maturity.

We would like to invite you, the users of and contributors to Mahara, to let us know what your vision is for the future of Mahara. We started to look at the wishes of the community in New Zealand and Australia at Mahara Hui (photo with summary categories, video, slides) and want to extend the quest to everyone around the world. What do you want to be able to do with Mahara in the future? Where do you think we should focus the development effort? Let us know.

Mahara in upcoming events

Mahara UK14 in Brighton, UK, 17-18 July 2014

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Head to the UK in just a couple of weeks to meet Mahara users in the port city of Brighton. The two-day programme is filled with great presentations and possibilities to chat with other Mahara users from near and far. Don't miss out and find out more on the conference website.

MUG meet-up at the 2014 AAEEBL Annual Conference in Boston, USA, 28-31 July 2014

The Mahara User Group (MUG) will have multiple opportunities to meet in person during the AEEBL Annual Conference this month. On 30 July 2014, MUG will host a panel presentation with representatives from various institutions titled “Reflecting and Connecting with the Mahara Community.” Later that day, MUG will participate in a “Spark Conversations” lunch meet-up for those interested in discussing open source solutions for ePortfolios. All are welcome! To connect with MUG before or after the conference, find our group on Facebook and on Mahara.org.

Mahara in past events

First MUGSE meeting in Brighton, UK, on 31 March 2014

Domi Sinclair

On 31 March 2014 the first ever MUGSE meeting (Mahara User Group for Southern England) took place in Brighton, UK. Although this meeting was organised on short notice, it was reasonably well attended. There was a mix of Mahara veterans and some novices looking to find out more about what the system is and what it can offer. For this reason the conversation was rather varied, which was very useful.

Don Christie (Catalyst IT) was in attendance to talk about Mahara 1.9 and offer some idea of what Mahara 1.10 would look like. The session also opened up to a general conversation about alumni access to Mahara, and several suggestions on how to tackle this problem were made. In order to support the Mahara novices in attendance, there were a number of demonstrations of current institutional Mahara installations, amongst them University College London, Southampton Solent University, and Southampton City College.

After a brief sneak peak at the Mahara UK conference, the user group rounded out by discussing its own future, and an open invitation for any willing institutions to host. If you would like to read more details about the first ever MUGSE then you can do so via the DigiDomi blog.

MaharaMoodleMoot 2014 in Paris, France, 4-6 June 2014

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The latest edition of the French MaharaMoodleMoot took place in June 2014. Delegates from all over France travelled to the capital to engage in discussions around Moodle and Mahara. The organisers recorded the sessions and made the videos available on the conference website (in French). Meredith Henson (Catalyst IT Europe) was invited to present the Mahara keynote (in English).

Mahara in development

Feature freeze for Mahara 1.10

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Mahara 1.10 is projected to be released in October 2014. In order to achieve our target time frame, new features put forward for review by 3 August 2014 will be taken into consideration for inclusion in that release. If you are a developer and work on something that you would like to see included in Mahara 1.10, head over to our review system and add your feature or change before the deadline.

The core Mahara team will review the feature and do its best to work with you to include it in the next release. If this cannot be achieved for one reason or the other, don't fret. There will be another Mahara release in April 2015. :-)

Enhancements to the Mahara assignment submission plugin

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Birmingham City University funded work to enhance the Mahara assignment submission plugin (the one updated by Lancaster University and Catalyst IT) to allow for collections to be submitted amongst others. The University of Canberra is expanding on that work and is funding important infrastructural work to allow for the archiving of portfolio submissions both in Mahara groups and Moodle assignments as well as the porting of the plugin to be usable via LTI instead of MNet. This latter work is dependent on the changes to be proposed for Moodle to integrate with a newer version of LTI.

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Mahara Newsletter April 2014 (Vol. 4 / Issue 1)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 01 April 2014, 1:48 PM

Welcome to the April 2014 edition of the Mahara Newsletter. We have lots of stories to share with you this time, and they come from around the world: Australia, UAE, Ethopia, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain, the UK, and the USA. So settle into your chair and make yourself comfortable.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 July 2014, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Congratulations

Pace University celebrates completion of a 3-year ePortfolio grant

Samantha Egan

Pace's involvement in a three year FIPSE-funded grant, Connect 2 Learn, a project connecting 24 ePortfolio-using institutions across the U.S., culminated at the AAC&U conference in Washington, D.C., in January 2014. Two institutions in the project, Pace University and  SUNY Empire State College use Mahara as their ePortfolio platform. The Pace team is comprised of stakeholders from key areas of the University: Beth Gordon, Executive Director of Academic Technology and co-director of ePortfolio; Linda Anstendig, Director of the Dyson College Strauss Thinking and Learning Center and co-director of ePortfolio; Sarah Burns-Feyl, Assistant University Librarian for Instructional Services; and Jim Stenerson, Executive Director for the Center for Teaching Learning and Technology and Pforzheimer Center for Faculty Development. Samantha Egan, Academic Technology Supervisor, also helped to support the team with their efforts.

The conference also marked the official launch of the Catalyst for Learning site, a robust web resource documenting the progress of each institution in planning, launching, growing and deepening their ePortfolio projects. Pace's project portfolio outlines the university's journey toward ePortfolio implementation and highlights the best practices of Pace instructors and showcases the outstanding work of Pace students. They also highlight their journey in selecting and implementing Mahara in a post titled "Mahara: From Bucket List to Implementation". The Pace team was asked to extend their grant-funded efforts through June in order to continue to lead the momentum on national ePortfolio growth.

Mahara in use

Mahara at Newham Sixth Form College

Marta Asensio

Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc) has been using Mahara to diversify assessment and feedback. A successful project involved travel and tourism students creating Mahara pages as a marketing tool. As part of the Level 3 extended diploma, students take on the role of tour operators and, given requirements from hypothetical customers, propose European and long-haul holiday packages. They plan all details, from flights to entertainment and accommodation.

Mahara affords opportunities to be creative with content (adding RSS feeds of the weather at destination, for example) and also to learn about layout and design to make webpages attractive. The pages are submitted to a Mahara group, where the teacher can easily find them, instead of having to search for each student's individual profile. The file space allocated to the group is used to store essential documents, such as the initial brief (students are known for losing handouts) and the feedback comes both from teachers and peers.

A dental student's portfolio

Babak Forooghi

As a Dental student, I used Mahara to develop a portfolio of a dental procedure complete with rationale and research for each step. Assembly with a standardized system took only a couple hours and provided a great and very unique product. Since then, I have shared my portfolio with dental students from all over the world and had great educational discussions. It's been presented at research conventions and received much attention. Because it's web based, I regularly update erroneous aspects that others point out to me. It is been three years and is now used as a reference for students at my dental school and many others from around the world. View Babak's portfolio.

ePortfolio initiative launched for Japanese medical schools

Eric Hajime Jego

Tokyo Medical University (TMU) is at the forefront of eLearning technologies among Japanese Medical Schools. Associate Professor Raoul Breugelmans is at the heart of eLearning at TMU, and he organizes an annual eLearning symposium which gives the nation's top experts a platform to lead on eLearning issues. This year's symposium was held on 8 March 2014 and the focus was on the use of ePortfolios in medical education in Japan. Open source solutions were strongly advocated by all the speakers. One of the speakers was a faculty member from Chiba University School of Medicine and described their experience with Moodle and Mahara. They started using Mahara in 2013 along with Moodle, which they started using in 2010. The symposium ended with the kick-off of an initiative to adopt a single ePortfolio platform for all 80 Japanese medical schools. Perhaps Mahara will play an important role in the future of medical education in Japan.

Portfolio Learning Approach at Ramaqia Boys School

Paul Leslie and Samaa Zaki Abdel Ghany

Education in the 21st century leverages technology to support the learning process. A Portfolio Learning Approach to Education (Leslie, 2012, published in Opening up Learning) offers practitioners a framework of e-processes that support activities including content delivery, classroom interactions, demonstration of competencies, sharing and reflection.

All teachers in the Sharjah Education Zone maintain a portfolio for professional assessment. This study will provide teachers in the Ramaqia Boys School a means to transform the paper-based portfolio into an on-going portfolio learning process.

Teachers will use cloud-based tools to create their portfolios. An informed selection of tools allows teachers to control their own data and supports collaboration with other teachers both within their school and throughout the zone.

The Mahara portfolio platform facilitates tailored versions to be prepared for various audiences including colleagues, parents, administrators and Ministry officials.

Mahara e-portfolio project for language learning

Teresa MacKinnon

Language learning is a long process that requires commitment and reflection if you are to stay the course. Learning a language alongside studying for a degree can be demanding, especially if your main subject of study is unrelated to languages. This is often the case for students on the Institution Wide Language Programme at the Language Centre at the University of Warwick. With a limited amount of face-to-face contact time and the desire to make sufficient progress in a short period, many students may struggle to reach their desired outcomes. Assessments are mainly summative and measure performance against the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

It is against this background that we decided to award credit for students who could show they had reflected upon the process of language learning and could make explicit their learning journey. Using Mahara, over 100 students a year are encouraged to collect evidence of their experiences and analyse their learning strategies. They produce bilingual ePortfolios evidencing their learning journey. The ePortfolio project is described in detail in this case study. Now in its third year, students are positive about the ePortfolio experience as they have increased their digital literacies and their insights into their learning. You can see their feedback in this presentation. Some examples of the students' work can be seen in this short video. Our team of tutors (Spanish, German, French, Chinese and Japanese) have also found this experience useful as they have gained insights into student experiences which have influenced their teaching.

Creating a portfolio to demonstrate teaching and coaching standards

Amy Price

The Physical and Sport Education BA Hons degree programme at St Mary's University in Twickenham, have, for the first time this year, used Mahara as a platform for students to create an electronic portfolio based upon their experiences at their teaching or sports coaching work placement for the work-based learning modules.

The portfolio requires students to collate evidence to show they have met the PSE programme's teaching or coaching standards, using a series of file formats, which are clearly presented on each page of the portfolio, and embedded within references to academic literature. Once the portfolio is completed, the summative assessment is conducted through presentation of the portfolio to a member of staff, where the student articulates how particular work placement experiences show how teaching / coaching standards have been met.

Once the summative assessment has been completed and the work-based learning module has ended, the portfolio is not disregarded. The students make use of, and continue to build on their portfolio in preparation for securing another work placement, to assist in securing a place on a teaching qualification, or even to help them to find employment within the teaching / coaching industry.

Showcasing student growth

Alex Lancia

We know our students, we know how to assess them, we know how they are performing, and we know how they are developing. Oftentimes though, we educators struggle with how to most effectively share this information with parents. Parent conferences, written reports, and paper portfolios all capture a piece of puzzle but taken individually, these reporting methods do not give parents a holistic view of the developmental growth their child has made as a learner throughout the school year. Is there a better way?

For the past two years the early childhood center at the International Community School of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has been implementing ePortfolios for all their youngest learners using Mahara! Every classroom teacher manages 16 collections, each representing an individual student's Mahara ePortfolio that is developmental in scope and focused on showcasing student growth throughout the year! Read the blog post or the presentation for more information or.

Construção de e-Portefólios por adultos de curso de formação

Artur Ramísio

Um grupo de 14 formandos do curso de Educação e Formação de Adultos de Assistente Administrativo(a), promovido pelo Instituto Bento de Jesus Caraça e a decorrer em Paços de Brandão (Portugal), tem vindo a desenvolver, no módulo de Cidadania e Empregabilidade, a construção de e-Portefólios na plataforma Portfoliocommunities - Mahara.

Apesar das dificuldades inerentes ao facto de terem um nível muito baixo de competências informáticas, todos os formandos construíram os seus e-Portefólios e vários evidenciam estar motivados para os continuar a usar após a finalização do curso.

Esta experiência serve de base a um estudo descritivo a publicar brevemente, no qual se procura apreciar: a importância do e-Portefólio como estratégia de aprendizagem; a adequação do Portfoliocommunities como suporte tecnológico personalizado, colaborativo e incentivador de aprendizagens ao longo da vida, para adultos com habilitações escolares básicas; as expetativas dos formandos quanto ao uso que irão dar no futuro aos seus e-Portefólios.

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Translation

Construction of ePortfolios by adults in a training course

A group of 14 trainees of the course of Education and Adult Education Administrative Assistant, sponsored by the Institute Bento de Jesus Caraça and held in Paços de Brandão (Portugal), has been developing the construction of ePortfolios in the citizenship and emplyability module using the Portfoliocommunities Mahara site. Despite the difficulties inherent in the fact that they have a very low level of computer skills, all trainees have built their ePortfolios and a number of them are motivated to continue to use their portfolio after the completion of the course.

This experience provides the basis for a descriptive study to be published soon, in which we want to address the importance of ePortfolios as a learning strategy, the adequacy of Portfoliocommunities as as site to facilitate collaboration and support of lifelong learning for adults with basic educational qualifications, the expectations of the trainees in regards to the use of their ePortfolios in the future.

Using Mahara in a collaborative setting

Andrea Ximena Castaño

At Rovira i Virgili University in Catalonia, we have implemented a Mahara ePortfolio as learning and assessment tool to be used by pre-service teachers in Child Education. The Mahara system has been settled as an institutional service integrated with Moodle by the university.

The experience comprised a group of 142 students completing the assignment "Teaching and learning experimental sciences, social sciences and math" focusing on how to teach sciences by developing enquiry-based learning using practices related for example in developing the scientific method.

Working with ePortfolios in a large group was a challenge, which was overcome by working in groups and creating ePortfolio group pages collaboratively. It has been a tremendous experience where careful planning of the instructional design was necessary in order to align learning objectives with the ePortfolio activities. There were five sessions that allowed for time and room for student teachers to express themselves, drive their own learning and get the most out of it. Principally, feedback and reflection strengthened by evidencing observations, data and group discussions about practical science experiments using enquiry-based learning and assessment with ePortfolio rubrics.

It was demonstrated that it is possible to work in large groups with Mahara, and that it is not only the technology, but also the careful alignment with instructional design principles that is a key aspect of ePortfolio integration.

Mahara in upcoming events

MUGSE in Brighton, UK, 31 March 2014

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The inaugural South east UK Mahara User Group meeting (MUGSE) took place in Brighton on 31 March 2014. MUGSE is joining a group of active Mahara User Groups in Europe and the USA: MacHara in Scotland, Mahara User Group Rhine-Neckar in Germany and the first of them all, MUG in New York.

MUG meeting in New York, USA, May 2014

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The next non-virtual MUG meeting is being organized to be held at Pratt Institute at the beginning of May 2014. The exact date has not yet been confirmed, but it should either be 8 or 9 May 2014. All Mahara users who are in the vicinity are invited to attend. Please contact Beth Gordon to be put on the list of interested attendees or watch for updates on the group's Facebook page. The announcement about the event will also be made on Mahara's Twitter account.

Mahara Hui FR, Paris, France, 4-6 June 2014

Dominique-Alain Jan

2014 celebrates the 10th anniversary of the annual francophone meeting of Moodle users (Moodlemoot FR) and the 3rd anniversary of the Mahara Hui FR (aka Maharamoot). This year these meetings will be held in Paris at the Sorbonne University, from 4 to 6 June 2014. The organisers are proud to announce the presence of famous keynote speakers including Martin Dougiamas. The main themes of this Mahara and Moodle meeting are collaboration, accessibility and Open Badges. For more information and to register go to the conference website.

ePIC, London, UK, 9-11 July 2014

Dominique-Alain Jan

This year ePIC, the ePortfolio and Identity Conference, moves from central London to the University of Greenwich where it will be held 9-11 July 2014. This conference is an opportunity to meet and listen to ePortfolio experts from all around the world. For anyone interested or involved in ePortfolios and Open Badges, ePIC is the conference of the year not to be missed. This year the main theme is: Evidence-Based Learning - "How digital technologies transform the way we collect, organise, visualise and exploit evidence to inform future learning". The proceedings of previous years and the registration form are available on the official website.

Mahara UK14 in Brighton, UK, 17-18 July 2014

Meredith Henson

Sea Change: How digital transformation is shaping learning experiences with Mahara ePortfolios

Mahara UK14 is a UK-based conference dedicated to the leading open source ePortfolio software Mahara. This annual conference brings together educators, learning technologists and developers, who have an involvement with or an interest in Mahara and ePortfolios. It offers a valuable forum in which to explore both the technical development and pedagogic practice of Mahara, with the opportunity to network with colleagues, share ideas and discuss future developments.

The conference runs over two days, featuring a programme of keynote speakers, presentations, workshops and exhibitions designed to engage, enhance and inform the use of Mahara in education and work-based learning.

This year the conference is kindly hosted by the University of Brighton. In keeping with the location, the conference has a seaside inspired title, drawing on the changes taking place in the delivery of education and in the use of technology, which is transforming the ways in which we learn, work, connect and interact.

Please see maharauk.org for more details or contact the organising team.

2014 Moodle-Mahara Meetup in Melbourne, 30 September 2014

Allison Miller

The 2014 Moodle-Mahara Meetup, being held on 30 September 2014 in Melbourne, is calling for proposals to present based on the theme "Thinking outside the box".  The event will showcase how Moodle and Mahara are lowering the barriers to online learning through better integration, also known as Mahoodle. You can submit proposals until Monday, 19 May 2014.

For more information contact moodlemaharameetup@gmail.com.

Follow the Moodle-Mahara Meetup:

2014 Eportfolio Forum and Workshops in Melbourne, 1-2 October 2014

Allison Miller

The 2014 Eportfolio Forum and Workshops (#eportforum), being held in Melbourne on 1-2 October 2014, is calling for proposals to present based on the theme "Moving forward".  The Forum will showcase ePortfolio practice from education, industry, professional and community groups from across Australia and beyond. Submit your proposal(s) here until Monday, 19 May 2014.  

For more information contact eportfoliosaustralia@gmail.com.

Follow 2014 Eportfolios Forum and Workshops:

Kiwi MUG?

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

At Mahara Hui in Wellington in March 2014, there was interest amongst participants to form a Mahara User Group in New Zealand, or maybe even two: One for the North Island and one for the South Island. If you are interested in joining the conversation and participating in events organized in New Zealand, please email Kristina.

Mahara in past events

Moodle//Mahara//Moot in Leipzig, Germany, 25-28 February 2014

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The German MoodleMoot has a long tradition. However, this year marked the beginning of a new era because it was the first time that Mahara was an equal partner in the conference. Two pre-conference workshops, one for beginners and one for advanced users, were followed by 19 presentations over the two conference days. Mahara users from European German-speaking countries as well as abroad gathered to exchange ideas, examples and learn from each other. Links to presentation files or recordings as well as blog posts can be found on the conference website.

EUfolio workshop in Ljubljana, Slovenia, 4 March 2014

Andrea Ghoneim

On 4 March 2014 a workshop on ePortfolio practice in Slovenian schools took place in Ljubljana as part of the EUfolio project. Technical developments of Mahara were an the agenda as well as first ePortfolio experiences of teachers and students during the workshop.

The project EUfolio is devoted to the implementation of ePortfolios in lower secondary schools in Cyprus, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovenia and Spain. The Austrian project partner, the Department of Interactive and Educational Media at Danube University Krems accompanies the process with a process specification and a functional specification. For the workshop, the Austrian ePortfolio experts Dr. Klaus Himpsl-Gutermann and Dr. Thomas Strasser (both from the University of Teacher Education in Vienna) joined the Austrian delegation to enrich the workshop with additional input.

The Slovenian teachers whose students are already using ePortfolios reported that a shift in the students' learning culture is a positive result of the work with Mahara. The self-directed and interactive work is not only stimulating the motivation, but it also initiates the students' ability for self-reflection. The exchange of tips and tricks for the use of Mahara as well as didactical hints made the group sessions inspiring and let everyone look forward to try out more features in their practice. Continue reading the full workshop report.

Mahara Hui in Wellington, New Zealand, 19-21 March 2014

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Mahara users in the Australasia region had the opportunity to meet in Wellington, New Zealand, from 19 to 21 March 2014, to participate in Mahara Hui, the first New Zealand conference about Mahara. One hundred participants listened to 31 presentations and had ensuing conversations, and shared their knowledge about Mahara with each other. New contacts were made and many great uses of Mahara demonstrated. The programme now contains links to all the presentations that are publicly available. The two days of presentations were followed by a one-day hackfest in which developers and users worked together. You can read a summary of the event.

The Mahara Hui organizing team is going to make the logo and also the name for the gathering, Mahara Hui, available for others to use for their Mahara conferences. It is a suggestion and not a must. :-) "Hui" means "gathering, assembly" in Te Reo Māori and denotes nicely what we wanted to achieve with our event: bring together users of Mahara and give them the opportunity to meet others and network.

 

Mahara in development

Mahara 1.9 release candidate

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The release of Mahara 1.9 is on the schedule for this month, and we are still aiming to release mid-April. In order to accomplish that, we want to invite you to test the release candidate that was made available recently. Please get your testing gear out and give the release candidate a thorough check, report issues to us and help make the 1.9.0 a stable one.

Integration with BigBlueButton and Moodle

Zaher Ballar

Smartway-me Co. works on developing solutions in the eLearning field in the Arab world, especially in Saudi Arabia, and it takes first steps toward supporting integrated eLearning solutions. Currently, Smartway-me is preparing to launch the beta versions of two products that use Mahara as a backbone because Mahara is very good platform for ePortfolio and social educational networking web application.

The first project is Smart Meeting. The main objective of this project is to build a social education and eLeaning environment using Mahara and BigBlueButton (BBB). This project will allow users to create their own institutions (communities) and add new courses and start their meetings with different options and shares. For the project I created many Mahara blocktype plugins to implement the integration with BBB and PHPCal and others to accomplish the project goals.

The second project is and eTraining system that we implemented in its beta version for King Abdullah Institute for Research & Consulting Studies. This project will use Mahara, BigBlueButton and Moodle as talent management system. This system will allow managers in any organization or company to design their eTraining programs and assign these programs to users and groups and start monitoring their e-Training progress and build reports that can reflect a measurement of talent for each user according to specified parameters.

Announcing the Clippy plugin for Mahara

Aaron Wells

I got a lot of great user feedback at the 2014 NZ Mahara Hui. And one of the main things I heard from Mahara users was their concern about usability. They wanted Mahara to be easier to learn, and more fun to use, especially for kids.

So I consulted with some usability experts to find out how to engage children with a software product. Iime and again they all brought up the best-of-class solution for this problem: the beloved animated office product, Clippy the Paperclip.

Thanks to the good folks at the Clippy.js project ( https://www.smore.com/clippy-js ) it was a snap to integrate Clippy into Mahara as a Block plugin. So now, you can add Clippy and all his friends to any Mahara page.

The plugin is available on my github repository ( https://github.com/agwells/maharacontrib-blocktype-clippy ), and I've also installed it on mahara.org for demo purposes. You can check it out on my profile page, for instance:

https://mahara.org/user/aaronw

What's next for Mahara and usability? Well, the other thing the usability experts told me was that kids love fun fonts. So I'm working on a theme that replaces every font in Mahara with Comic Sans.

 

anonymous profile picture
Richard Jones - 02 April 2014, 9:07 AM

Ho Ho Aaron!  Trouble might be many of your readers are too young to remember Clippy in whatever version of Office that was.  

Comic Sans +1.

:)

Mahara Newsletter January 2014 (Vol. 3 / Issue 4)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 01 January 2014, 5:51 AM

Welcome to the January 2014 edition of the Mahara Newsletter. We wish you a wonderful start into this new year. May it be a good year. Judging from the number of newsletter articles we have this time and what their authors share, 2013 has been a great year for Mahara users. We are also seeing an increase in Mahara-related events and hope that you can attend some of them in 2014 to meet other Mahara users and contributors in person.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 April 2014 (no April fool's joke ;-) ), and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Congratulations

Mahara: From nappies to empty nest

Mark Nichols

Mahara was first proposed in 2005/2006, as an eLearning Capability Development Fund (eCDF) project. The funded proposal stated that "the project is committed to providing a powerful low-cost application, supplemented with New Zealand case studies of implementation across learning programmes". Right from the start, the steering committee aimed to develop something that was suitable for actual teaching and learning conditions across various settings.

Early in the process we defined the features of an ePortfolio tool that gave maximum flexibility and control to the user that would be suitable for lifelong learners to make use of beyond their time in formal education. The views [Note from the editor: today they are called 'pages'] function was a critical development, one that differentiated Mahara from the myriad of options available in the mid-2000s.

Some eight years later, Mahara has an independent life of its own. It's exciting to see how Mahara has been so eagerly adopted – and adapted – by the international community. The commitment from the initial steering community for an application that was powerful, low-cost, and appropriate for needs, seems to have hit the spot!

Note about the author: Mark Nichols is currently Executive Director Faculty at the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand. He secured the funding as well as chaired the project steering committee of the initial Mahara project when he was at Massey University.

ePortfolio: a tailored system for registered nurses in New Zealand

Liz Manning

The New Zealand Nursing Council has a regulatory requirement that every nurse must complete an annual declaration that standard clinical competencies have been achieved. They also undertake random audits of nurses' evidence of competence, resulting in the development of nursing portfolios. Many large organisations have Professional Development and Recognition Programmes (PDRPs) to support nurses in developing portfolios. Ngā Manukura o Āpōpō (NMoĀ), a Māori Nursing and Midwifery workforce programme, found that for many Māori nurses, there can be access gaps into PDRPs, evidence of professional isolation and lack of support from some employers in allocating time for nurses to complete their portfolio.

In 2012 NMoĀ decided to explore and scope options that would improve access for Māori nurses. The Mahara project and Kineo (Pacific) were approached to develop an ePortfolio based on Mahara to streamline and improve access to portfolios and competency requirements for all New Zealand registered nurses. The development commenced with a proof of concept pilot to assess the interest and utility for the regulated health professional group, initial focus being on assessment and verification of competencies.

ePortfolio was launched in July 2013, and nursing numbers on the site are steadily rising. The success of the site is a combination of the collaborative process, involving a strong project team including key nursing organisations, in particular the Nursing Council of New Zealand.

The ePortfolio site received the coveted Gold Award with Kineo from the LearnX Impact Awards 2013 for best Social Learning Platform.

Barony Campus Mahara student newsletter project

Alistair Hastie

Scotland's Rural College, Barony Campus specialises in training and education for the land-based and animal care industries. The campus is set within a working 260 hectare estate, which is situated in the rolling landscape of Dumfries and Galloway in South West Scotland.

An idea was born in the summer of 2012 for a student-based online newsletter within Mahara during a presentation to Barony Campus staff by a speaker from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education, who stressed the value of effective communication in fostering the "Barony family spirit" across the campus and beyond. The Barony Campus Learning Technologist, Ali Hastie, had been reading Ellen Murphy's Mahara 1.4 Cookbook the previous evening. Within Ellen's book is a chapter covering the creation of an online gazette, which helped to spark the idea of creating the student-centred online newsletter within Mahara at Barony Campus.

As result of the students and staff at Barony with their hard work, dedication and innovative ideas using Mahara as an online newsletter, an award was won at the Scotland Development Network Annual Awards 2013 for the Student Enterprise category. This award recognises a student or group of students who have been involved in entrepreneurial activities or projects (including commercial enterprises, social enterprises and curriculum projects) that have made an impact on the college and/or wider community.

Read the full article on the newsletter project.

Mahara in use

Mahara mentors at Newman University

Anna Holloway

At Newman University, we have been using Mahara for three years with different subject areas. One way in which we have used it is to support students who are on their teacher training programme. This has been turbulent journey from the start to the present day but each year we strive to improve on the last to make the student experience a more positive one.

We are now using templated pages for ITE (Initial Teacher Education) students on placement in schools to record evidence of their practice (e.g. lesson plans, lesson observations etc). This replaces a previous paper-based system and works well. One huge advantage is that the tutors can access it at any time from anywhere, instead of having to visit the student in the school or waiting until the student comes into university. The biggest challenge has been training students to manage the size of the files they want to upload, as they often need to scan or photograph physical documents.

A practice we have piloted this year is the use of student Mahara mentors. We introduced 200 students to the concept of Mahara and an ePortfolio, and asked for any students who felt confident with using the technology to come forward and volunteer to become a Mahara mentor. We had 20 students happy to get involved in the scheme. After an extra training session with myself, the Mahara mentors were happy to start helping others with Mahara and the scheme has worked very well. I have asked the mentors to keep a record of who they see and how they have supported their peers, and I will receive that data and hope to present the results of our Mahara mentor scheme at the Mahara UK conference in July 2014.

Spark it up with Mahara

Tahany Al-Baiz

Although people might think that having more "high-tech" tools would help facilitate more effective learning, research suggests that it is not technology itself, but rather, it's the use that would make or break a distance learning program. With Mahara, the case is different. Based on research that I completed at King Abdulaziz University where I taught "TEFL Methodology" (TEFL: Teaching English as Foreign Language), the social and academic learning environment created using Mahara as ePortfolio tool enhanced the entire curriculum starting from the newly designed objectives passing by the instructional methods sparked up with technology to learning and teaching assessment tools. The contemporary Mahara portfolio allows learners to maximally exchange meaning and knowledge they have in an emancipated environment. In terms of teaching EFL, the suggestion is simple: Implement a program that fosters within students an autonomous attitude toward learning a language and the integration of technology as a reinforcement of in- and off-classroom activities.

A USQ case study

Michael Sankey and Teresa Brady

The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) has been using Mahara for just on four years. We started rather small to test the waters, but now have some 14,450+ users. Both staff and students use it, and as you could imagine, these groups are quite different. What they have in common, however, is that Mahara used for evidencing an individual's good practice.

Whether it's demonstrating professional skills, building towards a profession, or building a professional profile, we seem to have it all. For example, all of our first-year nursing students use Mahara to collate and provide evidence of the skills they have learned during their course. All education students use it, again to build up and display evidence that will one day be presented to potential employers. Many of our staff use ePortfolio to collect evidence that may be used for academic promotion (private) or to provide a professional public profile, for example Michael Sankey's profile.

As an institution, we are developing an increasing amount of resources to support both students and staff in their use of this tool, and we provide significant support to our staff wanting to use it within their courses. One of our performing arts lecturers, who uses it extensively in her course, states: "I wish I had it while I was studying because to me it is just the perfect way for someone who is engaged in practice to really track their progress."

Mahara at the Institut Obert de Catalunya (IOC)

Joan Queralt

What IOC is

The IOC or Institut Obert de Catalunya (that means Open Institute of Catalonia) is an institution of the Government of Catalonia that has been offering secondary education at a distance to adult learners since 2006. The courses for our 38,000 students per year have always been delivered through Moodle, but in October 2008 we installed our first Mahara site. Since then the combination of Moodle and Mahara, Mahoodle, has brought us the better of the two worlds.

GES studies

The major use of Mahoodle is made in the GES studies (Compulsory Secondary Education). The learners go through a number of modules during their studies and often haven't studied online before or have high technical knowledge. Thus, we need to offer them a way to support them and also to save their work easily before the Moodle courses are deleted.

The solution is an ePortfolio because Mahara can keep all their documents and progress. We tell our students that they can save their best works in their ePortfolio. We propose an ePortfolio, a collection, that has four pages:

  • Àmbit científic (Scientific field): work related to science: Maths, Chemistry, ...
  • Àmbit Social (Social field): work related to social studies: History, Geography and Arts.
  • Àmbit de la comunicació (Communication field) with their productions in their languages Catalan, Spanish and a third language, e.g. English, French, Italian or German.
  • Diari de Tutoria (Daily tutoring): a blog where they reflect at least once per trimester on their ideas about their studies, likes, dislikes, what they feel and their achievements. It's a kind of dialogue between students and tutors.

View a sample of this kind of ePortfolio.

In order to avoid technological problems for students, we have a lot of information about how to upload material (HTML or files), how to build pages and collections and specially how to share their ePortfolio with an audience (tutor, tutoring group or the public).

Expanding to other studies

As the experience in the GES studies has been so successful, we are introducing the use of ePortfolios in other studies, especially in the Batxillerat (equivalent to a high school diploma, required to study at university). Students must complete a research project in order to finish their studies. We are planning to use the ePortfolio for structuring the research phases, save findings and, finally, present the completed work.

The ePortfolio will serve not only to show the final production but also to see the process. And this is a sample of what it will be.

Using Mahara to record continuous professional development

Louise Botha

In May of 2012 I applied for and obtained funding from a Practice Development Scholarship PDS-03-12 from the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Nursing and Midwifery Office entitled "Development of an electronic portfolio system for recording of continuous professional development (CPD)". The project was to be rolled out across a small test group in a hospital setting. The target group for this project was newly graduated nurses in their first year of practice and registered for the first time. They were enrolled in a new graduate programme and were required to complete assessment items over a one-year period as well as CPD.

The project team investigated options and decided to use Mahara. Unfortunately the scholarship amount was insufficient to allow for paid hosting and in addition the number of account was relatively small in comparison to large tertiary education institutions.

I had a conversation with Kristina Hoeppner from Catalyst who made several suggestions to allow me to complete my project. Following that discussion I chose the free hosting option available via Portfoliocommunities. I set up a group and invited graduates to join this group. I allocated myself and the graduate coordinator to be administrator of the group.

A total of 29 new graduates signed up to the group and have added to their portfolios and shared it publically in the group or via secret URL with the coordinator. It has been great to see this group experimenting and using new ways to display the professional development and learning during this year.

For more information, please read the summary of my study and take a look at my portfolio.

Interactive electronic curriculum vitae

Paul Archenoul

My name is Paul Archenoul, and I am a member of the Construction Crafts team from LeSoCo (the merged Lewisham College and Southwark College in South London). I have currently used Mahara portfolio in order to develop an online electronic interactive curriculum vitae. The platform is great, easy and simple to use and offers different types of interactivity in a way of informing an employer of my attributes. Using this tool I feel my curriculum vitae stands out from the crowd in this challenging economic environment. I would highly recommend it.

 portfolio_parchenoul.png

Mahara in upcoming events

30th Mahara developer meeting, 23 January 2014

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The next Mahara developer meeting, number 30, will take place online in IRC on 23 January 2014 at 8:00 UTC. Please check the time zone converter for your local time. The meting will take place in the IRC channel #mahara-dev channel on Freenode. If you do not have an IRC client, you can join using the web interface. If you wish to discuss development-related topics, please add them to the agenda for the meeting.

Moodle//Mahara//Moot in Leipzig, 25-28 February 2014

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The first combined Moodle//Mahara//Moot will be held in Leipzig, Germany, from 25 to 28 February 2014. Registration is open and the programme offers a lot of opportunities to learn how Mahara is used in Germany (and beyond). There will be two pre-conference workshops focused on Mahara: Sigi Jakob-Kühn will facilitate a workshop for beginners on 25 February 2014, and Kristina Hoeppner will follow up with a workshop on hidden treasures in Mahara aimed at intermediate and advanced users on 26 February 2014.

Mahara Hui in Wellington, 19-21 March 2014

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Mahara Hui (hui in Te Reo Māori means 'gathering' or 'assembly') is the first conference dedicated to Mahara in New Zealand. With lots of school and university users in Australasia, we thought it is time to organise a conference in our part of the world. We welcome all Mahara users from New Zealand, Australia and further afield to Wellington in summer for a two-day conference on 19 and 20 March 2014 followed by an optional hackfest on 21 March 2014.

The call for proposals is open until 24 January 2014, and registration for the conference will be opened mid-January. Please find more information about the conference, proposals and hackfest in the conference and proposal announcement, follow updates on Twitter and subscribe to the hashtag #maharahui14.

Mahara UK in Brighton, 17-18 July 2014

Meredith Henson

We are pleased to announce that the Mahara UK Conference 2014 will be held in Brighton, East Sussex on 17 and 18 July 2014. The University of Brighton and Catalyst IT Europe are proud conference organisers of the 2014 conference. We will be updating the conference site over the next few months, so please check back again soon for more details or look out for announcements via #maharauk14.

Mahara BarCamp 2014 in Speyer, 18-20 September 2014

Christian Kleinhanss

In fall 2014, half a year after the Moodle//Mahara//Moot, we will organize the second BarCamp of the German-speaking Mahara community. Last year it took place in Hofgeismar (close to Kassel). In 2014 we will meet in Speyer from 18 to 20 September. The location and date will be announced officially at the Moodle//Mahara//Moot 2014 in Leipzig and on the BarCamp's website. In contrast to the big Moodle//Mahara//Moot with a few hundred participants and a workshop programme, the Mahara BarCamp will host approximately 60-80 people. Everybody will be able to offer a workshop. Please contact us, if you have any questions or want to participate.

Moodle-Mahara Meetup in Melbourne, 30 September 2014

Allison Miller

The 2014 Moodle-Mahara Meetup will be held at Box Hill Institute in Melbourne, Australia, on 30 September 2014. The event will help us 'think outside the box' when using the open source software systems Moodle (learning management system) and Mahara (ePortfolio system) in education and training. Read the press release for the Meetup, register to receive updates about this event or subscribe to the hashtag #MMMup.

Mahara in development

Focus on accessibility

Jono Mingard and Julius Serrano

The core Mahara team aims to make Mahara usable by as many individuals as possible, including those with disabilities or special needs. Creating accessible web content is a requirement in many countries. In order to provide international guidelines, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were created. There are three conformance levels under the WCAG 2.0, the latest edition of the guidelines: A, AA, and AAA. Each level requires conformance with previous levels and includes its own specific guidelines for how websites should be made accessible. The accessibility standards of New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the USA draw from WCAG 2.0 and require at minimum Level AA conformance. In order to better understand the status quo of accessibility in Mahara, we, Julius (Catalyst's accessibility expert) and Jono (summer intern at Catalyst), tested the software against all three WCAG 2.0 levels.

Mahara has a good level of accessibility when it comes to viewing content. Pages for creating content and administration have issues that affect specific types of users, but we plan to address these in the near future. With the right configuration, Mahara can be used by organizations that require compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA in 2014.

For more information on specific issues and their status of investigation, please refer to the issues that have been raised and consult the accessibility section on the Mahara wiki. We invite you to test changes as they become available and welcome the insight of other accessibility researchers who think there are issues we have not addressed which should be looked into.

If you wish to get involved in fixing these issues, either by providing your development time or by providing funding, please get in touch with us.

Invitation to comment on feature proposals

Christian Kleinhanss

Our German Mahara user group is an active forum for Mahara users from the German federal states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Hesse. Half of the participants work at universities (PH Heidelberg, TU Darmstadt), the other half work at schools or government institutions. If you want to join our user group or follow our discussions, please send us a message in the forum or come to our meetings. Typically, these are held twice a year. Invitations and protocols of our user group meetings are published in the forum.

One of our aims for 2014 is to promote the use of Mahara in German schools. In that context, we started discussing a few new plugins and concepts in regard to user permission management and moderators, who help to monitor the social networking functionality. We look forward to your comments on our ideas and questions:

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Mahara Newsletter October 2013 (Vol. 3 / Issue 3)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 01 October 2013, 5:14 AM

Welcome to the October edition of the Mahara Newsletter. This newsletter is packed with reports from Mahara events and upcoming Mahara User Group meetings around the world as well as news from developers.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 January 2013 (or maybe 2 January ;-) ), and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Mahara in use

Solent's move to Mahara 1.7 and "Personal Blue"

Samantha Moss

This summer has seen us move from Mahara 1.4  to 1.7 and with it came a huge theme overhaul! Gone was the overpowering 'Solent Red' and in came a much calmer and clearer 'Personal Blue'. Our login page is nice, simple and dynamic so that it looks great on any device (have a look at http://myportfolio.solent.ac.uk and drag the corners about to change the screen size!).

We also changed the navigation panel on the dashboard to link in with our new (and growing) online support site that sits in our Moodle (myCourse). We chose to do this as a lot of the feedback from our staff and students was that once you got to Mahara as a first time user, you have no idea what to do next.

Read more...

Mahara at work in Rocky View Schools

Lynne Shemko

Digital documentation is a key component of Rocky View Schools’ learning and working environment not only for students and teachers, but also for its staff. When it comes to capturing those experiences for reflection and growth, the digital environment helps make it more visible.

When staff document their work digitally, they get to review what they’ve accomplished and assess what worked and what they'd do differently next time. This thoughtful review reinforces the ability to learn about oneself as a learner, worker and colleague.

While digital documentation is an active learning tool, it is also a wonderful documentary record of skill evidence that can be shared with not only management, but used as a showcase of growth, current abilities and to evaluate cumulative achievement.

Why use a portfolio for an evaluation or performance review?

  • to show growth or change over time
  • to help develop skills such as self-evaluation and goal-setting
  • to identify strengths and weaknesses
  • to track the development of one or more goals/accomplishments

Over the past three years, senior administrators at Rocky View Schools have used Mahara as a performance/evaluation tool.

Read more...

Mahara + MOOC = PacePrep

Beth Gordon

This past summer, Pace University adapted Mahara to support a self-enroll, optional MOOC-style course, called PacePrep for all incoming first year students. The goals of the new 5-week online course were to engage incoming students with each other before the official start of the semester, get them connected to key faculty and staff, and give them a head start on their education. Consisting of an orientation and 4 academic modules built into CourseSites, PacePrep gave students exposure to the fields of English, Communications, Math and Biology.

Through a brief online orientation module, students were introduced to Mahara and instructed to begin creating an “Academic Materials” page to showcase their work in the course, upload a résumé and share reflections about their past experiences as a learner, as well as thoughts and questions based on the assigned readings. Within a few days of starting the course, some students were creating wordles, uploading images, and connecting with others through the wall and the feedback feature. The students shared goals, quotes and memories that are important to them. Mahara provided a great space for students to make the transition from high school to college. Sharing the ePortfolios with each other helped to bridge the distance of the online experience and hopefully helped make their transition to college smooth.

Because this course did not offer credit, many students did not complete the course, but we were encouraged by the enthusiastic ways in which the students dove into their ePortfolios. We plan on following these PacePrep students through their ePortfolios to see if this experience helps them succeed at Pace and beyond.

Experimenting with Mahara

Linda Pospíšilová

The Language Centre of the University of Pardubice in the Czech Republic has been using Mahara since 2012. My name is Linda Pospisilova, I am an ESP (English for Specific Purposes) teacher, and I can see great potential in using Mahara in our lifelong learning process. I was acquainted with Mahara in 2011 thanks to Sigi Jakob-Kühn and immediately after her workshop I started using Mahara for building my own learning portfolio. After the successful installation of our own Mahara site at the university, I spent the whole past academic year exploring Mahara with my students. Several groups of students were selected for four pilot projects run in the academic year 2012/13. The projects were:

  • Mahoodle
  • Résumé in Mahara
  • Blogging about Nursing
  • Going International with Mahara

View the project descriptions and example student’s portfolios.

Mahara in upcoming events

MUG online meeting

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The next MUG New York meeting will take place online on 8 October 2013 at 3 p.m. EDT. Please check the world clock for your time zone. Beth Gordon and Sam Eagen from Pace University will share ideas of using ePortfolios to support a MOOC-style course, Keith Landa from Purchase College will talk about the multitenanted SUNY Mahara instance, and I will highlight some new Mahara 1.8 features. You can still propose an agenda item for the meeting. Please add it to the wiki page or respond on Facebook.

Third meeting of the Mahara User Group Rhein-Neckar

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The German Mahara User Group Rhein-Neckar will be one year old in November this year and will hold its third meeting on its anniversary. The meeting will be hosted by the Integrierte Gesamtschule Ludwigshafen-Edigheim. The group will meet on 7 November 2013. The time has not yet been finalized. Please check the forum discussion for further updates.

If you are interested in the outcomes of the second meeting in April 2013, you can find the minutes online.

MoodleMaharaMoot 2014 in Leipzig (Germany)

Ralf Hilgenstock

The University of Leipzig (Germany) is the venue for the next German MoodleMaharaMoot from 25 to 28 February 2014. German MoodleMoots have had a long tradition since 2005. During the last years, Mahara has been a continuously growing discussion topic with its own conference slots.

You can still submit papers for the Moot during the first few days of October 2013. Be quick to have a chance of being a presenter. The main conference language is German, but proposals in English are accepted as well.

Registration starts at the end of October 2013. For further information please go to MoodleMaharaMoot Leipzig 2014.

Mahara at past events

First MacHara meeting

Wullie Mair

On the Friday 6th September 2013, the first meeting of the MacHara Scottish Mahara User Group took place at Glasgow Dental School, which is a part of the University of Glasgow. The meeting had come about as a few like-minded Mahara enthusiasts had met up at the Mahara UK conference and decided that we should try to get together and make the most of Mahara.

On the 4th and 5th of July, several Academic Staff and Learning Technologists from Scottish institutions took the long trip down to Birmingham to the 2013 UK Mahara conference.

While we were down there having discussions about Mahara during the networking event (a free bar with a group of Scots, now that's brave), we found that most of us were doing the same kind of things within Mahara and that maybe we could share our resources rather than recreating them and that we could maybe use our skills and those of others to enhance our Mahara content.

So, after the conference, full of enthusiasm, we got a Mahara group setup on the official site and started online discussions about our thoughts on Mahara, which gave some insight into what people are doing in their institutions, what issues people were having (which led to a great and insightful discussion), hints and tips which could help others and of course, organising our first meeting.

Read more...

Resources from the 4th Mahara Open Forum in Tokyo

Shin-Ichiro Kubota

The 4th Mahara Open Forum (MOF2013) took place between 14 and 15 September 2013 at Tokyo Gakugei University, Japan. There were 91 participants, 1 keynote, and 4 parallel sessions. The topics of the parallel sessions were: "Interface & Tool", "Reflection", "Assessment", and "Oversea Case Reports". In total, MOF2013 had 20 speakers. We could share experiences and discuss Mahara and ended MOF2013 on a high note.

For more information, please see the Japanese user community site and the Faebook page (both in Japanese).

Mahara in development

Mahara 1.8 Release Candidate 1 is out

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

We are pleased to announce that we published the Mahara 1.8 Release Candidate (RC) 1 on 30 September 2013. We have a series of new awesome features contributed from developers around the world. These include a revamped content chooser (on the left instead of in the middle of the screen), skins support (experimental), import of a Leap2A file into an existing account, and a whole set of new icons amongst others. We would like to thank all contributors and organizations that provided funding to support the development of this new version of Mahara. We will publish their names together with the release of Mahara 1.8 stable when we have the final stats.

Before releasing Mahara 1.8 stable, we would like to invite you to take the RC on a test spin on your own test server or test features on the frontend on our developer installation. Please do not hesitate to report any bugs that you find. If important bugs are found, these will be fixed for a second RC.

Please see the RC announcement for more information incl. some tips on where to find some of the new functionality.

Ambrosia isn't just for the gods

Gordon McLeod

The Ambrosia theme was developed to provide an aesthetically pleasing look and feel while addressing some common accessibility display issues around dyslexia and visual impairment. Feedback from users anecdotally indicates the colour scheme is beneficial to users with colour blindness as well as staff and students with dyslexia and dyspraxia.

The theme was adapted from the Ambrose theme released by iCampus21.com, and was conceptually themed around colours associated with honey to incorporate a cream background with dark brown font, and to utilise more screen estate for content by replacing the fixed width with a wider percentage based width. Ambrosia is freely available to download from Github and is linked from the Mahara Wiki contributed themes page.

Screenshot of Ambrosia theme

Artefact plugin template

Angela Karl

You can now use the Artefact Plugin Template by Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany, to develop your own plugins for Mahara. It provides the basic structure and contents of a plugin as required by Mahara. Please send questions and suggestions to Angela Karl.

Progress bar plugin

Gregor Anželj

When creating http://listovnik.sio.si our goal was that most of the teachers and students in Slovenia would start using Mahara for their ePortfolios. We are still far from that goal, but some teachers and students already started using Mahara.

Students often don't know what to do when they first get started and as a consequence they don't fill in the information about themselves in their Mahara profile and résumé sections. This could potentially be a problem since one of the purposes of Mahara is that students personalize their online space.

Researching how other social sites (especially LinkedIn) handle that situation gave me the idea for implementing a progress bar plugin for Mahara. The plugin shows the progress bar of the user's profile / résumé completeness and suggests further actions to improwe the profile / résumé completeness.

Screenshot of profile completeness bar

The profile / résumé completeness progress bar block is added to the top right column of each user's dashboard.

The plugin must be copied to the htdocs/blocktypes/progressbar folder of your Mahara installation and than installed via your Mahara's administration "Extensions" page.

The plugin is available at https://github.com/anzeljg/mahara-progressbar and was tested on Mahara 1.5, 1.6 and 1.8.0dev. It should also work under Mahara 1.7.

Read more...

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Mahara Newsletter July 2013 (Vol. 3 / Issue 2)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 01 July 2013, 8:52 PM

Welcome to the July edition of the Mahara Newsletter. This quarter we have fresh, exciting stories for you from Mahara users as well as information about upcoming events and gatherings, and development work. Enjoy this summer / winter reading.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 October 2013, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Mahara in use

National Aspiring Principals Programme (NAPP) and MyPortfolio

Roger Sommerville

The NAPP 2012 and 2013 cohorts have taken advantage of MyPortfolio, a Mahara instance available to all schools for free in New Zealand, to collaborate and share learning while building leadership portfolios.

Each year 210 members in 20 professional learning groups (PLGs) across New Zealand share their leadership pages and participate in online discussion on a diverse range of school leadership topics under the guidance of experienced leadership kaiarahi.

Members develop leadership pages as running records of their whole year leading change in- school inquiry and support this with shared journals of their reflections. These records have included a digital summary of their leadership in the form of a korowai.

NAPP uses MyPortfolio to support intense online activity during their annual Hui.

The NAPP 2013 cohort applied through MyPortfolio using digital presentations built around the criteria for selection.

Over 120 teachers interested in looking ahead to become principals have joined an informal Aspiring Principals group to find out more about the NAPP curriculum and the programme prior to application.

kaiarahi – facilitators
korowai – cloak – (in this case their leadership cloak composed of images of the elements of their heritage, skills and experience)
hui - gathering

Secrets of success on my MyPortfolio journey

Heather Eccles

Today, I’m applying MyPortfolio to support me in the redesign of my assessment model, to track the learning progress of my students and as a tool for collaborative knowledge building in my classroom. My use of this tool has evolved over the past 16 months and for anyone just starting their journey I have a few secrets of success to share with you:

1. It’s all about pedagogy! Before you look to integrating etools or eportfolios in your classroom you need to have a reason to do so. You MUST have a pedagogical purpose - you should be passionate about this purpose. If you cannot yet articulate your purpose or if you don’t believe in it, STOP HERE. Failing to get this step right means you are in danger of modernising your classroom - trying to do the same thing in a new way - instead of truly transforming learning opportunities for your students. For me, I am passionate about improving the opportunity for my learners to self-direct their own learning. My vision was to facilitate this through a focus on learning as inquiry and collaborative processes.

Read more...

The power of groups

Kathleen Norris

I began working with Mahara to create templates for my students who needed to create ePortfolios, and through that process discovered the groups function. Discovering the power of the groups function completely changed my involvement with Mahara and I moved from using it simply for assisting students with their portfolios to managing accreditation materials, coordinating program faculty, and creating program pages for reviewers.

I have even used it for creating an archive for a non-profit on whose Board I serve as secretary and to compile and organize my materials as I completed a Permaculture Design Certification!

Now we are moving toward using Mahara for Plymouth State University’s Promotion and Tenure system and encouraging advanced graduate students to create their own groups and portfolios. Feel free to contact me for more information or to share ideas! I am beginning a research study and anticipate using Mahara to share what I learn.

Sharing Services at the State University of New York (SUNY)

Keith Landa

There is a big push these days for shared services across the SUNY system of campuses.  SUNY Purchase and SUNY Delhi are taking advantage of the open architecture and lack of licensing fees for Mahara and Moodle to show how this can be done. We have done a Mahoodle integration between Delhi’s Moodle and Purchase’s Mahara to provide ePortfolio services to Delhi’s students and faculty, a service that they’ve not had in the past. Early pilot projects have included several service learning courses in Psychology this past semester, and interest is quickly spreading to other programs including the Hospitality and Architecture majors and their new Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing.

In addition to the project with Delhi, Purchase College is now providing pilot ePortfolio services to a number of SUNY campuses, including Empire State College, Oswego, Morrisville State College, among others.

Mahoodle in the "SUNY Nebula" from Keith Landa

Mahara is taking off at the University of Canberra

Shane Nuessler

There are a number of discipline areas employing portfolio practice and Mahara at the University of Canberra. The adoption of Mahara and portfolio practice provide students with the skills and abilities to provide evidence of their learning, achievements, skills development, attitudes etc., with students often re-using artefacts for multiple purposes.

Evidence may come from curricular or extra-curricular activities and can be used to suit multiple purposes and multiple audiences such as teachers and employers. ePortfolios provide flexibility for students to be anywhere in the world yet still communicate rich evidence of learning and achievements to these audiences - which is an important contributor to realising flexible teaching, learning and professional development. Please read on for just some of the reasons why the University of Canberra is adopting ePortfolios.

Mahara in upcoming events

Mahara UK13 in Birmingham

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Mahara UK 2013 is only a few days away. Its jam-packed program offers presentations, workshops and a developer hackfest. View the full program and follow the conference at #maharauk13 if you can't attend in person.

Gathering at AAEEBL 2013

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The 2013 AAEEBL Annual ePortfolio Conference in Boston (29 July - 1 August 2013) offers attending Mahara users the change to catch up and discuss Mahara and its many use cases in person. Watch out for fellow Mahara users and come to the lunch table on 30 July 2013.

Mahara DE13 near Kassel

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Preparations for Mahara DE13 are well under way. This first Mahara unconference in Germany will take place from 20 to 21 September 2013. Follow news updates under #mahDE13 and on Facebook.

2013 Eportfolio Forum in Canberra

Allison Miller

The 2013 Eportfolio Forum will be held at the University of Canberra on Thursday, 3 October 2013, with Pre-Forum workshops on Wednesday, 2 October.

Key Speakers are:

  • Prof Phillip Long, University of Queensland: ePortfolios in the New World of Learner Driven Pathways
  • Dr Alan McAlpine, Queensland University of Technology: Career Development, Employers needs and ePortfolios. Is there a connection?

The program includes over 30 workshops, 20-20 sessions and facilitated conversations based on the theme Digital Identities, Footprints and Networks. Opportunities to present a poster are still available by emailing a title of the poster and brief description (up to 150 words) to eportfoliosaustralia@gmail.com.

Registrations are now open, but don't wait too long, as last year's Forum was a sell-out - and there are very limited places for the half-day workshops on 2 October. You can follow the forum at #eportforum.

Mahara in development

Mahara 1.8 feature freeze

Aaron Wells

Hi Mahara Developers! If you've got a feature you'd like to contribute to Mahara 1.8, be aware there are some important deadlines coming up soon. Feature Freeze is on 29 July 2013; all new features for 1.8 should be submitted before then. Three weeks later is UI Freeze on 19 August 2013; no changes to the user interface (including language strings and theme changes) will be accepted after that date, unless they're of high importance.

If you've got a feature you'd like to contribute to Mahara core, we'd love to see it! We try to include as many community contributions as we can, but we do have limited resources to code review everything. So if you've got a large feature, please try to get it to us as early as you can before these deadlines. And if you don't make it into 1.8, don't worry, 1.9 is only 6 months after that.

Check out our wiki for information on how to submit your code, ask on the #mahara-dev channel on freenode.irc.net or in the developers' forum on mahara.org.

"Booklet": a meta-artefact to implement résumé-like artefacts

Christophe Mauras

Statically defining fields in the résumé, has led many institutions to define specific artefacts to adapt Mahara to their specific approach about skills development.

To overcome this difficulty, we have developed "booklet", a new artefact for Mahara. It's a highly configurable artefact which allows designers to create a new artefact in a very short time. We only have to define tabs, then in each tab we have to define frames, then in each frame we have to define objects like text areas, dates, checkboxes or radio buttons.

We use "booklet" to generate a digital version of the "University roadmap", a professional development project used in our university. We also defined a standard résumé from Mahara with "booklet".

We presented "booklet" at the French MaharaMoot in Bordeaux, France, on 6 June 2013. It will soon be available on the Mahara wiki and on github.

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Mahara Newsletter April 2013 (Vol. 3 / Issue 1)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 01 April 2013, 4:56 PM

Welcome to the April edition of the Mahara Newsletter. It is the first issue of the third year, and it is filled with lots of events to announce and interesting user stories to share besides exciting development work. Last but not least, you can now express your Mahara spirit on the street, in the office or classroom and on the beach. How? You'll find out in this newsletter. Let's dive in.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 July 2013, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Mahara in use

Mahara at The Southport School

Richard Jones

In early 2010 The Southport School embarked on a plan to introduce eLearning over three years. The LMS selected was Moodle and this platform has proved to be very popular with every teacher having a course with at least some content.

During the early part of 2010, the school had the opportunity to apply for funding under the Australian Government Quality Teacher Program run by Independent Schools Queensland and we decided we would apply to investigate the potential of Mahara as an ePortfolio system to complement Moodle.

As a change management strategy we decided not to push two systems at once but to concentrate on Moodle and allow Mahara to grow "organically" according to teacher demand.

During 2012 we found that Mahara was being used in a number of interesting ways in the school:

  • As a simple multimedia web page creation tool
  • As a resource by teachers for student groups
  • As a reflective ePortfolio

In addition the school’s Senior Management is going to start to use Mahara during 2013 with teachers for recording and reflecting on their own teaching practice.

Read more...

southport_history_page.png

Increasing student engagement at Avondale College

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Heather McClure is a teacher at Avondale College in Auckland, New Zealand. She uses MyPortfolio, a Mahara site available to all schools in New Zealand, with her students and for her own inquiry learning. If you want to find out more how she and her students work with Mahara and what they are learning in the process, head over to the Snapshot of learning.

Mahara in past events

In the mood for Mahara at the Moot

Sigi Jakob-Kühn

The annual German MoodleMoot took place in Munich between 26 February and 1 March 2013 with more than 400 participants and a great variety of sessions. Mahara again filled a whole track during this Moot and I could welcome a big player of the international Mahara network, Don Presant, who did an online presentation on professional development in Manitoba, Canada.

But there were not only experts from abroad working with ePortfolios and Mahara, but we had one of the best German teams using Mahara for competence centered learning in individual learning steps: "Lernen mit Lernschritten" was presented by a team from Oskar-von-Miller Schule who use Mahara and the ePortfolio concept in a very student centered way, changing the paradigms of learning and teaching at their school. They covered several aspects of the ePortfolio work and it was fascinating to see how passionate the team was about their project.

Read more...

Mahara in upcoming events

Developer Meeting April 2013

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The 25th Mahara Developer Meeting will take place on IRC on April 16, 2013, 8:00 a.m. UTC (please check the time zone converter for your local time). You can find the agenda on the wiki and add your own development-related agenda points (your mahara.org password also works on the wiki). If you are not able to attend, the meeting notes as well as the full log will be posted after the meeting. Join the discussion on the #mahara-dev IRC channel on freenode. If you do not have a chat software installed, you can also use your web browser.

Moodle-Mahara Meetup - Key speakers announced

Allison Miller

The key speakers for the inaugural Moodle-Mahara Meetup (MMMup), to be held in Adelaide, South Australia, on 8 May 2013, have been announced and cover the following topics:

  • Mmmm... Moodle, Mahara, Mahoodle... what's the latest? (Kim Edgar, Netspot)
  • Driving Learning Success - Moodle, Mahara and Learning Analytics (Tracy Willis and Andrew King, Box Hill Institute)
  • Moodle, Mahara and Open Badges (Richard Wyles, TotaraLMS)
  • Gahoodle - The whole package - integrating Moodle, Mahara and Google Apps (Trudy Stoddard, Tabor Adelaide)

More information about the event and registrations can be found on the Moodle-Mahara Meetup website.

Maharamoot FR

Celine Sire

The University of Bordeaux will be hosting the 2013 Maharamoot and Moodlemoot. The annual conference of Moodle and Mahara users will take place in Bordeaux, France, from 5 June to 7 June 2013. 

Registration for the conference is open, and you may also submit your proposals on the conference's platform.

Mahara UK13

Kerry Carpenter

Mahara UK has established itself as annual conference going into its 5th year and is sponsored by Mahara Partners TDM Open Source Software Services and Catalyst IT Europe. Users and practitioners of Mahara will gather this year at The Custard Factory in Birmingham.

Following feedback from delegates, the Mahara UK conference will extend to a 2-day programme and will take place on 4 and 5 July 2013. You can submit proposals for presentations until 21 May 2013. Delegate Early Bird Tickets will be available until 31 May 2013. More information will be published on the conference website soon.

Mahara DE - Moodle is Theirs, Mahara is Yours

Heinz D. Hirth

Mahara DE13 is an event that allows stakeholders in all areas of education to share experiences, ideas and concepts in an open barcamp atmosphere.

While learning management systems like Moodle are widely used in many places around the world, ePortfolio systems like Mahara are not yet as popular. As you pursue knowledge and development through lifelong learning, it is necessary to record and capture the acquired knowledge and skills. In addition to recording learning evidence, Mahara allows you to visualize and showcase all learning processes thru lifelong learning.

Barcamps are user-organized conferences (unconferences). They are open participatory workshop events, the content of which is provided by participants in the form of a presentation or a work example. To participate, you may submit your work examples and presentations at the conference. All presentations should be provided under the context of schools, universities and organizations' education strategies.

The conference languages are English and German. The conference will be held in Hofgeismar, Hessen in Germany, from 20 to 21 September 2013. For unconference information and registration, please visit http://maharamoot.de.

Mahara in development

Mahara 1.7RC1: Please help test it

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The release of Mahara 1.7 is coming closer. On 22 March 2013 we announced the release of the first release candidate for Mahara 1.7. We invite all users of Mahara to test this release candidate to find potential important bugs that should be fixed before the stable release is made. Please find more information on where you can download the release candidate in the forum post. If you do not have a test Mahara instance, you can log in to the developer instance and explore the new features there.

We are also in the process of updating the user manual for Mahara 1.7 with the changes and new features. All new features are marked and you can find them easily in the index under "New in Mahara 1.7".

Calendar plugin

Angela Karl

This calendar plugin for Mahara is open source and based upon the core Mahara functionality for "Plans". It has been under development since September 2012. Its features are:

  • Create, edit and delete asks and plans of the core plugin "Plans"
  • Mark tasks with different colors depending on the corresponding plan
  • Show / hide the tasks of plans to improve readability
  • Individual notifications
  • Export as iCalendar feed

You can download the plugin from Gitorious. The calendar plugin is available in German and English. It was developed for Mahara version 1.3 and is compatible with the current version 1.6. 

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Mahara merchandise

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

What do T-Shirts, polo shirts, coffee mugs, stickers, laptop skins and bags have in common? They now all come with Mahara logos. If you are a translator, tester, user, designer, bug reporter or developer of Mahara, you can show off to which open source project you contribute with the newly created Mahara Merchandise.

Our designer Evonne created a whole series of items that you can purchase on Cafepress for your own use or for distribution at conferences. There are plain logo items, but also Mahara character products, which allow you to show off more clearly how you contribute to Mahara. And yes, you can also buy flip flops with the Mahara logo. Maybe that will entice the snow in the Northern hemisphere to finally give way to spring and summer. Wink

You can also find a link to the merchandise on Mahara.org under "Community".

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Mahara Newsletter January 2013 (Vol. 2 / Issue 4)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 01 January 2013, 7:12 PM

We wish you a Happy New Year and all the best for 2013. May it be a wonderful year for you.

While this newsletter does not sport many different stories, it goes into depth for a few, and you will learn about the use of Mahara at Pace University, Alvernia University, a customization to discuss as well as an ePortfolio event Down Under. Let 2013 begin with a warm welcome to this quarter's newsletter contributors.

The next newsletter will be published on April 1, 2013, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Mahara in use

How Pace University made the 3-version leap to 1.5

Samantha Egan

For too long Pace University participated in Mahara User Group meetings with green eyes as other institutions presented with recent Mahara versions that seemed so far ahead of 1.2, where we remained for over two years.

Not that we didn’t appreciate 1.2. Our 2010 Mahara installation ended ePortfolio Program co-Directors', Linda Anstendig and Beth Gordon Klingner, ten-year search for the “right” ePortfolio platform. Our programming team tailored 1.2 to meet the needs of our faculty, students, and staff, a process which totaled 90 customizations, from small text changes to about 30 more involved enhancements. We understood that upgrading meant that our programmers would have the lengthy task of transferring each customization, so we were content with remaining where we were.

As our program began to grow, however, the need to upgrade became more apparent. We saw common requests from students and faculty, such as the need for creating multiple portfolios and for easier navigation, were addressed in later versions. Our team agreed that we were ready to make the leap, but finding the best time for our programmers to schedule the three-version upgrade was a challenge given their full project list and tight deadlines.

To prepare, the ePortfolio team examined the customizations list in order to narrow it down for an easier upgrade. After looking at what updates and features 1.5 offered and letting go of unnecessary items, we cut our list down to ten customizations. The upgrade happened at the end of August 2012, one week prior to the start of the fall semester, leaving a short window for testing. Nevertheless, we were able to release a brand new Mahara when our students returned in the fall.

Our newly expanded group of seven ePortfolio “eTerns” was an essential part of educating the Pace community about the new version. Before the end of September we were able to revise and repost over thirty tutorials and resources sheets on the Pace website and work with 492 students and faculty members through demonstrations, workshops, and one-on-one appointments.

The reaction to the new Mahara was very positive. One huge change was allowing users to create their own pages, a feature we had limited in 1.2 by using a seven-page template. Both students and faculty love having the ability to create their own pages and collections. We also received many comments on the improved site navigation, particularly the button that allows users to bounce between editing and previewing a page in one click.

One hiccup we’ve experienced is the slow loading times that often occur in workshops with over 15 participants. We’ve learned that staggering logins usually helps. We hope to find out more about this issue by working with the Mahara User Group.

However, in general, 1.5 has enhanced many of our ePortfolio initiatives across campus. Using controlled groups has made the tenure and promotion process run more smoothly by cutting down on the number of faculty we need to hunt down to accept the invitation to their committee’s group. Our students were happy to have more options for displaying their photos with the image gallery, as well as the ability to create various collections tailored to each of their potential employers.

This upgrade has also shown us the importance of adopting a more regular upgrade schedule. Our programmers are committing to a once-a-year-upgrade at the end of each academic year. The continued upgrades will undoubtedly help our ePortfolio program continue to evolve as we discover the exciting new features of Mahara versions to come.

For more information on Pace University's ePortfolio initiative, please go to http://www.pace.edu/ctlt/eportfolio.

Mahara ePortfolios used for training K-12 principals

by Joseph Elder

At Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania, USA, K-12 principals in training are required to create Mahara based Leadership ePortfolios as they complete graduate level principal certification courses. These structured ePortfolios are based upon standards developed by the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) and the Pennsylvania Inspired Leadership Standards (PILS). This template allows prospective principals to document personal development and professional growth from the first course through the principal internship and certification process.

Use of the ePortfolio as a pedagogical tool provides integration of knowledge between courses, collaboration between students, and on-going assessment and mentoring from university instructors. Instructors of and students in the principal cohorts are able to comment on and critique the developing ePortfolios as reflections and artifacts are uploaded. This interaction promotes development of lasting professional relationships among this group of pre-professional K-12 principals, anticipated to be educational leaders for several decades.

The Alvernia University Leadership ePortfolio initiative has grown considerably since the Fall of 2011 with 44 ePortfolios under development. As the project develops, the integrity of the principal certification program improves and students gain valuable personal and professional knowledge within standards set by national and state accrediting organizations.

Mahara in upcoming events

Developer Meeting January 2013

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The 23rd Mahara Developer Meeting will take place on IRC on January 16, 2013, 8:00 a.m. UTC (please check the time zone converter for your local time). You can find the agenda on the wiki and add your own development-related agenda points (your mahara.org password also works on the wiki). If you are not able to attend, the meeting notes as well as the full log will be posted after the meeting. Join the discussion on the #mahara-dev IRC channel on freenode. If you do not have a chat software installed, you can also use your web browser.

Potential MUG January 2013 meeting

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The next virtual MUG meeting will potentially take place on January 31, 3:00 p.m. Eastern time (please check the time zone converter for your local time). Please watch for an announcement in the Mahara User Group. Every Mahara user is invited to participate online.

Moodle-Mahara Meetup – Lowering the barriers to learning online

by Allison Miller

The “Moodle-Mahara Meetup” will be held in Adelaide, Australia, on 8 May 2013, and will showcase the use of Moodle and Mahara in vocational and workplace education and training.

The “Moodle-Mahara Meetup” aims to attract educators, educational designers, and learning and development managers interested in lowering the barriers to online learning through better integration with Moodle and Mahara. It will raise the profile of the connection between Moodle and Mahara, also known as Mahoodle. Other technical integrations, such as Google Apps, and using mobile devices for accessing and uploading of information, will also be showcased.

Call for proposals will be announced early in 2013. Registrations to attend this event will open shortly thereafter.

Receive updates about the Moodle-Mahara Meetup by registering at http://eepurl.com/sLOW9 or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Read the full press release.

Mahara in past events

Fall MUG Meeting Discusses ePortfolio Integration and Sharing of Ideas

by Michelle Birch

In October, the Mahara User Group (MUG) hosted a virtual meeting to discuss statewide ePortfolio integration, group collaboration for possible papers and presentations, as well as the sharing of pedagogy and information (coding).

Our global MUG has been successful in connecting and collaborating on ePortfolio ideas and integration since its inception in 2011. Pace University, the State University of New York (SUNY) at Purchase, SUNY Empire State, Albertus Magnus College, and the University of Education in Freiburg, Germany, are just a few of the institutions that are part of our global ePortfolio network. Keith Landa (SUNY Purchase) and Ellen Marie Murphy (SUNY Empire State College) described SUNY’s ePortfolio task force across its campuses. The goal is to eventually have all 64 campuses running on the same open source, ePortfolio network. SUNY is analyzing ePortfolios in a number of stages: K-12, higher education, and career development beyond higher education.

Other members of the group were interested in sharing recordings of the MUG meetings, and showcasing student ePortfolios, from various institutions. Last spring, we hosted another virtual MUG meeting in which we shared students ePortfolios from a few colleges and universities in the U.S. and in Germany (view the recording).

The group also discussed collaboration for papers and presentations. Some of the members already have papers in the works but would like to work in conjunction with other staff and faculty at other institutions. One of the ideas discussed for a possible paper was, “How a user group can affect education globally.” Conferences like the Sloan Consortium on Online Learning, Educause, and The Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning (AAEEBL) were mentioned for potential opportunities for collaboration.

Many of the members were very interested in using the group and specifically the MUG Facebook page or the Mahara wiki to generate discussions on pedagogy, badges, technical issues and information or code sharing.

We hope that our MUG will continue to populate and allow for more ePortfolio information sharing. For more Mahara resources visit the Mahara wiki. We will continue to collaborate via our MUG virtual meetings as well as our Facebook page and the MUG space on mahara.org.

View the recording of the 6th MUG meeting.

Mahara in development

Mahara navigation changes

by Dirk Meyer

Portfoliocommunities has been playing with the Mahara menu system a little bit and implemented a few changes to their system. Although not extensive by any means, little things sometimes can have big results. Not being a final version at all, we are showing some things we did and try to explain why we did them.

With the help of a competent and motivated developer and using funds generated by my small companies' LMS and CMS hosting and consulting activities, we started this endeavour by providing individual tabs for Plans, Résumé, Files, and Journals. Each tab is individually styled to provide features such as colour coding, possibly a larger 'Portfolio' tab for example or substitute text with icons etc. Direct access to what is available all the time is really what I am after and I am hoping to encourage users to explore and use the system more readily.

Head over to Portfoliocommunities for more information and a demo login to trial the changes. You are welcome to discuss them in this forum post on mahara.org.

Mahara 1.7: Feature freeze

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

In April 2012, the Mahara release team adopted an ambitious 6-monthly release cycle to make the release of Mahara more predictable, offer regular releases twice a year and thus allow users to take advantage of new features and bug fixes more quickly. We are now well into the release cycle for Mahara 1.7.

If you are developing features for Mahara and wish to have them considered for the next release, please submit them to the review system now. Feature freeze for Mahara 1.7 will be in the first week of February 2013. After that only bug fixes will be accepted.

Please jump on #mahara-dev on Freenode, ask you question in the developer forum or come to the next developer meeting on January 16, 2013, to discuss your features (see above for more information) or if you have a problem submitting your patch.

Mahara 1.7 feature testing

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

For the Mahara 1.7 release we are focusing our attention on fixing the issues when users have JavaScript turned off.

A large number of the non-JavaScript fixes are ready for testing, and we welcome everyone to participate in the QA process. You will need a local installation of Mahara on which you can apply the individual patches to test. Instructions on setting up this environment are available for Linux users (can be installed in a virtual machine if you don't have a full-fledged Linux computer). You can get a quick introduction to Gerrit, the review system we use, in the presentation "Gerrit for everyone" (incl. audio recording) and examples from Mahara.

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Mahara Newsletter October 2012 (Vol. 2 / Issue 3)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 01 October 2012, 2:10 AM

A warm Sydney spring welcome to the third issue of the Mahara Newsletter in 2012. This issue is action packed with news from users, events, customizations and information about Mahara 1.6. Check them out and be inspired or join in one of the upcoming events.

The next newsletter will be published on January 1 (or 2), 2013, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Mahara in use

A Mahara case study from Southampton Solent University

by Samantha Moss

(republished with permission)

My colleague Domi Renault (@Lilly_Stardust) and I have been supporting Solent Senior Lecturer Sally Holland with her unit Employability & Work Placement skills – a second year undergrad unit for students on the PR and Communications degree. The course was supported by Moodle, Mahara and CareerBox (our online careers help site) as well as having representatives from our careers team and learning tech teams present during some of their lectures and workshops.

We’ve put together a Mahara page to present this case study – I hope you all find it useful!

You can see a short video of Sally talking about her unit below:

Evaluation of the ePortfolio system Mahara

by Lisa Beutelspacher

Teaching and learning portfolios offer students and teachers many opportunities for self representation, progress documentation or performance evaluation. EPortfolios combine these capabilities with the advantages of digitally accessible services, such as the time and place in dependent access.

The Department of Information Science at the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf tested the ePortfolio system Mahara in winter semester 2011/12 to offer its students learning material, inform them about current events, and to give them the opportunity to present themselves with the help of a portfolio.

An evaluation was to indicate how the students perceive the platform, and how it can be effectively integrated into teaching. This evaluation showed that the use of Mahara is not yet satisfactory, so we are currently working on a new concept in order to simplify the work for our students and teachers.

You can read the results at the study in the published article (in German).

Using MyPortfolio to achieve a Self Organised Assessment System

by Tara Taylor-Jorgensen and Jo Fothergill

Thanks to a TeachNZ sabbatical grant, Jo Fothergill and Tara Taylor-Jorgensen will be exploring New Zealand's Eurocentric assessment system and the impact that this has on our Māori, Pasifika, and other learners. Specifically, we will be looking for ways in which the definition of 'success' can be negotiated by the students, their families and the communities that they live in.

Current pedagogical research shows that personalised learning enables students to follow their passions (Robinson 2009). Further, Sugata Mitra (widely known for his hole in the wall research) proved that children are capable of teaching themselves in connected collaborative and Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs).

Using the lessons gained from Mitra's and Robinson's research we will be looking at culturally specific definitions of success and (with the aid of MyPortfolio, a Mahara instance for NZ schools) creating a flexible assessment environment so that learners can follow their passions, self assess, gather, and capture their own learning evidence. This is in stark contrast to the 'getting done to' approach such as low level, Eurocentric, multiple choice tests (e.g. STAR, PAT, asTTle).

Mahara in upcoming events

MUG October 2012 meeting

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The next MUG meeting will take place virtually on October 2, 2012, 2 p.m. Eastern time (please check the time zone converter for your local time). You will get an update of the SUNY FACT2 ePortfolio task force, a re-cap from the July meeting at Purchase College as well as questions and exchange about new ideas. Every Mahara user is invited to participate online.

Developer Meeting October 2012

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The 21st Mahara Developer Meeting will take place on IRC on October 17, 2012, 7:30 a.m. UTC (please check the time zone converter for your local time). You will find the agenda on the wiki, and if you are not able to attend, the meeting notes as well as the full log as well. Join the discussion on the #mahara-dev IRC channel on freenode. If you do not have a chat software installed, you can also use your web browser.

Inaugural meeting of the Mahara User Group Rhine-Neckar November 2012

by Christian Kleinhanß

The beautiful city of Heidelberg in Germany is well known all over the world because of its barouque-style old town that attracts more than 3.5 million tourist every year. This historic surrounding was the adequate location (:)) for discussing the new Mahara User Group Rhine-Neckar.

The Metropolitan Region, where the rivers Rhine and Neckar meet, is densly populated and three federal states border meet there. Every federal state in Germany has its own education system. Because of that, the user group helps Mahara users in their different educational systems to connect and share information. German learners are not very used to reflect on their learning processes. Grades and feedback at schools and universities have been dominated by evaluating rather the output than the process and development. But competency-based education and individual learning strategies gain in importance. Another chance for implementing Mahara in education is the possibility to connect it with the Learning Management System Moodle, which is widely used in Germany.

The German Mahara User Group Rhine-Neckar will have its inaugural meeting at PH Heidelberg on November 7, 2012, 3-5 p.m. More information in the forum of the user group.

A press article reports about the first meeting, together with our guest Kristina Hoeppner from Catalyst IT.

Mahara in past events

The Mahara User Group grows at AAEEBL

by Samantha Egan

This past summer, the Mahara User Group (MUG) officially passed the 100 member mark after a successful presentation at the third annual international Association for Authentic, Experimental and Evidence Based Learning Conference (AAEEBL) in Boston, MA.

Key members of the MUG team formed a panel discussion on the creation of MUG, also looking at ways in which the group benefited from each member’s ePortfolio program. Presenters included: Linda Anstendig (Pace University), Martina Blackwood (Pace University), Garrett Dell (Albertus Magnus College), Samantha Egan (Pace University), Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst IT), Beth Gordon Klingner (Pace University), Keith Landa (SUNY Purchase) and Ellen Marie Murphy (SUNY Empire State College).

"MUG is a great collaborative effort that has really helped each institution's ePortfolio project to evolve," said Beth Gordon Klingner, Executive Director of Academic Technology at Pace University.

The panel also described activities during its first year, such as international webinars, a virtual student showcase, and the establishment of a Facebook Group to stay connected between meetings. They also asked for the audience’s input on future issues, such as how the group can further promote the work of its members. Suggestions included sharing programing tips and other codes for customizations.

Approximately 20 people attended the session and were able to join the Facebook group directly from the session. Click here to view the session in full. Please also visit the newly established discussion group of MUG on Mahara.org.

Mahara User Group meeting at Purchase College

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Approximately 25 Mahara users from various New York colleges and universities met on July 23, 2012, at Purchase College for the second face-to-face Mahara User Group meeting. It was organized by Keith Landa from Purchase who was also responsible for streaming and recording the presentations in the morning. It was a chance for all to catch up on what has happened over the last year, what plans are for the new academic year, and what hot topics are that should be discussed in MUG in the future.

Mahara in development

Updates to Workflow at the University of the Arts London

by Mike Kelly

(republished with permission)

Over the summer I have applied numerous updates to our test version of Workflow, our e-portfolio system based on the Mahara software. We’ll be pushing the changes to the live version of Workflow over the course of September. Many of the changes have been contributed by the main Mahara development team as part of the latest release, but some are customisations which I’ve made myself. read more...

Mahara 1.6 release candidates

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

We are nearing the release of Mahara 1.6 later in the month of October. You can still help to test it to ensure as much as possible that there are no major bugs by testing it. How? Please see the announcement about release candidate 1. Release candidate 2 is in the making. We are reviewing the last necessary changes and will make it available shortly. If you cannot install a release candidate for testing purposes, you are welcome to test it on master.dev.mahara.org. A number of new features have already been documented in the 1.6 user manual under "New in Mahara 1.6".

Mahara in print

Updated Mahara Beginner's Guide

by Richard Hand

In August, after many months of work, a major revision of the Mahara ePortfolio Beginner's Guide was published by Packt. Written by Richard Hand, Derrin Kent and Tom Bell of TDM Open Source Software Services, it takes learners through the important steps of the ePortfolio building process and showcases many features of Mahara.

Written for Mahara 1.5, this edition adds examples for many of the latest features, including notes, group friend suggestions, and institutional theme configuration. As well as the three characters from the previous version (work-based learning, primary, professional), this edition also adds a higher education scenario courtesy of 'Christophe from Silverworks University'.

Although aimed at beginners building their first ePortfolio for the first time, the later chapters also offer something for tutors and administrators. There is even a full Mahara Implementation Planner Appendix that addresses the important questions for those implementing Mahara in their organisation (free download).

List of books published on Mahara

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

If you wish to have your books on or about Mahara listed to be found easily by other members of the Mahara community, feel free to add them to our book list on the wiki. Your mahara.org account serves also as login for wiki.mahara.org.

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Mahara Newsletter July 2012 (Vol. 2 / Issue 2)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 01 July 2012, 3:26 AM

Welcome to the second issue of the Mahara Newsletter in 2012. In this issue we will update you on events, plugins as well as a change in the release cycle of Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on October 1, 2012, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Upcoming events

MaharaUK 2012

by Andrew Nichols and Ruslan Kabalin

Mahara UK 2012 will be held in Lancaster this year on 2-3 July. We will start off with a technical workshop on the 2nd of July. The main conference offers many presentations and talks from different parts of the world, from "Mahara for Midwives" by Jacqui Hall and Gail Johnson through "Mahara’s Recent Situation in Japan, and Future" by Toshifumi Sawazaki and Yoichi Tanaka to "Open Badges and Mahara" by Mahara founder Richard Wyles. The presentations will be available on http://maharauk.org after the event. Our keynote speakers are Jon Bowen from St Peter's College Palmerston North, New Zealand, and Dominique-Alain Jan from Gymnase de Nyon, Switzerland.

AAEEBL 2012 Annual Conference

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Boston welcomes delegates from around the world to the AAEEBL Annual ePortfolio Conference from July 16-19, 2012. A number of Mahara users will share their experiences and insights at the conference in presentations. You will most likely see most Mahara users during the panel discussion "Meet the Mahara User Group" on Tuesday, July 17, 2012, at 9:40 a.m. If you attend the conference and want to chat to other Mahara users, please stop by and say "Hello".

MUG meeting at Purchase College

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The next Mahara User Group meeting will follow the AAEEBL conference and be a face-to-face one hosted by Keith Landa at Purchase College, NY, on July 23, 2012. Mahara users from the New York area will gather to share their experience in upgrading their Mahara instances and integrating Mahara with Moodle. We will also be talking about some of the new features for Mahara 1.6 that have already been developed. The afternoon will be open to everyone to share their Mahara stories and discuss topics that are on their minds. If you want to participate, please fill in the registration form.

Mahara developments

Trialing a 6-monthly release cycle

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

A new version of Mahara has been released every 9-11 months since 2008. We are going to trial a 6-monthly release cycle with a timed release. That means that Mahara 1.6 will be released in October 2012, six months after the release of Mahara 1.5. You can find an outline of the proposed schedule for the upcoming releases on the wiki as well as an overview in the accompanying forum discussion. The release cycle was discussed in the last developer meeting and in general agreed on. We also discussed for how long releases will be supported under this release schedule.

Europass plugin for Mahara

by Gregor Anželj

The Europass was started by the European Union to increase mobility of learners and workers by making people's skills and qualifications more clearly understood throughout Europe. Europass consists of five different documents. Users can create two of them on their own: Europass Curriculum Vitae (CV) and Europass Language Passport (LP). The other three are issued by the National Qualifications Authority of each member country.

The Europass plugin for Mahara has existed for quite some time now, but in September 2011 the Europass web services were upgraded to a newer version. This meant that the plugin needed an upgrade as well. This was a major upgrade, and new features were added.

About this time I've also added the Europass plugin for Mahara to Joinup, which was created by the European Commission. The aim of this collaborative platform is to find, choose, re-use, develop, and implement open source software and semantic interoperability assets, which are used by public services (schools, governments, public administrations, etc.)

Meanwhile the plugin was already used by teachers as well as students in Slovenia. They have an option to create and maintain their ePortfolios at e-listovnik which is powered by Mahara.

Soon after I've added the Europass plugin for Mahara to the Joinup platform, Gijs Hillenius, open source news editor at Joinup, wrote an article on how teachers and students in Slovenia use the Europass plugin for Mahara.

Cloud plugin for Mahara

by Gregor Anželj

What is this? What about the repository plugin?

Let's start at the beginning. As I was using Mahara, I was more and more impressed by it. And being a teacher, I've also noticed a few things that were missing, for me at least. So I wrote some plugins to add missing functionality. They are all available on the Mahara plugins page on the wiki.

I think the idea about users uploading their files to an ePortfolio is great, but the problem is that these may be large files and users quickly use their available quota. On the other hand, a lot of users already have access to repository cloud services like Box.net, Dropbox, Google Docs (Google Drive), Windows Live SkyDrive, etc. So the initial idea was to create a plugin that would allow users to control their privacy ang give consent to the application, and this application can (on the user's behalf) access the user's files stored in the cloud service. The idea for the repository plugin was born.

Now that I've created the plugin and blocks for different cloud service providers, it turned out that the basic "platform" could also be used for different cloud services (not just repository ones). Users could also use calendar and contacts cloud services (e.g. Google Calendar, Hotmail Calendars and Contacts, etc.), reference management cloud services (e.g. Zotero, Mendeley, EverNote, etc.) and others.

So I've decided to rename the plugin into Cloud plugin. Currently I'm researching possibilities of adding non-repository cloud services, and I'm working to add support for Zotero.

This plugin will be presented at this year's MaharaUK 12. I assume the initial version will be completed and publically available in September 2012. Until then I'm planning to add support for Google Docs/Drive and Windows Live SkyDrive. Support for other cloud services will be added later. The cloud plugin already supports Box.net, Dropbox and SugarSync cloud services.

Jonas Lagneryd - 11 July 2012, 6:20 AM

Gregor, great with the Cloud plugin, and the Zotero support!!

Jonas Lagneryd - 14 July 2012, 5:59 AM

Would it be relevant to include support for Alfresco?

anonymous profile picture
Gregor Anželj - 15 July 2012, 4:30 PM

I don't know Alfresco that well. As far as I can tell it *shuld* be possible to include Alfresco Cloud... If you have more information/insight on this please let me know...

anonymous profile picture
Eric Machan Howd - 28 November 2012, 4:53 AM

Hey Gregor ... is this Cloud plugin available yet? I do not see it listed on the Wiki Plugin site anymore.

anonymous profile picture
Gregor Anželj - 28 November 2012, 10:13 AM

Sorry to say, but not yet. I'm trying to get rid of dependancy libraries. Hopefully (this is my big wish) it will be available before Christmas - a nice "gift" in my oppinion.

Mahara Newsletter April 2012 (Vol. 2 / Issue 1)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 01 April 2012, 12:01 AM

This first issue in the year 2012 is packed with user examples, upcoming events and information on Mahara 1.5.

The next newsletter will be published on July 1, 2012, and you can send articles to newsletter@mahara.org.

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Congratulations

Prof. Dr. Josef Wiemeyer at the Institute of Sport Science received the E-Teaching Award of the TU Darmstadt in 2011 for his combination of proven and new e-learning elements in one of his seminars. Our congratulations to that. Here's what he has to say about the implementation.

Mahara in Sport Science

by Prof. Dr. Josef Wiemeyer

In Sport Science education Mahara was used in seminars and lectures. The main focus was to reflect the progress in specific competencies based on own expectations. Working with Mahara was systematically integrated in the seminars and lectures. Based on a tutorial where students learned to use Mahara they first documented their expectations concerning improvement of their competencies. After certain milestones (e.g., first sketch of the handout, final handout, presentation) and at the end of the teaching period the students had to reflect on their competence progress. Thus, up to four reflection points were created.

The work of the students was supported by structured feedback of tutors, teachers and peers using specific feedback questionnaires. Finally, an individual concluding portfolio colloquium between students, tutor and teacher was performed in order to discuss the work, the competencies and the reflections of the students. The purpose of the concluding portfolio colloquium was not only to discuss the above-mentioned issues but also give advice to the students. Evaluations show that the students liked the portfolio but were aware of a moderate increase in workload.

Mahara in use

A personal Mahara adventure

by Betty Hurley-Dasgupta

I’m Betty Hurley-Dasgupta, Interim Associate Dean at the Center for Distance Learning at SUNY Empire State College. Empire State College is moving to Moodle / Mahara over the coming year, so a number of us have been experimenting. I figured the best way to experiment is with actual students, so when two of my advisees expressed an interest in an independent study on Data Mining and Analytics, I decided to set up a group for that study. The group contains forums for reflection and submissions based on the texts for the study. In addition, I created a page of resources. Students are just getting started. I hope they find it to be as exciting a space as I do!

Taking the Lenten Challenge with Mahara

by Our Lady's High School Preston UK

Staff and students at Our Lady’s High School Preston UK are  avid users of Moodle and Mahara. The school has recently also set up a twitter account on @olchspreston. As Principal Teacher of Religious Education in a Catholic School, Richard Charnock was keen to make the most of new media to help the students engage with Lent. “We decided to tweet a small challenge for each of the days of Lent,” said Richard, “and as I was scheduling the tweets to appear at 8 am each day until Easter Sunday, it occurred to me that if we scheduled pages to appear at the same time in Mahara, we could set up an online video calendar.”

So the school now has a Lenten Challenge calendar – with each day linking to a page showing the daily tweet and a video of a member of the school community, adult or child, reading a reflection and offering a prayer.

read more...

MyPortfolio used for students collaborating in literary circles

by Fiona Burns

This year in addition to using MyPortfolio for collaborative learning with year 13s I have used MyPortfolio with my Year 10A students studying narrative poetry in Literary Circles. Each member of the group had a role to play in the group discussions that took place in class and what was really fascinating was to see how easily these roles translated into a viable and worthwhile activity connected to MyPortfolio.

The discussion leader constructed discussion points for the lesson. The responsible recorder wrote down key points from the discussion. The vocabulary enricher located new and interesting vocabulary to contribute. The literary analyser pinpointed key literary elements for discussion. A further responsibility for each student was to upload the pertinent material associated with the roles each day to a group page for the Literary Circle on MyPortfolio. This meant that the work done by the group had a ‘home’ in the cloud which the members could refer back to for their final presentations at the end of the unit. The student survey showed a high level of engagement with the unit and with the use of MyPortfolio.

ePortfolio Mahara: The space is the construction of an identity

by David Pereira

In the context of the master's degree in Education and Media Communication (ECM), Higher Education School of Santarém, research work has been conducted using Mahara. This academic year, the Polytechnical Institute of Santarém wanted to improve its eLearning offering called e-Raízes Redes. After the integration of the ePortfolio system Mahara into the e-Raízes Moodle comes the need to explore this in the context of e-learning.

A training module was created for students enrolled in Visual Arts and Multimedia APM (2-year degree's programme) and ECM (1-year master's programme) who could build their electronic portfolios. Nuno Lopes was in charge of the integration of Mahara into e-raizes redes as part of his research work "(Re)building a platform of eLearning: Paths of innovation". The training module I developed had a duration of two weeks and ran from 12-26 March 2012. At the end of the training, students were asked to complete a questionnaire that is currently being evaluated.

Solent’s Mahara case study for JISC

by Samantha Moss

JISC have recently released an ePortfolio Implementation Toolkit and a number of video case studies aimed at any institution considering adopting an ePortfolio system. The project was led by the University of Nottingham and looks at a variety of ePortfolio platforms and how they have been implemented. There were 18 case studies in total including 12 Universities, 5 Further Education providers and 1 Professional Body from the UK, New Zealand and Australia.

Southampton Solent University offered their usage of Mahara for Personal Development Planning as a case study for this project. Our video case study can be seen below.

Birmingham City University is also featured in a case study.

Upcoming events

MUG April 2012 meeting

by Samantha Egan

Are you interested in viewing student ePortfolios from across the globe? Be sure to attend the Mahara User Group (MUG)’s Student Showcase! The event will take place virtually on April 24 at 2:00pm Eastern Standard Time. MUG members will share samples of student ePortfolios from their institution, which is sure to present a range of various disciplines and cultures. To participate, look for the meeting link in the MUG Facebook Group, or email eportfolio@pace.edu.

First Francophone Maharamoot in Nîmes

by Dominique-Alain Jan

This spring, during the 8th Moodlem oot FR, the first Francophone Maharamoot will take place. From 20-22 June 2012, Nîmes will host presentations, workshops and forums on ePortfolio, eLearning, Moodle and Mahara.

For more information, the call for paper or to register, please go on http://moodlemoot2012.unimes.fr/.

Come on and Mahoodle with us in Nîmes.

--------------

Première réunion des utilisateurs francophones de Mahara (MaharaMoot)

Ce printemps, en marge du 8ème Moodlemoot francophone, se déroulera le premier Maharamoot FR. Du 20 au 22 juin, Nîmes accueillera des conférences, des présentation, des ateliers et des forums de discussion sur le thème du portfolio numérique, de l'enseignement à distance, de Moodle et de Mahara.

Pour plus d'information, déposer une contribution, ou s'enregistrer, rendez-vous sur le site : http://moodlemoot2012.unimes.fr/.

Venez tous nous rejoindre à Nîmes.

MaharaUK 2012

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

MaharaUK has established itself as annual conference going into its 4th year. This year it will take place at Lancaster University and is sponsored by the Mahara Partners LUNS, TDM and Catalyst IT Europe. MaharaUK will take place on 2-3 July 2012 with the 2nd of July being available for a half-day technical workshop if there is interest. You can submit proposals for presentations until 19 May 2012.

Please find more information on the conference site.

MahoodleMoot Purchase College 2012

by Keith Landa

Purchase College SUNY will host a MahoodleMoot on 23 July 2012 highlighting how Moodle and Mahara can be used to support student learning. Come join us online or at our campus in Westchester county, NY, to take part in the ongoing conversations about these two great tools. For more information or to suggest session topics, please contact TLTC@purchase.edu.

Past events

M² = magic couple: Moodle+Mahara

by Sigi Jakob-Kühn

For the 2nd year Mahara has become a constant element of the German MoodleMoot and for the 2nd year I held a day pre-workshop to introduce into the pedagogial and technical use of Mahara. Even though ePortfolio philosophy is still playing a very minor role in education and learning in Germany, there are quite a few projects that have turned into practical use and have produced very good and very different results in using Mahara.

Being one of the first “Maharians” in Germany it is quite normal to know most players and what they are currently doing with Mahara. So it was quite logic for me not to give a presentation on Mahara during the MoodleMoot but to have the Mahara users come together in an exchange session and to make this session open for curious moodlers.

read more...

ePortfolios technologies showcase

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Ellen-Marie Murphy and I presented Mahara in the "Exploring ePortfolio technologies" webinar series organized by ePortfolio California, EPAC and AAEEBL in December 2011. Dirk Meyer from iCampus21 and Ian Knox from FolioSpaces showcased in February 2012 how their software-as-a-service installations of Mahara work. The recordings of both events and further resources are available in the webinar archive.

Mahara developments

Security releases for Mahara 1.3 and Mahara 1.4

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

On 5 March 2012 we issued Mahara 1.3.8 and Mahara 1.4.2 with minor security updates. These are especially important for multi-tennanted Mahara sites with multiple institutions using SAML authentication. Please read the release announcement for further information.

Mahara 1.5 Release Candidate ready for tesing

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The first release candidate of Mahara 1.5 was issued on 19 March 2012. We invite everybody to test this version and the subsequent release candidate 2 which will follow shortly. This gives you the opportunity to test the features before the stable release is made and report bugs to us that would require fixing.

We would appreciate your help in testing the release candidate very much to minimize serious bug fixes in the stable release. You can find more information about the release candidate in the announcement for it. If you do not have the chance to install your own Mahara instance but would still like to test some of the new features, you can do so at http://master.dev.mahara.org.

Thank you very much Heinz

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Heinz Krettek announced during the German MoodleMoot in March 2012 that he will not have time anymore to maintain the German language pack of Mahara. We would like to thank him for his long dedication to keep this translation up-to-date.

A number of prolific users of Mahara in the German community offered to step in and help with the translation. We are looking forward to working with them. All translations of Mahara are accessible via Launchpad and can be translated directly there of by downloading the respective language pack. Currently, 30 different language packs are available in various states of completeness. Some language packs have as dedicated translators as Heinz, others are just starting out.

If you want to get involved, request to join the language team that oversees the translation or contact the maintainer to ask how you can help. If you speak a language that is not yet on the list of translations, please get in touch with us so we can set up the language pack for you.

Individual learning plan (ILP) plugin

by Ross Dash

Many National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) involve the formulation of ILPs to record and keep track of a student's progress throughout the length of the course. These courses use a point system, the course has a set point value that needs to be acheived by the stundents. This is acheived by the selection of units, that have different point values depending on the level of the NVQ.

This Mahara plugin allows simple ILPs to be maintained. It includes fields for setting the title, description, status, point value, target completion date and the actual date of completion of individual units. It also does calculations on the points, displaying the remaining points needed, the aquired points and the total value of the units added. Each ILP is set up to include the title of the course, its description and it's set point value.

You can find more information as well as installation instructions in the plugin announcement.

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Mahara Newsletter December 2011 (Vol. 1 / Issue 4)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 01 December 2011, 4:30 AM

Welcome to another issue of the Mahara Newsletter. It is already our 4th this year.

If you wish to have your story published in the newsletter, please send your text to newsletter@mahara.org.

The next newsletter will be published on April 1, 2012, going back to our regular 3-monthly publication cycle.

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

We wish you happy holidays and a good start into 2012.

Mahara in use

Many uses of Mahara

by Hillary Daniels

Mahara was first introduced to me by Aaron Metz (@metzy) when I was teaching English my first year at CDNIS. I was new to teaching in a 1:1 environment and loving it. I was taking every opportunity I could to encourage students to create digital content.

Finally the time came when they had enough work that I wanted them to start putting together their portfolio. I pulled out the manila folders, got old magazines, scissors and glue, and had them start decorating their very own folder. Then I realized that there was nothing to put in it. They had written stories and essays, all on Pages or Word. They had done a podcast on GarageBand, and they had created a public service announcement in iMovie. Suddenly it came to me: We needed a digital portfolio tool. I went straight to the LTT department (who, by the way are absolutely amazing at our school), and Aaron introduced me to Mahara.

That class of grade 7s was about as keen as they come, and together we explored the options that Mahara had to offer. I created an example page for them that explained what I wanted to see in their portfolio and after a lesson or two with Mr Metz they began creating. See an example of student work here ( I have put all examples of student work into one collection).

read more...

Blogging the news on Mahara

by Our Lady's High School Preston UK

We at Our Lady's High School Preston Lancashire UK are getting into blogs in a big way in Mahara now and the article attached talks about not just how teachers are using them in their lessons as "learning logs" but also how other staff are using blogs to contribute school news. We don't have a website but we use a combination of Moodle and Mahara as our website, so the ease with which staff can use Mahara journals/blogs makes it extremely practical.

read more...

ePortfolio goes Vienna University of Education - A two-year research project with Mahara

by Thomas Strasser and Bence Lukacs

Since the winter term 2010/11, the Vienna University of Education has been using Mahara as a development, presentation and reflection portfolio. Due to its pedagogical versatility and user-friendliness, Mahara has become a vital component for students in order to develop various skills relevant for their future profession as teachers proficiently.

In autumn 2011, Thomas Strasser initiated the official research project "The role of competency-based learning within the context of the ePortfolio software Mahara at practical student teacher courses at Vienna University of Education. Technical steeplechase or methodological perspective?"

The project team consists of various professors and students. An official collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences Vienna was initiated in order to exchange ideas and expertise concerning the use of Mahara on a bilateral level. The two-year research project has the following scientific focal points:

  • General reception of Mahara’s technical components among staff and students.
  • Didactical versatility of Mahara
  • Development of various competencies, e.g. self-organized learning, within the context of Mahara
  • Development of a dissemination strategy, i.e. presentation of scientific research results, production of manuals, etc., aimed at the secondary and tertiary education levels.

Further information can be found at www.eportfolio.or.at

Snapshots of learning

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

"Snapshots of learning" are a resource offered by the New Zealand Ministry of Education. They demonstrate how software is used in classrooms around the country. Three snapshots have already been submitted by teachers that illustrate how they use Mahara (known as MyPortfolio to schools) with students:

Upcoming events

December developer meeting

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The next Mahara developer meeting will take place on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 7:30 a.m. UTC (check here for your local time). Everybody is invited to attend and to suggest topics for the agenda. The meeting will be held - as usual - in the #mahara-dev IRC channel on Freenode. This will be our 13th meeting since we started the developer meetings in November 2010. The log files, agenda and minutes from the meetings are publicly available.

Exploring ePortfolio Technologies webinar

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Ellen Marie Murphy, author of the Mahara 1.4 Cookbook and Kristina Hoeppner will represent Mahara in the AAEBL / EPAC / ePortfolio California webinar series "Exploring ePortfolio Technologies". The webinar is free to attend, but the organizers ask for pre-registration. In 1 hour we will be giving a brief overview of Mahara and also show some examples of how it can be used esp. in the university context as that is the target group of the webinar series.

The webinar takes place on December 7, 2011, at 10 a.m. PST / 1 p.m. EST (check here for your local time).

January Mahara User Group Virtual Meeting

by Samantha Egan

Join The Mahara User Group (MUG) on January 18 from 2:00-3:00pm EST (check here for your local time) for an international virtual meeting! Potential topics on the agenda include student samples from institutions across the globe, and a discussion with Kristina D.C. Hoeppner, an e-learning specialist at Catalyst IT, the major developing company of Mahara.

Participating institutions already include Pace University, Albertus Magnus College, SUNY Purchase, Empire State College, Plymouth State College, University of Education (Germany), University of Saskatchewan, University of Anchorage, East Los Angeles College and Ottowa University. To receive more information and join the MUG conversation, join the MUG Facebook Group.

Past events and conferences

ePortfolios Australia Conference 2011

by Mark Drechsler

The 2011 ePortfolios Australia Conference was held at Curtin University in Perth in October, bringing together around 200 delegates with a special interest in ePortfolio technologies like Mahara. Mahara Partner NetSpot represented the Mahara community at this event as a sponsor and presenter, giving a demonstration of the updated 'page submission' integration with Moodle which allows Mahara pages (formerly views) to be quickly and easily submitted to Moodle for assessment. This presentation (given by Kim Edgar) attracted a large crowd of Moodle/Mahara users who were excited to see this feature re-introduced for Moodle 2, with some great feedback given about the value of this development.

There were several Mahara-specific presentations included in the conference program. Overall this represented a strong showing from the Mahara community at the conference, and hopefully this presence will be even bigger when the conference returns in 2012!

The presentations on Mahara are referenced on the 2011 presentations collection on the wiki.

International ePortfolio Workshop in Freiburg/Breisgau (Germany)

by Klaus Himpsl-Gutermann

Gerd Bräuer from the "Schreibzentrum" at the University of Education in Freiburg invited to the International ePortfolio Workshop on November 18th/19th, and many ePortfolio experts from different continents joined the conference about the potential of ePortfolio for instruction and learning. The workshop provided a good mixture of rather theoretical inputs and presentations of best practice examples, including several ePortfolio software solutions such as Mahara, Foliotek or Livetext.

The workshop was opened by Janet Strivens (University of Liverpool, UK) and Trent Batson (MIT Boston, USA) in double conference. As an expert for supporting the personal development planning (PDP) of students over many years Janet also works as Senior Associate Director for the Centre for Recording Achievement, a network organisation and a registered educational charity in the UK with the aim to promote good practice across sectors in recording achievement and PDP to support lifelong learners. Trent Batson, Executive Director of AAEEBL, talked about the aims of this association for the worldwide ePortfolio community. Both, Janet and Trent, emphasized the role of reflection within the portfolio work. During the poster session some Pecha Kucha were presented, short video messages from ePortfolio experts from all over the world. Kristina's Pecha Kucha was about the new features of Mahara 1.5.

 

by Heinz Krettek

The saturday started with a brilliant keynote from Klaus Himpsl-Gutermann (Danube University, Krems, Austria). He showed the audience results about his upcoming PhD thesis. His slides use English tems and definitions while he held his lecture in German. Following his example the following text is written in Deutsch.

Klaus hat erstmal die Ergebnisse seiner Forschungsarbeit in der Öfffentlichkeit präsentiert und insbesondere die Arbeit im Masterstudiengang eEducation der Donau Universität vorgesellt. Auch als "Praktiker" konnte ich neue Anregungen für die Arbeit mit E-Portfolio mitnehmen. Das 4-Phasenmodell der Nutzung fand ein reges Interesse.

Bei dem ebenfalls dargestellten 3M Modell (Moodle, Mahara, Mediawiki) erscheint mir die Arbeit auf verschiedenen Plattformen für ungeübte Nutzer/innen zumindest in der Eingangsphase problematisch; aber angehende Mediendidaktiker sollten damit schon klar kommen :-)

Bei meinem eigenem Workshop war die Geduldd auf ene schwere Probe gestellt. Die Arbeit mit der E-Portfolio Plattform war immer wieder durch wlan-Probleme belastet. die Teilnehmer/innen waren aber eifrig dabei und gerade aus dem schulischen Umfeld wurden viele neugierige Fragen gestellt.

Das von Geoff Leigh vorgestellte Foliotek-System begeisterte nicht nur die anwesenden Mahara-Nutzer/innen. Das intuitiv aufgebaute Tool zum Erstellen von Präsentation-Portfolios mit vielen Templates und Schaltern zum Editieren und Layoutieren ist komplex aber leicht erlernbar. Am Nachmittag stellten Barbara Nicolls und Shane Roadnight ein auf Google Sites basiertes System aus dem universitären pflegerischen Bereich vor.

Gred Bräuer nahm bei der abschließenedne Podiumsrunde eine Anregung der Teilnehmer/innen auf und so war der "Stuhlkreis" der runde Abschluß einer gelungenen Veranstaltung. Herzlichen Dank an Gerd und alle die Menschen die auch im Hintergrund unterstützt haben. Ich freue mich schon heute auf eine Wiederholung ;-)

Mahara developments

Upcoming Mahara 1.5 features

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Dominique-Alain Jan aka dajan, the maintainer of the French language pack of Mahara tagged all new features in our bug and feature tracker so that it is easier to keep track of them. He has identified 71 new features that have already been completed for Mahara 1.5. Head over to the list of the new features to get an idea of what is coming in 2012.

Mahara 1.4 user manual

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Mahara 1.4 was released in June this year, but we have not yet been able to consistently update the user manual. I started on documenting all features a couple of weeks ago. You can follow the growing manual on its new site. The manual is available as HTML web site and in the future also as PDF download. The latter is not updated automatically at the moment. The manual can also be downloaded as epub document.

The Mahara manual is hosted at Read the Docs, a site that is home to many software manuals. Francois Marier recommended writing the manual in reStructuredText using Sphinx to generate the documentation, and it's been a fantastic recommendation. The source files of the manual are available online. Francois is exploring the possibility to set up the manual for translators using the Launchpad translation service.

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Mahara Newsletter October 2011 (Vol. 1 / Issue 3)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 01 October 2011, 1:02 AM

Welcome to the third issue of the Mahara Newsletter. This issue is filled with fantastic contributions suggesting ideas of how to use Mahara and also of how to get involved in the project.

If you wish to have your story published in the newsletter, please send your text to newsletter@mahara.org.

The next Newsletter will be published on December 1, 2011.

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Mahara in use

Cooking with Mahara

Packt Publishing press release

Packt's recently published Mahara 1.4 Cookbook, aims to show readers how to use Mahara efficiently in ways they have never imagined. Written by Ellen Marie Murphy, the book will show many different ways in which one can use Mahara, and how to exploit the various components of Mahara including leveraging the social networking component to build collaborative communities.

Mahara 1.4 Cookbook offers learning and techniques through recipes. It contains step-by-step instructions for Mahara users of all kinds. It is designed in such a way that one can refer to recipes chapter by chapter, or read them in no particular order. The book covers topics like customizing a large number of views and applying them to projects, using Mahara and Moodle together to share resources and training materials. It also teaches how to embed components from outside Mahara including RSS Feeds, VoiceThreads, and can be used to construct a complete resume package, including cover letter, that can be easily and rapidly customized for multiple employers. It can also be used to create a College Application portfolio.

read more...

Cookbook reviews

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

We awaited the release of the Mahara 1.4 Cookbook by Ellen Marie eagerly. Therefore, it is no wonder that a number of book reviews have already appeared. Here are the ones that I am aware of:

Mahara mobile

by Mark Osborne

maharadroidqr.pngAlbany Senior High School in New Zealand is a big user of Mahara with all staff and students using e-portfolios to showcase their learning. Recently they have been combining QR codes and Maharadroid to make the process of uploading files easier. Around the school are posters with square barcodes (called QR codes) that, when scanned, take the user to the Maharadroid page on Android Market, so installing the app is as simple as scanning a barcode.

Once the app is installed, any photo that a student has on their phone can be uploaded directly to their e-portfolio. What it really unlocks is the ability for students to use their phones to gather evidence of learning wherever they are in the world. It doesn't matter if it's on the basketball court or in a local forest, capturing your learning is a piece of cake.

A video of Maharadroid in action.

Ways to use MyPortfolio.school.nz

by Pete Potter

Ways to use MyPortfolio is a document that has been created by the MyPortfolio community. MyPortfolio is the NZ Mahara instance that is used by over 800 NZ schools and has over 40,000 users (September 2011). It has been shared as a public page in MyPortfolio and also through Twitter. Anyone can add to the document, and reading through the posts there are some varied ways that it is being used. Have a look through and add to it if you are a user...

Ways to use MyPortfolio

MyPortfolio.ac.nz at WelTec

by Cheryl Brown

We started using Mahara/MyPortfolio Tertiary at WelTec, a mid-sized polytechnic in Wellington, New Zealand, with a focus on practical skills for employment, this year. Andy Kirk, a former member of the original Mahara team, guided us through setting it up with the Hair, Beauty and Make Up tutors and students.

The Hair and Beauty tutors wanted to find a way for students to submit evidence for their final assessments and to enter make up competitions. Andy created several 'how to' help sheets and 'how to' videos. After the first semester, tutors and judges indicated that the variety of views made assessing and judging difficult so Andy created templates, enabling a more consistent look. The template works by having the images set out and a blog attached that the students are able to edit.

I adjusted the Make Up Competition template by using the text box instead of the blog, as the students found it a bit messy. However, the advantages of the blog are that it can easily be reused and it is easy to add images, which were needed as support evidence for the assessments. Students now use both – blogs and text boxes. The blogs hold the assessments and the text boxes with the images are used for the competition views.

Template for Hair and Beauty

It takes about one hour to show students how to use the templates. Common issues have been uploading and resizing images and deleting parts of the blog (by mistake). But once students know how to use the features, it is easy for them to share their work with tutors and each other. For many students it adds to their confidence in using online technology and provides them with examples of their work they can share with future employers.

Mahara at conferences and other events

Mahara User Group Meeting

by Samantha Egan

On August 9, Pace University successfully hosted the first Mahara User Group Meeting (MUG), a collaborative discussion among local universities who use the Mahara ePortfolio open source platform. Attendees included representatives from Albertus Magnus College, SUNY Purchase and Plymouth State University, as well as faculty, staff and students from various areas within Pace. 

Each institution shared their successes, challenges and various uses of Mahara. Ellen Marie Murphy from Plymouth State College (now at SUNY Empire State College) also gave the group a preview of new features in Mahara 1.4, including new built-in reporting features for the system administrator, a name change from “blogs” to “journals”, and an option for uploading a series of images with the “image gallery” content box.

A virtual meeting will be held virtually via Blackboard Collaborate on October 13 from 1:00-2:00pm ET. The group plans to continue conversations between meetings using the Mahara User Group Facebook page.


For more information, please contact:

Samantha Egan
Academic Technology Assistant
Pace University
914-773-3664
segan@pace.edu

ePortfolios Australia

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The ePortfolio world looks to Perth on October 17-18, 2011, for the ePortfolios Australia Conference 2011. Watch out for presentations on Mahara. Mark Drechsler will demonstrate the Mahara assignment submission plugin for Moodle 2.x.

Collecting Mahara presentations

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Did you give a presentation about your use of Mahara or development work you have done for it? We would like to know about it. Please add it to the growing list of Mahara presentations. Your mahara.org login gives you edit access on the Mahara wiki.

Did you miss a presentation on Mahara this year? You may find it on the wiki page for the 2011 presentations.

Mahara developments

Update of the Mahara assignment submission plugin for Moodle

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

The Mahara assignment submission plugin for Moodle is a very popular plugin that is in wide use. It allows instructors to give feedback on a Mahara page from within Moodle. However, it did not work with Moodle 2.x until recently when Catalyst IT, lead Mahara development partner, updated this plugin to Moodle 2 code. Mahara partners NetSpot and Pukunui Technology joined in sponsoring this plugin.

The plugin is available to the community.

Using Launchpad translation system to manage Mahara language packs

by Iñaki Arenaza

If you have collaborated in translating a Mahara language pack in the past, you know it had a rather steep learning curve. Translations were managed directly using git, which meant at least the langpack maintainer had to learn it. It also meant you had to know a bit of PHP, not to break the langpack with syntax errors. Oh, and you had to take care of character encoding and line ending issues.

Now, thanks to the hard work of core developers, langpacks can be translated using the easy and convenient Launchpad translation system. You simply translate strings using web forms. The system even offers translation suggestions for terms used in other projects. And pushing all those changes into the git trees is automatic.

You just need to create a Launchpad account and request to join a translation group, or create a new one if it does not exist. So, what are you waiting for? :-)

Mahara tips and tricks

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Managing video files

Pascale Hyboud-Peron, an avid user of MyPortfolio.school.nz and a facilitator for MyPortfolio workshops for language teachers in New Zealand created a guide for managing video files. She not only shows how videos can be embedded into pages, but also how to convert them into a file format that works with Mahara's built-in video player FlowPlayer.

Using the bug and wishlist tracker

For Mahara, bugs are discussed in the forums and when they have been identified as bugs, they are reported in the bug and wishlist tracker. We use Launchpad for that.

Launchpad has a lot of powerful features that can be used to communicate to the developers which bugs or wishlist items are considered important by the community. Otherwise, these decisions are made by the developers. Thus, if you wish to let us know what you think is important, please consider doing the following:

  • Give bugs / wishlist items more "heat": Log in and click on "This bug affects me"
  • Add a comment to a bug / wishlist item to clarify the issue at hand or to provide more detailed.

When you report a bug, it is very useful that you explain the issue as precisely as possible. The better the bug report the easier it is for the developers to follow up. If the bug has already been discussed in a Mahara forum, it is good to link back to the forum so that the discussion can be found more easily and taken into consideration during the resolution of the problem.

Here is a work flow diagram with some more information on what makes a good bug report.

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Mahara Newsletter July 2011 (Vol. 1 / Issue 2)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 30 June 2011, 7:37 PM

After the release is before the release

The last three months have been an exciting time for Mahara as work on version 1.4 continued at an accellerated level culminating in the release of this latest Mahara version, Mahara UK11 took place and College Ystrad Mynach won an award in which the use of Mahara featured greatly. If you want to share your Mahara story, please send your text to newsletter@mahara.org.

The next Newsletter will be published on October 1, 2011.

The Mahara Newsletter is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA license 3.0.

Mahara in use

The College Ystrad Mynach and Mahara – Award Winners 2011

by Kevin Lawrence

Mahara played a central part in helping The College Ystrad Mynach in South Wales, UK, win the Outstanding Use of Technology Award presented by CollegauCymru (Colleges Wales) at the Hilton Hotel in Cardiff on 26th May 2011. Sponsored by LearnDirect, the award was presented in recognition of the innovative use of Mahara, known as Meddwl to the College's staff and learners. Criteria for the award included "Evidence that technological advances are having a measurable impact on the quality of the provision" and "Benefits to learners can be clearly identified".

Learners studying for the Welsh Baccalaureate, Essential Skills Wales and other qualifications including Teacher Training were able to present their work in an innovative manner enabling them to fully engage with blogs and views to present their completed work to their tutors. Learners liked that they were able to track their progress and see the feedback, both text and audio, that tutors left for them and that they were able to share their work with parents and peers. External moderators are able to view samples of a learner's work through the distribution of secret URLs. Kevin Lawrence, The College’s ILT Development Manager, was delighted that the work put in by his team, tutors and learners had been recognised by ColegauCymru, the national organisation representing all FE Colleges and institutions in Wales.

The award application can be viewed.

Feel good Mahara: Building confidence and pride in under 14s

by Our Learning at Our Lady's High School Preston, UK

This was the title of the presentation given at #maharauk11 on behalf of Mark Greenwood of Our Lady’s Catholic High School Preston. Our Lady’s - the school in which the Our Learning training centre is based - is an 11-16 secondary school. Mahara comes along with Moodle as part of the CLEO (Cumbria and Lancashire online) broadband package and was until recently maintained byLUNS, Lancashire University Network service, sponsors of the Mahara conference. "When we first got Mahara we wondered what to do with it," said Mark; "as it seemed very much geared to FE and HE. Our students weren’t ready for CVs and our lower school (11-14 year olds) didn’t need exam coursework portfolios. We decided to leave curriculum out of the equation altogether, on the grounds that we didn’t want the students to see Mahara as "work" like Moodle, and instead focused on the pastoral side, celebrating success."

read more...

Year 13s talk about MyPortfolio

by Fiona Burns

MyPortfolio[1] has been an effective platform for students to interact and advance their learning outside the classroom through sharing ideas and different points of view on the texts we have been studying. It is also an effective learning tool for students to build a portfolio of essays with the feedback and feed forward from the class and the teacher providing a pathway for improvement. I have also found it very useful for creating group pages of resources for the students to work with.

[1] MyPortfolio.school.nz is a Mahara installation supported by the New Zealand Ministry of Education that school students and teachers can use free of charge.

Mahara at conferences

Mahara UK11

by Meredith Henson

Users and practitioners of Mahara gathered at Southampton's Solent University on 21-22 June 2011 to share knowledge, experience and stories. Catalyst IT Europe and Southampton's Solent University were proud to be organisers and sponsors of the 3rd Annual Mahara ePortfolio Conference. Mahara UK11 attracted representatives from schools, higher education, further education and work-based learning sectors as well as core developers and contributors from across the UK and the world. The first for a Mahara UK conference, a half-day hands-on workshop and training session for developers preceded a full day of presentations with topics ranging from case studies to large-scale implementations of Mahara and the possibilities to extend the core features.

Keynote speaker Mark Osborne's Open to Learning presentation on Albany Senior High School's integration of Mahara, Moodle, Koha and Status.net was well received by delegates and sparked ongoing discussion about the role of eportfolio systems in the life-long education journey.

read more...

Mahara developer workshop at Mahara UK11

by Ruslan Kabalin

The first part of Mahara UK11 was a technical workshop that did not only attract developers but also a large number of non-developers from the educational sector. The workshop was led by David Drummond from Catalyst IT Europe. I presented on the Mahara code revision workflow using Gerrit and tried to attract more developers to the project showing how easily they can submit their changes for review. Andrew Nicols, my colleague at LUNS, presented on Git basics and showed some of the power of distributed version control.

There was also an interesting talk from Tom Bell - he demonstrated a great theme he developed, inspired by the recent Ubuntu release, emphasising how easy a new theme can be created based on an existing one. Andrew gave a quick overview on some of the features of the Launchpad system. Apart from the presentations, it was interesting to listen to other participants' concerns and proposed features. After the workshop we had a great night out in the pub where Mahara discussions continued in a less formal way. The technical workshop day was organised very well, thanks to Catalyst and our hosts at Solent University.

Mahara at SCO 2011 in Brno

by Sieglinde Jakob-Kühn

It all started in Berlin last December at the OnlineEduca where I did a presentation on Moodle and Mahara and couldn't be stopped ;-) ... taking away speaking time from the next presenters (who fortunately didn't mind). Following my presentation Petr Sudicky talked to me about the SCO conference in Brno and invited me for a workshop. It turned out that most participants were not completely newbies to Mahara but some of them had even been working with their students on ePortfolios. They were all curious to see my combination of Moodle and Mahara in school life.

read more...

Mahara developments

Mahara 1.4 release

by Francois Marier

Mahara 1.4 was released on Monday, 13 June 2011 (NZST). Nine months of development work went into this release. While this release has focussed on bug fixing and increasing the stability and security of this open source social ePortfolio platform, it also includes the following new features:

  • new Google Apps and image gallery blocks
  • star ratings with comments
  • easier page for sharing content with others
  • ability to add comments on file artefacts
  • support for SSL-based SMTP and LDAP servers
  • administration interace for mail server configuration
  • remote avatar (Gravatar) support for HTTPS sites

Mahara 1.4 can be downloaded at https://launchpad.net/mahara/1.4/1.4.0. The full release notes and instructions for the installation can be accessed here.

Improving open source software

by Dirk Meyer

During the pilot phase of the Mahara software in our organization, we quickly realized the potential a full implementation could bring to our learners. Somewhat familiar with the concept of open source, we knew that open code can be developed to suit one's needs. In the past, code modification would be outsourced but kept within the organization.

The changes we wanted were simple: A school wanted a larger text box area to help facilitate the creation and maintenance of text documents. The same school later realized that submitted pages to a group were somewhat difficult to manage so they asked for a sorting mechanism. Another school wanted the ability to copy collections in one copy pass.

We realized that the requested features would probably not be to difficult to implement. In fact, all were on the Mahara feature request list in one form or another. That indicated to us that others were looking for similar features. Two principles guided us: The company must have prior experience with the software and any modifications should go into core. Because of the sheer workload with other projects we are unable to spend large amounts of time communicating what we needed to a party unfamiliar with Mahara.

read more...

Mind maps, molecular visualisation and continuing professional development

by Geoff Rowland

At the University Centre Yeovil, we have recently developed a number of Mahara plugins which may be of interest.  

FreeMind Flash plugin: Adds an interactive mind map from an uploaded FreeMind .mm file and rendered in Flash.  

Chem 2D NIH plugin : Uses the remarkable NIH NCI/CADD Chemical Identifier Resolver service to return an image of the structural formula from any appropriate chemical search term. Chemical formulae can be easily embedded in a Mahara page.  

Jmol NIH plugin: Also uses the Chemical Identifier Resolver service but returns a structural coordinate file which is rendered by the Jmol applet as an embedded interactive 3D display.  

Jmol plugin: Is similar to the Jmol NIH plugin but allows the embedded interactive 3D display of structure files uploaded to Mahara.  

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) plugin: Allows a simple log of CPD activity to be maintained including a rolling total of time spent. These may be downloaded from the Mahara Wiki. Further details are available from the recent Mahara UK11 conference.

Mahara code reviewer pool is growing

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Anybody can customize Mahara and develop new features. However, for features or bug fixes to make it into Mahara core, the code must go through a last Mahara developer meeting in June 2011, 3 new developers who submitted bug fixes and worked on core Mahara features over the last few months were admitted to the group of code reviewers.

Mahara Tips and Tricks

Check out the new features on the demo site

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Do you want to see what's new in Mahara 1.4 and try the features out yourself, but you can't get the new version installed on your school's or organization's server? Head over to demo.mahara.org.

There you can experiment with all features that are available in Mahara 1.4 core. The site now also features the language switcher to show you how that works and what it does. The demo site will be reset once every day. If you want to keep your portfolio that you created there, you must export it as Leap2A file to be able to import it back into another Mahara installation.

Want to share your own tips and tricks?

Do you have a cool way of doing something on Mahara? Please send your tips and tricks to newsletter@mahara.org.

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Mahara Newsletter April 2011 (Vol. 1 / Issue 1)

Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 31 March 2011, 8:56 PM

Kia ora!

Welcome to the 1st issue of the Mahara Newsletter. This newsletter is published quarterly starting in April 2011 (NZ time). Everybody is invited to submit stories about Mahara:

  • what cool things you do with it at your school, university, organization
  • what developments you have completed or are about to release
  • what events are planned or have taken place where Mahara played a role
  • tips and tricks and anything else that you would like to share with other Mahara users

Please send your stories to newsletter@mahara.org. Preferably these are stories of about 100 words that can link to a longer blog post or article online. You can also submit stories in languages other than English if you provide a summary in English. The editorial team - well, really it's just Kristina - will be in touch with you.

The newsletter is published under Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0.

Now without further ado: The 1st issue of the Mahara Newsletter :-)

Mahara in use

First steps in MyPortfolio

by Florence Lyons

This year the languages department of Matamata College has decided to start using Myportfolio for an eportfolio. So far we love our experience with Myportfolio.

Why did we chose Myportfolio?

We decided to go with Myportfolio because it is supported by the Ministry, it is going to be free until at least the year 2013, it is packed with great features and it has secondary school's needs in mind. Above all what was important for me and my students was the fact that it is very user friendly.

Why chosing an eportfolio?

We think it is very important for students to reflect on their work while the work is getting created, especially for second language learners who need to see and be reminded how much they have actually learned so far instead of concentrating on the things they do not know. Thus they will gain confidence in their own capabilities.

read more...

Public Portfolio Views in Further Education of Teachers

by Klaus Himpsl-Gutermann

The e-portfolio software Mahara was implemented by the Danube University Krems, university for further education in Austria, in summer 2007 as part of the virtual learning environment for their students, together with Moodle as LMS and MediaWiki as a platform for collaboration. Since then teachers have created e-portfolios for reflection and assessment during their part time studies. Apart from that they have the possibility to join mahara.at with their classes.

There are some e-portfolios open to the public, most of them in German. You can have a look at "E-Portfolio Perspektiven" (e-portfolio perspectives). Under the heading "Präsentationsportfolio eEducation" (presentation portfolio eEducation) you can find links to students' portfolios. Another portfolio gives an overview of podcasting and provides podcasts in German, English and Spanish. The admin team of mahara.at also publishes Mahara News in German.

Mahara at Plymouth State University

by Ellen Marie Murphy

A little over a year ago, Plymouth State University began offering Mahara ePortfolios to all of its members. The initial interest was in providing a way for students to demonstrate how they met certification and accreditation standards. However, Mahara’s use rapidly spread to much broader purposes. The following are a sample: students are using Mahara for creating projects, resumes, and demonstrating language acquisition. Faculty members are using Mahara for their professional websites, and for building their Promotion & Tenure portfolios. Doctoral cohorts are using the Groups feature to facilitate communication and collaboration. You can see a few of these on our website. We will be adding more featured portfolios in the future, and we expect the number of portfolios to continue to grow.

Teach the teachers with Mahara

by Heinz Krettek

"Could you teach an online seminar about using e-portfolios?" - that question was the start for Heinz Krettek to introduce Bavarian teachers to Mahara by also using it during the seminar. The course has been taught for the fourth time since 2009. Find out more about Heinz's course.

"Könntest du für uns ein Onlineseminar zur Portfolioarbeit übernehmen?", diese Anfrage konnte nicht abgelehnt werden und so begann ein Experiment. Das eLearning Kompetenzzentrum der Akademie für Lehrerfortbildung und Personalführung Dillingen bietet für die Lehrer/innen in Bayern meist 4-wöchige Onlineseminare an, die von einem Moderator betreut werden. Die Semiarleitung war überrascht, dass ich plante das Seminar "E-Portfolios - Methode und digitales Lernwerkzeug für kompetenzorientiertes Lernen" nicht nur über, sondern auch mit Mahara als Plattform umzusetzen. Seit 2009 läuft das Seminar nun schon das vierte Mal und hier soll über die Erfahrungen berichtet werden.

read more...

Mahara developments

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Mahara 1.4 release

The new version of Mahara is just around the corner. The developers have been pregnant with it since September 2010 and after approximately 9 months, the latest child will be delivered. The release team at Catalyst IT hopes to deliver the new version at the end of April / beginning of May to allow users in the Northern Hemisphere to test it and prepare everything for the new school / academic year. The new version will see some major changes and additions:

  • revised main navigation bar to group alike items more logically
  • language change: blog -> journal, view -> page
  • creation of a "Shared Pages" page to show all pages (aka views) that have been shared with a user
  • built-in support for the Android app MaharaDroid
  • ...

Mahara security updates

Mahara 1.2.8 and 1.3.5 have been released shortly after the inital security releases 1.2.7 and 1.3.4 due to a security release of HTML Purifier that comes bundles with Mahara.

Please upgrade to the latest version of Mahara to ensure that you protect your installation from malicious attacks to which security fixes exist.

Mahara plugins

Gregor Anželj is "the" Mahara plugin developer. He has a bunch of plugins published already, e.g. for integration with GoogleApps, Live, the Europass plugin. Recently, he released the Facebook Like button and support for Embed.ly. Furthermore, Gregor works on skins for Mahara to allow every user to design their own background for their portfolio pages.

LUNS Ltd. created the Janrain Engage plugin that "provides a single sign on to Mahara using identity from the popular websites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo! and many others."

If you have developed plugins, please post a short notice in the Developer Forum and put a brief description as well as link to the code on the plugins wiki page.

Mahara events

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

MoodleMoot.de

The season for MoodleMoots is starting and they now often also have presentations on Mahara as Mahara and Moodle go well with each other in the form of Mahoodle. Check your country's or region's MoodleMoot dates to be on time for a presentation submission.

The German MoodleMoot takes place in Elmshorn from April 14-15, 2011. Sieglinde Jakob-Kühn organizes the Mahara track for April 14, 2011. Yes! An entire track dedicated to Mahara.

Developer IRC meetings

In November 2010 the monthly developer meetings were initiated. Usually in the middle of the month, Mahara developers get together for an IRC chat meeting to discuss issues synchronously. You can find the dates of the developer meetings as well as the agenda, meeting minutes and the entire log on the wiki.

Every Mahara user is invited to participate in the meetings even when you are not writing code, but want to discuss an issue that is dear to your heart or just lurk and listen in. Please be aware that the discussions can get highly technical at some points as the developers take the meetings as opportunity to discuss technical issues in a larger group.

If you want to propose a discussion point, please put it on the agenda for the next meeting including any background information that you want to share.

Currently, the meetings are scheduled alternately early morning for Europe / late evening for New Zealand and vice versa as most developers live in these time zones. If you live in a different time zone and cannot participate, please propose alternative times that could work for you as well as Europe and NZ. That is not an easy task, but we can definitely try to come up with a solution.

The developer meetings take place on freenode in the #mahara-dev channel.

Mahara tips and tricks

by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Recipes galore

Ellen Marie Murphy is the author of the new book on Mahara. It is a cookbook. The publication date is set for the end of July right on time for the new academic year in the Northern Hemisphere for teachers to get some hot ideas for using Mahara creatively. Don't miss this publication from Packt.

Mahara bookmarks

Are you looking for high schools / universities / non-profits etc. who are using Mahara? Do you want to see portfolios created in Mahara? Then check out the Diigo group "Everything Mahara". You may find what you are looking for.

Does your institution use Mahara? Do you know of Mahara portfolios that are publicly viewable? Please consider bookmarking them for the Diigo group "Everything Mahara" to grow the pool of Mahara resources.

Mahara presentations

Have you given a presentation that had Mahara as topic? Please add it to the list of presentations on the wiki so that others can view them and learn about your project.

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PascaleHP - 05 April 2011, 2:07 AM

Excellent new stuff Kristina! I like the fact this newsletter showcases so many different uses in so many country, and that fact that you chose to include a feature about Learning Languages! Smile

Thank you and long live the Mahara newsletter

Kristina Hoeppner - 05 April 2011, 3:39 AM

Thank you very much, Pascale. Froggieflo saw the CFS (Call for Stories) on Twitter and responded immediately. Smile I'm looking forward to more interesting things to include from MyPortfolio.

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Emilie Lenel - 02 July 2014, 8:16 PM

Hi Kristina and all

Thanks a lot for your newsletter

I was very interested by reading the article Mahara in use "Viticulture students at Marie Durand College enthusiastic about Mahara'.  Unfortunatelly, all links "Read more" are forbidden access :-(

Thanks

Emilie

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