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Mahara newsletter July 2022 (Volume 12, Issue 2)

Posted on 01 July 2022, 23:29
Last updated Friday, 01 July 2022, 23:29

Kia ora. It is the middle of 2022 already, and we have some celebrations to share as well as upcoming portfolio events that will be held online.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara. The next newsletter will be published on 1 July 2022. You can send articles to [email protected].

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

Congratulations

Lisa Donaldson: Teaching Support Award at Dublin City University

Mark Glynn (Dublin City University, Ireland) and Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Lisa Donaldson and DCU President Prof Daire Keogh hold the award that Lisa received and smile for the cameraAt Dublin City University (DCU), the Teaching Support Award, which recognises those who make an outstanding contribution to the support of teaching without being ‘frontline’ teaching staff, was awarded to Lisa Donaldson of the Teaching Enhancement Unit (TEU) in May 2022.

Staff have praised Lisa, giving reasons why Lisa was a well-deserving recipient of this year's award:

"Lisa has been involved in the roll out of Eportfolios to many thousands of students and to large amounts of staff. Her patience and good humour is legendary and she dismisses worries about silly questions with 'the only silly question is an unasked question.'"

"She is the absolute definition of teaching excellence. Having made the Senior Fellowship journey with her, she has guided me in the creation of an Eportfolio, all with patience, professionalism and best pedagogical practice."

"I cannot praise Lisa enough for her enthusiasm in promoting the use of e-portfolios in DCU, and the invaluable training and supports she provided when I introduced Loop Reflect to my class last year. Lisa also promotes DCU externally through her collaborative (and democratic) 'unconference', her e-book on e-portfolios, and other fora. Her positivity,  knowledge of her subject, and unstinting support for classroom innovation, is motivating."

Lisa was instrumental in the implementation of Loop Reflect, DCU's Mahara instance, in 2016 and has since then supported students and staff. Together with her colleagues at the TEU, Lisa started the student 'etern' (electronic intern) programme, empowering students to be ePortfolio mentors for other students and staff. Loop Reflect and the eterns are not integral parts of DCU's ePortfolio strategy that does not depend on a single person, but is supported by students, staff, the TEU, and the wider university administration.

Lisa is also a well-respected member of the wider ePortfolio community. She was a founding member of the community of practice EPortfolio Ireland and is a current Board Member of the Association of Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning (AAEEBL) amongst others. Many of us in the ePortfolio community have benefitted from conversations with Lisa, and are familiar with her writing as well as edited eBooks that gather practice from around the community.

Photo by Kyran O'Brien depicts Lisa Donaldson and DCU President Prof Daire Keogh; used with permission

 

Dominique-Alain Jan: Contributor in two new French portfolio publications discussing Mahara

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Recently, two books discussing ePortfolio practices were published in French. Our very own Dominique-Alain Jan, French translator, Mahara Hui France organiser, and French community facilitator, contributed to both of them:

Mahara.org: New look

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Screenshot of the new Mahara.org homepageOn 1 January 2017 we went live with our then new logo that by now is familiar to everyone. Our wonderful graphic and brand designer Evonne Cheung also created a new theme for our community website. Since this was a little while ago now, she got creative again and came up with a new theme for that site and also established new social media templates. This new design is an evolution of our brand for Mahara and also brings in a little local flavour from Aotearoa New Zealand. This theme demonstrates the possibilities you have design wise especially on the homepage. Mahara can be branded to reflect your organisation's identity and thus make it more of your own.

Upcoming events

Moodlemoot Mahara Hui France (6-8 July 2022)

Dominique-Alain Jan (Switzerland) and Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

It's become a tradition for the French Mahara community to combine Mahara Hui with Moodlemoot. This tradition continues at this year's gathering in Caen in Normandy. A number of Mahara sessions are planned:

6 July 2022

  • Keynote by Dominique-Alain Jan
  • Laure Benhamou and Damien Le Roux will present how they blended a course (including ePortfolio) in chemistry teaching
  • Calara Aoun-Jan and Sébastien Payre will deliver a session on how to move from a 'classic' form of teaching to competence-based teaching with ePortoflio

7 July 2022

  • Alexi Kaufman will talk about the 'commons' and the access to school, speaking about open source, open education, and open ePortfolios
  • Magali Marzo will present how moving back and forth from Mahara to Moodle helps learners to make their knowledge 'grow'

8 July 2022

  • Workshop on how to engage with ePortfolios with Mahara
  • Dominique-Alain Jan will deliver a presentation on how he has developed a course with my students as co-writers on Moodle with open sourced tools such as Compendium Learning Design, Learning Designer, Moodle, and Mahara
90th Mahara developer meeting (12 July 2022)

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

The 90th Mahara developer meeting will take place on 12 July 2022, 22:00 UTC. While the focus is on the technical side of Mahara, everybody is welcome to attend this meeting and share in the discussion.

The recording and minutes of previous meetings are accessible on our wiki.

AAEEBL Annual Meeting (changed dates: 21-22 July 2022)

Join the 2022 Annual Meeting for the Association for Authentic Experiential Evidence-Based Learning (AAEEBL) on July 21-22 with activities ranging from 8:00am to 6:00pm U.S. Pacific Time. Now in its third year as a virtual convening, this conference has been intentionally designed to accommodate participation across time zones. Meeting highlights include:

  • The 2022 Batson Lecture with Kathleen Blake Yancey, Professor Emerita, Florida State University speaking on 'Tracing Learning in ePortfolios: Where We Have Been; Where We Might Go'
  • Engagement with the AAEEBL Digital Ethics Task Force
  • Interactive workshops: 'Building YOUR Professional ePortfolio', 'Designing Equitable ePortfolio Assignments', 'ePortfolio Scoring Guides', and 'How to Get Started with Digital Ethics'
  • Panel of students speaking about their experiences with ePortfolios
  • Ignite Talks
  • AAEEBL Shark Tank (with a twist!)

The organisers welcome those who are new to ePortfolios to experienced practitioners and researchers who are interested in exploring the pedagogical and technical considerations surrounding the design and implementation of ePortfolios for assessment and evaluation, equity and social justice. 

Please visit the AAEEBL Annual Meeting page for more information. If you have questions, please get in touch with the AAEEBL Annual Meeting organisers

Digital ethics: Sustainable ePortfolio Practice (8 and 25 August 2022)

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

The AAEEBL Task Force on Digital Ethics in ePortfolios is offering a series of free online workshops this year, exploring topics of digital ethics and how they relate to the practice and research of ePortfolios. The next workshop will be on 'Sustainable ePortfolio Practice – Considering Creation, Support, and Advocacy'. There will be two dates for that to cater to different time zones:

There will be three more workshops later in the year:

  • October 2022: Accessibility (will be offered twice)
  • December 2022: Consent, privacy, re-use permissions

Subscribe to the AAEEBL events feed to learn when they are open for registration.

Eportfolio Forum 2022 (26-27 October 2022)

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

The 11th Eportfolio Forum (Eportforum) will be held at the University of Melbourne, Australia [Kulin Nation] and online on 26 and 27 October 2022. This event is for new and experienced educators, learning designers, and researchers interested in ePortfolios. There is a wide variety of sessions planned:

  • 20x20 presentation, aka Pecha Kucha
  • Digital interactive poster
  • Intensive workshop
  • In-depth workshop
  • Professional conversation
  • Peer reviewed paper

Join the event in person in Melbourne or online to learn and share your experience.

Mahara and security

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

In the last newsletter I already wrote about security. It deserves reiterating: Subscribe to the Mahara security forum to keep up to date with our security announcements for all supported versions of Mahara. Each version is supported with security and other high importance bug fixes for 18 months from its release. If your Mahara version is not supported any more, you can purchase our extended security support. That will provide you with security patches for your version of Mahara when vulnerabilities also affect that version.

If you learn about security vulnerabilities that may affect Mahara, third-party libraries used in Mahara, or the project infrastructure, please get in touch so we can investigate these. You can find more information about security in Mahara and FAQ on our security page.

Mahara newsletter April 2022 (Volume 12, Issue 1)

Posted on 01 April 2022, 21:26
Last updated Sunday, 01 May 2022, 10:20

Kia ora. Spring has sprung in the Northern hemisphere, and those of us living in the Southern hemisphere are heading into fall. Wherever you are in the world, we have Mahara news for you to celebrate achievements, view what community members are doing, and what is happening with the next release. Read on.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara. The next newsletter will be published on 1 July 2022. You can send articles to [email protected].

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

Celebrations

Evonne Cheung: Winner of a New Zealand Open Source Award

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Ngā Tohu Pūmanawa Herekore o Aotearoa - New Zealand Open Source Awards (NZOSA) are a bi-annual celebration of contributions in the world of open source in Aotearoa New Zealand. Due to the pandemic, our awards schedule was shifted, and then the 2021 awards ceremony postponed. Winners could finally be announced at the beginning of February this year. The Mahara project team is stoked that our very own visual designer Evonne Cheung was the winner in the category 'Kaikoha Pūmanawa Herekore - Open Source Contributor'.

Evonne is the longest serving member of the Mahara project team, having started contributing in November 2006. Since then she has worked tirelessly on the Mahara brand, creating and updating the logo over time, creating special logos and lots of other imagery for community groups and events around the world, creating themes, and implementing these on the front-end while also creating custom themes for our Catalyst clients.

Read the full announcement and check out some of Evonne's work that you may not yet have seen.

Doris Tam: Latest approved Mahara developer

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

At the beginning of March this year, Doris Tam became the latest approved developer for the Mahara project. She's been working on Mahara in the Catalyst team since December 2018, first as part-time student, and since 2021 as full-time developer. But her first commits to Mahara trace back to 2015 when she participated in the Catalyst Open Source Academy as a high school student. The Academy is an annual two-week summer holiday programme for high school students in Aotearoa New Zealand where they learn about the various roles in the software development life cycle, step through them creating an app of their own, and in the second week of the programme contribute to an open source project. The Mahara project team has participated several years and students developed new features, contributed bug fixes, and wrote automation tests.

Check out the news article about Doris's appointment to also learn more about the important role of an approved developer.

DCU Annual Eportfolio Student Showcase & Awards

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

Dublin City University stages an annual Eportfolio Student Showcase & Awards to celebrate and share the excellent ePortfolios produced by students for assessment, work placement, and/or extra curricular activities. A panel of judges, comprising of members of the Teaching Enhancement Unit and students reviewed applications based on the following criteria:

  • Effective showcase of knowledge / skills / attributes through relevant argument and artefacts
  • Level of reflection
  • Design and originality

This year, ten students were shortlisted, and a taste of their creativity can be seen in this video.

Congratulations to the worthy winners of 2022!

First place: Mark Brady: Critical Thinking Collaboration Enterprise
Second place: Katarzyna Joanna Mruszczyk: DCU Mentorship Programme 2021/22
Third place: Caithlin Louise Stamp: EC322 - Multimodality in Early Childhood Education
Highly Commended: Magdalena Kiryakova: My Year Abroad in Germany
Highly Commended: Shauna Kenny: ED 3053 - Local Studies

 

Portfolios in use

Mahara at the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

Harith Wickramasekara (University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka)

The University of Kelaniya introduced Mahara a little over a year ago, and the Faculty of Medicine is the first to use it. Medical students have the Professional Development and Family Medicine Strand, where they maintain a portfolio over four years. With the introduction of Mahara, portfolios changed drastically from paper-based to ePortfolios. It has been integrated into our Moodle platform so students can submit their portfolios directly to Moodle. Students have positive feedback on Mahara since it is user-friendly, time-saving, and digital. The staff development course is another place where the Mahara ePortfolio is used to create and maintain portfolios for probationary lecturers following the course.

Getting our digital portfolios up and running has paid off: other departments in the Faculty of Medicine, such as Medicine, Community Medicine, and Psychiatry are interested in introducing Mahara to their disciplines to maintain their portfolios.

Mahara shortlisted in HundrED's assessment solutions spotlight

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Mahara has been shortlisted by HundrED as education innovation in its assessment solution spotlight. HundrED is a not-for-profit organisation that gathers information on a shares innovations in formal education, kindergarten through high school. Mahara was created to give learners the chance to collect important evidence of their learning journey in a space that they control and where they decide who can access their evidence and reflections.

Don Christie, Managing Director at Catalyst, states it well on the Mahara HundrED page: "Mahara allows students to manage how the world sees them, and their own destiny, moving away from institutional ownership and having more control at a personal level."

Find out more about all shortlisted projects on the HundrED website.

Upcoming events

Panel: Equity and inclusion in flexible learning (5 April 2022)

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Over the last two years, the education sector around the world has had to deal with a lot of changes due to the pandemic. FLANZ, the Flexible Learning Association of New Zealand, explored the topic of equity and inclusion in a panel conversation focusing on the experience in Aotearoa New Zealand with Albany Senior High School Principal Claire Amos, Director of the Centre for Academic Development at Victoria University of Wellington Stephen Marshall, and Head of the eLearning Group at The University of Auckland Steve Leichtweis last November in a webinar, moderated by Kwong Nui Kim from AUT.

The four will be back for part 2 on 5 April 2022, 2-3pm NZST as there were many topics still left untouched. Come along to this free webinar to learn about challenges and successes in Aotearoa in secondary and tertiary education. While this panel does not have an ePortfolio focus, I wanted to share it with you as ePortfolios are part of flexible learning practices.

Register to access the webinar.

Digital ethics: ePortfolio evaluation practices (11 April 2022)

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Promo image for the AAEEBL Digital Ethics Task Force workshop on evaluation in ePortfoliosThe AAEEBL Task Force on Digital Ethics in ePortfolios is offering a series of free online workshops this year, exploring topics of digital ethics and how they relate to the practice and research of ePortfolios. The first workshop was held in February, and you are welcome to watch the recording and access the resources.

The next workshop will be held on 11 April 2022, 2-4pm EDT. Join the conversation with Morgan Gresham (University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, U.S.A.) and Theresa Conefrey (Santa Clara University, U.S.A.) and explore the topic of evaluation in ePortfolios through a digital ethics lens. By the end of the workshop, you will be able to…

  • Discuss definitions of evaluation and assessment, and identify how ePortfolios are used as evaluation tools at their institutions.
  • Develop and list strategies to enhance ePortfolio evaluation practices.
  • Identify practices that encourage ethical assignment and evaluation constructions that speak to identity, representation, and fairness from course inception.
  • Use the evaluation scenarios in the Principles as a jumping-off point to identify the types of artifacts that can be housed in ePortfolios to demonstrate specific course-related SLOs.
  • You may contribute additional scenarios to discuss ePortfolio design constraints that shape evaluation and assessment strategies.

Every other month, a new workshop will be offered:

  • 9 June 2022: Support and practice
  • 8 August 2022: Visibility of labor
  • 25 October 2022: Accessibility
  • December 2022: Consent, privacy, re-use permissions

Subscribe to the AAEEBL events feed to learn when they are open for registration. I will also add them to the Mahara news forum. We are partnering with Eportfolio Ireland and ePortfolios Australia to over workshops for these communities in time zones that work better for them. These workshops will also be announced on the AAEEBL events page, on social media, and the Mahara news forum.

89th Mahara developer meeting (12 April 2022)

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

The 89th Mahara developer meeting will take place on 12 April 2022, 11pm UTC. We will talk about the upcoming release of Mahara 22.04 and any other topics that the developers want to discuss. While the focus is on the technical side of Mahara, everybody is welcome to attend this meeting and share in the discussion.

The recording and minutes of previous meetings are accessible on our wiki.

Peralta Online Equity Conference (27-29 April 2022)

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

The second annual Peralta Online Equity Conference will take place from 27 to 29 April 2022. From the organisers: "We welcome equity-minded students, educators, staff and leaders who represent colleges, universities, non-profit organizations and vendors from all around the world. Our goals are 1) to increase the visibility of all efforts to increase learning equity in higher education and 2) to bring together institutions that want to share and adopt equitable practices for all online students globally."

Register for free for this conference and learn how you can participate.

AAEEBL Annual Meeting (14-15 and 21-22 July 2022)

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

This year's AAEEBL Annual Meeting has the theme of 'A changed world for ePortfolios: Opportunities for design justice, effective implementation, and assessment'. The conference will focus particular emphasis on three areas:

  1. the ways that ePortfolio designs can and should be justice-oriented and how those designs can improve and enhance higher education;
  2. how applying an effective implementation framework using a stakeholders approach for ePortfolios and other high-impact practices can sustain, heal, and empower all members of our community;  and
  3. the ways that authentic assessment strategies can center marginalized voices for a variety of purposes (ie. Institutional assessment and accreditation efforts, effective course and program design).

Check the AAEEBL website for information on registration, the conference programme, and how you can participate in the conversations.

Eportfolio Forum Australia (26-27 October 2022)

Allison Miller (ePortfolios Australia, Australia)

2022 Eportfolio Forum (Eportforum) is a two day dual delivery event of presentations, workshops, facilitated conversations and networking on 26-27 October 2022 at University of Melbourne [Kulin nation], Australia, and online. This will be the Eleventh Eportforum.

A variety of interactive sessions will enable new and experienced educators, learning designers, educational researchers and more to learn more about the place of portfolio practice through intersecting life and learning experiences.

The call for proposals will close on 30 May 2022.

Mahara in development

Similarity checking of portfolios in Moodle

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

Dublin City University (DCU) is delighted to share news of a significant development to strengthen the capabilities of Mahara in supporting academic integrity. Ouriginal, formally known as Urkund, is a text matching software used to detect and help prevent plagiarism. It is used by hundreds of educational institutions and corporates across the globe, and it was recently acquired by Turnitin.

At DCU as part of our virtual learning environment (VLE) we use a suite of tools including Moodle, Mahara, Unicam, and Ouriginal. Whilst more often than not, ePortfolio based assessment focuses on reflective writing, with the rise in popularity of ePortfolio to support diverse forms of assessment, there was recently a request from staff to be able to submit ePortfolio content through Ouriginal. While all assessments submitted to Moodle are automatically passed to our text matching software, this functionality did not stretch to ePortfolio based assessments. To address this, in partnership with Catalyst UK and Catalyst IT, DCU funded development to enhance the existing Mahoodle (integration between Mahara and Moodle) functionality.

Following this development, any Mahara ePortfolio submission from students made via Moodle are automatically sent for text matching to Ouriginal, and the similarity report is passed back to Moodle. The changes to Mahara will be available in Mahara 22.04. Changes to the Ouriginal Moodle plugin will be announced when they are publicly available. This functionality works in conjunction with the Mahara assignment submission plugin (web services edition) and utilises LTI for authentication purposes.

Mahara 22.04

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

It is April, and that means that it is release month for the new version of Mahara. The Mahara team at Catalyst is putting the finishing touches onto the latest version. We will make the preview version available soon. Make sure to keep an eye out for it in the Mahara news forum. The preview version announcement will also include times for free webinars that you can join to learn about the new features.

Mahara 22.04.0 is set to be released in the last week of April. There will be a number of new functionalities available. The developers are also working on getting Mahara ready to move to PHP 8. You can review our plan for moving to PHP 8. If you'd like to support the efforts in getting the code base ready for this new version of PHP - or for any other projects you'd like to tackle - please get in touch so we can share the areas that still need work.

With the release of Mahara 22.04, Mahara 20.10 will not be supported with security updates any more. One final minor point update will be made for this version along with the release of Mahara 22.04. If you wish to stay longer on that version or selected older versions of Mahara yet wish to receive future security updates that are relevant, you can purchase extended security support.

Mahara and security

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Over the last few months, a number of high profile security vulnerabilities were made public that required swift action by teams around the world to keep applications as well as infrastructure secure. When we learn about vulnerabilities, we assess them for Mahara. That includes the code base for Mahara as well as third-party applications. If we need to make changes to Mahara, minor point updates are released as quickly as possible to mitigate any fallout. The Mahara team at Catalyst is well supported by the Catalyst security team and the Catalyst systems operations team to identify risks and discuss mitigation strategies.

Discuss with your local security and infrastructure team or your hosting provider what their strategies are to keep your Mahara site and the infrastructure on which it is housed secure and up to date. If you don't know what version of Mahara you have, log into your Mahara site as site administrator and got to 'Administration menu → Admin home → Overview'. You will see the current version of Mahara in the 'Site information' box. Please note that this information is only accurate if you have cron running.

Subscribe to the Mahara security forum to be kept up to date with our security announcements. If you learn about security vulnerabilities that may affect Mahara, third-party libraries used in Mahara, or the project infrastructure, please get in touch so we can investigate these. You can find more information about security in Mahara and FAQ on our security page.

Mahara newsletter January 2022 (Volume 11, Issue 4)

Posted on 01 January 2022, 11:08
Last updated Saturday, 01 January 2022, 11:17

Kia ora. The Mahara team at Catalyst wishes you a happy new year and all the best for 2022. We look forward to hearing from you and how your use of Mahara is going in 2022. In this first edition of the newsletter in this new year, you'll learn about a number of exciting uses of portfolios. Check them out for all the details.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara. The next newsletter will be published on 1 April 2022, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Portfolios in use

Exemplars of best practice with eportfolio based assessment

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Exemplars of DCU Best Practice with eportfolio based assessment

Dublin City University (DCU) has been using Mahara since 2017 and has become a champion on portfolio based learning since. Lisa Donaldson is instrumental in the implementation of portfolios at DCU and well supported by staff and eterns in the Teaching Enhancement Unit. The latest publication that Lisa edited is the 'Exemplars of best practice with eportfolio based assessment at Dublin City University'. It is an ebook in which ten faculty members share their experience of using Mahara in a wide range of study programmes.

This ebook is a testament to the flexibility and versatility of portfolios and how they can fit into the curriculum.

 
Special TELJI issue on ePortfolios

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

The open access Irish Journal of Technology Enhance Learning published a special issue on ePortfolios. The first five articles were published in July 2021 and the remaining ten now in December 2021. This special issue showcases original research from Irish scholars and international colleagues bringing to the forefront the many ways of using portfolios and also how varied research on portfolios can be.

Congratulations go to the editorial team Orna Farrell, Karen Buckley, Lisa Donaldson, and Tom Farrelly, all from the Eportfolio Ireland community. They not only published this issue giving us valuable research findings, but also making it an explicit goal for this issue to support women scholars who were disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. They've reached their goal: 23 of the 28 authors are women.

The articles do not all talk about the use of Mahara, but many authors do work with the platform at their respective institutions. The articles give insight into portfolio practices, how problems are overcome, which questions to tackle next, and how to improve portfolio work.

Digital ethics principles in ePortfolios

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

For the last 2.5 years, AAEEBL (Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning) has had a task force to investigate digital ethics in ePortfolios. In the first two years, the task force mainly worked on establishing a number of principles to guide the ethical use of ePortfolios. These 'Digital ethics principles in ePortfolios' are published online and provide strategies, examples, and resources to support educators, learners, and also platform providers in their work.

Now in the third year, the task force is expanding its scope of work to review the existing principles, conduct more research, and provide resources for the ePortfolio community to work with these principles. On the 'Task Force Scholarship' page, you can find publications as well as references to presentations by the task force members to learn more about the work.

First Mahara advent calendar

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

For the first time there was a Mahara project advent calendar. If you missed one or more days, you can now view all of them. The calendar shares portfolios stories from our Mahara community and the wider ePortfolio world.

Part of the Mahara advent calendar 2021

Portfolios in upcoming events

Annual Forum on Open Learning and ePortfolios on 24 January 2022

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

The Annual Forum on Open Learning and ePortfolios is part of the Annual Meeting of AAC&U. It is an opportunity for ePortfolio researchers and practitioners to share their work and get together virtually again this year. Registration is still open for this one-day event and the entire Annual Meeting.

Mahara Hui FR and Moodle Moot FR

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

The French community is planning a gathering mid-year, and we'll share details as soon as they become available.

Mahara in development

Mahara assignment submission plugin for Moodle

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

The Mahara assignment submission plugin, web services edition, for Moodle is now available in the Moodle plugins directory. It allows organisations who do not want to rely on MNet to use LTI for authentication purposes. One of the main improvements over the plugin that relies on MNet is the possibility to archive portfolios once they have been graded.

The MNet version of the plugin is still available, but not actively developed by the Catalyst team.

Technology change proposals

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Changes in our technology stack for Mahara are inevitable with changing requirements, work done in third-party libraries, and additional security demands. There are two proposals up for discussion that we'd like to invite you to review and provide us with feedback:

We'd like to know what you think as especially the management of third-party libraries would impact those most who use Git.

Mahara newsletter October 2021 (Volume 11, Issue 3)

Posted on 01 October 2021, 20:31
Last updated Monday, 04 October 2021, 10:21

Kia ora. This is the 15th Mahara anniversary edition of the newsletter in which we have a lot to celebrate and also look forward to more portfolio goodness in terms of events and new features. Take a seat or put on your headphones for some of the stories in this newsletter have audio and video resources.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara. The next newsletter will be published on 1 October 2021, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Congratulations

15 years of Mahara

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Fifteen years ago, a group of portfolio enthusiasts and developers started a project in Aotearoa New Zealand that would spread quickly across the world and find like-minded people who then decided to contribute to the further development of the software. This project was Mahara. Penny Leach, one of the first developers of the software besides Nigel McNie and Martyn Smith, made first first code commit on 27 September 2006, which has become the date to celebrate the anniversary of the Mahara project.

Listen to a number of community members, including Penny, tell a little bit of their Mahara journey.

I'd also like to share a written account from Paul Raper from Switzerland:

I have been using Mahara for a good number of years, since around 2008, and would like to thank you all at Catalyst for the production of such an amazing product.

Mahara has come a long way over the years and as such has become an invaluable tool for educational institutions irrespective as to whether they are used at lower levels or higher levels or as a Continued Professional Development diary, as indeed I do.

I also use Mahara in my teaching, and whilst in truth students used to find it frustrating, during the Covid pandemic, they have come to realize the huge potential of the way it works as a collaborative tool. Actually, I too have realized that Mahara can be used in some quite novel ways, and so am planning to apply the ideas I have developed in a quite unique approach to teaching. This would see taking the actual learning content off of Moodle, and using it on Mahara so that students can keep it for the future.

The way Mahara works with tools such as Moodle making it also something very specific to a learning path, or it can be freely developed by the individual also only adds to the high level of flexibility with which Mahara can be adopted.

Last week I was present at a number of meetings with Kristina, and also learnt of some of the plans for the future. The features she mentioned only reaffirm the belief that the work you are doing at Catalyst is extremely valuable and carries with it the intention to consolidate on the learning theme. Many congratulations on your anniversary, and I look forward to the future with Mahara with great anticipation.

At Catalyst, we kicked off the celebrations with a news article. Over the next three weeks, we'll publish a weekly blog post about a different aspect of Mahara. If you are celebrating as well, let us know on social media or via email.

New Zealand Open Source Awards

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

The New Zealand Open Source Awards are held every two years and celebrate people, projects, companies, and other organisations who create or make use of open source. This year, we are stoked to announce that Evonne Cheung, Graphic Designer at Catalyst, and the Mahara project itself are finalists in the category 'Open Source Contributor' and 'Open Source Software Project', respectively. We will have to wait patiently until early February 2022 for the final results as the gala dinner needed to be postponed due to our current alert levels in Aotearoa. Keep your fingers crossed.

Mahara in use

Students tell their stories to a global audience

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

In July 2021, the AAEEBL Annual Meeting took place virtually. Being on the organising committee, I had the chance to interview students in the lead-up to the event to find out about their portfolio journeys. This was a wonderful challenge as I had never done audio interviews before and learned about editing audio, adding music, and transcribing the interviews. Six students shared their stories that ranged from Bachelor to PhD candidate as well as from being new to portfolios to supporting other students creating and managing their portfolios.

Three students, Breanna Edebohls (Monash University), Emaan Sami Khan and Ruby Cooney, both from Dublin City University (DCU), are using Mahara to create their digital presence. Samantha Hallows (DCU) sent a video answering a number of interview questions, and that video is also shared. I enjoyed speaking with all of them because all their stories were very unique in how and why they are creating their portfolios and what tips they have to share with other students and educators. Have a listen or read the transcripts. Do you know what your students find most rewarding about their portfolio experience?

Portfolios in upcoming events

Eportfolio Forum, 20-21 October 2021

Allison Miller (ePortfolios Australia, Australia)

2021 Eportfolio Forum (Eportforum) is a two day online event with presentations, workshops, facilitated conversations, and networking on 20-21 October 2021, supported by UNSW Sydney, A variety of interactive sessions will enable new and experienced ePortfolio supporters to gain some 'hands-on' experience with using ePortfolios, including hearing from highly respected keynote presenters.

Registrations for the 10th Eportfolio Forum are now open., and you can view the programme.

Writing workshop for a community crowd-sourced ePortfolio ebook, 21 October 2021

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

This is an announcement made in the AAEEBL community and cross-posted here for a wider spread.

A lot of great ideas around ePortfolio practices were shared at the recent AAEEBL Annual Meeting, and we heard over and over how much you wish we had an open educational resource repository of ePortfolio resources and activities. So, we are planning a writing session to create just that! This will be an opportunity for you to contribute one of your own resources or develop one (a learning activity, assessment activity, or faculty development activity). Our plan is to make this a publication opportunity for you as we develop an ebook from your ePortfolio activities!

Come join us on October 21, 2021, at 7am PST / 10am EST / 3pm, BST, to connect with ePortfolio practitioners for this supported writing workshop. The aims of the workshop are to share with you the design of the ebook and to support the writing process. We anticipate that by the end of the session, you will have an initial draft of your resource. Clearly, there is only so much that can be achieved in such a short timeframe. We hope that the writing session will provide you with the impetus to bring your ideas and experiences to the table and start writing. That said, if we are to keep to the publication timeline, we envisage a short period of time between the writing workshop and your final submission. The ebook submissions will then be edited and published as an open access resource by AAEEBL in December 2021. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase your ePortfolio practice whilst serving as inspiration and resource for others.

Register for this free writing workshop today to secure your place.

HIPs in the States and Assessment Institute, 24-27 October 2021

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

The Assessment Institute is an annual conference held by IUPUI in the U.S.A. For the second year in a row, it will take place online and is free or charge. As part of the event, HIPs in the States will be held concurrently. That conference track features presentations and conversations around High Impact Practices, of which ePortfolios are one. Join the wider community in portfolio-related conversations. Registration closes on 11 October 2021. Don't miss out on attending live (time zones permitting).

Mahara in development

Mahara 21.10

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

The Mahara team at Catalyst made the preview version of Mahara 21.10 available for review. This release has a number of small new features and a big one, the start of the implementation of LTI Advantage, which allows for the automatic group creation and enrolment of students and educators from a course in the LMS into a portfolio group. The team is working on the upgrade of Elasticsearch, which is earmarked for Mahara 22.04, along with a range of additional infrastructure upgrades necessary to support PHP 8.

We invite you to install this preview version on your own server infrastructure and upgrade a development or testing site and give it a good test and give us feedback until mid-October so we can consider making changes before the final release of Mahara 21.10 at the end of the month of October 2021. At that time, all currently supported versions of Mahara will receive minor point updates. It will be the last update for Mahara 20.04, which will then not be supported any more with security updates. If you wish to continue using it, you can purchase extended security support.

Mahara Mobile

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Mahara Mobile is currently receiving updates and is already available as beta version in the Android Play Store. You can register as beta tester to get access to that new version that now supports Android 11 and resolves an audio recording issue on phones that do not have an external SD card, but only internal storage.

You can become a beta tester by going to the app in the Play Store and scrolling to the section 'Developer contact'. There you can join the beta test group. We look forward to your feedback.

Changes to the Git branches

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

In August, we proposed changes to our Git branch management to make it easier for organisations that use automation tools to manage their deployments. We started implementing these changes with the 21.10 preview branch and will roll out these changes at the end of October 2021 along with our next software updates and the release of Mahara 21.10. If you have any questions or comments, please add them to the forum topic or come along to our developer meeting on 12 October 2021.

Saving Moodle content directly to Mahara

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

If you use the MNet (Moodle Networking) connection to connect Mahara to Moodle, you may use the 'Export to portfolio' functionality. It is one of the lesser used features of Mahoodle, especially compared the the Mahara assignment submission plugin for Moodle that allows educators to assess portfolios from within a Moodle assignment, having their usual assessment options available.

Moodle HQ is thinking about removing the 'Export to portfolio' functionality from Moodle core and making it available as a plugin. We do not yet have a time line on that change. So if you do rely on that functionality, please watch out for any announcement from Moodle HQ. The plan is to make it available as a plugin to allow those who do use it to continue working it. This change does not affect the Mahara assignment submission plugin, MNet edition, that many use. The Mahara team at Catalyst has put more effort into the web services edition of that plugin that uses LTI as authentication method. That plugin is not yet submitted to the Moodle plugin database, but it is already available for use.

Mahara newsletter July 2021 (Volume 11, Issue 2)

Posted on 01 July 2021, 22:16
Last updated Friday, 02 July 2021, 8:42

Kia ora. It is almost mid-year, and we've seen a lot of activity in the portfolio world, and there is much more to come. While some of you are looking forward to the summer holidays (or may already be enjoying them), others are in the middle of the academic year working on their portfolios and experimenting with new ideas. In this edition of the Mahara newsletter, we have celebrations, look back at a couple of events, get ready for another two, and take a look at Mahara 21.04, which we released at the end of April 2021.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara. The next newsletter will be published on 1 October 2021, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Congratulations

Celebrating student excellence

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

On 8 April 2021, the Teaching Enhancement Unit (TEU) at DCU hosted the annual Eportfolio Student Showcase and Awards event.

These annual awards have been an integral event of the ePortfolio initiative in DCU since its launch in 2016. The Showcase is a celebration of student excellence in ePortfolio practice and all students from programmes using the Reflect learning portfolio (based on the Mahara platform) were invited to enter. Students could submit an ePortfolio developed for a module during 2020/2021 or develop one specifically for the Showcase.

The judging panel was impressed this year with the excellent standard of entries from all Faculties and the increased use of rich media to showcase students’ knowledge and skills. The digital skills of students were evident in the use of embedded images and videos, clean navigation, and the degree of creativity and personalisation.

The overall winner was Chelsea Thompson, who developed her ePortfolio as part of the requirements for the Bachelor of Education programme in DCU's Institute of Education. The judges agreed that this was an all-round excellent ePortfolio which surpassed the competition criteria.

Laura Furlong, also from the Institute of Education, Ore Jalaade, DCU Business School, and Lucyann Kehoe, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences were also recognised for their rich and innovative ePortfolios.

Read the full blog post on the NIDL website.

New approved developers

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

At the June 2021 developer meeting, we had two applications of Catalyst staff to become approved developers for the Mahara project. Both, Fergus Whyte and Gold, were confirmed by other developers who could vote. Now they can give a +2 code review, which allows code to be merged into the Mahara core code base. Fergus and Gold demonstrated their knowledge of Mahara by having developed new features, fixed bugs, and also done code reviews, showcasing their understanding of the coding standards in the project.

Anybody in the community can contribute code and review other people's code as part of our quality assurance process. However, only approved developers can give +2 as they exhibit good understanding of the code base and the project. Developers can apply to become approved by other approved developers with a short application that outlines their prior contributions and code reviews, may be asked to answer some questions by other developers during a developer meeting, and then their applications are voted on.

Mahara in use

Internship report as Mahara ePortfolio

Hanna Kubrak and Anne C. Spindler (Hochschule München University of Applied Sciences, Germany)

All business administration students at Hochschule München University of Applied Sciences must complete an 18-week internship during their fourth semester. The students must also submit a report on their internship, describing the employer, the topics and challenges dealt with, and their own growth at the company. Since 2016, students have been creating these internship reports using Mahara.

Among the advantages of Mahara for the students is that it allows creativity and multimedia elements to make lively and interesting reports. From the perspective of the internship supervisor, it is a significant gain to be able to have a direct dialogue with the students through the feedback function. EPortfolios are also resource and space saving since the printed reports do not have to be stored, and neither students nor lecturers have to travel to hand in or collect reports.

The E-Learning Centre supports the implementation with advice and software training.

View an internship report (in German) and an example internship report. The original article appeared in German in a magazine at HM and illustrates that creating an internship report online as portfolio has been successful for the past five years.

Portfolios in upcoming events

AAEEBL Annual Meeting, 20-22 July 2021

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

This year's AAEEBL (Association for Authentic, Experiential, and Evidence-Based Learning) annual meeting will take place online. Join researchers and practitioners from around the world to discuss portfolios under the lens of 'Reimagining the Future of Learning: ePortfolios, Identities, Equity & Belonging'. This year's event will consist of networking, conversations, unconference sessions, a student panel, hackathons / creatathons, and a Shark Tank.

Register today to participate. Students attend for free and have a separate registration form.

Eportfolio Forum, 20-21 October 2021

Allison Miller (ePortfolios Australia, Australia)

2021 Eportfolio Forum (Eportforum) is a two day blended event (face to face and online) of presentations, workshops, facilitated conversations, and networking on 20-21 October 2021 at UNSW Sydney, Kensington campus [Eora nation] and online. This will be the tenth Eportforum.

A variety of interactive sessions will enable new and experienced ePortfolio supporters to gain some ‘hands-on’ experience with using ePortfolios, including hearing from highly respected keynote presenters.

Registrations are now open., and you can view the draft programme.

Mahara in past events

First Mahara Hui Belgium & Netherlands, 22 April 2021

Joost Elshoff (OpenEdu, The Netherlands)

On Thursday, 22 April 2021, the very first Dutch Mahara Hui was organized by Mahara Business Partner OpenEdu. This fully online event was focused on introducing the ePortfolio to teachers and educational technologists in universities and other learning organisations in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Throughout the day, nearly 70 attendees took part in P. Robert-Jan Simons' keynote on motivation for online learning in higher education and five more presentations. Kristina Höppner (Catalyst) introduced the new Mahara 21.04 release to the Dutch speaking audience, and OpenEdu's educational technologist Joost Elshoff introduced Mahara in the broader context of secondary, vocational, and higher education in the Netherlands and Belgium.

After the lunch break, Erik Hendriks, a faculty member of Inholland University of Applied Sciences presented a practical implementation of the portfolio as part of the Bachelor of Business Studies programme to promote entrepreneurship, together with two of his students.

After this presentation, instructional designer Bas Bakker and Joost Elshoff facilitated a hands-on workshop for attendees to create their very first portfolio in Mahara.

In the last presentation of the day, Bas Roggeveen, instructional designer at the Koninklijke Militaire School Luchtmacht, discussed considerations around dossiers for academic performance and portfolios for reflecting on and documenting personal learning experiences, and the platform choices his organisation made.

At the end of Mahara Hui BNL, OpenEdu concluded the event with the launch of a first self-paced course on the use of Mahara and the pedagogy of portfolios, and a Dutch speaking community was established.

Mahara Hui BNL was very well received and OpenEdu aims to organize a new Mahara Hui 2022, for which the exact date and call for proposals will be announced in the months to come.

Mahara gathering at Moodlemoot Euskadi 21, 4 June 2021 (#mooteu21)

Ramón Ovelar (Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, Basque Country)

On 4 June 2021, as a part of Moodlemoot Euskadi 21 (Basque Country), participants held a debate around the topic of Mahara and portfolios, with the purpose of sharing best practices with ePortfolios and building a Mahara users' network of organisations in the Basque Country. After a greetings video kindly sent by Kristina Höppner from Catalyst IT, Juan Ezeiza from Axular Lizeoa, Amaia Oleaga from the Faculty of Business Studies of Mondragon Unibertsitatea, Ramón Ovelar, Jesús Romo, and Leire Urcola from the University of the Basque Country, shared their experiences and future development plans. Margari León from i2basque (research and academic network of the Basque Country), another institution using Mahara in Euskadi, also attended the session.

This network of Mahara users in the Basque Country seeks to share expertise and experiences on pedagogical approaches and technical issues related to ePortfolio creation and evaluation. Another goal of the network is to improve the procedure for translating the Basque language pack, maintained by Juan Ezeiza. You can watch the recording of this session (mainly in Basque, with some parts in Spanish).

Mahara in development

Mahara 21.04 released

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

At the end of the April, the Mahara project team at Catalyst released Mahara 21.04 with a lot of new features. Many of these features support organisations rolling out portfolios in large numbers and work with template portfolios. Watch the short new features video for a quick overview of the highlights of this release. There is a longer recording of a webinar. If you are new to Mahara, you can watch a recording of an online introduction.

Mahara newsletter April 2021 (Volume 11, Issue 1)

Posted on 01 April 2021, 20:55
Last updated Thursday, 01 April 2021, 21:29

Welcome to the Mahara April 2021newsletter. It's the first day of the Mahara release month, and we look forward to making new features available to you by the end of the month.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara. The next newsletter will be published on 1 July 2021, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Awards time

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

The bi-annual New Zealand Open Source Awards are open for nominations of open source projects, individuals, and companies in the open source space in Aotearoa New Zealand. Nominations can be made by anybody though before 1 June 2021. The NZOSA are an opportunity for our community to gather and celebrate achievements and recognise the value that open source and its community delivers to Aotearoa New Zealand and the rest of the world. If you'd like to support the Mahara project, why not put in a nomination?

Mahara in use

Student content creation with Mahara and Moodle

Sam Taylor and Jasmin Davies-Hodge (Catalyst, UK)

Dublin City University's second successful 'MoodleMunch' series of webinars came to a close this March with a wonderful 'buffet' of presentations, demonstrations and reflections from the community. Each 'Munch' presentation focuses on how Moodle is used in a way that meets specific areas of the Digital Competence Framework for Educators (DigCompEdu). We thought this was a perfect opportunity to showcase how the mix of Moodle and Mahara could be utilised to meet Area 6 of the framework, 'Facilitating Learners' Digital Competence', where Moodle provides the platform for instruction, context, and assessment, and Mahara is the learners' workbook and collaborative learning space.

You can view the recording of the presentation via DCU's Teaching Enhancement Unit's YouTube channel.

Why do students update their portfolios?

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Motivating students to keep a portfolio can be challenging. What techniques do you use? Do you have annual portfolio awards? Do you use rubrics for portfolio assessments that include presentation criteria? What do you do? I'd love to hear from you and share the ideas in an upcoming newsletter.

Mahara in upcoming events

84th Mahara developer meeting online, 13 April 2021

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Mahara developer meetings are an opportunity to talk with Mahara developers, and for developers to discuss technical questions. Our next Mahara developer meeting will take place on 13 April 2021 at 7:30 UTC. You are welcome to join this online session and participate. If you want to discuss something, please add it to the agenda. Developer meetings are recorded and minuted for a quick perusal of the meeting.

Mahara Hui België en Nederland Online, 22 April 2021

Joost Elshoff (OpenEdu, The Netherlands)

Mahara Business Partner OpenEdu is organising the first Mahara Hui for Belgium and the Netherlands on Thursday, 22 April 2021. During this online conference, educators from various fields (secondary, vocational, and higher education) will present case studies on how Mahara is being implemented and used in their institutions. Prof. Dr. Robert-Jan Simons will open the conference with a keynote on motivation in online and digital education. 

Mahara Hui Belgium & Netherlands 2021 will be a fully online event. All presentations in our program will be in Dutch, except for the Mahara roadmap presentation by Kristina Höppner.

Find out more information and register for the event.

AAEEBL Annual Meeting, 20-22 July 2021

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

AAEEBL (Association for Authentic, Experiential, and Evidence-Based Learning) will hold its annual meeting again virtually like in 2020. The international portfolio community, no matter the platform that organisations favour, will gather to learn, share, and discuss the topic 'Reimagining the Future of Learning: ePortfolios, Identities, Equity & Belonging'. This year's event will consist of networking, conversations, unconference sessions, and a hackathon.

The deadline for submissions is 2 April 2021, so be quick to get your proposal in.

Mahara in past events

Beyond traditional assessment, 18 February 2021

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Eportfolio Ireland hosted an online workshop on 18 February 2021 with the title 'Beyond traditional assessment: A COVID createathon of eportfolio based assessment' that featured Teresa MacKinnon (University of Warwick), long-time Mahara community member and expert on ePortfolio based assessment, and Aurelie Soulier, who employs her knowledge of working with Moodle and Mahara at UCL.

The session was recorded, and you can listen to the advice, ideas, and suggestions that were discussed.

Mahara in development

Mahara 21.04 release

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

It is April, and some of you may wonder why we've been so quiet around new features that you will be able to experience in Mahara 21.04. The Catalyst release team has been involved in an exciting project dealing with recertification portfolios for an organisation in Aotearoa New Zealand. That organisation was also keen to open source the development work. We are in the final stages of finishing up these features to submit them into the Mahara core code base and meet our release goal of making Mahara 21.04, our April 2021 version, available before the end of April.

There will be features that support the creation and dissemination of templates, the approval of portfolios, and reporting around these that we look forward to being able to share with you very soon. Please watch out for an announcement in the 'News' forum later this month when you can preview these features before the official 21.04 release.

We will also offer online sessions introducing these new features so you can take a guided look at what's new.

Mahara newsletter January 2021 (Volume 10, Issue 4)

Posted on 01 January 2021, 12:59
Last updated Friday, 01 January 2021, 13:05

Welcome to the January 2021 newsletter. We hope you have had or are still having a good holiday break and could spend time with your loved ones, relax, and start the new year well. 2020 saw many disruptions in all areas of our lives. It also came with great sense of community with people helping each other out, finding novel solutions for sudden problems, and sharing what they have learned.

2021 has started with restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic in many parts of the world. Let's continue to #BeKind (the hashtag that was popularised in Aotearoa New Zealand during our first lockdown) and support each other.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara. The next newsletter will be published on 1 April 2021, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Congratulations

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Lisa Donaldson from Dublin City University was appointed the the AAEEBL Board of Directors in 2020. She has extensive experience as portfolio practitioner, researcher, and support staff member. Along with colleagues, she leads the Irish portfolio community Eportfolio Ireland.

Helen Chen from the Executive Board of Directors of AAEEBL, writes:

We are thrilled to have Lisa's perspective and expertise on the AAEEBL Board to inform our shared work to support our growing network of international colleagues. Lisa enthusiastically contributed to our annual meeting in July 2020, and we look forward to her ongoing leadership in the field of ePortfolios as well as new opportunities for collaboration and engagement.

Congratulations, Lisa!

Mahara in use

Mahara tips in the Catalyst IT Europe advent calendar

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

My colleagues in our European office, Catalyst IT Europe, created their second annual advent calendar that also includes some tips for Mahara.

If Moodle or Tōtara are your learning management system of choice, you will find many tips for using them in the advent calendar.

Enjoy.

Mahara in upcoming events

83rd Mahara developer meeting online, 19 January 2021

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Mahara developer meetings are an opportunity for community members to talk with Mahara developers, and for developers to discuss implementation questions or other technical questions. Our next Mahara developer meeting will take place on 19 January 2021 at 7:30 UTC. You are welcome to join this online session and participate. If you want to add anything to the agenda, please do so prior to the meeting.

Mahara Hui België en Nederland Online, 22 April 2021

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

The first ever Mahara Hui Belgium and Netherlands will take place online on 22 April 2021. It is organised by Mahara Business Partner OpenEdu. The team is pleased to announce that Robert-Jan Simons (Visie of Leren) will be the keynote speaker and talk about motivation in digital education. I will be presenting upcoming features of Mahara 21.04.

If you'd like to share aspects of your portfolio journey or research, you can submit a proposal for a 20-minute presentation until 28 February 2021.

More information about the event will be made available over the coming weeks in the Mahara news forum and on the OpenEdu web site.

Mahara in past events

Mahara Open Forum, 24 November 2020

Shin-Ichiro Kubota (Kumamoto University, Japan), Yoichi Tanaka (Jin-ai Women's College, Japan), and Makoto Miyazaki (Teikyo University, Japan)

Mahara Open Forum 2020 (MOF2020) took place online on 24 November 2020. MOF is organised annually by the Japanese Mahara User Group (Japanese MUG).

The nine speakers shared their own experiences and practices in regard to using ePortfolios in five-minute lightning talks. They tied these to a range of other topics, including artificial intelligence, Google Drive, system log data, and the application LINE, an instant messenger app. Participants asked and answered questions about how Mahara is used at institutions across Japan, ePortfolio learning, and related topics.

After the lightning talks, small groups of four to five participants each exchanged questions and opinions about ePortfolio approaches in various contexts.

Next year, MOF2021 will take place at Oita University in Japan. We hope that COVID-19 will be under control, and we can exchange ideas again in person.

Introduction to Mahara and new features of Mahara 20.10, October - November 2020

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

In October and November 2020 I offered a number of online sessions as Mahara introductions and a chance to learn a bit more about the new features in Mahara 20.10. You can watch the recordings of these sessions:

There will be similar session for the Mahara 21.04 release at the end of April and the beginning of May 2021. Watch out for announcements on social media and in the Mahara news forum.

Eportfolio Forum, Melbourne, Australia, 29-30 October 2020

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

The 2020 Eportfolio Forum took place, like so many other conferences this year, online. It was an opportunity for Australian and international participants to join the conversations and present their research and ideas when they may not have gotten the chance to do so otherwise at this event.

You can access the papers, slides, recordings, and other resources on the event's homepage.

Huge thanks go to the organising team at Deakin University in Melbourne and the Eportfolios Australia team for having made this event possible and helping the wider ePortfolio community to gather.

Follow the Forum on Twitter via #eportforum.

Mahara in other news

MUG is looking for a new home

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

MUG, the Mahara User Group, is looking for a new organiser. Beth Gordon and her team at Pace University have been the main contact for the past few years and organised virtual as well as face-to-face events that made it possible to share research and practical advice as well as . It was founded originally, like other MUGs after it, to support the local community in the U.S.A., in particular the New York area. The geographic focus does not need to stay on New York.

If you are interested in learning more about what MUG organisers do, please get in touch with me.

Mahara is on the Matrix

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

The Mahara team has been using IRC for many years. These days, we are using Matrix more often. You can stop by in our Mahara channel and say hi. Please note that the core Mahara team lives in Aotearoa New Zealand and thus may not be online when you are. Leave a message in the channel, and we can get back to you.

The advantage of Matrix is that you can see previous messages even when you were not online. If you haven't used Matrix yet, it is similar to Slack or Microsoft Teams conversations, but with the added bonus that it is open source. We can also post directly to IRC from within Matrix and read IRC messages in our Matrix channel.

Mahara newsletter October 2020 (Volume 10, Issue 3)

Posted on 01 October 2020, 21:54
Last updated Thursday, 01 October 2020, 21:59

Welcome to the October 2020 newsletter. It's already been six months since we released Mahara 20.04, and now you have access to the preview version of Mahara 20.10, which is filled with some great new features. We will have free online events to introduce you to these new features.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 January 2021, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Congratulations

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Lisa Seeto, developer in the Catalyst Mahara team in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand, became an approved developer for Mahara at the 81st Mahara developer meeting held on 8 September 2020. Lisa joins the ranks of our other approved developers who have well rounded understanding of Mahara and can approve work going into Mahara core after peer review.

She has been writing a number of new features for Mahara as well as bug fixes. Earlier in the year, she started on the analysis of the new accessibility standards WCAG 2.1 to provide an overview about our status quo in regard to supporting this standard.

Congratulations, Lisa!

Mahara in upcoming events

Introduction to Mahara, online, 28 October and 5 November 2020

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Most readers of this newsletter will be very familiar with Mahara. If you know of some people that might be interested in learning more about its capabilities, you can point them to our upcoming 'Introduction to Mahara'. It is an one-hour free online event. We are offering three separate sessions to make it possible for people from different time zones to attend.

Register for one of the intro sessions to secure your spot.

If you are in Wellington, you can register for a free face-to-face event (current COVID-19 alert level in Wellington permitting) on 22 October 2020.

Eportfolio Forum, Melbourne, Australia, 29-30 October 2020

Allison Miller (ePortfolios Australia)

The 2020 Eportfolio Forum will be held online this year, which provides an opportunity for people from around the globe to join in and network over this two day event on 29-30 October 2020. This year's event is proudly supported by Deakin University, Melbourne [Kulin nation].
 
There are two amazing Keynote speakers:

Packages include attending either both days, one day or for half a day. Everyone who registers to attend will receive a Free Virtual Networking and Special Presentation ticket for Thursday, 29 October 2020, 4.45-6.15 pm (Melbourne time) where Karen Buckley and Orna Farrell from Eportfolio Ireland will speak about Who am I becoming? Identity and ethics and eportfolio.

ePortfolios Australia would also like to thank our Major Sponsors for this year's event: Deakin University, The Hacker Exchange, Panopto, and Digital Capability.

Follow the Forum on Twitter via #eportforum.

82nd Mahara developer meeting online, 3 November 2020

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Mahara developer meetings are an opportunity for those interested in contributing to Mahara through features and bug fixes to chat with other developers online. Our next Mahara developer meeting will take place on 3 November 2020 at 7:30 UTC. You are welcome to join this online session and participate. If you want to add anything to the agenda, please do so prior to the meeting.

What's new in Mahara 20.10, online, 4-6 November 2020

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

In a few weeks, we will release Mahara 20.10 and want to give you the opportunity to learn about the major new features in a webinar. You can choose from four sessions that cater to different time zones.

Register for this free online event.

Mahara in development

Mahara 20.10 preview version

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

October marks our second release per year, and we expect it to be available in the second half of the month as usual. We'd like to invite you to preview this latest version of Mahara now before we bring out the stable release of Mahara 20.10. That gives you the opportunity to see what's coming up, and you can let us know if something doesn't quite work as you expected.

We implemented a range of features that span many different areas of Mahara to support enhancements in these areas. Some highlights are:

  • Portfolio completion progress page for those quick overviews into large portfolios
  • New theme 'Maroon' that brings colour and edginess
  • 'Quick edit' option on text blocks so you don't need to go into the full 'Edit' mode to change text blocks
  • Mahara assignment submission plugin for Moodle support
  • Better login redirect for external authentication methods
  • Lock page and artefact instructions when you create a template and don't allow people to change them
  • Monitoring module to keep a track of fails like cron, Elasticsearch, and LDAP
  • Increase the base font size and page width; there will be more accessibility improvements over the coming releases
  • Ability to change old embedded URLs into correct ones if the site changes its domain name
  • Allow redis function without needing sentinel

You can get the code and install it on one of your testing instances. If you do not have the chance to test it on your infrastructure, you can use our developer instance to check out a series of the new features.

We look forward to your feedback.

Mahara and Docker

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, Aotearoa New Zealand)

There will be many new features in Mahara 20.10. We will also have support for Docker built in as an early prototype release. That will make it easier for you to run your Mahara site in the cloud, coupled with tools like Kubernetes. You can use it for testing and developing purposes and get set up quickly with an instance. The readme file contains instructions for the running of Mahara in that Docker image. Container ahoi!

Mahara newsletter July 2020 (Volume 10, Issue 2)

Posted on 01 July 2020, 20:00
Last updated Wednesday, 01 July 2020, 20:28

Welcome to the July 2020 newsletter. We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. We have all experienced various levels of isolation, distancing, and regulated measures over the last three months (and in some cases longer), and are coping as best as we can. In this newsletter we want to share some good news from the Mahara community and point out some events that you may be interested in attending virtually.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 October 2020, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Mahara in use

Curate art

David Bell (eCentre for Trinity-at-Waiake Methodist Church, New Zealand)

Our kiwiconnexion.nz group finds Mahara a very useful tool for curating art projects.

I begin with traditional methods of printmaking  and then re-imagine the prints into contemporary settings, including video. For example, I had done a couple of MDF (medium-density fibreboard) woodcuts and was happy with the prints pulled from them. It was a sequence of six monotypes to illustrate the A E Housman poem "How Clear, How Lovely Bright".. A lot more prints were rejected.

When I had the sequence I wanted, I then invited John McWade to add narration and typography, and Michael Bell to add music.  Thus we created a little jewel-box video (1:30): poem, narration, prints, and music. The complete process is illustrated and curated in Mahara on Kiwiconnexion, making it more than useful for our group's purposes on Facebook and YouTube.

Mahara in upcoming events

Mahara UK and Ireland Virtual Hui, 15 July 2020

Sam Taylor (Catalyst IT Europe, United Kingdom)

Spaces are still available for the free Mahara UK & Ireland Virtual Hui 2020, with speakers being announced soon. The day will be a combination of presentations from the community, user group meetings, workshops, and an 'Ask the expert' session with Teresa Mackinnon (University of Warwick), Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University), Roger Emery (Solent University), and Peter Spicer (Catalyst IT Europe), all kicked off with a keynote presentation from Mahara Project Lead and Community Facilitator Kristina Hoeppner.

Although this event is mostly focussed on the UK and Ireland, our international friends are more than welcome to attend - we’d love to see you!

Sign up
today.

Over 100 guests have already registered and below is the breakdown of where they are coming from. We look forward to welcoming you to the event.

Mahara Virtual Hui UK and Ireland registration break down chart

80th Mahara developer meeting online, 22 July 2020

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Mahara developer meetings are an opportunity for those interested in contributing to Mahara through features and bug fixes to chat with other developers online. Our next Mahara developer meeting will take place on 22 July 2020 at 7:30 UTC. You are welcome to join this online session and participate. If you want to add anything to the agenda, please do so prior to the meeting.

Eportfolio Forum, Melbourne, Australia, 29-30 October 2020

Allison Miller (ePortfolios Australia)

The ePortfolios Australia Organising Committee are pleased to announce that the ninth Eportfolio Forum will be held on 29-30 October 2020 online or if possible at Deakin University (Burwood campus) in Melbourne, Australia.

This year's theme is 'Digital Identity – Ethics and Experience'.

The Call for Proposals is still open for all but peer-reviewed papers, and you can submit your proposals until 22 July 2020.

Proposal types include:

  • 20×20 presentation
  • Digitally interactive poster
  • Intensive workshop
  • In-depth workshop
  • Facilitate a professional conversation
  • Short (peer-reviewed paper) presentation (closed; no more submissions possible)

For more information or to enquire about presenting or the Forum, please contact [email protected].

Previous Eportfolio Forum resources are available.

To stay up to date about this year's Forum, other ePortfolios Australia activities and eportfolio news, subscribe to:

Mahara in development

Mahara 20.04

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Catalyst IT Mahara team released Mahara 20.04 on schedule on 29 April 2020. There is a long list of new features available in this release. Watch the release video for a quick overview.

If you'd like to see a recording of one of the webinars in which the features are introduced with a bit more explanations, you can choose from seven in English, and one in German.

Mahara Mobile 20.06 for Android (beta)

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

A new version of Mahara Mobile has been in the works by the Catalyst team. We'd like to invite you to take a look at it and give it a go. You can get it in the Android store. The iOS version still takes a little while. The app doesn't just come with a fresh new look but also a new underlying architecture, being built on React Native. If you already have Mahara Mobile installed, please uninstall it and then add this latest app. Due to the new architecture, it's not possible to perform an upgrade.

Mahara Mobile login screenMahara Mobile 'Add content' screenMahara Mobile upload queue

Mahara assignment submission plugin for Moodle and Totara

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Thanks to funding from Waitematā District Health Board, Monash University, and Catalyst IT, the Mahara assignment submission plugin for Moodle will be made available shortly, using LTI and web services as the connection rather than MNet. Organisations wanting to use a fuller set of assessment features for their portfolios will now be able to do so in both Moodle and Totara.

The full set of features will be available in Mahara 20.10. However, if you want to use the functionality already now, you can backport it to Mahara 20.04 or earlier. We can also assist you with that.

I will give a demo of the plugin at MoodleMoot Global Online on 8 July 2020 in the German track.

Mahara newsletter April 2020 (Volume 10, Issue 1)

Posted on 01 April 2020, 20:01
Last updated Thursday, 02 April 2020, 0:11

Welcome to the April 2020 newsletter. We only recently entered a new decade and are now in unprecedented times with the pandemic and lots of changes resulting in particular for education at a rapid rate. In this newsletter you can find tips on using Mahara in tried-and-trusted scenarios as well as in ways that you might not have considered in the past.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 July 2020, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Mahara in use

Mahara to support changes in teaching and learning

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The current COVID-19 pandemic has all of us in its grip. No doubt, many of you have seen an exponential rise in requests for online delivery and how to continue teaching when physical schools and campuses are closed for weeks and potentially months, and even after that more remote options may be the 'new normal'. Rapid changes in course and content delivery are only the tip of the iceberg though.

Because of the general fear for one's own and other people's health, uncertainty, and in many places measures put in place to limit movements outside one's immediate home, it is not only switching to fully online learning and teaching that we are encountering at an accelerated rate. We need to consider how these changed circumstances affect our learners and how we can support them to cope and adjust. We can't have interactions like we are used to for the time being. So how can we help learners and keep the human touch without resorting to 24/7 in front of a web conferencing tool?

While Mahara is used primarily as a portfolio platform, it has capabilities beyond that and can assist in a wide range of education scenarios. Now more than ever, having a platform where learners can collect their thoughts, learning experiences, reflect on them, and in particular share with others is a good way of keeping in touch and connected. Mahara's motto is: Create. Share. Engage. Let's continue doing that.

You may also wish to think about changing assessment formats and how your Mahara instance can support that switch. Lisa Donaldson from Dublin City University in Ireland reports that several faculty are thinking of using Mahara more because there students can publish case studies, reports, and create online projects in a cohesive manner. For example, instead of being able to attend a performance, Arts students review online footage and focus on different aspects of a production that they then review and critique.

I'd like to share a 15 suggestions that relate to Mahara and how it could be used to support students and teaching staff. These are ideas that Mahara community members may already ponder or have lots of experience with, and I invite you to share your own ideas.

  • Set up a group where students can chat asynchronously and get in touch with them. The good old 'Lounge' (in a film studies course one instructor called it the 'Reel Café') that I've seen on learning management systems in courses where students could post anything and everything not related to a particular assignment can be replicated on Mahara. We do not need to do everything synchronously.
  • Add a picture to your group homepage and remove blocks that you don't need.
  • Research and write book reports, movie reviews etc. Carmel Unified School District has some examples. Templates can be used to guide the research.
  • Document case studies.
  • Write reports.
  • Participate in projects and document progress as well as what has been learned in a collection structuring the project utilising pages within the collection.
  • Encourage students to create their reflections as audio or video and upload them to Mahara, either via their computer or mobile device.
  • Set up plans filled with mandatory and optional activities. From Mahara 19.10 on you can create plans in groups (or create a master plan in your personal account and then copy it into groups and adjust there) and attach individual portfolio templates to plan tasks for students to get started quickly. Your students can then decide which tasks they want to complete and only these are copied into their personal portfolio area.
  • Encourage your students to give each other feedback on their work. This can be done privately so only the student and feedback giver can see the comment or publicly for everyone to see who has access to the portfolio.
  • Attach your audio (or video) feedback to an artefact or a page.
  • Submit portfolios for assessment purposes either directly to a Mahara group or via your LMS.
  • Don't work with an LMS? No problem. Create your course resources pages in Mahara either in a group or in your personal account.
  • Hold support sessions online and embed a web conferencing room (or link to it) into your support page for easy access for the students to join when you are live. Dublin City University had success with its first remote support session recently. Use the functionality of the tool to share your or a student's screen to walk them through an issue they are having.
  • Keep your professional portfolio up to date. You are changing your teaching rapidly and probably also innovate a great deal. Capture that and reflect now or later on it.
  • Collect learning evidence and document learning experiences using a competency framework that you can build in SmartEvidence (a site administrator needs to upload it or use the built-in framework editor, depending on your version of Mahara) to connect learning to particular competencies.

Mahara in upcoming events

79th Mahara developer meeting online, 29 April 2020

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Mahara developer meetings are an opportunity for those interested in contributing to Mahara through features and bug fixes to chat with other developers online. Our next Mahara developer meeting will take place on 29 April 2020 at 7:30 UTC. You are welcome to join this online session and participate. If you want to add anything to the agenda, please do so prior to the meeting.

Eportfolio Forum, Melbourne, Australia, 29-30 October 2020

Allison Miller (ePortfolios Australia)

The ePortfolios Australia Organising Committee are pleased to announce that the ninth Eportfolio Forum will be held on 29-30 October 2020 at Deakin University (Burwood campus) in Melbourne, Australia.

This year's theme is 'Digital Identity – Ethics and Experience'

The Call for Proposals is now open, and you can submit your proposals until 18 May 2020.

Proposal types include:

  • Short (peer-reviewed paper) presentation
  • 20×20 presentation
  • Digitally interactive poster
  • Intensive workshop
  • In-depth workshop
  • Facilitate a professional conversation

For more information or to enquire about presenting or the Forum, please contact [email protected].

Keynote presenters will be announced shortly.

Previous Eportfolio Forum resources are available.

To stay up to date about this year's Forum, other ePortfolios Australia activities and ePortfolio news, subscribe to:

Hui20, Zurich, Switzerland, 27-28 November 2020

Dietmar Johlen (Lpaso - Institut für Lernkultur, Germany)

Logo for Hui20Die Hui steht in diesem Jahr unter dem Motto "In Netzwerken lernen" und soll am 27. und 28. November 2020 in Zusammenarbeit mit tbfpartner, Zürich, stattfinden. In diesen besonderen Tagen können wir nur sagen, dass wir an dem Termin festhalten wollen, und wenn ein Zusammenkommen in Zürich nicht möglich ist, machen wir ein digitales Angebot. Wer tbfpartner kennenlernen möchte, kann sich z.B. ihre Keynote auf der letzten Hui über die Lpaso-Webseite ansehen.

Schaut das Video von Hui19 an, um einen Einblick in das Barcamp vom letzten Jahr in Kassel zu bekommen.

tbfpartner presenting at Hui19

---

The topic for Hui20 is "Learning in networks" and will take place in cooperation with tbfpartner in Zurich (Switzerland) on 27 and 28 November 2020. We are still planning to host the event, but if it were not possible to convene in Zurich, we will be offering an online version. If you'd like to get to know what tbfpartner do in the area of innovative learning, watch their keynote from Hui19 (in German) via the Lpaso web site.

Watch the Hui19 video for a recap of last year's event in Kassel, Germany.

Mahara in past events

Eportfolio Ireland National Forum Seminar Series event, 20 February 2020

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Eportfolio Ireland, with support from the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning, held a seminar at Dublin City University on 20 February 2020 to introduce the findings from the national ePortfolio survey that was open to Irish institutions since November 2019. Mahara plays a large role at Irish institutions and has a solid following there, being the most used ePortfolio platform. More detailed results from the survey will be available later this year. Right now, take a look at the infographic for a high level overview.

Eportfolio Ireland infographic for the national portfolio survey 2019/20

Mahara in development

Mahara 20.04

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Catalyst team in Wellington is working hard to deliver Mahara 20.04 by the end of April. We all relocated to our homes and have been working entirely remotely since 23/24 March 2020 and expect to continue to work from home for the majority of April if not longer due to the lockdown in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We are adjusting to working this way looking into how we can move normal office interactions into the online space, and also dealing with the restrictions that would typically not be part of a 'working from home' day or time period. We continue to work and are available to the Mahara community and our clients. Please bear with us when asking for free support in the community forums as we may not be able to reply as quickly as you are used to due to the current circumstances and also being in release preparation time.

Mahara 20.04 comes with a series of new features, in particular for organisations wanting to take more advantage of single sign-on and automating role assignment and some other administrative tasks. Watch out for the announcement of the preview version of Mahara 20.04 that will be released in the first week of April. We invite you to test it out in a test site on your own infrastructure to test all features, or on one of our test sites with access to a subset of features, i.e. all features but those restricted to site administrators. We look forward to your feedback to help us make some last minute adjustments for the initial official release of Mahara 20.04 by the end of April 2020.

We are thinking about organising a few online sessions to introduce the new features and be available for Q&A. Please watch out for the announcements in the 'News' forum, on Twitter, and other social media mid-April.

Mahara Mobile

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

There is more cooking in Wellington in the Catalyst Mahara team. We are working on a new version of Mahara Mobile, built using React Native. We are in the final stages of the development for the Android app and expect to make a preview version available to the community by the end of April. A version for iOS may still take a bit because of the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

Mahara new service: Extended security support

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Sometimes it can be difficult for organisations to stay in step with our development cycle and upgrade to a new version of Mahara every six months or even just once a year. We support each version of Mahara for 18 months with security updates and high importance bug fixes as they are made known to us and prioritised by our team. Once a Mahara version becomes unsupported, security updates are not provided for it though they may still apply.

We went over to the six-monthly timed release cycle several years to make new features available fairly rapidly yet still allow the organisations that work with Mahara stable releases for a good period of time. The majority of organisations using Mahara is in the education sector and thus operates on an annual cycle. Our releases fall into that nicely by offering one release for the Northern hemisphere before the summer holidays, the April version, and one for the Southern hemisphere, the October version. Of course, no matter where you are in the world, you can install any release.

Recognising that not every organisation may be able to upgrade once a year at minimum, we are now offering a premium service that extends the security support for a version of Mahara by two years, coming to a total of 3.5 years instead of the community-provided one of 1.5 years. If you are interested to learn more about it, check out the extended security support web page.

Mahara newsletter January 2020 (Vol. 9, Issue 4)

Posted on 01 January 2020, 17:43
Last updated Wednesday, 01 January 2020, 17:45

Welcome to the January 2020 newsletter, the first in this new decade. We wish you a successful year ahead in which you can spread your wings and flex your learning muscles. We look forward to learning and innovating together with you.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 April 2020, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Mahara in use

Mahara for assessment

Marieke Guy and Chantal Schipper (Royal Agricultural University, UK)

Screenshot of the support resource of RAUThis semester has seen us use Mahara ePortfolio as the main assessment for our shared core first year module on academic skills. The module has just shy of 250 students on it, and so our approach has been to push a standard template out to all students on the module. While use of a locked-down template (all blocks are locked and students can only add in specified types of content) is not conducive to creativity, it has allowed us to introduce Mahara as a tool to both staff and students in a fairly secure and risk-free way. In a recent blog post we share the first stages in the process of integrating Mahara into the academic skills module.

Since then we have run a comprehensive training session with academic staff who will be carrying out the assessment on the module. The training supported in creating a Mahara portfolio, submitting it to our Moodle VLE (Virtual Learning Environment), and then marking each other’s submissions using a clear rubric. We have also created a number of guidance materials, including videos, for students on how to edit their portfolios, and we have run several 'surgery' sessions for students to trouble shoot issues.

The main submission date for the portfolios is looming, and the next challenge will be the co-ordinated release of the grades and feedback.

A few words of appreciation

Kelli Fleming and Truc Pham (Future Generations University, U.S.A.)

The Master of Arts in Applied Community Development students at Future Generations University use Mahara to create showcase portfolios of their work through the program.

Truc Pham, a recent graduate in the Applied Community Development program, shares "A Few Words of Appreciation":

I have changed from not being a big fan of Mahara at the beginning of the course to very much appreciative of this platform.

I remember in the survey after semester 1, I wrote these lines:

Technology is not my cup of tea.
It brings me stress and anxiety.
......................................................
But maybe next Spring,
I will be saying:
" Love you too, MAHARA!"

The truth is that it was not the "next Spring" but the next Fall that I realized how Mahara has brought me the rainbow instead of just the plain black-and-white style I used to present my work.

There was so much challenge. There was so much hard work. However, it worths all these seeing that I could improve my knowledge and with this capacity, I could make my community a better place to live.

I began my community presentation of this Spotlight ePortfolio by saying to them: "I started this Master course with Hope and Dram. And, this is what I have achieved. If I could do it, then everyone could do it!"

Screenshot of the reflections page

ePortfolios for educators - a workshop concept

Sam Taylor (Catalyst IT Europe, UK)

At Catalyst IT Europe I created a workshop concept for all those who want to explore the benefits of using an ePortfolio for evidencing growth: personally, professionally, or academically. It is full of activities that will help educators shape a great assignment brief and ensure all boxes are ticked with regards to planning all the way through to assessment. Although it's meant to be ePortfolio agnostic, it uses Mahara throughout.

This workshop idea is available under the Creative Commons license BY-SA 4.0.

Screenshot of the educator workshop resource page

Mahara in upcoming events

77th Mahara developer meeting online, 29 January 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Mahara developer meetings are an opportunity for those interested in contributing to Mahara through features and bug fixes to chat with other developers online. Our next Mahara developer meeting will take place on 29 January 2020 at 7:30 UTC. You are welcome to join this online session and participate. If you want to add anything to the agenda, please do so prior to the meeting.

Eportfolio Ireland National Forum Seminar Series event, 20 February 2020

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

This Eportfolio Ireland seminar and workshop event will disseminate national research on current levels of ePortfolio practice in Irish higher education. Currently, there is a dearth of literature on ePortfolio practice in Ireland This will be addressed by the recently launched research initiative conducted by Eportfolio Ireland, which will encompass all Irish Higher Education institutions.

The results of this research will provide an overview and analysis of the national ePortfolio context, document the types of ePortfolios used in Irish higher education, identify any significant issues relating to ePortfolio implementation, and offer guidance about future opportunities for ePortfolio development. The dissemination of this research will be of interest to all those considering ePortfolio use for assessment and the development of student and faculty digital literacies.

This event provides an evidence informed picture of ePortfolio practice, a focus on building digital competencies, and support for collaboration between and within institutions. Following the seminar presentation, a series of personalised workshops will be offered to support those at different stages of ePortfolio initiatives; from those in the planning stages who can avail of advice and support in the development of an ePortfolio strategy, to those approaching scale who will benefit from insights and approaches from international best practice. Participants may choose the workshop most appropriate to them.

If interested in attending this free event, supported by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning, please register.

Mahara in development

Plugin: Mahara library

Guillaume Nerzic (Birkbeck University of London, UK)

Screenshot of the Mahara Library pluginDeveloped as part of a Learning Technologies MSc project at Birkbeck University London, the "Mahara Library" is an artefact plugin (and associated group type) to manage a library of publications. Embedded within the library artefact is a simple and extendible recommender system that suggests publications that learners may choose to read based on a group's collective recommendations.

This plugin aims to provide a community of practice learning environment in two complimentary ways: first by allowing members of the group to learn collaboratively through the common task of managing, reviewing, and contributing to a shared library; and second through a recommender system that prompts learners to get a 360° view of the library's content and not simply focus on popular publications.

Future releases of the plugin will focus on implementing a smarter and more streamlined recommender system and a way to visualise the library's semantic structure.

Request for comments: SmartEvidence enhancements

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Screenshot of a proposal for SmartEvidenceSmartEvidence was first developed in 2016 following an idea conceived by Misty Kirby and Shane Nuessler from the University of Canberra in 2014. It makes it possible for learners to track their achievements against a competency framework and visualise the progress via an evidence map. In its initial implementation, SmartEvidence works with pages so that evidence can be displayed in context as not every single piece of evidence may fulfill the requirements of a standard but contributes to it and may also need a reflection going with it.

Over the past year, the Mahara team at Catalyst has been gathering more feedback from institutions on how SmartEvidence is working for them and what would be good to change on it to make it more useful in contexts where it has not yet been used. Together with Lisa Donaldson and Mark Glynn from Dublin City University we developed an initial idea for expanding SmartEvidence to work for more complex frameworks that are structured into different levels of accomplishment, which would make it possible to map competencies over larger time frames, without needing to create separate SmartEvidence collections. With a client of ours in New Zealand, we investigated the possibility of mapping individual pieces of evidence to competencies rather than pages as that was more in line with the assessment of the work of apprentices.

At Hui 19 in Kassel (Germany) in November 2019, I had the opportunity to chat with Alex Del Ponte and Karsten Wolf from University of Bremen, who recently contributed a large enhancement to the plans in Mahara 19.10. As they are also interested in competency frameworks, we discussed how SmartEvidence could be expanded to meet needs at their university (and others) better, drawing on previous discussions and ideas.

You can see a first draft of the idea outlined on the wiki. We'd like to invite you to comment in this idea. If you are interested in funding enhancements to SmartEvidence (or any other parts of Mahara), please get in touch with me.

Mahara newsletter October 2019 (Vol. 9, Issue 3)

Posted on 01 October 2019, 19:30
Last updated Tuesday, 01 October 2019, 20:00

This is the October 2019 edition of the Mahara newsletter. Happy spring or fall, depending on where you are in the world. You are probably wondering when you will be able to get your hands on Mahara 19.10. Read on...

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 January 2020, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Call for participation

Success stories

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

We have lots of knowledge in our community on how people work, study, learn, and teach with Mahara. This very newsletter here is a testament to the multitude of ways of supporting students, faculty, and others on their learning journeys. Sometimes, these stories can get buried a bit after some time and may not be able to be found so easily again.

Therefore, we are in the process of collecting stories of Mahara use around the world to feature in our success stories. If you are interested in contributing, please get in touch with me so I can send you the details and the template. We have not yet taken this new section live as we would like to have a few stories already in it before making it available.

AAEEBL task force: Ethics and ePortfolios

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Association for Authentic, Experiential and Experience-based Learning (AAEEBL) is established the task force "Ethics and ePortfolios" and is looking for practitioners and researchers amongst its members to participate in this year-long programme. If you are interested, you have a few hours left to express your interest on 1 October 2019. Even if you are not participating in the task force itself, you may be involved by being interviewed and can learn about the outcomes.

Read the announcement for more information.

Mahara in use

Personal branding: Writing for a social media audience

Steven Bookman (Pace University, U.S.A.)

Pace University uses Mahara to assess students' knowledge and evaluate programs. It is also used to tell students' personal stories.

My reason for using Mahara is not about assessing a student's knowledge. The main purpose is to use it as a source for having a positive online presence, as well as for showing students' skills. Mahara is complete personal branding.

My students create an ePortfolio using Mahara by following a set of guidelines, which come from videos from recruiters, a lecture from Career Services, and my experiences. The purpose of this assignment with Mahara is to have students learn how to write for a social media audience, in particular recruiters. All my students, whether they are freshmen or seniors, do this assignment. It is vital for them to understand the world they will be entering when they apply for internships and look for jobs when they are about to graduate.

By having students create an ePortfolio, they have created a positive online presence for them. Creating an ePortfolio has opened their eyes to how they will be viewed by future recruiters and employers. Many students see their accomplishments differently, and they mean more to them having them on the ePortfolio. They feel much more comfortable in the search for internships and jobs now that they have created an ePortfolio.

Mahara in upcoming events

Regional Mahara Hui NZ at Waitematā DHB, 4 October 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Kiwi Mahara User Group is holding a free half-day regional Mahara Hui at Waitematā District Health Board in Auckland, New Zealand, on 4 October 2019. The event is just around the corner so be quick to get one of the last tickets.

75th Mahara developer meeting online, 17 October 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The next Mahara developer meeting will take place on 17 October 2019 at 7 UTC. You are welcome to join this online session and participate. If you want to add anything to the agenda, please do so prior to the meeting.

Eportfolio Ireland seminar in Dublin, 11 November 2019

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

Eportfolio Ireland – the Irish based ePortfolio community of practice – are delighted to have Kristina Höppner from Catalyst in New Zealand with us to keynote at a half day seminar / workshop at Dublin City University on 11 November 2019. The event will take place on St. Patricks campus, Drumcondra from 9.30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Kristina will offer a presentation on: "O portfolio, where art thou?", the tale of the portfolio in modern times, the struggles it has endured, the many twists and turns it has been on, and where you might see it in the future.

Following the keynote presentation, there will be a Connect & Converse session to share ePortfolio practice from institutions around Ireland. The format of Connect & Converse is a 10-minute presentation / discussion in small groups as participants rotate around the room (a speed dating format, if you will!).

The event will also formally launch a nationwide survey of Irish ePortfolio practice. If you are interested in attending, tickets for this free event are available.

2019 Eportfolio Forum in Canberra, 20-21 November 2019

Allison Miller (ePortfolios Australia, Australia)

2019 Eportfolio Forum (Eportforum) is a two day event of presentations, workshops, facilitated conversations, and networking on 20-21 November 2019 at Australian Catholic University (ACU), Canberra Campus (Signadou). This will be the eighth Eportforum.

A variety of interactive sessions will enable new and experienced eportfolio supporters to gain some 'hands-on' experience with using ePortfolios, including hearing from our keynote presenter - Professor Tristram Hooley, University of Derby, United Kingdom.

Hui 19 in Kassel, 29-30 November 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Poster for Hui 2019 in KasselMahara Hui DE is a well-established unconference in Germany. This year, the event acknowledges that there is more than portfolios at Mahara Hui DE and renamed the event to "Hui 19 - simply learning". Lpaso Institute of Learning Culture e.V. supports this event that is going to take place at Max-Eyth-Schule in Kassel in the middle of Germany from 29 to 30 November 2019.

As usual, participants will be able to plan the sessions for the two days on the days themselves, but are welcome to start discussing topics online prior to the unconference. As the title of this year's event says, everything centres around "simply learning". Topics can come from portfolio work with Mahara, agile learning, OER, and digital change in work and education.

Check out the programme and get inspired by the keynote presenters Benjamin Jaksch, Joachim Rutz, and Andreas Sägesser and then jump into sessions with fellow enthusiasts of learning and shape the rest of the programme.

Mahara in past events

MahoodleFest 2019 in Gloucester, 1 July 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The University of Gloustershire hosted MahoodleFest 2019, on 1 July 2019.

Richard Oelmann and the University team did a wonderful job organising this event. Read Richard's initial thoughts. Teresa MacKinnon created a Wakelet gathering social media posts. You can watch the videos on the event website or head over to YouTube.

If you are interested in hosting MahoodleFest 2020, please get in touch with Richard Oelmann and Sam Taylor.

Mahara in development

Preview version of Mahara 19.10

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

It is October now and you may be wondering when you will be able to take a look at the preview version of Mahara 19.10. Very soon is the answer. We have a large number of exciting new features and changes in this version. As many of them are quite large, they take a bit longer to finalise. We are working very hard to get this preview version out to you. Watch out for an announcement in the news forum early in the week of 7 October 2019.

Recently, I gave a presentation at Mahara Open Forum showcasing some of these new features. If you want to see the slides with English titles, check out the English version of the presentation.

A few of the new features include:

  • Placeholder block, whose working title was "Magic block" (thanks to Dublin City University)
  • More flexible layout options (thanks to Catalyst)
  • Plans enhancement to automatically create tasks and assign portfolios (thanks to University of Bremen)
  • Comments and details mode when viewing a page (thanks to Catalyst)
  • Re-submission of portfolios via LTI (thanks to University of Sussex)
  • Page header can have personal background colour or image (thanks to Catalyst)

There are many more that you will be able to test shortly. We look forward to your feedback.

Mahara newsletter July 2019 (Vol. 9, Issue 2)

Posted on 01 July 2019, 18:42
Last updated Tuesday, 02 July 2019, 22:13
Tags: volume 9, 2019

Welcome to the July 2019 edition of the Mahara newsletter. The Mahara community has a few busy months ahead filled with events in various countries. We hope you will be able to attend one or more of them to meet portfolio enthusiasts and be inspired by their work.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 October 2019, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Congratulations

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

Launched in 2016, Reflect is Dublin City University's learning portfolio platform based on Mahara. Available to all DCU students and faculty, the portfolio makes learning visible through the creation of a personalised and reflective living showcase of academic, professional, and personal achievements.

In April students from all programmes using Reflect were invited to enter the 3rd Annual Learning Portfolio Showcase and Awards. Eportfolio showcase competitions have been used across the globe from New Zealand and Hong Kong, to the U.S. and Ireland to promote portfolio practice, recognise and reward student attainments, and celebrate the hard work that teachers and students have put into making ePortfolios a success.

A large number of student entries were received and evaluated by a panel of judges. As in previous years, the standard of entries was very high. However, twelve students presented exceptional portfolios and were shortlisted as finalists. Winners were presented with their awards by Professor Mark Brown of the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL).

Some of the winning and shortlisted students have given permission to share their entries to the Showcase competition that can be viewed below. Huge congratulations to all our entrants!

DCU Showcase and Awards winner with Lisa Donaldson and Mark Brown
Winner Declan McGrath (centre) with Lisa Donaldson and Mark Brown

First place, Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Humanities
Second place, Bachelor of Business Studies International
Third place, B.A. Joint Honours
Special Mention, Bachelor of Engineering

Shortlisted, M.Sc. Nursing
Shortlisted, Bachelor of Religious Education
Shortlisted, DCU Mentoring Scheme
Shortlisted, M.Sc Public Relations

Thank you

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The award of "Tester extraordinaire" goes to Swe Lynn from The Australian National University (ANU). Lynn has been testing Mahara very closely and diligently over the last few weeks, in preparation of the annual upgrade. She discovered a few issues that were not picked up before, and ANU is having these issues fixed by Catalyst Australia, contributing the solutions back to the Mahara project.

Mahara in use

Support during an internship

Esta (Hanning) Su (Monash College, Australia)

Picture of former intern Esta Su at Monash CollegeAs an IT graduate, I completed my internship with the Central eLearning Team at Monash College. My main responsibility involved designing and developing student dashboards. After my internship, I was offered a wonderful opportunity to stay and work as an Assistant Learning Analytics Developer.

My experience with Mahara started during my internship. At Monash College, interns are asked to write a reflective journal using Mahara that is then shared with their supervisors and mentors for feedback. When writing the weekly journals I found it particularly useful to have a simple user interface to create ideas and write down thoughts, without being distracted by all kinds of tools. It is also handy to be able to publish pages and collections in private or public mode and grant access to a particular person or a group of people. Once I shared the weekly reflection, my supervisor was able to provide feedback through the same tool that led to having the content and feedback in one place. Also, it allowed the supervisor to understand how I was feeling about my work responsibilities and how I was managing them.

One of the most useful functions as a developer is Tags. I used it to document some of the errors I came across during projects in Mahara as pages. Adding tags to a page is like adding keywords, which gives me quick access to a certain page.

It is amazing to see how Mahara helps to simplify the feedback process and enhance connections within an organisation, and it does make a difference for developers.

Mahara can do more

David Bell (eCentre for Trinity-at-Waiake Methodist Church, New Zealand)

How does Mahara describe itself? What's it really on about? From the website - "...a simple, easy-to-use, creative platform for people to showcase their learning."

I like the sound of that, but I wonder how it stacks up when graduates leave school, when they learn beyond institutional frameworks. Will they continue to use Mahara in the cluttered social media environment? Without doing a point by point comparison, I highlight a couple of essential differences in various ePortfolios and indicate how it can do more.

We are all in it together

Louise Carr (Hadlow College, UK)

Presentation summaryThe Teacher Education team at West Kent and Hadlow Colleges deliver an in-service vocational teaching and training Higher Education diploma qualification (D.E.T.). This academic year they have led a pilot study to move a text based progress log into a Mahara ePortfolio of professional practice.

The team have found that the introduction of the ePortfolio has had a positive impact on teaching, learning, and assessment and resulted in not only changes to their pedagogical practices but also to the broader 'Landscapes of Practice' (Wenger-Trayner, 2014).

In a presentation to the Canterbury Christ Church University Learning and Teaching Conference in the UK on 19 June 2019, the team outlined their findings, including examples of how, following the introduction of journals, CPD pages and regular reflection 'on-action' (Schon, 1998) and through a variety of artefacts, trainees had identified and engaged more effectively with their dual professional identities. This had then transferred into their practice within faculties and subject specialist disciplines.

You can view the presentation resources.

SmartEvidence framework files

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

You can set up SmartEvidence frameworks in Mahara 19.04 directly via a handy editor. Nevertheless, the Mahara project provides framework files that you can import into your Mahara instance to be up and running quickly with frameworks that others have set up and shared. This allows you to upload a framework and then only make small adjustments on it via the editor instead of needing to set it up from scratch.

If you created framework files that you are happy to share with the community, please send them. We are looking to expand our collection of available frameworks in the SmartEvidence format. Recently, we added the European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework (hat tip to Mark Glynn from DCU) as well as the Tapasā and Tātaiako, two cultural competency frameworks for New Zealand teachers.

Mahara in upcoming events

MahoodleFest 2019, 1 July 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The University of Gloustershire will host this year's Mahoodle event in the UK, MahoodleFest 2019, on 1 July 2019.

The programme is filled with presentations talking about portfolios, competencies, and how to use Mahara and Moodle well in today's tertiary landscape.

For more information, please visit the MahoodleFest 2019 website. You can follow #Mahoodle19 on Twitter.

Mahara Hui Francophone, 3-5 July 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The French Mahara community is organizing Mahara Hui Francophone at the Université de Rennes 1 from 3 to 5 July 2019. It will be co-located with MoodleMoot Francophone.

10th Mahara Open Forum, 31 August - 1 September 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The next Mahara Open Forum (MOF), the Mahara Hui in Japan, is scheduled for 31 August to 1 September 2019. It will take place at Tokushima University in Tokushima. The theme of this year's Mahara Open Forum is "Eportfolio in a sustainable society". Presentation proposals are accepted until 21 June 2019.

Visit the MOF website for more information.

Regional Mahara Hui NZ at Waitematā DHB, 4 October 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Kiwi Mahara User Group is planning a free half-day regional Mahara Hui at Waitematā District Health Board in Auckland, New Zealand, on 4 October 2019. Watch out for more information over the coming months in the News forum.

If you are planning on an extended stay in Auckland, you may wish to combine attending this hui with the New Zealand Moodle Moot and H5P mini conference, held at Unitec, from 1 to 3 October 2019. The call for proposals is open as is registration for this event.

2019 Eportfolio Forum, 20-21 November 2019

Allison Miller (ePortfolios Australia, Australia)

2019 Eportfolio Forum (Eportforum) is a two day event of presentations, workshops, facilitated conversations, and networking on 20-21 November 2019 at Australian Catholic University (ACU), Canberra Campus (Signadou). This will be the eighth Eportforum.

A variety of interactive sessions will enable new and experienced eportfolio supporters to gain some 'hands-on' experience with using ePortfolios, including hearing from our keynote presenter - Professor Tristram Hooley, University of Derby, United Kingdom.

Mahara Hui DE, 29-30 November 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Summer is in full swing in Europe. Thus, it's time to prepare for Mahara Hui DE, the gathering of people interested in ePortfolios and other modern learning and teaching methods, in Germany. This year, the event is back in Kassel, in the heart of Germany, and will be held from 28 to 30 November 2019. While the main event language is German, attendees are welcome to offer sessions in English if they prefer.

This 7th Mahara Hui DE will be held in its well-established style: The first day will be a workshop day. Then each of the two unconference days will be kicked off with a thought-provoking keynote. After that, attendees will shape the conference programme by offering sessions in which they showcase their work, discuss topics of interest, and learn from each other.

The event is supported by Lpaso Institute of Learning Culture e.V. More information will be available on the Mahara Hui DE website over the course of July and August.

Mahara in past events

Regional Mahara Hui, 7 June at University of Waikato

Stephen Bright and Clementine Annabell (University of Waikato, New Zealand)

On Friday, 7 June 2019, the University of Waikato hosted a regional Mahara Hui with participants from University of Waikato, AUT, and Waitematā and Middlemore District Health Boards. Kristina Hoeppner from Catalyst provided us with some excellent input for the morning sessions. 

Kristina presented an overview of new features in Mahara 19.04, which were well received by participants. Key changes and new features are listed in previous Mahara newsletters.

Kristina also gave a demo of the Mahara mobile app, Mahara Mobile. Kristina’s phone was displayed on one of the large screens in the room via Chromecast. This enabled us to see a live demo of the app rather than screenshots.

In the afternoon mixed groups discussed a set of focus questions about the benefits, success stories, and challenges organisations face in implementing ePortfolios across their respective organisations. This gave an opportunity for people to discuss common barriers and reflect on possible solutions.

The day was very useful and affirming, and it was great to be in a gathering where ePortfolios were the sole focus. We’re already looking forward to the next Mahara Regional Hui on Friday, 4 October 2019 (immediately following the New Zealand Moodle Moot 2019) as the next meeting of the community of practice.

Mahara in development

New way of selecting blocks for a page

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Work on Mahara 19.10 is fully underway. A number of usability improvement as well as new features are being developed. One of these is the move to a placeholder block. This feature was conceptualised by Lisa Donaldson, Mark Glynn, and their team at Dublin City University.

The idea is to put a block onto the page without needing to select its type. That will greatly help template creation and not force lecturers to decide on the type of learning evidence they expect from their learners. Instead, they can leave it up to the portfolio authors to decide what sort of evidence they wish to display.

You can read about this feature and will also be able to give it a go before the release of Mahara 19.10.0 when we publish the release candidate in the second half of September 2019.

Simplify the layout selection

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Another feature the Catalyst team in New Zealand is working on is the simplification of selecting a page layout. With Mahara 19.10, you will be able to change the layout directly on the "Edit" screen and are not restricted to built-in layout widths. This will be realised by using the Gridstack JavaScript library. Take a look at the Gridstack site to get an idea of how this is going to work. You can drag and drop blocks and then resize them to your liking. This will give you more flexibility over the placement of content on a page.

We look forward to your feedback on these and the other new and changed features for Mahara 19.10.

Mahara newsletter April 2019 (Vol. 9, Issue 1)

Posted on 01 April 2019, 21:07
Last updated Monday, 01 April 2019, 21:11

Two people holding hands; Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/yH66cRzpNzQThis edition of the Mahara newsletter is published in sombre times. Half a month ago, on 15 March 2019, Aotearoa New Zealand and the rest of the world were shocked by the horrific attacks on mosques in Christchurch. It is still very difficult to comprehend what happened, and a sad and traumatic time in the home country of the Mahara project.

To support the victims and their families, you can donate to the specific Victim Support appeal, an officially recognized fund raising appeal.

What can we do in the Mahara community? We have a code of conduct in place that guides our interactions with each other. It does not distinguish between genders, races, religions, or countries of origin, but treats everyone equally as Mahara community members. People from all over the world contribute to Mahara to their best abilities wanting to improve the software and its use. And equally, people around the globe use Mahara to document their learning journeys, accomplishments, and reflections. Mahara is open source enabling people no matter where they live to install it, use it, and develop it further. Contributions to the core project are accepted from everywhere and reviewed for inclusion.

Together we stand strong for a better future. Kia kaha.

If you want to share your Mahara journey, please send us an article for this newsletter. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 July 2019, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Congratulations

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

A huge round of applause goes to Dominique-Alain Jan (aka dajan) for having completed his Doctor in Education at The Open University last year. He's been a long-time Mahara community member, translator of Mahara into French, ePortfolio advocate, teacher, researcher, and organizer of many events in the Francophone Mahara community.

His doctoral thesis "Investigating ePortfolios from teacher training to the workplace" is an open access publication. From the abstract,

"This study investigates the transfer of ePortfolio practice from teacher training to the workplace, drawing on three case studies of secondary school teachers from different disciplines (IT, science, maths and foreign languages) who built their ePortfolios during pre-service training. It examines why teachers continue or cease ePortfolio practice, their trainers' and supervisors' perceptions of ePortfolio transfer, and the perceived usefulness of continuing ePortfolio practice at work. It also explores the hypothesis that ePortfolio practices, as a process, may be more subject to transfer than ePortfolios themselves, and compares results to other interviews with in-service teachers made during the preparation of this study and to the latest research on ePortfolio practice in teacher training."

Dajan was awarded the Vice-Chancellor Sir John Daniel Award for Education and Language Studies for his dedication and outstanding achievement in postgraduate research.

Toutes nos félicitations !

Mahara in upcoming events

Mahara Hui @ University of Waikato, 7 June 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The University of Waikato is the host for the next local Mahara Hui in Aotearoa New Zealand. It will take place on 7 June 2019. More information will be published in the Mahara News Forum when it becomes available.

MahoodleFest 2019, 1 July 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The University of Gloustershire will host this year's Mahoodle event in the UK, MahoodleFest 2019, on 1 July 2019.

The working title for the day is "Portfolios, Assessment and beyond - How openness can support learning and teaching". Presentation proposals can be made until 17 May 2019.

The organizers say that the "event is open to anyone who uses Moodle and/or Mahara, at whatever educational level - from schools, through further and higher education to workplace, adult and 3rd Sector training."

For more information, please visit the MahoodleFest 2019 website. You can follow #Mahoodle19 on Twitter.

Mahara Hui Francophone, 3-5 July 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The French Mahara community is organizing Mahara Hui Francophone at the Université de Rennes 1 from 3 to 5 July 2019. It will be co-located with MoodleMoot Francophone. Information on how to contribute to this event will be shared as soon as possible in the Mahara News Forum.

10th Mahara Open Forum, 31 August - 1 September 2019

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The next Mahara Open Forum (MOF), the Mahara Hui in Japan, is scheduled for 31 August to 1 September 2019. It will take place at Tokushima University in Tokushima. The theme of this year's Mahara Open Forum is "Eportfolio in a sustainable society". Presentation proposals will be accepted until 21 June 2019.

Visit the MOF website for more information.

Mahara in past events

Designing your professional portfolio

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

Eportfolio Ireland, founded in 2017 by a small group in Dublin City University (DCU), is a professional learning network for ePortfolio practitioners and researchers. The aim of the group is to improve ePortfolio competencies across Ireland and support ongoing research and collaboration.

In 2018, we ran Ireland's first Eportfolio Unconference, a very successful dialog driven event. A call was made at this event to host a workshop on designing a professional ePortfolio for practitioners as most of the attendees, whilst ePortfolio enthusiasts, did not actually have their own ePortfolios.

Funding was received from the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, and the event took place in February 2019, titled "Designing your Professional Portfolio – Walking the Walk with Eportfolios". The workshop discussed the affordances of ePortfolio for recording and showcasing Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and participants received professionally designed resources to scaffold the development of a professional portfolio.

The resource was informed by the Irish National Professional Development Framework (PDF), the Advance HE Fellowships, and with a local focus from the DCU Academic Development and Promotion Framework. The Stepping Stones framework and associated prompts is also available on the Eportfolio Ireland website in the resource "Designing your professional portfolio (Donaldson, Buckley, O’Riordan, 2019)". Group of professionals in discussion

Mahara in development

Preview of Mahara 19.04

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Mahara 19.04.0 will become available at the end of April 2019. Until then you have the chance to preview this upcoming version and test it before we are finalizing the release of Mahara 19.04.0.

There are a lot of new features again that enhance and expand existing functionality, bring new features to Mahara, and also fix a number of issues that have been encountered. Some new feature highlights are:

  • Editor for SmartEvidence frameworks
  • Isolated institutions
  • Upgrade to Bootstrap 4
  • Revised page header
  • Forum post attachments
  • Moderation of forum posts
  • Disallowing unsubscribing from forum posts
  • Opening of links in a new tab or window

The preview version will be made available on 2 April 2019. Watch out for an announcement in the Mahara News Forum and on Twitter.

Mahara 19.04 with Bootstrap 4

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Mahara 19.04 will come with Bootstrap 4. We are upgrading from Bootstrap 3 to keep up with the Bootstrap development and take advantage of advances in this framework.

The overall look of Mahara has not changed making it possible to upgrade and still allow learners to have a familiar site look. There will be a change to the page header area, a first step into the direction of allowing more customization there.

All built-in themes have been upgraded to Bootstrap 4. You can access the upgrade documentation on the wiki. In contrast to the upgrade from our custom Mahara CSS to Bootstrap 3, i.e. from Mahara 15.04 or earlier to 15.10 or later, the upgrade to Bootstrap 4 will be smoother.

In our trials with a different designer / front-end developer than the one who did the bulk of the work, it took only about 4-8 hours to upgrade a theme. Highly customized themes may take a bit more time to change as Bootstrap did make some far-reaching changes, in particular around the naming of variables.

Feel free to grab the latest code for Mahara 19.04 or Mahara master from our Git repository and install it to get a feel for the changes. You can also start making changes to any third-party plugin that you may have in use to prepare for the upgrade to Mahara 19.04.

Japanese Mahara user manual

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Mahara user manual is updated for every version of Mahara. It is the companion to the Mahara software. In Mahara 18.04 we introduced direct links to the user manual from within Mahara making it easier to find the relevant section.

This user manual is now fully available in Japanese, including older versions of it. Masayuki Kuwada from the University of Electro-Communications in Japan continued and completed the immense job of translating the comprehensive manual. Mitsuhiro Yoshida, the Japanese Mahara Partner and overall Mahara software Japanese translator, had started the translation.

If you wish to contribute to the translation of the user manual, you can start right away on Launchpad.

Mahara newsletter January 2019 (Vol. 8, Issue 4)

Posted on 01 January 2019, 14:06
Last updated Tuesday, 01 January 2019, 14:10

We wish you a happy new year and all the best for 2019. May you have a great year ahead of you. At the Mahara project, we are looking forward to an exciting year again. We have already been working on a number of new features for Mahara 19.04, and are seeking feedback for some usability improvements. More on that further down.

If you want to share how you are using Mahara, please send us your article. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 April 2019, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Congratulations

Gregor receiving the award for best computer science teacher in SloveniaCongratulations, Gregor Anželj, for having received the "Best Computer Science Teacher in Primary or Secondary School" award in Slovenia at the 21st international multiconference Information Society (IS2018) in October 2018.

Gregor was nominated for the award based on his contributions to the computer science teacher community, development of interactive content and unit plans as well as contributions to the final exam. He was selected by fellow computer science teachers in Slovenia who are a part of the Slovenian ACM branch, teachers' section.

Mahara in use

Making effective use of the Mahara ePortfolio platform and SmartEvidence as a tool for professional growth and reflection

Duncan Driver (University of Canberra, Australia)

Standards are designed as a tool for continual reflection and growth: they are exploited to best effect when introduced early in a program as a 'built-in' requirement. I introduced a new assessment task into my unit that required students to select an educational artefact and annotate it against their chosen standards using SmartEvidence. The purpose of the task was to familiarise pre-service teachers with the standards as early as possible and engage them in an authentic assessment instrument that could form the basis of a professional portfolio to be added to over the course of their degree, eventually being used for registration/certification purposes.

The result of this SmartEvidence trial has been significant and impactful. The Director of Professional Standards and Recognition at the Teacher Quality Institute reviewed one student portfolio and wrote back, saying

I agree this was a great early example of reflective practice. Through keen observation, the PST (Pre-Service Teacher) has identified key features of practice including enquiry and cooperative learning, questioning and formative assessment, and collaborative teacher practice. [The student] has described what she has observed well in narrative form and begun to interpret what she has seen in terms of impact on students and teachers. She has aligned the practice she has observed, and her own, with descriptors at the Graduate/Proficient level... I really appreciate this opportunity to see the level of insight achieved by a first-year student. It bodes well for the profession that this is the caliber of candidates.

Given the common application of Mahara ePortfolios as a platform for assessment at the University of Canberra and our strategic plan's emphasis on educating 'workplace-ready' professionals, there is a strong potential for SmartEvidence. Other professional standards or KPIs from a range of professional fields could be added to the extant list of options in SmartEvidence in Mahara.

Metaphors for introducing portfolios

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Metaphors are powerful tools to explain new concepts in familiar ways. They are often used in portfolio practice. The Mahara project designer Evonne Cheung created two illustrations for metaphors that are used by community members.

You can find them in the user manual for Mahara 18.10. Both metaphors, the gallery / museum and the performance, had been showcased in the January 2018 newsletter.

Illustration of the gallery / museum metaphorIllustration of the performance metaphor

What metaphors do you use to make it easier for your learners to grasp the concept of portfolios? Please share your ideas in the "Pedagogy" forum.

Mahara in review

Changes to page functionality

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

We are committed to keeping Mahara current and making improvements to its usability. One area of review is the look and feel of Mahara pages. It has been remarked that they are "blocky". I think this is mainly due to the fact that we have the possibility to comment on artefacts and thus have the commenting links as well as the "Details" links available directly on the page when it is viewed.

A review of online tools that allow the creation of web pages / portfolios has shown that many use blocks like Mahara as well to pull specific content into a page. However, typically, they do not have the feedback functionality available and the possibility to dig deeper to see metadata of an artefact.

Having identified that as a major contributor to making Mahara pages look somewhat "administrative" or less like a showcase portfolio, we looked into ways of dealing with that without loosing the possibility to comment on individual content items as that is important to many people.

You can see the result of these first ideas. We invite your feedback on the options that we've drafted.

Extending SmartEvidence

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

SmartEvidence has been in Mahara since version 16.10. Over the past year, we've received a bit feedback on it as well as numerous additional framework files that we are making available online. We are working on adding a visual editor to Mahara to facilitate the creation of the frameworks.

At the moment, SmartEvidence allows for the creation of frameworks that consist of standards / competencies on one level of expertise. Frameworks that combine multiple levels, e.g. graduate - first-year teacher - experienced teacher, would need to be split up and a SmartEvidence file for each level created. That is not always practical as it doesn't allow the mapping of competencies across these levels.

Therefore, we are proposing to change SmartEvidence to accommodate multi-leveled frameworks. Dublin City University initiated the investigation of this change. We'd like to hear from you if that would be a useful enhancement and what you think about the current proposal.

Mahara in past events

Mahara Hui DACH18, 29 November - 1 December 2018

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Mahara Hui DACH 2018 Mahara logo personificationAt the end of November, I had the privilege of attending Mahara Hui DACH18, Mahara Hui for Germany (D), Austria (A), and Switzerland (CH). The event was held at PH Wien, the University College of Teacher Education Vienna. There was a pre-hui day on 29 November 2018, and the two-day hui followed.

Mahara Hui DACH was for everyone invested in giving learners a supportive learning environment. And by learning environment I don't just mean an electronic portfolio, but also a learning management system, various other tools that help students progress in their learning, physical spaces that invite students to learn, and also an atmosphere that imparts on students that learning is not done by rote but by many other, more creative, means.

While a number of sessions did have a portfolio focus, many others didn't and allowed the participants to explore other areas of learning that can now enrich their own teaching repertoire.

The next Mahara Hui of the German-speaking countries will take place in Kassel, Germany, from 28 to 30 November 2019, and everyone is invited to attend. Conference languages are always German and English.

Read the entire blog post.

Mahara in development

Mahara 18.10: Facilitate reflections and assessment

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

On 25 October 2018 the Mahara core project team released Mahara 18.10. It was a big release for the time with a number of large new features that support reflecting on learning and assessing of portfolios. Since the release of this new version of Mahara, I've talked to lots of people about the new features, and three stood out in particular:

The new features are documented in the user manual, and the highlights can be found in the "New in Mahara 18.10" section.

We'd like to thank everybody who contributed to this latest release. Many participated again in different capacities, including UX, graphic design, front-end and back-end development, testing, translating, infrastructure support, user support. We also had numerous features sponsored by various organisations around the world. Read the release notes for the full announcement.

Mahara newsletter October 2018 (Vol. 8, Issue 3)

Posted on 01 October 2018, 21:36
Last updated Monday, 01 October 2018, 21:40

Welcome to the October 2018 newsletter. Today, 1 October 2018, is a milestone in the Mahara project. We made the release candidate for Mahara 18.10 available. We also have lots to celebrate, especially within the Irish community, and as usual have a number of stories of using Mahara in a variety of contexts.

If you want to share how you are using Mahara, please send us your article. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1/2 January 2019, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Congratulations

Congratulations go to to Dublin City University for having received two notable awards recognizing the work the DCU teams have been doing to support students in their learning portfolio journey.

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

The Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Learning Technologist of the Year Awards celebrate and reward excellent research and practice and outstanding achievement in Learning Technology. This year the Awards and ALT conference were held at the University of Manchester, UK, from 11 to 13 September 2018. The Learning Portfolio Team from Dublin City University (DCU) was selected as the winner of the Learning Technologist of the Year Team Award for their support of the successful implementation of DCU's learning portfolio.

Lisa Donaldson from DCU accepts the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Team Award

The learning portfolio platform, based on Mahara, now has over 10,000 users and is used in many different contexts across all faculties. The team is led by Lisa Donaldson and Mark Glynn, and supported by student eterns Chloe Langan, Niamh Gurrin, and Mirenda Rosenberg.

In addition to this judges choice award, the team are very honoured to have been selected by ALT peers for the Community Choice Award. Watch the video to learn more about the learning portfolio initiative at DCU.

Earlier this year, DCU was announced as the overall winner in a very competitive Coaching & Mentoring Category at the Irish Institute of Training & Development (IITD) National Training Awards. Since 2013, over 600 students have been mentored by hundreds of DCU alumni. A feature of this year's programme was the integration of DCU's online portfolio called Reflect. Students were invited to record and reflect on their learning experiences in the Mentoring Programme. In addition, they uploaded their career action plan and CV for future applications.

Mahara in use

PhD research showcase

Sam Taylor (formerly Cranfield University, UK; now Catalyst, UK)

Here at Cranfield Defence and Security we have been using Mahara predominantly to record outcomes from problem-based learning tasks and for group ePortfolio assessments. Recently, we’ve been receiving requests from our (amazing) PhD students who were looking for a platform to promote their work. I’d like to present Antony Nyombi's portfolio and his feedback about his experience of using Mahara to share his passion for his research with the world.

Feedback on Mahara by Antony Nyombi

Transcript of the feedback shown in the image by Antony Nyombi, PhD Researcher at Cranfield University - Shrivenham campus:

Hiring / partnering with someone you know from all angles should be the best thing anyone would desire - according to me!

Leave alone "background checks" - if an organisation is built on mutual trust and integrity, then everyone should not be afraid to give all about their life - except a few minor privacy notes.

Creating a free fully-fledged personal profile / website may be expensive, tedious and may require extended expertise but NOT with Mahara!

When I was first introduced to Mahara by Sam Taylor, I thought it was like other platforms I had interacted with. I asked her lots of questions including describing my dream platform which she had no idea about.

I was eager to know what Mahara could do for me, so I followed Sam's training and started applying it, with intermittent consultations from her. Soon I realised that Mahara could do what I thought was not achievable with it. During the first attempts, I created a portfolio that I didn't like, yet it was all my information. Later with practice, and following the user guide and help from Sam, I now like what I have created and hope to make it even much better.

Mahara is the only free platform I have interacted with where someone can create a personal profile that "head hunters" would admire to get the right person for a job, partnership, even massive bids in big corporate organisations.

I love Mahara so far and I am sure it will assist me to achieve my dreams. I recommend everyone who is into creating personal profiles to use Mahara.

 

Showcasing the benefits of TEL

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand); with information from Sam Taylor (formerly Cranfield University, UK; now Catalyst, UK)

Staff at Cranfield Defence and Security (CDS) published the first issue of the CDS inTEL Review, an annual online magazine using Mahara features stories from around the campus on how technology enhanced learning using Mahara has benefited course delivery at CDS.

EPortfolio-based assessment: Getting the word out

Teresa MacKinnon (University of Warwick, UK)

Cover of the "Eportfolio based assessment" ebook published by DCU in September 2018When I was approached by Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University) about possibly contributing to an e-book about ePortfolios for assessment, I was delighted to contribute. I had written and published openly about how as a team of language teachers we had developed and implemented an ePortfolio approach as partial assessment for some of our modules in a language context. I was particularly excited about the opportunity to showcase this – now over 6 years of work – within a collection of examples from other disciplines as a contribution to rethinking how we assess.

We use Mahara as a reflective, personal space for students to reflect upon their skills development in language learning. The project has brought a better understanding between tutors and students, giving real agency in the learning process and creating renewable assessments as an open educational practice.

I sent Lisa lots of links to my writing and resources and somehow she worked her magic, pulling all the submissions together in a very effective and useful volume. The published e-book provides a really useful resource to any teacher wanting to find inspiration for ePortfolio assessment, whatever their context.

---

If you'd like to get involved in MUM, the Mahara Users Midlands group, and chat with Teresa, join the MUM online community and watch out for event announcements for in-person meetings.

Reflective telecollaborative practice through Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange

Teresa MacKinnon (University of Warwick, UK)

The Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange initiative offers cross border interaction through telecollaboration, giving young people over 18 years old the opportunity to connect and better understand the lives of their counterparts in other countries in a structured way.

This initiative aims to support the international experience which may otherwise be impossible for those who, for reasons of family commitments or financial demands, are unable to spend time studying abroad. The scheme also offers free training for academics and administrators in higher education institutions who would like to include this sort of activity in their programmes.

Participation in training through a wide range of possibilities shown on the website is recognised through the award of Erasmus Plus open badges. For the next few years I am working as part of the EVOLVE project in support of this inclusive approach to internationalisation and I am pleased to say that we will be using Mahara as a reflective space for participants in order to:

  • help increase the impact of their learning and
  • to provide research data in order to better understand how such activities can transform the way we understand each other.

I am very excited to be part of such an innovative project and will keep you updated on our activities. Meanwhile, if you know of colleagues interested in telecollaboration, please share the links above with them and watch out for the twitter feeds from @evolve_erasmus and @ErasmusVirtual.

Mahara in upcoming events

ePortfolio Forum, 9-10 October 2018

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The ePortfolio Forum is the annual gathering of portfolio researchers and practitioners in Australasia. This year, it is going to take place at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, and marks the 7th annual event. The theme is "Exploring, Experiencing, Engaging, Energising, Expanding" and promises conversations that fit the theme very well.

Registration for this event is open. Check out the programme for more information. Follow #eportforum for updates.

Mahara Hui DACH, 29 November - 1 December 2018

H.D. Hirth (Lpaso, Germany)

Vienna Calling! We are glad to announce the 6th Mahara Hui for central European countries, provided and supported by Lpaso Institute of Learning Culture e.V.

The upcoming event with the title "Mahara Hui DACH18" will take place from 29 November to 1 December 2018 at University College of Teacher Education Vienna (PH Wien) in Austria. The organizing team wish to invite ePortfolio users from Germany (D), Austria (A), and Switzerland (CH). Other portfolio practitioners from across Europe are warmly welcomed to take part at this unconference as well.

The event language is German, but attendees are free to offer their sessions in English if that is more convenient.

Following the tradition, the event will begin with hands-on sessions on 29 November 2018 followed by a shared dinner near the venue.

The first conference day will start with a keynote by Dieter Omert (Audi AG, Ingolstadt, Germany). It will be followed by a full day of sessions planned by the hui attendees. We encourage participants to offer sessions of all kinds of topics and experiences around education. Later in the day, there is the possibility to learn more about the history of the city on a bus tour to historical places in Vienna before gathering for the conference dinner.

The conference dinner will be accompanied by the "Open Mic Band" of PH Wien. According to the conference motto, they will play hit songs by Falco, like "Vienna Calling".

The third day will be kicked off by Josef Buchner, university lecturer at University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. His keynote will be followed by more sessions offered by attendees before Mahara Hui DACH 2018 will come to a close in the late afternoon.

Mahara Hui DACH is again very affordable at 50€ per attendee for the main conference, 30 November to 1 December 2018, including coffee breaks, lunch, and conference dinner. The workshops of the pre-conference on 30 November and the bus tour of Vienna are charged separately.

You can register for the event. The organizing team from Lpaso e.V. and University College of Teacher Education Vienna look forward to welcoming you in Vienna later in the year.

Mahara in past events

Eportfolio Ireland unconference, 7 September 2018

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

Eportfolio Ireland, Ireland's first ePortfolio community of practice, recently held its second unconference. This flexible and discussion driven format proved a huge success with Irish ePortfolio practitioners in January 2018 and resulted in the collaborative development of an ePortfolio assessment e-book which was launched at the event.

The e-book "Eportfolio based assessment: Inspiring exploration and supporting evaluation for practitioners" contains sample ePortfolio assessments and reflections on the same from practitioners across Ireland and the UK. It can be accessed online. A number of collaborative articles are currently being developed by the attendees of the September unconference which we hope to publish shortly. Follow us at @EportfolioIRL.

Mahara in development

Preview of Mahara 18.10

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The preview version of Mahara 18.10 is available for download, installation, and testing. It's your chance to take a look at it and explore it before we are finalizing it for release at the end of October 2018. We are very happy to be offering you a large number of exciting new features. Amongst them are:

  • New navigation menu structure
  • Submit a portfolio to an LMS via LTI
  • View old versions of your portfolio in a timeline
  • Create a page based on tagged content automatically
  • Set up institution tags
  • Explore other people's portfolios via their tags
  • Support blind peer assessments
  • Sign off and verify portfolio pages
  • Set up a custom landing page after login
  • Edit plans directly within "Edit" mode of a page
  • Copy group portfolios into group member's accounts automatically
  • Set up instructions for a page
  • Moderate portfolios that were flagged as having objectionable content.

The user manual is being updated, and a large number of these features has already been documented. View them via "New in Mahara 18.10" in the manual's index.

View details in our announcement of the release candidate. We look forward to hearing from you about these new features.

Mahara newsletter July 2018 (Vol. 8, Issue 2)

Posted on 01 July 2018, 15:31
Last updated Sunday, 01 July 2018, 15:36

Welcome to the July 2018 newsletter. It's the half-way mark for 2018, and we are well under way with the development of Mahara 18.10. Read on for some stories to consider during your summer reading in the Northern Hemisphere or those cold evenings in the Southern Hemispheric winter.

If you want to share how you are using Mahara, please send us your article. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 October 2018, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Mahara in use

Mahara in the classroom

Jean Breton (Commission scolaire Côte-du-Sud, Canada)

My name is Jean Breton and I am a high school teacher in Québec, Canada. I was first introduced to Mahara by a pedagogical advisor for a class I have taught for many years. This class, "Projet personnel d’orientation", is a class where students learn about themselves, the education system in Québec, and the job market. To do so, they do different activities using computers and the Internet.

In order to keep track of my students' work and reflections, I used paper-based portfolios with them, but it was not efficient because some of my students were losing… their portfolios. That's when I was told about Mahara. It was such a relief for me! No more binders to manage and no more missing portfolios! And the students loved it!

But there was more! Last year, I met another pedagogical advisor, Stéphane Lavoie, and he made me realize I could use Mahara for myself. As a teacher, I can use Mahara to collect digital artefacts and keep track of my professional development.

SmartEvidence frameworks

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Now that many institutions have upgraded to a version of Mahara that includes SmartEvidence, it is great to see them start using it and exploring its potential. SmartEvidence allows you to work with competency frameworks in Mahara and visualize your progress across the framework. At the moment, entire portfolio pages are mapped to standards. Where do you want to take this functionality? Edd Bolton started a discussion a few weeks ago, and you are invited to join in.

Recently, Grégory David shared the SmartEvidence framework he created for BTS Services Informatiques aux Organisations in France. It is shared freely alongside other frameworks that you are welcome to download and adapt to your own requirements.

If you created SmartEvidence frameworks that you would like to share, please send them to [email protected].

The learning portfolio: A review by DCU

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Dublin City University (DCU) launched "The learning portfolio in higher education: A game of snakes and ladders", a critical review of the literature on learning portfolios in higher education around the world. It is a concise report discussing the origins of the learning portfolio, where it is at right now, and how it fits into the wider context of portfolio use. The report can be downloaded for free.

Portfolio-based assessment: An upcoming book

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

An output from the recent ePortfolio unconference organized in Dublin City University was the collaborative development of an interactive ebook of ePortfolio-based assessment. The goal of the publication is to support and inspire those exploring ePortfolio activities and assessment. Many educators from Ireland and the UK have contributed an ePortfolio-based assessment or video for inclusion. A collaboratively designed rubric to assess ePortfolios will also be shared. Lisa Donaldson, DCU, will be finalizing the ebook in the coming months. It is set for publication in September 2018. It will be available online and as a pdf.

Mahara in upcoming events

AAEEBL Annual Meeting, 24-26 July 2018

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Association for Authentic, Experiential, and Evidence-Based Learning (AAEEBL) is holding its annual meeting at Capilano University in Vancouver, Canada, from 24 to 26 July 2018. This year's theme is "Building bridges with ePortfolios". Portfolio practitioners and researchers from Canada, the United States, Australasia, and Europe are going to discuss many different topics in presentations, panels, and workshops. For example, an international panel of Mahara practitioners is going to share ideas around supporting portfolio implementations providing insight into different areas of support.

You can still register for the event and become part of the community to further ePortfolio practices.

ePortfolio Forum, 9-10 October 2018

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The ePortfolio Forum is the annual gathering of portfolio researchers and practitioners in Australasia. This year, it is going to take place at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, and marks the 7th annual event. The theme is "Exploring, Experiencing, Engaging, Energising, Expanding" and promises conversations that fit the theme very well.

Registration for this event is open, and the program will be shared as soon as it's been finalized.

Mahara Hui DACH, 29 November - 1 December 2018

H.D. Hirth (Lpaso, Germany)

Mahara Hui DACH 2018 Mahara logo personificationVienna Calling! We are glad to announce the 6th Mahara Hui for central European countries, provided and supported by Lpaso Institute of Learning Culture e.V.

The upcoming event with the title "Mahara Hui DACH18" will take place from 29 November to 1 December 2018 at University College of Teacher Education Vienna (PH Wien) in Austria. The organizing team wish to invite ePortfolio users from Germany (D), Austria (A), and Switzerland (CH). Other portfolio practitioners from across Europe are warmly welcomed to take part at this unconference as well.

The event language is German, but attendees are free to offer their sessions in English if that is more convenient.
Following the tradition, the event will begin with hands-on sessions on 29 November 2018 followed by a shared dinner near the venue.

The first conference day will start with a keynote by Dieter Omert (Audi AG, Ingolstadt, Germany). It will be followed by a full day of sessions planned by the hui attendees. We encourage participants to offer sessions of all kinds of topics and experiences around education. Later in the day, there is the possibility to learn more about the history of the city on a bus tour to historical places in Vienna before gathering for the conference dinner.

The conference dinner will be accompanied by the "Open Mic Band" of PH Wien. According to the conference motto, they will play hit songs by Falco, like "Vienna Calling".

The third day will be kicked off by Josef Buchner, university lecturer at University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. His keynote will be followed by more sessions offered by attendees before Mahara Hui DACH 2018 will come to a close in the late afternoon.

Mahara Hui DACH is again very affordable at 50€ per attendee for the main conference, 30 November to 1 December 2018, including coffee breaks, lunch, and conference dinner. The workshops of the pre-conference on 30 November and the bus tour of Vienna are charged separately.

You will be able to register for the event from mid-July 2018. The organizing team from Lpaso e.V. and University College of Teacher Education Vienna look forward to welcoming you in Vienna later in the year.

Mahara in past events

Mahoodle for digital assessment, 26 April 2018

Sam Taylor (Cranfield University, UK)

48 keen and eager 'Mahoodlers' attended this event at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom's Heaviside Lecture Theater. The focus was on Digital Assessment and followed a format similar to the previous event held in Cambridge in October 2017. You can read all the tweets by following #mahoodle18

The day consisted of a wonderful keynote by Dr Mark Glynn (Dublin City University); 10 'Show and Tell' sessions that gave a glimpse into various institutions' assessment processes, activities and work in progress; a workshop (delivered by myself and Aurélie) that explored the development and assessment of an ePortfolio activity; and a lunchtime presentation by Joey Murison of Catalyst IT on the importance of community engagement, supporting open source, and the future plans of Moodle and Mahara...

Read Sam's full report.

Mahara in development

Reorganizing the Mahara navigation

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The current organization of the menu items in Mahara dates back to 2011. Since then, many people have used the navigation and at times struggled to make sense of the order of the menu items. We are making a proposal to change the order and also combine certain menu items for a more streamlined display of the options with the goal to make it easier to find what people are looking for.

We invite you to take a look at our proposal and share your opinion.

Mahara newsletter April 2018 (Vol. 8, Issue 1)

Posted on 01 April 2018, 13:06
Last updated Sunday, 22 April 2018, 20:31

Welcome to the April 2018 newsletter. Mahara 18.04 is right around the corner, and we are looking forward to making this new release available to you very soon. Find out about new plugins as well as use of Mahara in groups of students.

If you want to share how you are using Mahara, please send us your article. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 July 2018, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Mahara in use

Group work perspectives

Angelique Bodart (Cranfield University, UK)

Going one step beyond group work... sharing group project progress with the sponsors, not just the final product.

When students are tasked with group projects to test their ability to apply learning in a real situation, often the sponsor only gets sight of the final product, which may or may not be what they were hoping for. This was the case for the MSc module, Organisational Development, at Cranfield University. Sponsors felt out of the loop and wanted the ability to guide the students in a direction that would ensure their needs were met at the end.

Check out how a Mahara page was designed and used to support this, from a learning technologist and a teacher perspective.

Mahara in upcoming events

Mahoodle for Digital Assessment, 26 April 2018

Sam Taylor and Aurélie Soulier (Cranfield University, UK)

Cranfield University and the Defence Technology Enhanced Learning team invite you to attend the Mahoodle for Digital Assessment day.

This free event is for those who support the design and delivery of assessment using Moodle, Mahara, or 'Mahoodle' (a combination of both). By assessment, we mean any activity that allows students and their teachers to evaluate where they are on their learning journey, and for which feedback can be given either via an automated response or by a designated reviewer.

The event:

The day will comprise:

  • a series of show-and-tell presentations from institutions from all over the UK,
  • an overview from our sponsor Catalyst IT who will be showcasing the new features of the next Moodle and Mahara releases,
  • a workshop on evaluating tools to support digital assessment,
  • a clinic and soundboard to troubleshoot any queries you have,
  • all kicked off by our keynote Dr Mark Glynn from Dublin City University.

This event would be particularly suitable for those who support the use of Moodle and Mahara, such as Learning Technologists, Platform Managers, eLearning Support Officers and anyone who is tasked with supporting academic staff with assessment design. We hope that all attendees will leave with ideas which they can implement at their own establishment.

Please note that attendance is limited to just 50 places, so please register your interest as soon as possible.

ePortfolios & more:  The developing role of ePortfolios within the digital landscape, 23-25 May 2018

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Dublin City University is going to host the "ePortfolio & more" event facilitated by AAEEBL (the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Experience-Based Learning) and the CRA (the Centre for Recording Achievement). The seminar will take place from 23 to 25 May 2018 in Dublin, Ireland, and will bring together ePortfolio practitioners from many different institutions. Visit the website for more information.

AAEEBL annual meeting, 23-26 July 2018

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The 2018 annual meeting of AAEEBL (the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Experience-Based Learning) stands under the motto of "Building bridges with ePortfolios". Join North American ePortfolio practitioners and researchers as well as those from other countries in discussing how ePortfolios can make connections. Read more about the annual meeting.

Mahara in past events

Integrating authentic ePortfolio assessment – An ePortfolio unconference, 26 January 2018

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

Ireland's first educational technology unconference took place at DCU on January 26, funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. The unconference format is a high energy and flexible approach for professional learning which features discussion and collaboration at it's core! The event focused on ePortfolio practice across Ireland and attracted attendees from 9 Irish institutes of higher education, as well as participants from Enterprise Ireland and UK colleges and organisations. Sam Taylor from Cranfield University was the featured keynote speaker.

The highly interactive day was captured through online and visual media to illustrate the energy, relevancy and collaborative nature of the discussions and in a blog post.

Eportfolio Ireland and Mahara User Group meeting online, 21 March 2018

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

On 21 March 2018 the newly founded Eportfolio Ireland user group (emerged out of the Mahara User Group Ireland MaharaIRL) and the Mahara User Group (New York) held a co-organized webinar that gave an introduction to the Irish ePortfolio context, talked about critical reflections, and ePortfolio assessment. You can watch the recording of this session.

Mahara in development

Assignment submission via LTI: New sponsors

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

In the last newsletter we shared the good news that the University of Canberra was the first sponsor to support the development work of the assignment submission functionality via LTI. Since then, four more colleges and universities have come on board, and we are excited to have them as partners for this development work. The Australian National University is funding 25% of the costs, and the Australian Catholic University, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and Monash College are each contributing $2,000.

Due to the support from all these institutions, we could start the development work, which will benefit schools, universities, and training providers around the world, no matter what learning management system they are using as long as it supports LTI.

If you want to co-sponsor this feature, please get in touch with me to discuss the details.

Mahara 18.04 release

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

It is April and thus the month of the Mahara 18.04 release. We are putting the finishing touches on this release, and are excited to have a large number of new features included.

Take a look at the user manual for the highlights. These include:

  • Support for the new EU privacy regulation GDPR
  • Password policy
  • Copying of portfolios as Leap2A
  • Support for object storage
  • Link to internal Mahara portfolio pages
  • Image rotation
  • Link to the user manual from each page to the relevant section
  • Auto-refresh of SAML metadata
  • Improvements to SmartEvidence

These are just a few of the new functionality available via Mahara 18.04. We will make this new version of Mahara available shortly, within the first two weeks of April 2018, so that institutions that need to comply with the GDPR have time to upgrade before 25 May 2018.

If you want to install the pre-release of this upcoming version, check out the necessary information. Alternatively, you can test the features at https://master.dev.mahara.org

If you want to see the changes for the GDPR, check out this video.

Object storage for Mahara

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The Catalyst IT Australia team created plugins that will allow institutions to utilize object storage for files stored in Mahara. The necessary support in the Mahara infrastructure will be available in Mahara 18.04, but can also be backported to older versions of Mahara. The team has done that successfully for Mahara 17.04 for a client.

Currently, there are plugins available to support S3 from AWS and Blob Storage from Microsoft Azure. They allow you to store media files (except image thumbnails) in object storage, which is cheaper than conventional storage and thus allows institutions to save on hosting fees. The plugins that you will need are the following (besides having Mahara 18.04 or the backported support for objectfs):

Bevan Wishart, one of the developers, created a demo for the setup.

QR code generator for Mahara

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Ruslan Kabalin (Lancaster University, UK) created a "light" and upgraded QR code generator of the existing QR code generator plugin for Mahara. When the QR code block is placed onto a page, it creates a unique QR code to that page. This plugin was tested with Mahara 17.10.

Mahara newsletter January 2018 (Vol. 7, Issue 4)

Posted on 01 January 2018, 12:54
Last updated Monday, 01 January 2018, 13:03

Welcome to the January 2018 newsletter and thus a new year. We wish you all the best for 2018 and look forward to talking with you about Mahara. We hope you enjoy this first newsletter of 2018.

If you want to share how you are using Mahara, please send us your article. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1 April 2018, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Mahara in use

ANU coffee course: Introductory course to portfolio learning and ePortfolio

Rebecca Ng (Australian National University, Australia)

The Australian National University (ANU) recently launched Mahara ePortfolio as a new tool for academic and professional development. To coincide with its launch, the team at ANU Online ran a 'Coffee Course' introducing portfolio learning and ePortfolio. Our Coffee Courses are short, online, and open access courses (requiring up to 15 minutes a day) covering topics in educational technology, teaching online, digital tools, pedagogy, or trends in technology.

In the ePortfolio Coffee Course, we introduce pedagogical benefits of portfolio learning, provide examples of ePortfolios used in higher education, and discuss risk factors and affordances of the technology.

Field guide to ePortfolio

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

AAEEBL Field Guide to Eportfolio cover imageIn 2015, AAEEBL (Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning) had the idea to publish a short book on important aspects of ePortfolio use in higher education. More than 50 contributors - predominantly from the U.S.A., but also from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand - worked collaboratively on this guide to bring together research, experiences, and case studies.

The twelve chapters are all kept short and contain a wealth of additional reading for delving deeper:

  1. The promise of eportfolios for student learning and agency
  2. Redesigning learning: Eportfolios in support of reflective growth within individuals and organizations
  3. Authentic learning: Eportfolios across the divide
  4. Promoting student cognitive development: Integrative learning, reflection, and metacognition
  5. Learners and the digital era: Digital identity, digital literacy, and eportfolios
  6. On the right track: Using eportfolios to address institutional challenges
  7. New ways to demonstrate achievements: Warranting eportfolio evidence
  8. Transition to career and career development
  9. Learning analytics and the learner
  10. Faculty eportfolios: Teaching and learning and professional development
  11. Eportfolios and internationalization: Meeting the needs of the emergent global learner
  12. How important is the technology?

The book is available as free download, and you are encouraged to share it with your network, team members, administrators who make decisions about portfolios at your institution, and anybody else who's interested in ePortfolios and wants to have a quick overview.

Bibliographic reference: Batson, T., Coleman, K. S., Chen, H. L., Watson, C. E., Rhodes, T. L., & Harver, A. (Eds.). (2017). Field guide to eportfolio. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

I had the privilege to work with four ePortfolio researchers on one of the book chapters. We presented on our collaboration at the AAEEBL 2017 conference in Portland, Oregon, and provided a glimpse into our group work that spanned two hemispheres, four time zones, and three countries.

Introducing ePortfolios: Which metaphor do you use?

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

In November we asked in the forum and on social media what metaphors are used to explain ePortfolios. This question was prompted by a sharing of metaphors at Mahara Hui @Tauranga in New Zealand. The two metaphors shared there were: Stage / backstage and crime story. A few more were mentioned on in the Facebook group "Eportfolios community of practice":

  • Digital journey
  • Digital filing cabinet
  • Curated scrap book
  • Wardrobe

Kate Coleman dedicated an entire chapter to the topic of metaphors and ePortfolios in her PhD thesis An a/r/tist in wonderland: Exploring identity, creativity and digital portfolios as a/r/tographer.

In the following, you can read two metaphors. If you want to share your own, please email me. We are also looking at including the metaphors into the user manual in 2018 to make them more easily accessible.

Metaphor: Art gallery

Mandia Mentis (Massey University, New Zealand)

Using an art gallery to explain the creation of portfolios; Source: Mandia Mentis

Imagine your portfolio was like showing your work at an art gallery as the image illustrates. The steps to creating a portfolio would involve:

Steps involved in myPortfolio
Using the metaphor of an art gallery
Step 1: Store your content In the art gallery metaphor this would be like storing your artefacts / content in the basement of the gallery to use later. Organising your storage space well will help to find artefacts later!
Step 2: Create pages In the art gallery metaphor this would be like showing your artefacts /content in different rooms of the gallery – a  different room for each domain area.
Step 3: Create a collection (link pages into your portfolio) In the art gallery metaphor this would be like linking the rooms into a exhibition - your final portfolio made up of all the domain pages.
Step 4: Share your collection (open your portfolio to be viewed) In the art gallery metaphor this would be like allowing people into the gallery to view your exhibition - provide people with a link to view your myPortfolio.

 

Note: This metaphor has been reproduced with permission from Mandia Mentis who had shared it under a Creative Commons BY-SA license. "myPortfolio" is the instance of Mahara that Massey University uses.

Metaphor: Performance

Hazel Owen (Ethos Consultancy NZ, New Zealand)

A stage with backstage explaining the performance metaphor; Source: Hazel Owen

Thinking about how learners and educators use / experience ePortfolios, it is worth considering how they might be described conceptually. The idea of an ePortfolio as 'performance' can be developed to capture and illustrate the following notions:

  • Back stage: Collection of 'projects' – some half-finished, some ready for the next production, some still in the concept phase, some abandoned
  • Apprenticeship: Learning the 'language' and ways of being of a discipline (back stage and rehearsals; peer and tutor feedback – spend time as an apprentice, 'sweeping, painting scenery, learning the vocabulary')
  • Types of ePortfolio: Development & process (backstage & rehearsal); showcase/professional (final performance; multiple owner (the cast, director etc); working (combination of all the spaces)
  • Private / public space
  • Building trust/rapport and community
  • The performance as a production within and for a range of communities (see this diagram for more detail)
  • Rehearse as a group as well as an individual
  • Start to rehearse. Feedback from director/peers (work collaboratively to interpret a script)
  • Personality and creativity: interpretation of the script (role/assessment/rubric)
  • Audience: Who are they? Appropriacy. Don’t always know (global)
  • Dress rehearsal/first night: iterative feedback loop

Some of these points may be stretching the analogy a little :-) , but it seems to pull together the potential of what an ePortfolio might be, and also stresses the need for scaffolding and support – you wouldn't expect someone to become a fully fledged actor with it!!

The point I built from was that most definitions and descriptions recognise ePortfolios as "a collection of 'works' ... that represent physical evidence of achievements" (Mason, Cochrane, & Owen, 2008), but they all seem rather esoteric and dry. The human element and sense of everything happening in communities often appears to be missing.

Reference: Mason, C., Cochrane, T., & Owen, H. (2008, March). E-portfolios. Paper presented at the Centre for Teaching and Learning Innovation Lunchtime Series, Unitec New Zealand, Auckland.

Note: This excerpt from ePortfolios was published with permission from Hazel Owen. Text: Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0; Image: Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Mahara in upcoming events

Integrating authentic ePortfolio assessment – An ePortfolio unconference, 26 January 2018

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

This ePortfolio unconference, funded by the Irish National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, will support faculty integrating ePortfolio into teaching and assessment practices. It is demand led through feedback from the MaharaIRL ePortfolio community of practice – a group consisting of representatives from many Irish higher education institutions interested in exploring and sharing ePortfolio best practice.

The day will feature a presentation by Sam Taylor from Cranfield University, one of three founding members of an ePortfolio community of practice and key contributor to many ePortfolio initiatives in the UK. Following the presentation, the unconference will then dynamically address the individual interests of participants via electronic polling. These participant driven sessions will focus on the potential of an ePortfolio approach to assessment. Attendees may collaboratively develop and evaluate best practice principles for ePortfolio based assessment; design shareable resources and samples for ePortfolio use, to be disseminated to the wider community; or may choose to participate in / facilitate an ePortfolio conversation of their choice. Potential areas for discussion in the sessions may include:

  • First steps in considering ePortfolio based assessment
  • Developing discipline specific authentic assessment ePortfolio samples
  • Supporting critical reflection with ePortfolios
  • Documenting workplace learning through ePortfolios
  • Assessing ePortfolios through the generation of rubrics

...although you will decide and reimagine these on the day!

It is anticipated that best practices and resources developed through these breakout sessions will be shared back to participants and the National Forum to contribute to a body of knowledge on ePortfolio practices and assessment in Ireland.

Refreshments and lunch will be served. Please RSVP for logistics and catering purposes.

We look forward to welcoming you to DCU for an exciting and interactive unconference!

MoodleMoot Germany 2018, 13-15 March 2018

Pascal Fischer (Universität Kassel, Germany)

From 13 to 15 March 2018, the University of Kassel will organize the national practice-oriented conference MoodleMoot Germany with the Service Center Teaching and the German Moodle partner eLeDia at the University of Kassel. It is open to anyone interested in using Moodle and Mahara in their respective educational fields and institutions from different perspectives - whether as developers, users, or decision makers.

The main topics of the conference are:
• Designing educational offers in the process of social digitization
• Developing teaching and learning cultures, lifelong and barrier-free design
• Effective use of interfaces in the educational landscape
• Thinking about technology, law, and education in one context
• Developing together

There will be three keynote speakers: Moodle founder Dr. Martin Dougiamas (Australia), Elizabeth Dalton (U.S.A.), Research Analyst at Moodle Headquater, will talk about learning analytics, and Ralf Hilgenstock (Germany), co-owner of eLeDia, will report about data privacy when using learning management systems.

The final preconference programme as well as a first version of the main programme are available at moodlemoot.de. There you will also find more information and the conference registration form. Contributions to the programme can be submitted until 21 January 2018.

We look forward to seeing you at MoodleMoot in Kassel.

Mahara in past events

Mahara Hui EU17, 30 November - 2 December 2017

Jan Schulze (Lpaso, Germany)

The Lpaso team thanks all participants for a successful Mahara Hui EU17 and makes a review of the unconference available.

You can find interviews and opinions around learning and teaching in the audio journal. The video journal contains the edited recordings of the keynote presentations.

Listening and watching is worth it, and we'd love for you to share the links with others.

---

Mit einem Rückblick auf die erfolgreiche Mahara Hui EU17 bedanken wir uns bei allen Teilnehmern.

In dem Audiotagebuch findet ihr Interviews und Stimmen rund ums Lernen und Lehren. Im Videotagebuch sind die bearbeiteten Mitschnitte der Keynotes bereitgestellt.

Vorbeischauen lohnt sich und über eine Weitergabe des Links an Interessierte würden wir uns freuen.

Mahara in development

Assignment submission via LTI: First sponsor

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

In Mahara 17.04, we implemented the initial stage for making Mahara compatible with LTI: Single sign-on from a learning management system to Mahara. This work was made possible through funding from Instructure, the creators of Canvas.

The next stage would be to have assignment submission available via LTI so that Canvas, Blackboard, and other LMSs can integrate more comfortably into the assessment work flow because currently, assignment submission is only possible via Moodle.

The Mahara project is seeking sponsorship for this large piece of work. A few institutions have shown interest, and the first confirmed sponsor is the University of Canberra in Australia with $2,000. If you want to co-sponsor this feature, please get in touch with me to discuss the details to make this functionality happen.

Mahara and the GDPR

Kristina Höppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is going into effect in the European Union on 25 May 2018. The Mahara project team is working on making necessary changes to adhere better to this regulation in order for institution to continue working with Mahara. These changes will be available in Mahara 18.04, which we are planning to release in the first half of April 2018.

Institutions should seek legal council before 25 May 2018 to determine what changes they may need to make to their privacy statement, terms and conditions, communication work flows, and whether they should upgrade to Mahara 18.04 before the end of May.

You can find information on the actions that the Mahara team is taking in the forum discussion and on the wiki.

Mahara newsletter October 2017 (Vol. 7, Issue 3)

Posted on 01 October 2017, 14:21
Last updated Saturday, 21 October 2017, 0:52

Kia ora - welcome to the October 2017 newsletter of the Mahara project. No matter where in the world you are, you can benefit from insight of academics working with Mahara, receive some tips of implementing Mahara, and find out about past an upcoming events, besides looking forward to a new release of Mahara by the end of October.

If you want to share how you are using Mahara, please send us your article. We'd love to hear how you are using Mahara.

The next newsletter will be published on 1/2 January 2018, and you can send articles to [email protected].

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

Mahara in use

Employability and careers portfolios using Mahara

Shaun Pulman (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand)

AUT trialled the use of Mahara as an employability portfolio over three months with a group of 25 students from various areas of the university. The trial was delivered in partnership between AUT's Employability and Careers team and CfLAT, the Centre for Learning and Teaching.

It marks a departure from the typical use of Mahara as an assessment or reflection tool for academic purposes at AUT, and instead allowed students to enhance their employability awareness and opportunities in two ways:

  • Development of a dynamic web profile containing diverse media, which can be shared with employers as a job application, but also with peers and AUT staff;
  • Employability information and resources (such as industry resources like AUT's Future Career Sheets, application information and videos) in one place and in various formats.

Two large employers (NZME and Auckland Council) partnered with AUT for the trial and offered advice and insights on the process. Other companies consulted were really positive about the idea, including Fonterra (NZ's largest company) and Air New Zealand.

The trial commenced with two workshops delivered to a combined total of 26 students in a computer lab. The workshop detailed the objectives of the trial and benefits to students, and then started the students off with using Mahara. Students then developed their own pages, with some submitting these as job applications.

Currently, students are submitting feedback through user testing and written surveys. The intention is that the portfolio will be used across the university in the future.

Shaun will be presenting on the trial at the NAGCAS conference in Sydney in late November 2017.

Who is using what down-under?

Michael Sankey (Western Sydney University, Australia)

A recent survey conducted by the Australasian Council on Open, Distance and e-Learning (ACODE) of which universities where using which ePortfolio tool, has found that 41% are using Mahara. The second most popular tool was PebblePad at 23%. Forty-four out of a possible 49 universities participated in this activity across Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. Despite ePortfolio being a topic that most universities have come to terms with over the last five to seven years, four universities were still struggling to come-up with a centralized solution for their students. Anecdotally, this is partly to do with how the market place is changing, with the plethora of social media tools that can now slot (although not comfortably) into this space. It is partly to do with different academic disciplines not be able to agree on a common tool to meet their various needs, while others are leaving it to commercial entities such as LinkedIn to be a default professional profile.

Distribution of ePortfolio systems at Australasian universities

Notwithstanding, among these 44 universities, there was a huge reported variance in use of their ePortfolio. So although they may have a centrally supported system, others within the university were bypassing this for other (non-supported) solutions. This is not necessarily a problem, but it does either point to the fact that the centralized system may not necessarily be fully hitting the mark.

This is a dynamic space, as we look to the future we see the need for our centralized university systems to be able to engage with a whole range of external systems, whether they be software as a service (SaaS) or self-hosted. This applies equally to the learning management system (LMS), content management system (CMS), and ePortfolio, not to mention staff and student reward and recognition systems, but I would argue it is particularly important for the ePortfolio. With the rise of digital credentialing, blockchain certs and badging, there is an increased awareness of the portability and validity of ones online persona and professional presence that transcends, or extends the now obligatory although simplistic LinkedIn profile.

On a personal level, all roads lead to Rome (or in this case my ePortfolio). My former university (USQ) allows their alumni to keep their ePortfolio for life, as long as they keep up their profile with them (their password current), so this has allowed me to make my ePortfolio the centre of my professional profile. So I link to my ePortfolio from all my other professional social media sites (not Facebook), my Twitter, my SlideShare, my ResearchGate, etc. There is a really practical reason for this, it means I do not have to keep extensive profiles on all these different systems, I just need to keep one major site up-to-date and do the bare minimum on the others. But it also means I can lead people to my full profile that gives them a fuller picture about who I am, if they are interested (not that I expect anybody to be necessarily).

The ePortfolio can connect to social media sites

So what does this mean for ePortfolio companies as we move to 'what's next'? It means I want be able to integrate feeds from all these types of sites and to allow for my credentials to be seamless. I think I would like to be able to use it as my backpack as well. If I were an institution, I would want to be able to use my site to credential student and staff learning outcomes linkable to my student management system and staff professional development system. Why? Because that is going to make the ePortfolio usable by most, if not all the disciplines, the careers people, HR, professional accrediting bodies and most importantly potential employees.

EPortfolios to document learning and assessment

By Andrea Ghoneim (Danube University Krems, Austria)

The project ATS2020 (Assessment of Transversal Skills) and its learning model puts the learner in the center. For the documentation of the learning process, a learner centered virtual learning environment (VLE, a.k.a. LMS) helps collecting multimedia artefacts, reflections and assessment.

ATS2020 has provided partners from 10 European Union countries and their schools with the learning environments Office 365/OneNote Class notebook (hosted by the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute) and its own Mahara site (hosted at Danube University Krems). At the end of the pilot, a total of 102 schools were using Mahara, 113 were working with Office 365/OneNote Class Notebook. A few schools (21) decided to go their own way, mainly using own developments.

You can read more details on platform use, and dood practices and learning designs can be found via the ATS2020 resources portal. You can also check out a heartwarming video of Spanish students, entitled "We are Maharers".

Mahara theming on a budget

Sam Taylor (Cranfield University, UK)

Cranfield University Mahara homepage with the new buttonsSome institutions are very lucky to have a team that can develop bespoke themes for their online sites. In our team (the Flexible Learning Support Centre) we don’t have that luxury, so we've often just gone for a theme that's 'out of the box' for our Mahara site.

This time around, we thought we'd be a bit smarter and try to customize our site so that the system better reflects our needs. Read our Mahara theme journey from the start to where it is now, and how we have created our own blocks on the dashboard using the "Static pages" editor.

Mahara in upcoming events

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

Mahoodle Moot, 20 October 2017

Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Cambridge Assessment International Examinations is hosting its first Mahoodle Moot in Cambridge on 20 October 2017. The event will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. featuring speakers from across the UK, Ireland, and continental Europe allowing for discussions around Mahara and Moodle among the participants and presenters.

You can find out more about this free event and register on the event web page.

KiwiMUG, 3 November 2017

Anne Stevens (Bay of Plenty DHB, New Zealand)

Come join us in Tauranga, New Zealand, to network with other Mahara ePortfolio enthusiasts. See and hear what's happening with SmartEvidence, Mahara Mobile and new features in Mahara 17.10. Stephen Bright, Anne Stevens, and Pascale Hyboud-Peron will be co-ordinating this event. Register for this free event today to secure your attendance.

Mahara Hui EU, 30 November - 2 December 2017

Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Tickets are available for the first Mahara Hui EU to be held in Kassel, Germany, from 30 November to 2 December 2017. This unconference gives every participant the chance to share their ideas, insight, and questions in sessions that are going to be organized on the unconference days. Find out more about how you can contribute to the success of the event. Mahara Hui EU has both English and German as official event languages, but other languages can also be spoken in the sessions if all session participants agree.

Mahara in past events

Mahara Hui New Zealand

Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

The third Mahara Hui in Australasia took place in April 2017. Educators from across New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, and Switzerland attended the event at AUT in Auckland. Presentations covered a wide range of portfolio use primarily in tertiary education and beyond. We could welcome long-time Mahara community members as well as newcomers like Shaun Pullman, who is now trialling Mahara for employability purposes at AUT as outlined in an article in this newsletter.

You can view the recorded sessions and learn more from each of the presenters.

MOF2017

Shin-Ichiro Kubota (Kumamoto University, Japan)

Mahara Open Forum 2017 (MOF2017) took place at Hiroshima University (Higashi-Hiroshima Campus) in Japan on 4 and 5 September 2017. MOF is organized by the Japanese Mahara User Group (MUG Japan) annually.

As a challenge for the Japanese MUG, MOF2017 organized a pre-conference workshop in which Prof. Takahiro Sumiya showed participants how to create a blocktype plugin. Attendees who found it difficult to set up their own plugins before received a number of tips to jump start their own development.

We had an invited online presentation from Kristina Hoeppner in which she talked about the latest features of Mahara 17.04 and upcoming ones in Mahara 17.10. As the keynote lecturer, Prof. Yasuhiko Morimoto reported on ePortfolio use cases, positioning of the ePortfolio and the importance of the learning community in an active learning environment in primary and secondary education.

After the lecture, we had seven presentations on various aspects of portfolio work. For example, one presentation showcased different use cases of portfolios at universities. In another session, portfolios were looked at from the lens of supporting learning outcomes across multiple subjects and classes and how to accomplish their evaluation. Attendees also had the opportunity to deepen their knowledge in specific areas of Mahara. In the panel discussion that concluded MOF2017, attendees discussed implementation issues and future directions for the use of Mahara based on the reports of six universities currently working with the ePortfolio platform.

For more information, please see the MOF2017 website. Next year, MOF2018 will take place at Kio University in Japan.

MaharaIRL autumn webinar

Lisa Donaldson (Dublin City University, Ireland)

The MaharaIRL user group met for its first online webinar on 19 September 2017 following on from the success of the inaugural face-to-face meeting in April. The group was founded in early 2017 to build a community to share information, support learning, and aid collaboration on ePortfolios across Ireland. Originating from a small group of pilot leads adopting ePortfolios at Dublin City University, the wider MaharaIRL community encompasses faculty, learning technologists, and technical staff from many higher education institutions. Attendees from eight institutions were represented at the webinar which was aligned with the theme "Using ePortfolios to support and assess students on work placement and to track competencies".

Anne Stevens, a Learning Technology leader from New Zealand, presented a fascinating insight to using Mahara ePortfolios to track competencies of graduate nurses. Lively conversation ensued around the delicate balance between providing structure and inhibiting creativity when using a template approach with students as well as the positive impact of ePortfolio grading on the assessors.

A Q&A session around using ePortfolios to support work placement highlighted that the majority of programmes had a work placement element, but there was a three way split between those using, not using and those about to consider using ePortfolios to support same. Time, technical support, money, and resistance to change were identified as the main impediments to integrating ePortfolios.

MaharaIRL online chatFingers were flying across keyboards as those currently using ePortfolios in this capacity offered examples of how they were assessing experiential learning and what supports they were providing. Support referenced included: short videos, introductory lectures, follow-up emails, FAQs, prompt sheets, lectures on professional development and critical thinking, webinars, handbooks, weekly supervision, online forums and student eterns. The collaborative nature of the group was evident through the many offers to share these valuable resources.

The majority of cases discussed did not feature to a peer-to-peer component, but this came out strongly as an area attendees were interested in exploring further. Conversation again turned to templates and whether templating helps or hinders the development of the placement portfolio and digital literacies. Templates, prompts and rubrics proved to be commonly used among the group particularly when first introducing ePortfolios to students.

The webinar then moved on to Kristina's Corner. A specially recorded piece by Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst IT) on tracking competencies through SmartEvidence – many thanks Kristina. The functionality of SmartEvidence proved appealing and the video was posted online for further review.

With time against us, we had a whistle stop tour through attendees' wow moments and woe moments when integrating ePortfolios. Sample wows included: an oral showcase of final-year portfolios, a student expressing gratitude for the 'space' provided by the ePortfolio, and graduates reporting huge success in securing teaching jobs through presenting their portfolios at interviews. The inevitable woes featured educators' own lack of experience, students not being able to see past the need for technical skills, and a desire to see greater focus on softer skills / graduate attributes.

Our webinar closed after an hour of amazing and generous interaction with a suggestion for a next face-to-face meeting or ePportfolio day and perhaps a regular Twitter chat. We hope to plan for those before the end of 2017. Watch this space! If you would like to join our ongoing conversations around sharing impactful ePortfolio practice, please contact me.

Many thanks to attendees from Dublin City University, Marino Institute of Education, Hibernia College, National College of Ireland, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Sligo, Mary Immaculate College, and the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.

You can watch the recording of the webinar.

New term, new connections

Teresa MacKinnon (University of Warwick, UK)

Mahara Users Midlands group photoOur first meeting of the MUM group (Mahara Users Midlands) for the new academic year on 27 September 2017 was a welcome opportunity for the University of Warwick cohort to touch base. We were hoping to welcome Anne Stevens on a visit to the UK from New Zealand but unfortunately she became ill and was unable to come. I hope we will meet another time even if it is just via one of our webinars.

Changes afoot at Warwick meant there was plenty to talk about. Teresa MacKinnon gave a quick overview of previous MUM events and shared the G+ community. Jim Judges, who is moving to a full time teaching role in our Centre for Lifelong Learning shortly, gave us an overview of Warwick's Mahara user statistics and spoke about some interesting uses including Warwick Manufacturing Group who have a cohort of Jaguar Land Rover Masters students using it for their research. As the site [email protected] (a Mahoodle which has been used by the Language Centre for six years) is no longer to be supported, the ePortfolio assessment will now happen through MyPortfolio, the university's Mahara site. School of Modern Languages and Cultures tutors, including language centre tutors, are now to join and student and staff support groups are being set up within it.

We shared information about exporting between Mahara instances using Leap2A or HTML formats and free hosting beyond the institutional setup. The Language Centre has previously suggested to use folioforme and FolioSpaces. Teresa also showed the open badges display from her CMALT review page which automatically picks up public badges belonging to her user identity.

Bernadett Bus from the learning technology support team at the University of Gloucestershire showed us how they are growing their use of Mahara across modules where she currently supports over 1,000 students. A Moodle course is used to curate the key documentation, and face-to-face sessions provide student support. The discussion revealed many similar concerns to my own around the use of templates for ePortfolio creation. We briefly shared views around the importance of learner agency in the Mahara space, a technology which is unusual amongst many educational technologies as it respects the individual's right to experiment without constant tutor or assessor surveillance. We agreed that the use of this tool allows students to learn more about their permissions management, a digital competence which is increasingly important. This was also one of the conclusions arising from the Warwick International Higher Education Academy student engagement project where students reflected on their use of technology within their teaching context. Bernadett made the point that in her experience, user problems subside if they are given greater flexibility rather than a restrictive template.

Jim raised the issue of student push back on ePortfolio use and the discussion concluded that if the implementation is well suited to the learning purpose and good support is available in the early days, then students do overcome their concerns and they are legitimately challenged to move beyond their comfort zone and acquire important 21st century skills.

A brief photo session and some chocolate rounded off this first face-to-face meeting of the year and we hope to continue our connecting, making many new friends.

Mahara in development

Mahara 17.10 is on its way

Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

It feels like the Mahara 17.04 release was not that long ago, and now we are already getting closer to the 17.10 release. We are aiming to have 17.10.0 available either in the third or fourth week of October. That all depends on how the testing of the release candidate goes. And that is where we are looking to you.

We published the release candidate (RC), essentially a beta version of Mahara 17.10, on 29 September 2017. Installing this version on a test or development server, will give you access to all the new features of Mahara and allow you to test them to your heart's content. We look forward to your feedback as that will help make the stable release of Mahara 17.10 later in the month more robust.

This new version of Mahara will include the following, amongst others:

  • New reporting section consolidating all statistics and reports in one area
  • Advanced reporting (in conjunction with Elasticsearch) - initial results of the AAIM project
  • Elasticsearch upgrade to a modern version of Elasticsearch.
  • Search for notifications
  • Consolidation of the page settings screens and buttons on all editing screens
  • Support the upload of a second logo for small devices
  • Group homepage to list all members that have not submitted anything to the group
  • Display of image via data base64
  • Configuration of ADFS via the SAML authentication option

Find out more about the release candidate and how to test it.

Mahara for first-time users

Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Recently at Catalyst, we started a UX (user experience) project looking into the experience of people new to Mahara. We are planning on conducting a series of interviews (in Wellington, online, and at Mahara Hui EU) over the course of the next two months. If you recently gathered feedback from first-time users or are want to recommend people to talk to, please get in touch.

Shared SmartEvidence frameworks

Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand)

Over the Northern hemispheric summer holidays, a number of academic institutions upgraded to a version of Mahara that includes SmartEvidence, which is either Mahara 16.10 or Mahara 17.04. I'm excited that the use of this comprehensive feature is now being explored more than over the last year and look forward to the resulting discussions.

Since competency frameworks are often required across institutions, we set up a space where you can download existing framework files. Recently, Paul Taylor shared six Learning Machine frameworks created as SmartEvidence files. At Catalyst, we set up the new New Zealand teacher standards in both English and Te Reo Māori (both will be included in Mahara 17.10 replacing the existing standards), the latter with support from Ian Cormack who provided translations for the assessment statuses. If you created frameworks and want to make them available, please send them via email for inclusion.

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