Posted by Mahara Newsletter on 01 October 2012, 2:10 AM
A warm Sydney spring welcome to the third issue of the Mahara Newsletter in 2012. This issue is action packed with news from users, events, customizations and information about Mahara 1.6. Check them out and be inspired or join in one of the upcoming events.
The next newsletter will be published on January 1 (or 2), 2013, and you can send articles to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My colleague Domi Renault (@Lilly_Stardust) and I have been supporting Solent Senior Lecturer Sally Holland with her unit Employability & Work Placement skills – a second year undergrad unit for students on the PR and Communications degree. The course was supported by Moodle, Mahara and CareerBox (our online careers help site) as well as having representatives from our careers team and learning tech teams present during some of their lectures and workshops.
We’ve put together a Mahara page to present this case study – I hope you all find it useful!
You can see a short video of Sally talking about her unit below:
Teaching and learning portfolios offer students and teachers many opportunities for self representation, progress documentation or performance evaluation. EPortfolios combine these capabilities with the advantages of digitally accessible services, such as the time and place in dependent access.
The Department of Information Science at the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf tested the ePortfolio system Mahara in winter semester 2011/12 to offer its students learning material, inform them about current events, and to give them the opportunity to present themselves with the help of a portfolio.
An evaluation was to indicate how the students perceive the platform, and how it can be effectively integrated into teaching. This evaluation showed that the use of Mahara is not yet satisfactory, so we are currently working on a new concept in order to simplify the work for our students and teachers.
Thanks to a TeachNZ sabbatical grant, Jo Fothergill and Tara Taylor-Jorgensen will be exploring New Zealand's Eurocentric assessment system and the impact that this has on our Māori, Pasifika, and other learners. Specifically, we will be looking for ways in which the definition of 'success' can be negotiated by the students, their families and the communities that they live in.
Current pedagogical research shows that personalised learning enables students to follow their passions (Robinson 2009). Further, Sugata Mitra (widely known for his hole in the wall research) proved that children are capable of teaching themselves in connected collaborative and Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs).
Using the lessons gained from Mitra's and Robinson's research we will be looking at culturally specific definitions of success and (with the aid of MyPortfolio, a Mahara instance for NZ schools) creating a flexible assessment environment so that learners can follow their passions, self assess, gather, and capture their own learning evidence. This is in stark contrast to the 'getting done to' approach such as low level, Eurocentric, multiple choice tests (e.g. STAR, PAT, asTTle).
The next MUG meeting will take place virtually on October 2, 2012, 2 p.m. Eastern time (please check the time zone converter for your local time). You will get an update of the SUNY FACT2 ePortfolio task force, a re-cap from the July meeting at Purchase College as well as questions and exchange about new ideas. Every Mahara user is invited to participate online.
The beautiful city of Heidelberg in Germany is well known all over the world because of its barouque-style old town that attracts more than 3.5 million tourist every year. This historic surrounding was the adequate location (:)) for discussing the new Mahara User Group Rhine-Neckar.
The Metropolitan Region, where the rivers Rhine and Neckar meet, is densly populated and three federal states border meet there. Every federal state in Germany has its own education system. Because of that, the user group helps Mahara users in their different educational systems to connect and share information. German learners are not very used to reflect on their learning processes. Grades and feedback at schools and universities have been dominated by evaluating rather the output than the process and development. But competency-based education and individual learning strategies gain in importance. Another chance for implementing Mahara in education is the possibility to connect it with the Learning Management System Moodle, which is widely used in Germany.
The German Mahara User Group Rhine-Neckar will have its inaugural meeting at PH Heidelberg on November 7, 2012, 3-5 p.m. More information in the forum of the user group.
A press article reports about the first meeting, together with our guest Kristina Hoeppner from Catalyst IT.
Mahara in past events
The Mahara User Group grows at AAEEBL
by Samantha Egan
This past summer, the Mahara User Group (MUG) officially passed the 100 member mark after a successful presentation at the third annual international Association for Authentic, Experimental and Evidence Based Learning Conference (AAEEBL) in Boston, MA.
Key members of the MUG team formed a panel discussion on the creation of MUG, also looking at ways in which the group benefited from each member’s ePortfolio program. Presenters included: Linda Anstendig (Pace University), Martina Blackwood (Pace University), Garrett Dell (Albertus Magnus College), Samantha Egan (Pace University), Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst IT), Beth Gordon Klingner (Pace University), Keith Landa (SUNY Purchase) and Ellen Marie Murphy (SUNY Empire State College).
"MUG is a great collaborative effort that has really helped each institution's ePortfolio project to evolve," said Beth Gordon Klingner, Executive Director of Academic Technology at Pace University.
The panel also described activities during its first year, such as international webinars, a virtual student showcase, and the establishment of a Facebook Group to stay connected between meetings. They also asked for the audience’s input on future issues, such as how the group can further promote the work of its members. Suggestions included sharing programing tips and other codes for customizations.
Approximately 25 Mahara users from various New York colleges and universities met on July 23, 2012, at Purchase College for the second face-to-face Mahara User Group meeting. It was organized by Keith Landa from Purchase who was also responsible for streaming and recording the presentations in the morning. It was a chance for all to catch up on what has happened over the last year, what plans are for the new academic year, and what hot topics are that should be discussed in MUG in the future.
Over the summer I have applied numerous updates to our test version of Workflow, our e-portfolio system based on the Mahara software. We’ll be pushing the changes to the live version of Workflow over the course of September. Many of the changes have been contributed by the main Mahara development team as part of the latest release, but some are customisations which I’ve made myself. read more...
We are nearing the release of Mahara 1.6 later in the month of October. You can still help to test it to ensure as much as possible that there are no major bugs by testing it. How? Please see the announcement about release candidate 1. Release candidate 2 is in the making. We are reviewing the last necessary changes and will make it available shortly. If you cannot install a release candidate for testing purposes, you are welcome to test it on master.dev.mahara.org. A number of new features have already been documented in the 1.6 user manual under "New in Mahara 1.6".
Mahara in print
Updated Mahara Beginner's Guide
by Richard Hand
In August, after many months of work, a major revision of the Mahara ePortfolio Beginner's Guide was published by Packt. Written by Richard Hand, Derrin Kent and Tom Bell of TDM Open Source Software Services, it takes learners through the important steps of the ePortfolio building process and showcases many features of Mahara.
Written for Mahara 1.5, this edition adds examples for many of the latest features, including notes, group friend suggestions, and institutional theme configuration. As well as the three characters from the previous version (work-based learning, primary, professional), this edition also adds a higher education scenario courtesy of 'Christophe from Silverworks University'.
Although aimed at beginners building their first ePortfolio for the first time, the later chapters also offer something for tutors and administrators. There is even a full Mahara Implementation Planner Appendix that addresses the important questions for those implementing Mahara in their organisation (free download).
If you wish to have your books on or about Mahara listed to be found easily by other members of the Mahara community, feel free to add them to our book list on the wiki. Your mahara.org account serves also as login for wiki.mahara.org.