Case Study: About you/your institution
I work in eLearning at the University of Ballarat, Victoria Australia. My main practical and research interest is in the use of ePortfolios, particularly beyond formal education. Although we have an institutional install of Mahara, it is not regularly upgraded and it has typical institutional restrictions. This inspired my colleague Steve and I to create Foliospaces, a free ePortfolio host. It has been a wild ride, but one of the most exciting projects I have ever been involved with. We would like to be bought out by Google for a couple of billion, but in reality if we can get enough revenue to cover our bandwidth we will be happy. Our focus is on individual use, because I am committed to personal rather than institutional ownership. We also have to pay the bills and have already secured our first private education provider. The good thing is that on graduation their students will be able to transfer to a free(or Premium) Foliospaces account automatically. Like many before us we are using a mixed advertising/subscription business model. I also teach eBusiness so it is a great exercise in reality! Mahara is at the heart of what we are doing, and we are committed to the goals and aspirations of the Mahara community.
Foliospaces Blog RSS
New features coming
New features coming-
Foliospaces back up, but may be a little longer before you can access it
Foliospaces back up, but may be a little longer before you can access it-
Foliospaces currently unavailable
Foliospaces currently unavailable-
New features for Foliospaces
New features for Foliospaces-
Sorry about downtime yesterday
Sorry about downtime yesterday-
Collaborative Learning and Communities of Practice
Collaborative Learning and Communities of Practice-
RE: Internet Explorer Security Pop-uP Message
RE: Internet Explorer Security Pop-uP Message-
Lots more Foliospaces features with new upgrade
Lots more Foliospaces features with new upgrade-
You and Mahara
I was interested in the idea of ePortfolios and had read a fair bit about them. A lot of information suggested not getting locked in to a particular program, mainly because of lack of flexibility and ownership. I heard about Mahara at a Moodle Conference in Brisbane and that sparked my interest.
Mahara was installed on a test server at my University. It was a fairly basic install, and it wasn't certain if it would be maintained. This uncertainty and the desire to have a public site let my friend and I to start our own free site, Foliospaces.
We have been using Foliospaces ourselves, with students and for professional developement within my department. At the same time it was open for anyone to join, and this has been really popular. Feedback from users has been fantastic, and the chance to help build communities is really exciting. We are now actively promoting Foliospaces, mainly by networking but also using a small Adwords campaign. This has been really interesting, tweeking the campaign and seeing what search terms people are using to find out about ePortfolios.
I was hanging out on the latest version of Mahara, and the upgrade has been exactly what I wanted. The improvements to group and view functionality opens up all sorts of new opportunities. All we need now is the ability for users to move between portfolios and that will be great for institutional users who currently loose their portfolio when they leave their instiotution. Upgrading hasn't been without a few problems, but we have worked them all out. We managed to screw up views a bit at one stage but that was quickly fixed.
As a lecturer in eBusiness, a was over the moon when my students discovered Myspace. Why? Because they actually learnt a little bit about html. Then, along came Facebook and that was the end of that. Mahara is a little similar. Do you think I can get students to drop in a linked pic like the one below? For now I am trying to encourage more adventurous use, but we will probably have to develope wysiwyg editing in future. Auto photos sizing is a bit of an issue to. My little dogs on the left come across into this column on a small screen.
The biggest nightmare I have is server downtime which is nothing to do with Mahara, but we are of course blamed. It's a bit chicken and egg as we will put any earnings back into reliable service. Some of the interfaces are a bit clunky, but that is mainly on our side (setting up new pages etc) the user functionality is workking pretty well.
What things you'd like to see change in future versions? I think the Mahara features are just about right. In future i would like to see a bit more ability to customise themes easily, and perhaps some of the labels made easy to customise, particularly the view headings. I would just like to be able to put a heading on a view without having to have 'by Ian' etc.
The power of Mahara is the views. A view is a great way to share or showcase anything and everything. What I am particularly interested in is seeing what is possible in a view. I have found that it is possible to embed most things in a text box, including documents. See the example below where we used scribd to drop in a PDF.
This is another sample View. I should have resized the photo better. Photo management could probably be a bit better in Mahara, but I also quite like having to do some things myself. But then again all you have to do is put in a width in pixels (I had to fix it!).
Sample view - oversized photo