by Mahara ePortfolio System
First established in mid 2006, the Mahara project started as collaborative venture funded by New Zealand's Tertiary Education Commission's e-learning Collaborative Development Fund (eCDF), involving Massey University, Auckland University of Technology, The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, and Victoria University of Wellington.
Continued development has been made possible by further support from New Zealand’s Ministry of Education and the application of Mellon Foundation funds from the Open Polytechnic’s winning a 2007 Mellon Award for Technology Collaboration.
Since July 2007, Kineo Pacific has worked with Catalyst IT to guide the further development of Mahara.
A first guiding principle with the development of the Mahara ePortfolio system is that it is learner centred – a form of Personal Learning Environment. This is in contrast to the more institution-centric Learning Management System (LMS).
Mahara is a stand-alone system that can be integrated into a wider virtual learning framework. We believe the Learning Management System remains a highly useful application for delivering learning. We also believe the overall environment can be enhanced and complemented by a learner-centred personal learning environment such as Mahara. Pan-institutional learner communities can also be encouraged using Mahara.
Mahara’s architecture is inspired by the modular, extensible architecture of Moodle. The Mahara team has also been heavily involved in the Moodle community, with recent work mostly focused on Moodle Networks. Similarly, Mahara systems can be networked together as well having single sign-on from Moodle 1.9 upwards. In a sense, we see Mahara as a ‘sister’ application although the two systems are not required to go together.
Mahara will continue to evolve as a ‘pluggable’, modular ePortfolio system designed to leverage Web 2.0 web services and built with interoperability in mind.