The meaning of "Mahara"
The Mahara project chose "Mahara" as name for its web application. In Te Reo Māori, "mahara" means "to think, thinking, thought" and that fits the purpose of Mahara very well. Having been started in New Zealand, it was fitting to choose a Māori word to signify the concept of the ePortfolio system.
Mahara also has meanings in at least one other language. If it also exists in other languages, please let us know.
In Arabic, "Mahara" stands for "exceptional skill (above and beyond the average)".
In Shona, "Mahara" means "free" / "for free".
The Mahara logo
The Mahara logo is a Māori "rauiri" (single twist). In contemporary society, the single twist (rauiri) "represents the joining together of two people. Even though sometimes people move away, their journey of life will have their paths cross again. The single figure eight represents the path of life, it is the eternity symbol. (The single twist is different to the double or triple twist in that it refers to individual people, where the double and triple twist refers more to the joining of peoples, or cultures)." Source
Background to Mahara
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.
Between July 2007 and 2010, Kineo Pacific has worked with Catalyst IT to guide the further development of Mahara. Since then, Catalyst has been the project maintainer and also lead development company that gives the project its direction.
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.