Features

New features in Mahara 17.10

Working with pages and artefacts

You control which items and what information, i.e. artefacts or learning evidence, within your portfolio other users see.

In order to facilitate this access control, all artefacts you wish to show to other users are bundled up and placed onto a page.

You can have as many pages as you like, each with a different collection of artefacts, and intended purpose and audience. Your audience, or the people you wish to give access to your page, can be added as individuals or as a member of a group or community.

ePortfolio owners create pages using a 4-step process, and page have the following features:

  • ePortfolio owners can receive public or private feedback on their pages and artefacts within that page.
  • Users accessing a page can report any objectionable material directly to the site administrator.
  • Users can add pages and artefacts within a page to their watchlist and receive automated notifications of any changes or updates.
  • ePortfolio owners can submit a page for assessment by a tutor or teacher allowing for a snapshot of the page and associated artefacts on a certain date.

Competency frameworks

Using SmartEvidence, you can create portfolios that automatically have a competency framework attached. You can then align pages within your portfolio with individual competency standards and allow assessors to provide feedback. The built-in evidence map visualizes your progress across the framework and helps you keep track of your achievements.

File repository

Mahara includes a file repository which allows you to: 

  • Create folder and sub folder structures
  • Upload multiple files quickly and efficiently
  • Give each file a name and description
  • Manage your file allocation quota
  • When uploading a file, you may have to agree to a configurable copyright disclaimer or add specific licensing information
  • Extract .zip, .tar.gz and .tar.bz2 from within the files area

Journals / blogs

A comprehensive blogging tool is provided in Mahara, where blogs and blog postings are considered artefacts and may be added to a page.
 
The blogging tool allows you to:

  • Create journal entries using a WYSIWYG editor
  • Attach files to journal entries
  • Embed images into entries
  • Configure whether or not you want comments on your journal entries
  • Create draft entries for later publishing

Résumé builder

Mahara includes a résumé builder which allows you to create digital CVs by entering information into a variety of optional fields including:

  • Contact and personal information
  • Employment and education history
  • Certifications, accreditations and awards
  • Books and publications, professional memberships
  • Personal, academic and work skills and
  • Personal, academic and career goals

Reporting

Mahara comes with a built-in reporting engine that collects data when the site is used and makes it available directly in the administration area, but also via download.

Reports are available anonymously but also for individuals for learning analytics opportunities.

Administration

Administrators are able to customise Mahara via a number of configuration settings which include:

  • Language packages and themes
  • Virus protocol
  • Session and account lifetimes
  • Authentication methods
  • Institution setup to allow for multiple organisations to use one Mahara instance
  • Page editor
  • Configurable static links to main pages

In addition, with the Modular plugin structure of Mahara, artefact and block types may be configured, disabled or enabled, according to the organisation’s requirements.

Support for LTI

Mahara supports LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) to connect to learning management systems (LMS). It allows learners who already have an account in an LMS to have an account in Mahara as well, when it is connected to the LMS via LTI.

Mahara has special connectors for Moodle that do not only allow for single sign-on from the LMS to Mahara but also for the export of content from Moodle to Mahara and for the submission of Mahara portfolios to Moodle.

Security

  • Mahara automatically detects system settings that a pose a security threat.
  • Session key handling code has been tightly integrated with the core form/request APIs.
  • Provides database abstraction that prevents any database injection attacks and input validation that prevents script injection attacks.
  • User authentication can be tied to external systems such as student management systems or other databases such as their Student ID number.

Interoperability

  • Mahara includes an Import/Export system with Leap2A suport, and static HTML export.
  • Users can place their views under any of the Creative Commons licenses.
  • Mahara is built using PHP web scripting language and leverages PHP5's OO features.
  • All plug-ins follow a consistent structure and inherit from a common base class (core functions of plug-ins are implemented once)
  • Mahara currently supports plug-ins for Artefacts, Authentication and Search. Therefore interoperating with an existing product simply requires the development of a plug-in.

Scalability

Mahara has been designed as a web application with a plug-in architecture. This means it is possible to scale the application up by separating hardware for search, database, file storage and web servers.

It is also possible to replicate each of these operational components to further scale the system upwards. In addition Mahara is designed to:

  • be load balanced across several web servers
  • have a share file data from a centralised file server
  • and have a separate database server.

This hosting setup has proven scalability for similar systems like Moodle.