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Mahara: An overview of the ePortfolio application


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An early presentation about the e-portfolio application Mahara by Meredith Henson given at several events in 2007.

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Mahara: An overview of the ePortfolio application

  1. 1. An  overview  of  the     ePor.olio  applica3on   Meredith  Henson   4/07/2007  
  2. 2. Introduc)on   •  An  electronic  por.olio  is  an  online  collec3on  of  reflec3ons  and   digital  Artefacts  (such  as  documents,  images,  blogs,  résumés,   mul3media,  contact  informa3on).   •  Students  and  staff  can  use  an  ePor.olio  to  demonstrate  their   learning,  skills  and  development  over  3me  to  selected  audiences.   •  Mahara  (Te  Reo  Māori  for  ‘think’  or  ‘thought’)  has  been  developed   as  part  of  the  eCDF  ePor.olio  Project,  which  is  charged  with   crea3ng  an  Open  Source  ePor.olio  applica3on  and  to  provide   implementa3on  strategies  for  the  New  Zealand  educa3on  sector.  
  3. 3. Introduc)on  to  Mahara   •  Mahara  is  currently  being  piloted  by  seven  Ter3ary  organisa3ons  via  My  Por.olio:   –  Massey  University   –  The  Open  Polytechnic  of  New  Zealand   –  Auckland  University  of  Technology   –  Victoria  University  of  Wellington   –  Te  Wānanga  o  Raukawa   –  Nelson  Marlborough  Ins3tute  of  Technology   –  Tai  Pou3ni  Polytechnic   •  These  organisa3ons  are  preparing  implementa3on  case  studies  and  along  with   implementa3on  guidelines  and  full  user  documenta3on,  these  will  be  provided  as   part  of  the  Mahara  download  package.   •  Together  with  Mahara,  My  Por.olio  (hp://  and   hp://  is  designed  to  provide  a  life-­‐long  learning  and   social  networking  environment  for  New  Zealand  students  and  teachers.  
  4. 4. Introduc)on  to  Mahara   What  sets  Mahara  apart  from  other  exis3ng  open  source  ePor.olio   pla.orms?   –  Students  have  complete  ownership  of  their  ePor.olio   –  Users  have  the  ability  to  set  permissions  of  access  to  various  nominated  groups   –  All  Artefacts  have  associated  metadata  including  user  defined  tagging   –  Contextual  help  is  available  throughout  the  system   –  Social  networking  func3onality   –  Flexibility  to  be  used  to  create  formal,  informal,  course  related,  personal  and/or  professional   environments   –  Modular  design,  best  prac3ce  programming  and  full  documenta3on  allows  for  new  features   and  func3onality  to  be  easily  integrated  into  the  applica3on   –  Language  transla3on  package  based   –  Designed  for  scalability,  security  and  interoperability   –  Strong  considera3on  to  pedagogy  and  policy  during  development  
  5. 5. Mahara  Framework   •  In  order  to  provide  permissions  of  access  control,  Mahara   is  based  on  an  Artefacts,  Views  and  Access  framework.   •  Views  are  a  collec3on  of  any  number  of  Artefacts  that  exist   in  a  user’s  por.olio.   •  Users  can  create  any  number  of  Views  and  assign  View   access  to  any  number  of  individuals,  Communi)es  and/or   Groups  as  they  wish.  
  6. 6. Mahara  Framework   This  framework  may  be  represented  by  the  diagram  below  :  
  7. 7. Mahara  Framework   For  example:  
  8. 8. Communi)es   •  Communi)es  are  a  reusable  collec3on  of  users  who  may  be  added  to  the   Community  area  by  a  number  of  different  invita)on  mechanisms.   •  Communi3es  are  designed  to  be  a  collabora3ve  environment  for  members   and  will  allow  for  sharing  of  ideas  and  informa3on.  
  9. 9. Crea)ng  Views   ePor.olio  owners  create  Views  using  a  4  step  process:     1.  Naming  the  View  and  providing  access  dates   2.  Selec3ng  a  display  template   3.  Placing  selected  Artefacts  within  that  View  and   4.  Assigning  access  to  the  desired  Groups,  Communi3es  and  individuals  
  10. 10. View  Templates   •  A  variety  of  templates  are  available  that  vary  in  colour,  font  and  overall  design.   •  There  are  templates  designed  for  specific  Artefact  types  such  as  a  Blog  template  and  a   template  to  display  a  gallery  of  images.       •  Templates  are  associated  with  a  category  of  use  so  that  users  can  find  the  most  appropriate   template  for  their  View.  
  11. 11. View  Access   •  Users  then  assign  access  to  their  Views  to  the  required  Groups,  Communi3es,   individuals  or  they  can  make  their  View  available  to  all  their  Friends,  make  it   publicly  available  or  keep  it  private.   •  Each  user  or  collec3on  of  users  can  be  given  access  between  a  certain  date  and   3me  window.  
  12. 12. View  Features   •  ePor.olio  owners  can  receive  public  or  private  feedback  on  their  View  and  Artefacts  within  that  View.   •  Users  accessing  a  View  can  report  any  objec)onable  material  directly  to  the  Site  Administrator.   •  Users  can  add  Views  and  Artefacts  within  a  View  to  their  Watchlist  and  receive  automated  no3fica3ons  of   any  changes  or  updates.   •  ePor.olio  owners  can  Submit  a  View  for  Assessment  by  a  tutor  or  teacher  allowing  for  a  snapshot  of  the   View  and  associated  Artefacts  on  a  certain  date.  
  13. 13. File  Repository   •  Mahara  includes  a  file  repository  which  allows  users  to:   –  Create  folder  and  sub  folders  structures     –  Upload  mul3ple  files  quickly  and  efficiently     –  Give  each  file  a  Name  and  Descrip3on   –  Manage  their  file  alloca3on  Quota   •  When  uploading  a  file  users  must  agree  to  a  configurable  Copyright  disclaimer.  
  14. 14. Blogging   •  A  comprehensive  blogging  tool  is  provided,  where  blogs  and  blog  pos3ngs  are  considered  Artefacts  and   may  be  added  to  a  View.       •  The  blogging  tool  allows  users  to:   –  Create  blog  posts  using  a  WYSIWYG  editor   –  Aach  files  to  posts   –  Embed  images  into  pos3ngs   –  Turn  Comments  on/off   –  Create  draH  pos3ngs  for  later  publishing  
  15. 15. Social  Networking   •  Mahara  provides  a  social  networking  facility  where  users  can  create  and  maintain  a  list  of   Friends  within  the  system.   •  ePor.olio  owners  choose  whether  other  users  can  add  them  to  their  Friends  list   automa3cally  or  by  request  and  approval.   •  An  ePor.olio  owner’s  Friends  lists  shows  those  Views  to  which  they  have  been  assigned   access.  
  16. 16. Résumé  Builder   •  Mahara  includes  a  résumé  builder  which  allows  users  to  create  digital  CV’s  by  entering  informa3on  into  a   variety  of  op3onal  fields  including:   –  contact  and  personal  informa3on   –  employment  and  educa3on  history   –  cer3fica3ons,  accredita3ons  and  awards   –  books  and  publica3ons,  professional  memberships   –  personal,  academic  and  work  skills  and   –  personal,  academic  and  career  goals.       •  Mul)ple  résumés  may  be  created  for  use  within  different  Views  for  different  audiences  such  as  poten3al   employers.  
  17. 17. Profile  Informa)on   •  Within  Mahara  users  are  able  to  share  details  through  a  variety  of  op3onal  profile  informa)on  fields   including:   –  Preferred  Name   –  Student  ID   –  Postal  address  and  contact  phone  numbers   –  Skype,  MSN,  Yahoo  etc  name   –  Introduc3on   –  Profile  Icons  images     •  Each  Profile  field  entry  and  Icon  is  an  Artefact  and     therefore  may  be  added  to  a  View.  
  18. 18. Account  Op)ons   •  Users  can  customise  their  Account  through  a  variety  of  op3ons  including  contact  and  language   preferences.   •  Users  can  set  Ac)vity  Preferences  and  specify  how  they  wish  to  be  contacted  by  the  system  and  other   users.   •  They  can  also  choose  how  they  receive  no3fica3on  of  Recent  Ac)vity  on  those  Views  and  Artefacts  they   have  added  to  their  Watchlist.  
  19. 19. Metadata   •  All  Artefacts  have  metadata  which  includes:   –  Title   –  Artefact  Type   –  Owner   –  (Op3onal)  Descrip3on   –  Date  of  crea3on   –  Date  of  last  modifica3on   –  File  size  or  number  of  posts  (blogs)   •  Mahara  also  provides  user  defined,  searchable  tagging  on  all  Artefacts.  
  20. 20. Administra)on   •  Administrators  are  able  to  customise  Mahara  via  a  number  of  configura)on  seNngs  which  include:   –  Language  packages  and  themes   –  Virus  protocol   –  Session  and  account  life3mes   –  Authen3ca3on  methods   •  Mahara  contains  a  page  editor  which  allows  for  customisa3on  and  dynamic  edi3ng  of:   –  Terms  and  Condi3ons  and  Privacy  Statement   –  Logged  in  and  logged  out  Homepage   –  Copyright  disclaimer   –  A  public  and  logged  in  user  Main  Menu  
  21. 21. Administra)on   •  With  the  Modular  plugin  structure  of  Mahara,  Artefact  types  may  be  configured,  disabled  or   enabled,  according  to  the  organisa3on’s  requirements.   •  Users  on  the  site  may  be  associated  with  par3cular  ins3tu3ons  which  have  their  own  configurable   user  sejngs.   •  A  Site  Administrator  may  suspend  a  students  account  (for  example  while  a  claim  of  misconduct  is   being  inves3gated)  
  22. 22. Scalability   •  Mahara  has  been  designed  as  a  web  applica3on  with  a  plug-­‐in  architecture.     •  This  means  it  is  possible  to  scale  the  applica3on  up  by  separa3ng  hardware  for   search,  database,  file  storage  and  web  servers.     •  It  is  also  possible  to  replicate  each  of  these  opera3onal  components  to  further   scale  the  system  upwards.     •  In  addi3on  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  hos3ng  set-­‐up  has  proven  scalability  for  similar  systems  like  Moodle.    
  23. 23. Security   •  Mahara  automa3cally  detects  system  sejngs  that  a  pose  security   threat.   •  Session  key  handling  code  has  been  3ghtly  integrated  with  the  core   form/request  APIs.   •  Provides  database  abstrac)on  that  prevents  any  database  injec3on   aacks  and  input  valida)on  that  prevents  script  injec3on  aacks.   •  User  authen)ca)on  can  be  3ed  to  external  systems  such  as  student   management  systems  or  other  databases  such  as  their  Student  ID   number.  
  24. 24. Interoperability   •  Mahara  is  built  using  PHP  web  scrip3ng  language  and  leverages  PHP5's   OO  features.     •  All  plug-­‐ins  follow  a  consistent  structure  and  inherit  from  a  common   base  class  (core  func3ons  of  plug-­‐ins  are  implemented  once)   •  Mahara  currently  supports  plug-­‐ins  for  Artefacts,  Authen3ca3on  and   Search.  Therefore  interopera3ng  with  an  exis3ng  product  simply   requires  the  development  of  a  plug-­‐in.  
  25. 25. Moodle  Integra)on   •  The  integra3on  of  the  learning  management  system,  Moodle  and  the   ePor.olio  system  Mahara  has  now  been  developed  and  is  currently   undergoing  tes3ng.   •  The  use  of  Moodle  is  widespread  both  within  a  New  Zealand  educa3on   context  as  well  as  interna3onally.   •  Users  will  have  a  seamless  login  between  these  two  systems  allowing   them  to  showcase  their  learning  and  development  within  a  course   context.  
  26. 26. My  PorPolio  and     Moodle  Users  
  27. 27. ePorPolios  for  Staff   •  Area  for  staff  to  demonstrate  professional  development     –  Published  works  and  presenta3ons   –  Individual  development  plans   –  Performance  reviews   •  Networking   –  Between  colleagues  both  internal  and  external  to  organisa3on   –  Distribu3on  of  résumés,  staff  exchanges   •  Research   –  Peer  review  and  feedback   –  Sharing,  distribu3on   •  Teaching  tool   –  Upda3ng  course  material  for  electronic  delivery   –  Reflec3ve  and  cri3cal  review  learning  outcomes  within  assessment  
  28. 28. ePorPolios  for  Students   •  Student  ownership  and  control  of  por.olio   –  Contents  of  unpublished  ePor.olio  private   –  Access  control   •  Area  for  showcasing  work  and  reflec3on   –  Cri3cal  review  of  assessment  items   –  Life-­‐long  learning  and  development  tool   •  Online  résumé     –  Programme  and  course  applica3ons   –  Scholarship  applica3ons   –  CV  for  poten3al  employers   •  Social  networking  with  other  students     –  Collabora3ve  projects   –  Peer  review  and  feedback  
  29. 29. Further  Informa)on   •  (hp://   –  Roadmap,  Download,  Community,  Support  and  Training  etc   •  Mahara  Documents  hps://     –  ePor.olio  Research  Report   –  Student  and  staff  userguides   –  Helpdesk  Reference  Guide   –  Implementa3on  Guidelines   –  Case  study  ques3ons   •  Contact  Meredith  Henson  on