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The Cloud and Mahara

These days there are any number of cloud services aiming to provide storage, as well as let users create a variety of digital content. Since 2011 I have managed the implementation of Mahara at my university. My colleague, Dr Alan Arnold, and I realised that we should leverage this cloud storage in a way that would help keep internal Mahara quotas low. This led to UC commissioning Catalyst IT to make it easier for Mahara users to embed content from the cloud - this functionality arrived in mahara 1.5 and 1.6. As a consequence of this functionality it is now also easier for Mahara sites to enable the embedding of content any number of cloud services.

For students this means they are free to leverage the mediums and tools that suit their content creation needs and then, if the service provides embed code, embed that content into a Mahara portfolio. But why would you want to do that? The answer may lie in portfolio practice itself. The artefacts that people create in the cloud can be brought together and curated in Mahara, creating a more rich and complete piece of work. For example I might have many individual videos of me skiing which by themselves might be interesting enough. But if I brought these together into a time series in a portfolio my audience would be able to see new things that individual videos couldn't show - such as my skill development over time, or all the diverse locations I have visited. Professor Kathleen Blake Yancey once told me that connections make meaning - by bringing related artefacts together we are enabling our audience to create these connections and therefore generate more meaning from what we are presenting.

I created the following graphic to illustrate a few of these points:


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