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#maharahui14 #Mahara #ePortfolio Conference 2014 Writeup

Mahara Hui 2014 - Wellington - New Zealand

Reflections by Misty Kirby and Shane Nuessler
All Mahara logos by Catalyst IT

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Keynote by Mark Nichols: Mahara and the challenges of adulthood

Watch the keynote, an engaging presentation setting the stage for the conference:

Sessions We Presented

Misty & Shane

Sessions We Attended


  • Wednesday, 19 March 2014
    • Mihi (conference opening)
    • Keynote: Mahara and the challenges of adulthood
    • Experienced teacher portfolios- Documenting your teaching practice
    • Bringing social networking features to Mahara
    • What should you consider when introducing educators to Mahara?
    • Online moderation
    • My Portfolio for schools: Developing practice with future teachers and the University of Canterbury
    • MyPortfolio in support of the New Zealand National Aspiring Principals Programme (NAPP)
    • Mahara: Its strengths and limitations
  • Thursday, 20 March 2014
    • Make 5 wishes: The future of Mahara
    • Using Mahara as an electronic portfolio system for recording of continuous professional development (CPD) and competency for nurses
    • MyPortfolio in New Zealand schools
    • ePortfolios for everyone: Web accessibility in Mahara
    • Reflection, evaluation and action planning
    • Learning is social with Mahara
    • Ways you can contribute to Mahara
  • Hackfest - Friday 21st March 2014
    • Smartfolio
    • Networking


  • Wednesday, 19 March 2014
    • Keynote
    • Analytics for Mahara
    • Bringing social networking features to Mahara (Yuliya Bozhko)
      • Totara are working on:
        • Built in open badges support
        • New artefact type: ask a question, peers can answer, owner of question can rate.
        • New artefact: add ideas, peers can rate.
        • New artefact: real time chat feature
        • status updates (micro blogging) choose who to share these with - including defaults choices, but configurable.
        • activity streams - reverse  chronological feed of user activities.
        • Artefact level sharing
    • What should you consider when introducing educators to Mahara?
    • Building a Personal Learning Environment with Mahara
    • Height vs depth in the design of Badge Frameworks
      • For some people the focus is on collecting as many badges as possible as a measure of success. But what do all these badges mean, and can meaning be drawn from the connections between them.
    • ePortfolio, a tailored system for nursing professional development and regulatory re-certification.
      • Use of templates and tagging to help nurses in their PD etc.
    • Use of ePortfolios for teacher appraisal and registration
    • Mahara - its strengths and weaknesses
  • Thursday, 20 March 2014
    • Make 5 wishes
    • Using Mahara as an electronic portfolio system for recording of continuous professional development (CPD) and competency for nurses
    • MyPortfolio in New Zealand schools
    • Smart evidence: Improving ePortfolio quality through intervention
      • Our presentation - some parallels in goals with going deeper with badges, drawing out meaning.
    • Benefits and issues for multi-institution Mahara sites
    • Reflection, evaluation and action planning
    • Booklet: A meta-artefact to implement resume like artefacts (Christophe Declercq)
      • Developed by Christophe Declercq and Team from Universit√© De Nantes (map), Nantes, France.
      • In our view many organisations will want the capability this affords - the ability to define custom forms in Mahara, even to the point of replace existing forms/artefacts such as a Resume.
      • The Mahara developers saw the possibility of replacing hard coded meta-artefacts (e.g. Resume) with Book – shipping Mahara with some predefined but customisable forms.
    • Ways you can contribute to Mahara
      • Translating
      • Coding
      • Documenting
      • Testing
      • Bug reports
      • Feature ideas
      • Community building
      • etc, etc, etc.
    • Conference Closing
  • Hackfest - Friday 21st March 2014
    • Smartfolio
    • Networking

Establishing what the community wants: 5 Wishes

"Mahara is an open source web application that has been in development since 2006. The requirements and needs of Mahara users have changed over time, and it is important for the project team to know why users are working with Mahara, and what they would like to see... You will receive five pieces of paper where you can jot down your wishes. Please return them to the dedicated wishing jar before you leave the venue Wednesday afternoon. "

By the end of the first day everyone had submitted their 5 wishes for Mahara, you can see the results in this video:

Some we added, based on feedback from colleagues as well as our own wishes, were:
  1. Improve usability generally (e.g. fewer clicks)
  2. Ability to add blocks of journal entries to pages using a combination of tags not just one.
  3. Ways to organise my growing list of pages - e.g. using folders.
  4. Make the file picker collapsable when configuring blocks on a page (the list of files can be long, and the user needs to scroll past all this content to get to the Save button and other options.

The Future

Where will Mahara go from here? The keynote set the stage for a Mahara that is facing a fork in the road, stay the same and face increasing competition or build on it’s strengths and survive in a changing environment. It was clear that choice will be the latter, Mahara will be adaptive to advances in ICT design and capability while taking into account the larger ecosystem including cloud services, and user needs and preferences. Mahara has many strengths such as a vibrant and dedicated community, the ability to host within organisations, not public by default, a personal learning and professional development platform, integration with Moodle and other LMS’s, social features, and a platform on which to build communities of learning and practice. It was clear from the program sessions, including the 5 wishes session, that the community is keen to move Mahara to the future rather than be overtaken by it. The Mahara community are working on the following aspects for future releases:

Coming in Mahara 1.9

  • Accessibility improvements (Screen readers, keyboard shortcuts – in various places including the page creation screen).
  • Profile completeness progress bar.
  • Feedback blocks that can be placed anywhere on pages by the page creator (doing this will remove the feedback section at the bottom of the page).
  • ElasticSearch: Full text searching across all the things people have access to in Mahara.
  • 200 bug fixes.

Thanks Catalyst, totara, ThinkAgency, kineo for an excellent conference!

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