For the last few years the University of Canberra has employed Moodle as its learning management system, and Mahara as its ePortfolio platform. Together they provide a powerful platform that supports numerous dimensions of learning and learning community. In pursuit of maximising the usability and value of this binary platform UC has been working with the community to support developments around enhanced functionality, usability, usefulness and maintainability of the existing integrations that are necessary for the two platforms to work together. For example we are supporting the implementation of LTI in Mahara to underpin the Moodle Assignment Plugin as well as portfolio archiving in the existing Mahara assignment Moodle plugin. In addition we are working with Catalyst IT and the community to bring together the communities two assignment plugins that have different but complimentary strengths into a single improved version. The following is an extract from July 2014 Mahara bulletin regarding LTI and Archiving work:
"Enhancements to the Mahara assignment submission plugin
Kristina D.C. Hoeppner<http://twitter.com/anitsirk>
Birmingham City University funded work to enhance the Mahara assignment submission plugin<https://wiki.mahara.org/index.php/System_Administrator%27s_G…> (the one updated by Lancaster University and Catalyst IT) to allow for collections to be submitted amongst others. The University of Canberra is expanding on that work and is funding important infrastructural work<https://wiki.mahara.org/index.php/Developer_Area/Specificati…> to allow for the archiving of portfolio submissions both in Mahara groups and Moodle assignments as well as the porting of the plugin to be usable via LTI instead of MNet. This latter work is dependent on the changes to be proposed for Moodle<https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=261527> to integrate with a newer version of LTI."
Some of the aspects of using the combined platform that we have found useful include:
- Social learning: Moodle offers an online space to foster and support a community of learning within a unit, and Mahara can help you foster and support communities outside units, such as a university wide community, or small communities such as societies, student groups and discipline teams. Mahara can fantastic group and social features.
- Curriculum directed and personal learning: The combination of Moodle and Mahara provides specialised spaces for staff and students to engage in formal learning activities, as well as a space for students to connect with others around topics and subject areas outside the formal curriculum. Mahara is a personal learning environment, allowing students to have control over the content they create, curate, and publish. Mahara is also a space to support assessment, where students can document process and product for review, feedback, and final assessment via submission to a Moodle gradebook. Staff can also use Mahara to document and communicate their personal learning and professional development activities.
- Learning across units: As the Moodle/Mahara integration improves, we will turn on features whereby students can select Moodle artefacts to easily be sent to Mahara for keeping. Until then Mahara still provides a space where students and staff can keep artefacts of learning across a course, being a personal environment sites are never closed down, or access to the environment revoked. These artefacts become powerful learning tools as students can revisit and critically reflect on past work that can help them see how far their thinking has developed over a course or program. This meta learning could be used in capstone type assessment for learning activities.
- Evidence based learning: Some courses and programs have frameworks and standards that build up and span the duration of study. Moodle and Mahara provide an almost perfect environment for students to engage in the various activities and developmental levels that form these courses. Bringing theory and practice together can be achieved more effectively through learning activities in Moodle in conjunction with building and sharing portfolios of evidence of learning and skills using Mahara.
- Curriculum visibility: Staff have commented that the ePortfolios (shared appropriately) provide a way to see the work students are producing for other units, giving them a unique and vital view into overall curriculum from the point of view of the products of the curriculum. This can compliment other discussions around the planned curriculum.
- End of course and transitioning to the workplace: The evidence and artefacts built up in portfolios can form the basis of reflective and active capstone units such as taking past work further using new understandings. The portfolios are also invaluable for communicating strengths and abilities to potential employers.
Mahara & Moodle (often referred to as Mahoodle) offer any educational or training organisation unique opportunities and affordances, and the duo is well worth investigating.
Please feel free to ask questions or provide comments in the comments area.