Mahara as ePortfolio Platform for EUfolio

by Andrea Ghoneim

2014 was the time for the advanced use of Mahara - by more and more teachers and students. The IMB of Danube University Krems has accompanied the users with adaptations of Eufolio Mahara and support

As the classroom pilots of EUfolio. EU classroom ePortfolios started in 2014, the beginning of the year can be seen as a period of development and support. Christian Fertl, technician at the IMB, supported the teacher trainers and mentors for schools in setting up "Institutions" on Mahara as ePortfolio workspaces for schools. He was also the one responsible for trouble-shooting (if necessary) and for avoiding trouble. After keeping an eye on spam users, he provided the login process with more safety trough the reCaptcha dialogue system for registrations.

An upgrade of the EUfolio Mahara platform to version 1.8.2 in March 2014 provided users with a more sophisticated content chooser – allowing for example the embedding of videos and PDF files into Mahara pages. Furthermore, a more flexible page layout and the possibility to upload files with Drag & Drop added to the usability of EUfolio Mahara.

In Summer 2014, EUfolio Mahara was upgraded to version 1.9.2. A Mozilla backpack for storing and displaying Open Badges was among the new features, furthermore schools (set up as “Institutions”) from then on had the possibility to create their own static pages – which allowed them to be more free and flexible by choosing what to show on their starting page and in which design.

Christian Fertl updating EUfolio partners on Mahara at partner meeting in Cyprus (September 2014)
Christian Fertl updating EUfolio partners on Mahara at partner meeting in Cyprus (September 2014)

With 1282 users in April 2014 and 1702 in September 2014 EUfolio Mahara saw a big increase in usage. The Learning Groups also raised during the same timespan from 179 to 219. Even though the ePortfolio space Mahara was already quite rich in content in April 2014 with more than 3500 pages, the number of these teaching and learning documents reached more than 5000 in September 2014. Additionally it has to be taken into consideration that the Slovenian partners mainly have worked on a Slovenian Mahara server and are thus not included in the statistics…

The meeting in September 2014 was preceded by a workshop on using Office 365 as an ePortfolio platform. Thus, some comparisons between the two piloting platforms of EUfolio were possible. A documentation of these comparisons may be found at "Mahara and O365 as ePortfolio Solutions for Lower Secondary Schools".

The Mahara plugin "My Learning" had big effects on some of the pilots. It was developed for the Mahara platform to support student self-reflection and self-assessment and promote student autonomy and self-directed learning. The My Learning tab appears in the content section of the EUfolio Mahara ePortfolio and is structured into five stages of learning:

  • Prior Knowledge
  • Learning Goals
  • Learning Strategies
  • Evidence of Learning
  • Self-evaluation

The mentioned stages can be filled by the students themselves - with some help and tutoring in classroom. The plugin is very helpful for taking greater ownership of one's learning and a great tool for supporting refelctive learning and formative assessment.

More about "My Learning", which was developed by Gregor Anželj (Slovenia) can be found in the documentation of EUfolio Mahara in 2015.

Tanja Rupnik-Vec shows a Mahara-view connected to a lesson on the basis of "My Learning"
Tanja Rupnik-Vec shows a Mahara-view connected to a lesson on the basis of "My Learning"

Autumn 2014 unfortunately made the host of the EUfolio Mahara Server, IMB of Danube University Krems lose its technician, Christian Fertl. He had become a very good friend to all partners of EUfolio, always competent, service oriented and helpful.

However, with Gregor Pirker the IMB found again a good technician who has been working hard to fulfill Christian's role in EUfolio (and in a range of other support and development tasks) quickly.

The EUfolio Mahara Community of Practice had had a vivid start in Autumn 2013 and had remained quite active until the end of 2013. However, the groups drifted apart. One of the reasons was the urge of teachers of the participating countires to discuss issues in their mother tongue, another one, of course, the general workload that made it hard to do additional community work. Some of the piloting teachers also prefer other media for their exchange of practice know-how (see EUfolioirl on Twitter as an example). In Autumn 2014, the EUfolio partners made another effort to start a transnational community of practice via Yammer.

ATS2020 - Assessment of Transversal Skills is a project which partly emerged from EUfolio. In this Erasmus+ project, assessment of transversal skills in Lower Secondary Schools will be in the focus of theoretical approaches and a school pilot, with a strong focus on formative assessment. Visit ats2020.eu for updated information!

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.