Mahara and O365 as ePortfolio Solutions for Lower Secondary Schools

by Andrea Ghoneim

The project EUfolio. EU classroom ePortfolios helps lower secondary students (and teachers) to develop competences with ePortfolios. Updates on the pilots and the use of the project's platforms Mahara and Office 365 were given at a meeting in Cyprus on 25 and 26 September 2014.

EUfolio. EU classroom ePortfolios is a project devoted to pilot teaching with both Mahara and O365 as platforms for ePortfolios in lower secondary classrooms in Cyprus, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovenia and Spain.

Timothee Francony and Julie-Ann Russell lead a workshop on Office365 for teachers from Cyprus and EUfolio partners
Timothee Francony and Julie-Ann Russell lead a workshop on Office365 for teachers from Cyprus and EUfolio partners
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"
Sinéad Tuohy and Ben Murray from the Irish NCCA on Assessment
Sinéad Tuohy and Ben Murray from the Irish NCCA on Assessment

Ireland Pilot Update (Prezi)

named "Getting Started with Mahara". Furthermore she likes to set up Mahara pages and collections on educational technology in English and German, for example the page Mahara for teachers (case studies) within EUfolio Mahara. Andrea Ghoneim works at Danube University Krems (Austria) and is networking within EUROPORTFOLIO, the European network for ePortfolio experts and practitioners.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 in Limassol, Cyprus. The sun is bright, but the tile layout of MS Office 365 is so, too. Teachers from Cyprus and EUfolio partners log in to the platform as students, solve some exercises and thus create artefacts which they - later on - see in the role as teachers. For teachers, O365 offers a comfort similar to the one of Moodle, but with more aesthetic appeal. Exercises can be administered and commented easily. A feedback option which can be used with every single line of an essay is provided, as well.

O365 also enables teachers and students alike to create pages. The platform is convincing from the viewpoint of design and management. However, especially when it comes to privacy and sharing options, MS still can learn from Mahara.

Plugin, developed by Gregor Anželj, installed for EUfolio and presented by Christian Fertl, Danube University Krems
Plugin, developed by Gregor Anželj, installed for EUfolio and presented by Christian Fertl, Danube University Krems

EUfolio. EU classroom ePortfolios is a project devoted to pilot teaching with both Mahara and O365 as platforms for ePortfolios in lower secondary classrooms in Cyprus, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovenia and Spain.

At the project's partner meeting in Cyprus on 25 and 26 September, the Slovene partners presented some of the results of their (still ongoing) pilots. Most of the teachers in slovenia work with Mahara, making use of the plugin "My learning". This plugin allows students to evaluate their prior knowledge, to set their learning goals and to plan their learning journey (with the help of their teacher). The learning journey is evaluated by the student's reflection and formative feedback by the teacher.

The Irish partners presented their CPD and School Support Timeline, which starts with a launch meeting for school leaders, ICT coordinators and teachers. Implementation continued with teacher training. Each school was assigned a mentor from the EUfolio project team, while the accounts and school sites for O365 and Mahara were set up. 20 schools (37 teachers) are using O365, Mahara is used by 6 schools (11 teachers). While working with the ePortfolio tools, teachers - backed-up by their mentors - have expanded the use of ePortfolio for teaching and learning, including assessment. Their Prezi (embedded in this page) also contains considerations of and for teachers and students.

The piloting in classrooms in Cyprus showed that the use of Mahara made students express themselves in new ways - especially the ones who used to remain silent before. Among the barriers that have to be overcome in order to use ePortfolios sucessfully, there are traditional pedagogical beliefs and established classroom practices. While many teachers had been afraid that they would have to re-invent their learning design completely, training helped them to understand that in most cases only adaptations of it were necessary. Cyprus will focus on piloting O365 as ePortfolio platform in the 2nd stage of the pilot in autumn.

The findings of EUfolio so far are: For a successful implementation of ePortfolios, teachers have to be put in the center first. This is, how they get acquainted to the learner-centered way of working with ePortfolios in the classroom. Assessment for learning - including self-assessment of the students and peer-assessment also plays a big role in the ePortfolio approach.

The fact that working with ePortfolio platforms is only enjoyable with proper infrastructure (good WIFI and appropriate hardware) should not be neglected, either, when an ePortfolio policy is developed.

The EUfolio piloting partners are now elaborating case studies of ePortfolios in classroom which will be available in early 2015. They will also give examples for learning designs and ePortfolios of students.

In April 2015 the project will be concluded with a conference on 22 April 2015 at Dublin castle. This will be also the place where EUfolio's Policy Maker Manual will be presented. Besides the keynote speakers and the project partners, teachers from all piloting countries will share their experiences in workshops. Save the date!

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.
EUfolio, partner meeting Cyprus, E-Portfolio, ePortfolio, school, assessment, teacher CPD, pilot experience