Getting Started

Mahara is an e-portfolio technology.

An e-portfolio is a system in which students can record “evidence of learning” – such as essays, reports, reflective commentary, task lists, multi-media or artwork. Basically, anything that can be produced and stored digitally. These digital items are known as artefacts in Mahara.

It is more than just a place to store files as Mahara also provides ways for people to interact with their tutors and peers and create online communities.  Mahara also includes blogging (through journals) and a résumé (or CV) builder.

Your e-portfolio can be used for personal reflection and development and to provide assessment evidence for your programme.  You decide what you share with your tutors, peers and friends.  You can also make your portfolio, or parts of it, public.  You can then showcase your development and achievements with employers.

The word ‘mahara’ is from Te Reo Māori  meaning “to think, thinking, thought”. As Mahara was created in New Zealand, it was fitting to choose a Māori word to signify the concept of the ePortfolio system.

One example of how an e-portfolio may be assembled.

One example of how an e-portfolio can look.

Mahara at the University of Bath can be accessed in two ways.

Use your usual University login details (username and password) and click Login.

Your Profile area stores your contact and personal information. Each of the profile fields can be considered separate artefacts which you can add independently to your profile page or any portfolio page. Thus, you can reveal as little or as much information about yourself to others as you wish.

Your profile page is public, in the sense that by default, it can be viewed by anyone who is logged into Mahara at the University of Bath.

Note on privacy: Be very vigilant with your private information. Think about it like providing information on a business card. How much or how little would you want to display there? Do you need to give out your home phone number and postal address? If not, leave them out.

Complete the form fields with the information you want to add, making sure to click Save.

 

You can upload up to 5 profile images.

The images you wish to use must be between 16×16 and 1024×1024 pixels in size. Ideally, your profile images are square. Please use an image editing software before you upload your images to reduce a photo’s dimensions to the required ones.

The recommended size of your profile image is 100×100 pixels. Then the image looks good on your profile when you want to include it there and also in the smaller sizes around Mahara.

The profile images that you wish to upload to Mahara must be available on your computer. Choose one image at a time to upload. You can also give it a title.

User menu > Profile pictures

The dashboard is the first page you see on logging into Mahara. You can arrange the items on the page to suit your preferred way of working.  For example, you might want to see your inbox, or recent forum posts.

The sidebar blocks are not editable.

Click Edit Dashboard to arrange it the way you would like.

Watch below to see the various way to edit the Dashboard.

A screencast on how to edit the mahara Dashboard.

You are, by default, notified of relevant activity in the Mahara Inbox.

However, you can change your notification preferences so that you receive an email instead.

  • User menu > Settings > Notifications
  • Change your preferences and click Save (at the bottom of the page).

Your portfolio is built in pages and collections of pages. 

  • From the Main Menu select Create > Pages and collections.
    • If you belong to a Group you may see Pages that have been ‘pushed’ to you by your Tutor.  When you edit them here, they are your personal copies (i.e. they cannot be viewed by others until you choose to share them or submit them).
    • To start pages from scratch, select Add and then Page. 

Short video on how to add a page to Mahara.

    • To create a page based on another page select Copy.

See How do I create a Collection in Mahara? on how to build your Collections.

To be clear on how your personal portfolio differs to material in a Group see the FAQ below on Understanding Mahara.

Understanding Mahara

Mahara is not like other learning technology you may have used (e.g. Moodle) so it’s important to understand the differences.

Mahara is designed for students to create content and control who sees it.  This content is created in a personal portfolio of pages (or collection of pages). You can identify your personal content by viewing a link underneath the title of a page or collection.

Screenshot of a personal portfolio page in Mahara.

Sometimes students will work in groups.  Within the groups, where settings have been enabled, students and staff can create new content (more pages and collections).  This content belongs to the Group, and not individuals.  You can identify Group content by viewing a link underneath the title of a page or collection. 

Screenshot of a group page in Mahara.

It’s important to understand the difference between personal content and group content. 

  1. Group content you work on does not automatically become part of your portfolio.  You will need to copy such content in order for it to be placed in your personal portfolio.  The permission to ‘copy’ is not always enabled so please speak to the Group Administrator if you are not able to copy content.
  2. Group content does not get exported when you export your personal portfolio.
  3. Portfolio work can only be submitted for ‘review’ (i.e. for assessment) within a Group.  Mahara does not have a gradebook.

Short video screencast on the difference between group pages and personal pages in Mahara.

Working in Mahara Groups

Mahara groups are spaces where you can collaborate and share with others.

There are several ways for students to join Groups in Mahara, depending on how the Group has been set up by the Administrator.

  • You can be added by the Mahara Administrator.  In this case you will see your Group when you login, under Engage > Groups or listed in the right-hand sidebar under My Groups.

A screenshot of the groups sidebar in Mahara.

  • You can send a request, to the Group Administrator, to join the group. From the Main Menu (hamburger icon) select Engage > Groups drop-down menu and click Find groups. You can then search for groups you can join and click the Request to join this group button. The Administrator or Tutor will receive a notification and decide about admitting you to the group. Click the Accept button to join a group to which you have been invited.

Screenshot of the main Mahara menu.

Screenshot of the group search menu.

  • Some Groups will be open and you can join by clicking Join this group.

  • Select the Page or Collection you want to copy.
  • If you have permission to copy you will see a Copy option available from from the More options (three dots icon) button on the right of the page.

Mahara screenshot showing the selection of a Copy option.

  • If the Page is part of a Collection, you need to confirm in the pop-up window whether you want to copy the entire collection by clicking the Collection button. If the Page is not part of a Collection it will just copy the Page to your personal portfolio area.

Mahara screen shot showing the selection of a collection.

Find the page or collection you want to share with the group.

Create > Pages and collections

  • Select the page or collection you want to share. Click the Edit icon (pencil) and then click the Share button. From the Share with drop-down menu choose Group.
  • From the Search box select the group you want to share with.  Finally choose who, in the group, you want to share with (e.g. everyone or your tutor).
  • Finally click Save.

Screenshot of group sharing options.

If you belong to a Group that allows submissions you will see the option to submit a Page or Collection for review. (Not all groups will have this feature, depending on the nature of the group).

Once submitted you will not be able to edit that page until the Tutor releases it back to you.

  • Create > Pages and collections
  • Select the page or collection you want to submit for review. From the right hand ‘more options‘ menu (three dots) select Save to timeline.  This will take a snapsot copy of the page. Do this for each page in the collection.  This gives you a point in time to refer back to by clicking on Timeline.

Screenshot of more options icon in Mahara.

  • Scroll down until you see the Submit this page (or collection) for assessment to drop down menu.  Select the group you want to submit to.
  • You will see a message to inform you that you will not be able to edit its contents until your Tutor has finished marking it. And you will have to confirm you’re happy to go ahead by clicking Yes.
  • You will receive a notification to confirm the submission.
  • Once the Tutor releases the page or collection back to you, you will receive another notification.

Creating Portfolio Content in Mahara

Your e-portfolio is created through the production of pages and collections (of pages), with content that is often created in a reflective style.  Each page can be edited to contain the content you wish, including uploading or embedding of files of various types (e.g. text, image, media, web).

e-Portolios are often used to give students a platform to develop reflective writing skills. Reflection is …

  • your thoughts and feelings about experiences, events, ideas, opinions or new information
  • a way to develop self-knowledge
  • a way to achieve better understanding of why and how things happen

You can access this University resource on Reflective Writing. It can help you develop the skills you need as a reflective practitioner and improve how you communicate your reflections through writing.

  • From the Main Menu select Create > Pages and collections.
  • Select Add and then Page.  [Choose Add to start from scratch or Copy to use another page as a starting point.]

When you select a page, it is displayed to you as a web page. To edit the content, click the Edit (pencil) icon to the right. You can then add items (by dragging blocks) to the page, edit existing ones (by clicking the cog icon) or delete content (by clicking the bin icon).

Screenshot of Mahara page

Screenshot of a Mahara page in edit view.

  • To view any changes, click the Display page link under the page heading.
  • To edit or view the page settings, click the Settings button on the right.
  • To edit or view how the page is shared, click the Share button on the right.

  • From the Main Menu select Create > Pages and collections.
  • Select Add then Collection. Name the Collection and change other settings as appropriate.  Click the Next: Edit collection pages button.
  • Select the pages you want to add to the collection and click the Add pages button. When finished click Done.
  • Select the collection and you will see the pages displayed with a menu at the top, with next and previous buttons to scroll through them.

Video to show how to create a collection in Mahara.

 

  • From the Main Menu select Create > Pages and collections.
  • In the bottom right of the collection, click the More options (vertical dots) icon and you have three choices:
    • Manage – to edit the pages contained in the collection
    • Edit – to change the settings for the collection, such as name, tags etc.
    • Delete – you can remove the collection

Screenshot of more options icon in a Mahara collection.

Remember Mahara uses artefacts to refer to the content that can be used to populate pages.

Files

Main menu > Create > Files

The Files area is a repository, i.e. a document storage for folders and files, that you can use within your portfolio. Both folders and files are considered artefacts and as such can be added to a page. You may create any number of folders or sub folders. To view which subfolders and files sit within a folder, click on the folder name. Use the Home link to return to the top level folder directory.

You can arrange files and folders by dragging and dropping the icon in front of the file / folder name onto another folder icon. If you want to move a file or folder out of a subfolder, move it onto the parent folder icon .

You will find that some folders are automatically created by the system such as viewfiles or images. The viewfiles folder includes files from imported pages whereas the images folder includes your uploaded profile pictures. As with any other file, you can move them out of this folder and store them in a different folder.

  • Type the folder name and click the Create folder button if you want to create a folder before uploading file Click the folder to upload files directly into it.
  • Upload a file by clicking on the Browse button to search for the file on your computer. Make sure that it is not larger than the maximum upload size that is shown in the parentheses.
  • You can upload multiple files when you are browsing for them after having clicked the Browse button. Hold down the Ctrl key (or Command key on a Mac) and click on all the files that you wish to upload at once. Or you can drag and drop multiple files into the drop zone.
  • Click the Edit button to edit folder or file properties.
  • Click the Delete button to delete a file or folder.

Video

Mahara is not designed to store video files.  Instead you can store video files in a video server, and then embed, or link to them, in Pages in Mahara.

  • You can save files in Panopto. These videos can be shared with the whole University or individuals.
  • You can save files in MS Stream.  This is an Office 365 app. These videos can be shared with the whole University, MS Groups or individuals. More information.
  • To embed a video into a Mahara page you can use the External Media block.
  • With this block you can embed content from a wide variety of third-party sites. The sites that are allowed are listed below the text area in the configuration screen. You see only their favicons, but when you hover over an icon with your mouse, you see the site’s name as well.
  • Select a Page in Edit view.  Select External Media from the block menu on the left.  Paste in your embed code.  Click Save.

Screenshot of the block menu in Mahara.

  • In the relevant Group select the Forum tab. Select the Forum you want to take part in. When you have permission to add a forum topic, you will then see the New topic button.
  • Compose your message and click Post.  Depending on the setting chosen by the Group Administrator, the message will either be posted immediately or  after a 30 minute delay.
  • If you want to reply to an existing topic, then select the Forum and then the Topic.  Click the Reply button and compose your reply.  When finished click Post.
  • You can quickly go to all the discussions you’re subscribed to by selecting Main Menu > Engage > Discussion forums.

Sharing Portfolio Content

  • From the Main Menu > Create > Page and collections.  Select the Manage access (lock) icon for the page or collection you want to share. Or from the Main Menu you can select Share > Shared by me.
  • You can then select the Edit access (lock) icon for the page or collection you want to share.
  • From the Share with drop-down menu choose User or Group.
  • From the Search box select the User or Group you want to share with.
  • Finally click Save.

You can share your Pages or Collections with people outside the University, such as prospective employers, subject specialists or external examiners, using a secret URL.  This provides users who do not have an account on Mahara access to your portfolio without making your work publicly available and searchable by search engines.

Important: Be careful to review the information you share in this way.  For example, make sure you are not breaking copyright or data protection rules.
  • From the Main Menu select Share > Shared by me.  Click the Edit secret URL access (globe) icon next to the collection or page for which you want to give access permissions.
  • Click the New secret URL button to generate a new secret URL. You can add as many secret URLs as you wish.
  • Click the Copy button to copy the secret URL to your clipboard. You can then paste it into an email to send to somebody.
  • Click the Delete button if you do not want to use this secret URL anymore.

Exporting Portfolio Content

If you want to take your e-portfolio content with you, you have two options.

Note: Any work created or uploaded directly to a Group will not be included in your exported portfolio.  If you need to include work from a Group you have worked in, make sure you copy it to your personal portfolio before exporting.

  • Under the Main Menu > Manage > Export
  • Select Standalone HTML website. This creates a self-contained website with your portfolio data. You cannot import this again to Mahara, but it is readable in a standard web browser.

  • Under the Main Menu > Manage > Export
  • Select Leap2A. This gives you an export in the Leap2A standard format. You can later use this to import your data into other Leap2A-compliant systems, although the export is hard for humans to read.
This guidance material has been adapted from the Mahara 19.04 Manual under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 unported.

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