Mahara is the ePortfolio system used by Federation University. An ePortfolio is an electronic space where you can display your work to lecturers, peers, prospective employers or to other interested parties.

Mahara basically has three parts.

  1. A filing cabinet where you can put your content
  2. Display pages where you can present your content and
  3. Permissions which allow you to choose who sees which display page.

The Content that you place in your filing cabinet can include graphics, your writing, PDF files, and videos. You can also keep a journal, work history and personal information. Assignments completed in Mahara can be submitted seamlessly into your Moodle course or can be shared to a specific person for consultation.

Pages and collections

When you create a page in Mahara, you are in effect making a web page similar to any you might see when browsing the web. However, unlike the web, the page is private until you share it with others. The easiest way to share it is as an assignment submission through Moodle. It is also possible to share a page with a specified group of users from our university, as a secret URL which you can send to someone outside the university, or open to the whole web where it can be indexed by browsers and will show up on a search engine.

Remember your content remains private until YOU decide to share it.

It can be beneficial to place your ePortfolio content over a number of pages. This aides navigation and can allow addition of content over time.
There are a few things to remember with collections:

  • Once a page has been added to a collection it cannot be shared separately. To remedy this simply copy the page and share the copy!
  • If you need a page in more than one collection you will again need to copy the page and add the copy to the next collection.
  • If you edit a page in a collection it will not edit the copies you have made, they will need to be changed separately.
  • You can edit the collection and add or remove pages.

REMEMBER if you submit a collection for an assignment it may be locked for editing until it is marked. You will still be able to copy pages though.

Files and pictures

Mahara ePortfolios has a built-in PDF viewer. This means that any text-based work can be embedded into the page and viewed without damaging its formatting. It also means the file can be viewed online without having to be downloaded.

Other documents can be placed on the pages as ‘Files to download’. Whilst this may at times be necessary, it can be time-consuming for lecturers who wish to mark your work. If everything can be viewed onscreen it will prove to be a better solution.

As Mahara is a web-based application it is important to be aware of copyright considerations. Images that you use should generally be ones that you have created.

As a student you have some rights to use images for educational purposes. If you do this, provide a reference for the image source (generally placed under the image). To upload an image to Mahara, you must select the checkbox which acknowledges your right to use the image.

Journal entries

In many ways a journal is like a diary EXCEPT that it is written after the fact. It isn’t used for planning so much as for reflecting on what happened. There are some exceptions. Some researchers will write down what they intend to do in their next experiment and then later reflect on the results and how they wish to proceed in the future. Read more about reflective writing here.

As a university assessment, journals provide the opportunity to reflect on your experiences whilst studying. This is especially the case when doing work experience, rounds, field work and placements.

Like a diary, a journal will have a number of entries based on different days or activities. The title of each journal entry could be the date, the experiment number or the assessment number. Your course description will tell you how to label each entry.

A journal can be displayed as a single book with each entry following the last or you can choose which entries you wish people to see.

Video in Mahara

Loading video into your Mahara e-portfolios page is quite easy. Either upload a file to your site, or link to a video on a site like YouTube.
It is important to remember that video footage placed on your Mahara site must comply with the Federation University Australia usage policy. Basically it MUST NOT have any inappropriate material in it. You must also consider copyright owners. If you have made the video yourself then there should be no problems.

If other people are being captured in your video, and can be recognised, MAKE SURE you have their permission. Videos from YouTube and other such sites should be publicly available and must not be stored as uploaded files in Mahara but must be linked to. See the tutorial below.

Page layouts

The default page layout for a new page in Mahara is three columns. This can be changed into a different style chosen from the available list or you can create your own style.

Submit a Mahara assignment to Moodle

Federation University has integrated Moodle and Mahara. Within your course Moodle shell there will be a submission point for your assignment.
Once you have completed the page or collection you have been asked to make in Mahara, go into Moodle to make the submission. As soon as you select the submission icon, Moodle will check your Mahara account and show you a list of all the pages you have which are not yet submitted to an assignment. You simply select the checkbox for the page (or collection) that you wish to submit and complete the submission process.