By Betty Hurley-Dasgupta, mentor and coordinator, mathematics and technology studies, Center for Distance Learning
October 17, 2013
Mahara, by its characteristics, promotes a learning-centered environment—sometimes called personal learning environments (PLEs), because the learner creates a learning space around his or her own needs. Students already have a unique PLE, composed at least by the mentor and other tutors/instructors they work with. It also includes any resources students use as they learn, which include books and library resources as well as notes. Some students already may have an extensive PLE, especially if they have taken an online course and have assignments stored online. PLEs may include YouTube videos as well as other digital resources. Students also may communicate with people around the world about interests through Skype or are keeping a journal or journals as well as sharing photos on Facebook as part of their PLE.
Through Mahara, students can create what are called “pages.” Each page can have both text and media components, placed there by the student in a way that makes sense to them. Mahara supports multiple journals, which can then be published, permitting the valuable reflection on student work as it progresses. Pages are easily editable. In addition, each person in Mahara has a profile page, where student interests can be shared with the community. Similar to Facebook (but within the student’s Empire State College community), members can look at each other’s profiles and “friend” each other. Groups also can be formed in Mahara, where group members can exchange ideas in forums and work on group pages together.
There also is a template for putting together a resume or CV in Mahara. So, it can be a place to create a public image.
Students are encouraged to explore, and because it is integrated with Moodle, students in Center for Distance Learning courses soon will be seeing some Mahara-based assignments. Students keep their Mahara space even after graduation, making it a great environment for placing final projects.
As a member of the Empire State College learning community, students already have access to Mahara. Since it is integrated with Moodle, students can access Mahara by entering their Empire State College username and password. Once on the Moodle page, click on “ESC Mahara ePortfolio” located on the right-hand side. Students enter Mahara at the dashboard level, which is a page only they can see, and are encouraged to “friend” Eve Portfolio to learn more about how to use the system.
For additional resources, go to: https://mahara.esc.edu/view/view.php?id=4054
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