Mahara ePortfolio

Mahara is the ePortfolio system supported by Flinders University for coursework, WIL, and personal/professional activities.

1. Plan  |  2. Build  |  3. Teachers: use it first  |  4. Teaching tasks  |  5. Teachers: review and maintain  ||  Support 

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Mahara is a personal online platform that stays with you for the duration of your time at Flinders. It is an online space where you can join up the dots between different things and show progress over time, and a place to organise and showcase your work. It belongs to the account holder - you control all your settings and control who sees what. You can use your Mahara space for anything you like - personal notes, professional activity, scholarly activity and research, continuing professional development, career building and job-seeking, etc. Mahara works well to capture your experiential and informal learning, and can also be used for formal coursework at Flinders, because Mahara can integrate with FLO for assessment submissions. It can be a lot of things, but essentially, Mahara is a place to tell a story about you. 

For a further introduction, see Mahara's own introduction page.

Support material in this page links to the official Mahara support material, but we include 'Shortcuts' and 'Gotchas' to help you avoid common problems. This is kept up to date. These shortcuts are not how-to instructions, they are steps. If you are copying shortcuts for use in your FLO sites, please make sure they are up to date, as you would for any instructions in your FLO site. Check your shortcuts in your site against the shortcuts here and replace if needed.

To access the full suite of Mahara user resources, see the official Mahara user manual


Good practice guides and tip sheets

Good practice guides and tip sheets have been developed to support quality in both curriculum design and teaching practice. Good practice guides provide a pedagogical overview and tip sheets provide you with practical strategies and ideas for implementation. Links to Mahara-related resources are provided below. 

Authentic assessmentStudents are engaged in authentic and experiential learning | Using ePortfolios and Mahara in FLO | Authentic and Active Learning

1. Plan

1.1 Play with Mahara

The best way to understand what Mahara makes possible is to use it yourself. Have something concrete and genuinely useful in mind, even if it is just creating one page where you can write up your Philosophy of Teaching, or a place to collect feedback.

Where is my Mahara?

You can always find Mahara in your FLO user profile drop-down menu (top right of your window in FLO), or through Okta. When you are in Mahara, you can return to FLO at any time through a link inside your Dashboard page. This makes it easy for you to move between FLO and Mahara - no extra sign-ins required. When you first log in to Mahara, and any time there is a change made to Mahara you will be prompted to agree to a Privacy Statement.  

1.2 Consider possible applications: 
  • A personal-professional profile online: Create a professional-looking online presence, showcase your resume and collect all your social media accounts in one place.
  • A place to collect things: Upload, tag and store files you have created, or hyperlink to larger media files. You can also export forum posts, glossary entries and other FLO-created items from your topic into your Mahara space.
  • A place to capture your thoughts on the go: Journal your experiences, reflect, plan, make personal notes
  • A place to collaborate with others: A controlled space for sharing and co-creating in groups 
  • A way to present to others: Creatively combine text and media into pages and collections, and share these for assessment, promotion, or job-seeking.
  • A conversational space: Connect your big ideas to the world and invite public comment  

You can think of the ePortfolio as a practice as well as a technology. It is a way of engaging with your work and with others. Nicola Parkin, a learning designer at Flinders, draws from her own experience as a seasoned user of Mahara to explain the idea: 

Click here if you can not view the above video

1.3 Explore example ePortfolios:
  • Chris's FFOUT portfolio A previous staff member's portfolio created for Flinders Foundation of University Teaching (FFOUT) professional development
  • Rob's portfolio Rob was an Architectural Technology student at Southampton Solent University; his portfolio shows his journey to becoming a professional
  • Serhat's portfolio Serhat's record of learning from his Master of Distance Education at Athabasca University. An exemplar showcase of coursework
  • A reflective journal From a student at the University of the Arts, London 
  • Michael's academic professional portfolio: a great example of an extensive and rich portfolio, lovingly maintained - also see Michael's blog post here
  • Kathryn's digital thesis - 'An A/r/tist in Wonderland: Exploring identity, Creativity and Digital Portfolios as A/r/tographer'
  • An MD student's portfolio The student kept a journal with each entry tagged with one of MD course learning outcomes (CLO). The student then set up a collection of pages that automatically collated the journal entries for each CLO.  The student shared the entries with their learning coach, who can see a curated story about their development in each CLO.
...also see a great video on keeping a teaching portfolio here.

1.4 Learn about ePortfolios: 

2. Build

The following items are the most common things that people do with Mahara. To access the full suite of Mahara user resources, see the official Mahara user manual

2.1 Add and create items of content

Add your own content:

You can save and organise individual files into your Mahara space. These become individual items of 'content' which can then be used in your pages and collections for presentation. You can easily drag items from your desktop into Mahara. More information

Use built-in tools:

Storage capacity:

Your Mahara account is limited to 200MB storage capacity. It is recommended that you compress large files before adding them, and store large media files in other spaces and link to them. Used this way, Mahara becomes a way to curate media items published in multiple places. Video files stored on YouTube will embed in Mahara. - See how to embed media in section 2.3 'Create a Page' below.

Storage Increase Requests: Please complete this form and select 'FLO' from the Area menu for help increasing your storage in Mahara.

2.2 Use the Journal

Mahara comes with a journal already set up and ready to go. You can also create others - as many as you like. Journal entries can be tagged for easy finding. When you add a journal to a page for sharing or submission, you can:

  • Embed the whole journal
  • Select specific journal entries
  • Add all entries tagged with a certain way

More information


  • Drop-down navigation (top right corner) > Content > journals
  • Create journal OR
  • Rename your given journal using the pencil icon
  • Click New Entry > write, tag, save
  • Put your journal on the Dashboard (makes it easier to add entries)
  • Edit Dashboard > select your journal from the Blocks on the left
  • To add a new entry: Edit Dashboard > New entry

Gotcha: A journal must be in a page in order to submit it to FLO

Gotcha: If you are going to embed ‘tagged journal entries’ in a page for assignment submission, tagging your entries is REALLY IMPORTANT

2.3 Create a page

A page is a place to collect a number of items together to tell a 'bigger story'. For instance, you can group presentation slides with a picture of you presenting, some promotional material, feedback received, and a reflection on the event. You can add items to pages from your 'content' or you can add straight from your computer. Pages can be formatted to group items in different ways - play with the options for maximum effect. You can also link internally from one page to another.  See Mahara page info

More information


Make a new page: Dashboard > Create > Add > Page

  • Title your page
  • Description – a header across the top of your page (but invisible when editing your page)
    • A picture looks great here. Choose a long thin one to act as a banner
  • Tags – tag your page appropriately
  • Create via tags - populate your page with previously tagged individual items of content created elsewhere
  • Save. You can always come back to this settings area and make changes
  • The page is ready is to edit. Explore content options in the blocks on the left

Add content: Drag and drop to place on the page or see dropdown for options within each type. Common content choices:

  • Text: Drag onto page > title > add text, links, pictures, styling
  • Journal: Dropdown to choose: whole journal, journal entry or tagged journal entries
  • Embedded media: External > External media > drop in the URL
  • Choose whether the block is retractable or if it stays open (choose the best layout for the page)
  • Drag the content on your page to arrange
  • Click on the Display page icon (on the right of the page) to check how it looks / Back to return to edit screen

Gotcha: A page is the smallest thing you can share. If you are sharing or submitting content, it needs to be in a page. For instance, submitting a journal means adding to a page and submitting the page (with the journal in it).

2.4 Create a collection

Collections are a collection of pages joined together. You will need to create all the pages first before grouping them together in a collection. More information 


  • Dashboard > Create > Add > Collection – name, tag and save
  • Click Next: Edit collection pages
  • Select pages to add to collection > click Add pages 
  • Reorder pages with the arrows

2.5 Submit to FLO

You may be instructed to use Mahara as part of your formal coursework at Flinders. Mahara creates a formal and secure channel between you and the teaching staff. They will only be able to see what you submit, when you submit it. You are responsible for submission - just like any other assignment.

When it is time to submit your Mahara work to FLO, you will do so via an Assignment tool which will be specially set up to receive Mahara assignments. When you go through the 'submit' process, you will be prompted to choose your page/s and/or collection/s from a list displayed in the tool. Click which one/s you want to be submitted and complete the submission process.

The Assignment tool may be set to:

  • Unlocked (which means you can keep working in Mahara on whatever you have submitted, and teaching staff will see all your changes)
  • Locked (which means you will not be able to make changes to whatever you have submitted until unlocked by the teaching staff - but you can make a copy of it at any time)

Remember that your Mahara work is time-stamped. If you are asked to complete coursework in Mahara (for instance, keep a journal with regular entries) you will need to keep up to date as expected. If you create your entries all at once they will all have the same date.

  • In FLO, Click into the Assignment tool
  • The tool has been configured to accept only Mahara pages or collections
  • You will be prompted to select the relevant page or collection from a full lst
  • Go through the steps as normal and submit
  • Depending on the setting, your page/s will be
    • ‘live’ – you can keep working in them, and all your changes will show up to the teaching staff
    • OR locked for editing until after grading (but you can copy the page and keep working on it)

Gotcha: If you are submitting a collection to an Assignment dropbox in FLO, you must submit ALL the pages at once. This might mean creating 'blank' pages ready for you to fill later. If you add pages to a collection after you have submitted it, the teacher will not be able to see the new pages.

2.6 Share your work

You can make pages or collections available to others for view, with or without the ability for them to comment on your work.


Option 1: Secret URL

  • Dashboard > Share > choose your collection or page from the lists
  • Click on Secret URLS (globe icon) to the right of your work
  • New secret URL > copy
  • Send this to whomever you want to see your page or collection
  • UNSHARE: When you delete the URL, their access will disappear

OR create a Secret URL directly from your page – click Share button

Option 2: Share with others

  • Dashboard > Share > choose your collection or page from the lists
  • Click on Edit access (padlock icon)
  • Advanced options – choose to allow comments and/or copying
  • Share with: choose from the options
  • UNSHARE: When you delete the share, their access will disappear 

OR control share options directly from your page - click the Share button. More information

Gotcha: If you are presenting this media as part of a collection (portfolio), you will need to manage the privacy settings of these outside-Mahara items. For instance, if you make a Mahara collection and share a secret URL to that collection with someone, all the items you have linked to your collection (such as files in OneDrive) should also be viewable by that person. 

2.7 Collect comments on your work 

Mahara pages and some types of content come with a 'comments' field already turned on. You can control whether you want this on or off, and whether you would like to moderate comments, from within your page. More information


  • Share > Advanced options
  • Allow comments: yes/no
  • Moderate comments: yes/no

2.8 Make a copy 

Within your collection, you can make a copy of any page, or any collection that a page is a part of. Copied pages can then be adapted. More information


  • Share > Advanced options 
  • Allow copying yes/no. Note that the default setting is no.

You can also copy any page or collection shared with you if copying has already been enabled by the person sharing.

2.9 Work in a group

It is possible to use Mahara for groups, although some caution is advised if using as part of formal coursework. Anyone with a Mahara account can create public or invitation-only groups and can request to join other groups. More information

Gotcha: All members of a group need to already have picked up their Mahara accounts.

Gotcha: If you create work in a group and then leave that group or leave Mahara, your work will remain in the group.

2.10 Export your work to another platform

You will have access to your Mahara account for as long as your FAN is active. For students, this is one year from the date of graduation; for staff, it is when your employment with the University ends. If you want to keep the contents, pages and collections in your Mahara account, you will need to export it all into another account of your choosing. To export, you will first need to create an account to send it to, then export from your Flinders Mahara content using Leap2A format, if possible (allows your work to be reworked after export) or as an HTML webpage. More information

Didn't find what you were looking for? Search the official Mahara user manual

3. Teachers: use it first 

If you are planning to use Mahara in your topic or course, go through the activity yourself first. 

This will:

  • generate ideas on how the tool might be used to support learning and assessment
  • provide insight into the user experience 
  • test the steps so that you can provide accurate instructions (write them down as you go)
  • create an example for sharing with students so they can 'see what you mean'

You can share your work with colleagues via a secret URL or 'share' (see 2.6 above).

4. Teaching tasks 

If you are a teacher using Mahara for coursework or WIL, there are some extra FLO-related things for you to consider.

4.1 Guide and support students

General support principles for using Mahara in educational contexts:

  • Own the space: Mahara is a personal space, and users are responsible for maintaining the contents of their accounts
  • Grow your skills: Managing your Mahara space is a digital competency - start simple and develop confidence and expertise
  • A partnered approach: Staff and students are all users - share your expertise and help each other 

Support strategies:

  1. Write instructional guidance in FLO which clearly explains the task. See the Demo site: Mahara in FLO
  2. Provide concrete examples: You can use your own work, or those of students who agree to share a copy of their work. Examples will help students 'see what you mean' - in terms of organisation and content
  3. Share a copy-able 'template': If it is important to have the work formatted in a particular way, you can create the structure yourself and share with students as a copy-able page or collection. Students can copy, rename their version and 'fill in' the containers you have created. See 2.8 Make a copy section above
  4. Provide hyperlinks to help material and services: You find these in the Mahara user manual or copy from the appropriate section on this support page
  5. Copy and paste 'Shortcuts' from this page: Feel free to copy these from the appropriate section on this support page.

Gotcha: Hyperlinks and shortcuts copied from this page and used in FLO for student guidance and support will need to be checked every time the topic is offered, as the version may have changed in the interim - and therefore, the links and instructions may be out of date.

4.2 Creating and marking Mahara assignments

5. Teachers: review and maintain

Tips for maintaining up-to-date Mahara support in your FLO site 

  • Review shortcut instructions, and replace, if needed - the latest version will always be in this support page 
  • Review URLs to Mahara support pages, and replace if needed - the latest link will always be in this support page 
  • Click into any displayed example portfolios and make sure they are still live and as you would expect to see them. Portfolios are living things that will change over time and may no longer be appropriate, or they can disappear without notice

  Training and support


Support for students

When Mahara is used as part of formal coursework you will be supported by teaching staff to understand the task and the steps you need to take.

Help is available if you get stuck submitting to FLO or saving FLO work to Mahara.

Please note that FLO help staff cannot see or help you beyond your log-in because this is your private space.

Increasing Mahara Space: Please complete this online form and select 'FLO' from the Area menu for help increasing your storage in Mahara.

Contact: FLO Help for Students

Support for staff

Contact your local eLearning support team for training, design advice and technical support.

Refer to the red 'Gotchas' under each section. 

If you discover a Gotcha that isn't listed, please contact your local eLearning support team

» How-to glossary