Mahara is a personal online platform that stays with you for the duration of your time here 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 - this means you control all your settings and 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 integrates with FLO for authenticated assessment submission. It can be a lot of things, but essentially, Mahara is a place to tell a story about you.
*Mahara is one of many eportfolios. It was developed by a consortium of higher education providers in New Zealand in 2006 and is open-source software. About Mahara: Explained by Mahara
Choose Mahara if: support for staff and students is desired; the ePortfolio system needs to ‘talk to’ the Learning Management Systems (eg for assessment purposes); or the course or topic interpenetrates other courses that are also using Mahara.
NOTE: We are currently using Mahara version 17.10. We update about every six months. For this reason, support material in this page generally hyperlinks to the official Mahara support material at the end of the paragraph. Sometimes, these links
will point back to instructions in earlier versions. That means nothing has changed. 'Shortcuts' and 'Gotchas' (tips for avoiding
common problems) are also included where relevant. These assume a basic level of familiarity with the layout and functions of Mahara, but are a great reminder of how to do something. If you are copying instructions for use in your FLO sites, please
update them often. The latest shortcuts will always be here.
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 the Okta menu. 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.
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 a 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:
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
Serhat's portfolio Serhat's record of learning from his Master of Distance Education at Athabasca University. An exemplar showcase of coursework
The following items are the most common things that people do with Mahara. To access the full suite of Mahara user resources, see the officialMahara user manual here
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. See Mahara files info here
Your Mahara account is limited to 200 MB 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
to multiple places. Video files stored on YouTube will embed in Mahara. - See how to embed media in section 2.3 'Create a Page' below.
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:
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. See Mahara page info here
Journal: Dropdown to choose: whole journal, journal entry or tagged journal entries
Embedded media: External > External media > drop in the URL
Choose whether retractable or stays open (depending on the best layout for the page)
Drag the content on your page to arrange
Display page (under title) 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. See Mahara collections info here
Shortcut for version 17.10:
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 especially 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.
Shortcut for version 17.10:
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 comment.
Shortcuts for version 17.10:
Option 1: Secret URL
Dashboard > Share > choose your Collection or Page from the lists
Click on Secret URLS (globe icon)
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
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 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. See Mahara comments info here
Shortcut for version 17.10:
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 part of. Coped Pages can then be adapted. See Mahara copy info here
Shortcut for version 17.10:
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. See Mahara groups info here
Gotcha: All members of a group need to already have picked up their Mahara accounts.
2.10 Export your work to another platform
You will have access to your Mahara account for the duration of your FAN. 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, and then export from your Flinders
Mahara content using Leap2A format. See Mahara export info here
Provide concrete examples: You can use your own, 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
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
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
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 Receive Mahara assignments
To receive Mahara assignments securely and authenticated by FAN, create an Assignment tool. It is not recommended
to receive Mahara coursework by secret URL or 'share' as these options do not go through the FAN authentication system.
Submission type: Mahara portfolio - you can ignore options for file number, type, etc.
Lock submitted pages: There are 3 options. Once submissions have been received, you will not be able to change your option. Options:
"No": This is the default option. Submitted pages and collections will be editable by the students. This provides you with a 'live window' to their work.
Note that it is possible to archive submitted work if you want a snapshot in time - see item 4.4 'Save submitted work' below.
If "Yes, keep locked" is selected, submitted Mahara pages and collections will be locked from editing in Mahara and will remain locked after grading. This option is not recommended unless required by an accrediting body.
If "Yes, but unlock after grading", the page or collection will be unlocked after submission grading, or, if marking workflow has been used, they will be unlocked when marks are released to student.
You can think of these as 'live' or 'locked' windows to the students work. Note that with any of these options, a student may at any time make a copy of their submitted work and keep editing it. Hence it is helpful to think of submitted work
as a 'version' or a snapshot in time. If you need to see another version at a later time, create another Assignment dropbox.
Gotcha: Not all work in Mahara is time-stamped. Pages are time-stamped but not all items within the Page. This means if the student is building a Page over time, you will not be able to tell when
individual items were added. If it is important that you see the time stamp, choose Journal.
4.3 Provide feedback
When assessing work in Mahara, consider how you will provide feedback to students. If work has been submitted through the Assignment tool, you have two 'locations' where your interact happens: in Mahara (through Comments) and in FLO (through
the normal channels of assignment feedback). You will probably need to use a mix of both, as appropriate to your context.
1. Comment in Mahara
When you click into a students submitted Mahara assignment you are able to interact on that Page through the 'comments' functions, provided the student has not turned comments off. Each Page has a comments field, and some items of content also
have comments enabled (Journal entries, Notes and files). As a visitor to the student's eportfolio, you can leave comments here, but note that these comments then 'belong to' and managed by the student - they can choose to delete them if they wish.
Comments in Mahara 'give' the student something they can usein their portfolioas part of their portfolio, for example:
praise for work well done
useful extra information, or
evidence of your having been there
2. Provide in-FLO feedback
Feedback that relates to your judgement on the quality of the work submitted and justifies a grade given is formal, and should occur in FLO. This acts as a record of your thinking should there be a grade challenge.
4.4 Save submitted work
It is possible - though arguably not necessary - to save a submitted Page as a PDF. Obviously this is an extra step, and is not required for assessment records. However you may choose to do this if:
a record: a formal record of the work is required for accrediting bodies or the like
annotation: you want to annotate a Page with comments (as you would for a normal PDF assignment)
research: the Page is a research artefact
example: the Page is an example of work, intended to be shared or presented with others
Remember to seek and gain the necessary consent if you are saving a Page for purposes other than assessment.
In the Mahara Page itself, locate the 3 dots on the top right of the Page - this is a drop-down
Choose Print > destination 'Save as PDF'
Note that formatting may change. The Page will save in black+white, with comments displayed at the bottom of the PDF.
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.
FLO 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 users beyond log-in because this is your private space.