I have to say that setting up my Mahara e.Portfolio website has proven to be the most challenging (frustrating) task so far. I created my account using NetSpot, paid my $5, changed my password and thought 'how easy is this'. Yeah right! I could not get in to my Mahara site and envisaged having to pay another $5 with the same unsatisfactory outcome. While I still don't actually know what I did wrong, thankfully I am now able to log in and I have modified the layout and colour scheme and added some friends to my list.
Mahara is a digital portfolio that provides the user with blogs, a resume builder, a file manager and a view creator (CTER, 2009). It allows you to create folders and sub folders to upload files (images, video, audio and documents) quickly and efficiently, resulting in portfolios and project pages with rich multimedia content (CTER, 2009). An ePortfolio is basically an extension of the paper based portfolio and comprises a collection of personal reflections and digital artefacts that can be accessed from anywhere that has Internet access (Mahara, 2009). For $5 a year this information is safely stored in a central server.
Within the classroom the the use of Mahara can be easily managed by the Learning Manager and enables online communities (groups) to be formed based on shared interests, research or study. During units of work, ePortfolios provide a place that learners can access services, store work, demonstrate their learning and development of new skills, and record their achievements (Mahara, 2009). Through active involvement in their learning students gain a better understanding of how they are progressing and, due to the meaningful nature, are more motivated to learn.
Mahara is an eLearning tool that is learner-centered but also promotes interaction within group contexts. With a focus on learning that is creative, meaningful and authentic I believe it is consistent with the ideas expressed by Kearsley and Shneiderman's (1999) Engagement Theory. This theory highlights the important role that technology-based environments have in regards to 'human interaction and evolution' (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999).
From a pedagogical perspective Mahara can be used effectively to facilitate social networking and reflective learning, and provide challenging and authentic tasks.
CTER. (2009). Mahara tutorials. Retrieved August 1, 2009, from http://cterport.ed.uiuc.edu/technologies_folder/mahara-tutorials
Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved July 25, 2009, from
Mahara. (2009). About E-Portfolios. Retrieved August 2, 2009, from http://mahara.org/about/eportfolios