My Mahara UK 2014 Report (#MaharaUK14)

mahara_presenter_2014Not long back from what was probably the best conference ever, full of great examples of ePortfolio usage and ‘lessons learned’ to take heed from. Great to see presentations from colleges and unis who are just finishing their first year of using Mahara, as well as the ‘old faithfuls’ showcasing the awesome things their institutions are doing. I won’t go through everything I saw, but will give a general overview and show highlights of each day. I will then give a short explanation of my presentations at the bottom of this page. Firstly, here are my action points from the conference:

Take aways:

  1. Explore the benefits of groups for building self-help resources and for assessments
    Template pages can be copied to students’ own portfolio
    Submission could be made easier
  2. Work on content for the Mahara user manual
    Perhaps the Assessment & Lecturer’s guide?
  3. Collect case studies from presenters to add to my tool kit
    Lots of examples to choose from – perhaps explore the newsletter too?
  4. To explore the potential of adding vivas to assessments
    Great to get students to do a 5min presentation of their portfolio – could be live or recorded/screen recorded
  5. To explore the potential of screen-recorded feedback to students
    A lecturer could use JING to record what they’re seeing – perhaps for formative feedback? Feedback file could be given to them via myCourse
  6. Explore potential of Taxonomy of Reflection chart with students
    Could a self-help checklist work?



Day 1: Thursday 17th July

Recordings of keynotes:

It was hot – bloomin hot! But fortunately the Uni of Brighton has such great facilities and we were kept cool throughout the whole conference. I had one presentation on this day which wasn’t until 4pm (long time to wait!). Anyway, the presentations I saw are listed below:

  1. Keynote: Crossing the threshold: Moving e-portfolios into the mainstream
  2. Putting the Mac on Mahara – weathering the storm of community formation
  3. Mahara: A student’s perspective
  4. Big Vet, Wee Vet – onboarding new students
  5. Provision of an Inclusive Mobile Responsive Learner Development Support Toolkit at Forth Valley College
  6. Keynote Address – State of the Mahara Nation
  7. User groups and community engagement


Throughout the day I saw great examples of how people from different organisations were coming together to form communities; one such one being the Scottish MacHara group. This was complemented by the final session which discussed the practicalities of meeting either online or in person. As one of those present at the first ever Mahara User Group South England (MUGSE) I was very keen to hear what others thought of having more groups.  A feedback site was sent out asking for feedback on how people thought they ‘gave back to the community’.

I also saw examples of how Mahara was being used to create support sites, something that was also showcased the following day. Accessibility, induction, orientation – who knew it had so many uses! The highlight though was probably seeing Solent student Bradley (@BradleyGavin) give his first ever national conference presentation on his experience of using Mahara.  he did a wonderful job and did really well with answering all the questions thrown at him at the end (that’s always the hardest bit – I find!). Lots of praise was sent his way via twitter too!

You can see his presentation below:


Meanwhile…during the night….


Day 2: Friday 18th July

This day was to see myself and colleague Roger Emery start off the second half of conference with our presentation (more on that later). The presentations that I saw that day were:

  1. Mahara from scratch at the University of Pardubice
  2. Empowering students to critically evaluate their future career choices: Creating development plans with UK HE science students using studentfolio
  3. EUFolio: Using E-Portfolios to Develop Assessment Practice
  4. An investigation into curriculum approach within a Physical Education undergraduate work based learning course
  5. Mahara groups for assessment
  6. Become a Mahara writer
  7. The Graduate Toolkit


BswB75EIUAA_ZEAIt was wonderful to see the lovely Linda from the University of Pardubice (Czech Republic) present in the Uk. she is an English teacher who use Mahara to support her students’ English language skills. I was fortunate to have met Linda at the German Moodle Moot earlier in the year 🙂 in her presentation she compared the use of Mahara to looking after a tree: look after the roots, help it grow, reap the wonderful fruit at the end. See her presentation:

And thanks for the gingerbread 🙂


It was also on this day that the inspiration for action on groups and vivas was gained via the wonderful presentations of Domi Sinclair, Amy Price and Sam Rhodes.


Links to my presentations

1) Leading by example: Engaged lecturers can encourage their students to create great pieces of work in Mahara. Peer mentors and past examples can also help to raise the bar each year.

2) Winning hearts and minds: never give in and just keep on going



Great conference, lots of ideas, and the meeting of fabulous friends old & new. I love this community!!! Next year I plan on putting in a proposal to perhaps showcase what has happened since this conf and whether the new things I’ve trialed have worked!

Sam xxx

Some of my tweets & retweets from the conf:









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