Meet Monty!

mugse2Just a quick post to introduce our Mahara User Group South England (MUGSE) mascot Monty – created by Evonne at Catalyst HQ in New Zealand 🙂 We at MUGSE think he’s lovely!

Evonne is also working on a background banner for him that represents the diversity of South England… so watch this space!

To get involved with MUGSE go to:


#iMOOT15 Presentation proposal accepted

imoot_black_800Very excited to announce that my joint presentation proposal with fellow CDS Learning Technologist Aurélie Owens has been accepted for iMOOT15! This is exciting for 3 main reasons:

  1. This will be my first ever iMOOT presentation
  2. This will be my first official online presentation (via Big Blue Button)
  3. This will be the first time Aurélie and I will present together – an ‘exclusive’ so to speak 🙂

So what is iMOOT?

“iMoot is an annual event where the Moodle community, practitioners, administrators and decision makers meet to share the best practice in online learning. iMoot is the largest, fully online Moodle conference – #iMoot15 Everyone Matters”

– you can find out more by visiting the website: 

Our presentation:

Supporting the delivery of Post Graduate Education to the Military

Content Type: Case Study
Language: English – can be translated into French if requested.

You often see case studies from mainstream colleges and universities sharing their experiences of learning technologies, but you rarely see examples from those that support the continued professional development of the world’s Armed Forces. Based at the Defence Academy for the United Kingdom, Learning Technologists Aurélie Owens and Sam Taylor advise and support academics and students studying post graduate degrees from Cranfield University in the use of TEL.

Cranfield Defence and Security uses Moodle and Turnitin to support teaching and learning, and will be soon looking into the use of Mahara ePortfolios. This case study will showcase how Aurelie and Sam approach the many challenges that working on a secure military base offers, as well as how they have overcome issues in the use of physical and online technologies to enhance the students’ learning experience.

Can’t wait to get cracking with it! If you have any suggestions of what you’d like us to include then please leave a comment and we’ll do our best to cover it 🙂

My New Zealand Mahara adventure!

I’m now back at work after what can only be described as a ‘once in a life time’ opportunity and definitely the highlight of my career to date. Being invited to present at a conference is always exciting and an honor, but it’s even more of an achievement if invited abroad. This blog post may be a tad long (sorry) but I hope you will get a sense of how happy I am to have experienced what I did in Auckland.

Mahara Hui 2015 – See schedule

This was a wonderful conference and a great opportunity to meet those who I’ve only ever spoken to online – and of course to get together with the marvelous Kristina Hoeppner again.

I was fortunate enough to be involved in the pre-hui developers day hosted by Catalyst, where I delivered a workshop on re/designing mahara features. This was a great way of getting the developers and users together to discuss issues and wish-list items for Mahara, and look into ways of improving them. I hope it gave Catalyst plenty of food for thought 😉 (sorry Aaron!)

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(Pictures by @anitsirk)

My keynote was the following day, however it was at this point I became unwell. I managed to get through my talk, but unfortunately deteriorated afterwards. Many thanks to the staff and students of Solent who allowed me to share their stories and work with the world!

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(Pictures by @anitsirk)

You can see my presentation below, resources can be found underneath:

I saw so many fantastic presentations and case studies – too many to mention here, but in particular I enjoyed:

My main ‘takeaways’ are all to do with how Mahara can be used for so much more than just assessment. I hope to get cracking with it here at Cranfield CDS site at some point over the summer! Thanks to all the sponsors and organisers – and to AUT for hosting the event, and for my amazing mountain jade necklace xxx

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Auckland University of Technology

As part of my trip, I was invited to AUT for the day to talk about my experiences of using Mahara, going through the HEA Fellowship and CMALT applications, and any other Edutech topic that popped up. I also facilitated a workshop with academic staff at AUT based on a previous one I did at the Mahara Barcamp in Germany last year:


I had such a wonderful time there and really enjoyed talking to members of the CfLAT team (especially Mark, Shen, Michele, Lisa and Jawyei x). Thanks for the gifts, food and great conversations!


Exploring NZ

I did have a couple of days to explore Auckland and some of the surrounding tourist attractions with my hubby Gav, including Waiheke Island, Sea Life Aquarium, Hobbiton Movie Set, Glow Worm Caves, Auckland Zoo, Auckland Museum, The Star Dome Observatory & Planetarium, and the Sky Tower. Below are just a few of my pictures, but I won’t bore you with many.






Thanks for the wonderful memories 🙂

Good bye Solent!

Today marks the end of my Solent journey. I have been working here since August 2007 and have worn many hats over the years. I am sad as I have made so many awesome friends here over the years. It is also my ‘home’ as it’s where my family chose to settle after years of moving around with my Dad’s job. It’s the place where I’ve learnt my ‘trade’ as a Learning technologist and have enjoyed the freedom that my managers have given me over the years to explore areas that I felt enthused about, alongside projects that were handed to me.

  • To Steve Lake, thanks for taking a chance on me and giving me my first job at Solent all those years ago!
  • To my Dean of Service, Elizabeth Selby & Line Manager, Steve Hogg who’ve both been on all my LT interview panels, thanks for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to realise my potential.
  • To my lovely Learning Technology chums past and present – Alex, Andrew, Andy, Ann, Christina, Clare, Daran, Helen, Jenny, Julian, Lee, Loo, Nick, Paul, Richard, Roger, Rosemary, Sophia & Timos. You are all like family to me x I will be back every now and then (just remember to invite me!) 🙂
  • To the Graduate Associates Hannah, Sofy, Jack, Domi & Tom – so happy to have played a part in your first steps from being a student to becoming a professional 🙂
  • To all the academics and support staff – thanks for giving me lots of fun things to do!
  • Finally to my dear friend and mentor Lorry – thanks for giving me the kick up the backside I needed. Without you I would have never moved forward to where I am now. I wish you were still with us and I miss you every day xxx

Now, it’s time for Samwise’s next adventure…

Kisses x

I’m a Mahara Hui Keynote!

This week it was announced that I will be at the Mahara Hui 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand, presenting one of the Keynote presentations. I am so honoured and excited about this amazing opportunity, especially as I’ll be able to meet all the wonderful people that I’ve been speaking to online in real life.


My talk is titled ‘Growing up with Mahara’ and will take you on Southampton Solent University’s journey from the start of our ePortfolio exploration in 2008, to where we are now, concluding with what will be happening next (we think). You can read my abstract via the Mahara Hui website. This presentation pretty much compliments my keynote that I delivered last year at the German MaharaMoot barcamp which looked at how we at Solent support such a large number of courses that use Mahara, giving its diverse and flexible nature.

If you intend on coming to the Mahara Hui and had some questions for me, please feel free to leave them as comments on the bottom of this page – I’ll do my best to answer them.

Anyhoo, time to start hunting down my trusty academics and students and recording their thoughts on film! Their voices are just as important as mine 🙂

Sam x

‘Healthy Communities’ – Supporting Health Education with Technology

2015 is already shaping up to be a very busy year for me!

I am excited to announce that a paper proposal my colleague (Andrew Doig) and I have written has been accepted at the first ever ‘Healthy Communities’ conference. The conference is being organised by the Solent Health and Wellbeing Network and aims to bring together local partners to share good practice:


Our proposal:

Innovating Health & Wellbeing Education with Learning Technologies

“Sam Taylor and Andrew Doig, along with their colleagues in SSU’s Learning Technologies team, have done a great deal of work supporting Health & Wellbeing teaching and learning activities. During this presentation they will demonstrate some of the projects they have been involved in, and suggest ways in which other practitioners present may enhance their student, client or external partner’s experience through the use of online and other technologies.

Within SSU, LT has worked with course teams to produce an Open Resource for the Social Work community showcasing student research, created ‘mock-up’ pages in the hope of securing external contracts, and will be piloting the use of ePortfolios with both the Health & Social Care, and Social Work degrees.

LT also work with external partners in the Health sector. We will demonstrate our strategy for working with externals to develop online distance learning courses that serve a variety of purposes, such as training in health techniques, or education in specific health fields. We apply the Solent Online Learning standards to support and train our partners in developing very high quality online learning experiences that have been used to educate patients, doctors and medical students.

Ultimately, it is our hope that by presenting our work, we can demonstrate and inspire ways in which educators and health practitioners attending the conference can innovate their teaching and training through the use of learning technologies.”

Hopefully I will be able to share our slides and feedback at some point after the event 🙂 How exciting!

Digitising Social Work with Mahara

I am very fortunate to work with great academics here at Solent. One such academic, Practice Learning Coordinator Colin Bright, approached me during the summer of 2014 regarding the possibility of using Mahara to streamline the communication and feedback process between students, lecturers and practice educators on our BA (Hons) Social Work degree. Of course I was happy to help and we started to map and plan what sort of processes Mahara could support. Colin was very pro-active and created a fantastic template for his students to copy.

The unit kicked off around Christmas, with 50 students building their portfolios using the copyable template that sat in a Mahara group. All practice educators and mentors were also given a brief overview of how they can give their students feedback. It was great to see so many professionals all agreeing to this new method of communication, and it shows how willing those who traditionally use a paper-based method are to up-dating their practices.

Anyway, I produced a poster for the Faculty of Business, Sport and Enterprise’s conference about this project:

Social work

> Download PDF of Poster

> Download Feeding back on ePortfolios helpsheet

What’s great is that this has now inspired the Health & Social Care teaching team who will be trialling Mahara with 16 of their students. Fingers crossed it works just a well with them!

Sam x