Friday, August 14, 2009

Mahara......documenting lifelong learning!

Finally I have reached the point in tackling Mahara! Although I have accessed Mahara and uploaded files previously I still felt unsure and nervous as I didn't quite comprehend what Mahara was and the various applications it holds. Now the fear is gone and I have explored Mahara and seen its various features and have absolutely loved its potential for not only myself but for my students within the classroom.

Mahara is an online eportfolio which allows you to store and document your learning journey. According to Brown, Anderson, Simpson & Suddaby (2007) it can be described as "an online collection of reflections and digital artifacts that students can use to demonstrate their development over time to various audiences." It encompasses a variety of applications such as a weblog, resume builder and social networking systems which connects users creating various online communities allowing the user to network with others (University of Ballarat, n.d.). While exploring the many aspects of Mahara and its uses I realised that this effective program can be utilised to promote the users journey of lifelong learning through the provision of "tools to create a personal and professional learning, development and showcasing environment" (Brown, 2007). According to Brown et, al. (2007) Mahara's sole purpose was to enhance a lifelong learning and development application through the collaboration of a media rich ICT mediated program which personalises learning. It becomes evident that this goal has been achieved through the development of the various programs which allows the user to not only keep track and document their own learning and successes but also allows them networking opportunities through the blog application.

Mahara can be used within the classroom for all ages. Although for lower grades I would suggest it be kept and maintained by the teacher who may allow students to choose what they would like to document on their own learning portfolio, then as they progress into the upper primary years they are given control of their portfolio and taught how to manage and use this safely. This incorporates Kearsley & Shneiderman (1999) theory of Engagement. The use of a portfolio emphasises meaningful learning and student directed learning (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). The creation and continuation of a eportfolio is based around the students being able to relate to this authentic means of learning through collaboration and networking with others as they create and enhance their knowledge within Mahara while sharing and donating their learning experiences and knowledge to others within the online community.

Overall the incorporation of an eportfolio within the classroom can prove to be effective educational program as students take hold of their own learning and immerse pride and motivation into their creation. It provides students with the abilities to watch the progress of their learning and help to evaluate their own journey making decisions and changes where they feel necessary. Although for this to be incorporated and used meaningfully within the educational context, a "cultural and philosophical shift in the mind of the student and the teacher to truly value reflective practice over a more traditional competitive and grade orientated approach to learning" (Brown et, al., 2007) In other words we as educators must make the shift from the traditional means of assessment to authentic means of assessment which encompass elements which are of importance to the students and within today's day and age a digital approach seems to be an interesting, engaging and prospective pedagogical approach.


Brown, M., Anderson, B., Simpson, M. & Suddaby, G. (2007). Showcasing Mahara: A New Open Source Portfolio. Retreived August 19, 2009, from

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Universtiy of Ballarat. (n.d.). Mahara. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

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