Monday, November 10, 2014

Mahara added to Bitnami Library!

We are happy to announce that Mahara is now available on the Bitnami library.


Mahara is an open source ePortfolio and social networking web application created by the government of New Zealand. It provides users with tools to create and maintain a digital portfolio of their learning, and social networking features to allow users to interact with each other. 

Mahara is now ready to install in a few clicks with the Bitnami Mahara installers (available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X), Virtual Machine images(VMs), cloud images for the Amazon EC2 and Azure cloud platforms.

We also had the opportunity to interview Aaron Wells (Technical Lead) and Kristina Hoeppner (Community Facilitator) who were kind enough to answer some of our questions:

What is the goal of the Mahara application?

Mahara is an ePortfolio designed for use in education. It gives users an easy way to set up individual or group portfolios, allowing them to showcase and reflect on their learning and achievements. It can also be used to support assessment processes.

Functionally, Mahara is a lot like a multi-user content management system. It allows users to create mini web pages for their portfolios, and it includes some social network functionality to make it easier for users to share content with each other and the rest of the world.

Mahara is open source and has a lively user and developer community who contribute to improving Mahara continuously.


What are some of the features of Mahara?

Mahara can be used by one individual, but it unfolds its true power when used with others as it allows for collaboration and engagement of other users.
 
With Mahara you can for example:


  • Set up media-rich portfolios by uploading different files, embedding social media content from other websites, creating journals (blogs).
  • Create multiple portfolios for different purposes, e.g. one for your personal development, one for finding a job, one for course assessment.
  • Personalize your portfolio with built-in themes or create your own skins. You can also share your skins with other users on the site.
  • Have others leave comments on your portfolios and support you in your learning.
  • Export your portfolios as stand-alone HTML sites or for import into an ePortfolio system that supports the Leap2A standard. For example, you can start your portfolio on your school's Mahara site, import it into the university's Mahara site when you start your university career, refine it and change it there, and then move it to a different site after graduating university so you can continue your lifelong learning journey. As your portfolios are always portable and accessible to you, you will be able to make changes along the way, remove things, update others and add new content keeping your portfolios fresh.
  • Submit your portfolio for assessment directly within Mahara or to the popular learning management system Moodle for integration into coursework.
  • Collaborate with groups of users in forum discussions and create portfolios or group projects together.
  • Extend Mahara with a range of community-contributed plugins.

Which projects or organizations are using Mahara currently?  What kind of projects do they use it for?

Mahara is used around the world by schools, higher education institutions, associations and organizations with accreditation/certification requirements, and also by individuals who want to harness the power of keeping a portfolio for professional purposes.
 
Common use cases include:


  • Presenting project work
  • Showcasing a year's work on a particular subject matter
  • Outlining a learning journey with its ups and downs
  • Reflecting on professional development
  • Supporting a job application with actual evidence of previous work experiences
  • Submitting a professional development portfolio to an association for re-accreditation
  • Setting up an online community of practice
  • Submitting a project assignment for a class

For example, Pace University in New York uses Mahara with existing and incoming students to get started on their learning journey. The University of the Arts, London, uses Mahara with its design students to present their work and also submit assignments. Southampton Solent University in the UK uses Mahara for employ ability purposes where students can create an online job application. The university also uses Mahara with its sea-faring students to document their learning while at sea on their mobile devices, and then upload the content to their Mahara site when they are back on land. The University of Canberra employs Mahara in its teaching program for students to work on assignments. New Zealand nurses use Mahara to speed up their re-certification process by having taken it online. Schools in New Zealand and around the world use Mahara with their students for assignments, lifelong learning and also teacher portfolios.

What do you expect will be the main benefits of having Bitnami packages available for Mahara?

As an automated installer, Bitnami can be especially helpful for users and institutions who only have limited tech support available. Bitnami can help them get up and running with a standard Mahara install and stay up to date with the latest version of Mahara. For more advanced users, running Mahara in a virtual machine can also be helpful as a quick way to set up a "sandbox" site to test new updates, configuration options, and plugins.

You can follow the Mahara project on Twitter and participate in discussions on Mahara.org.  

Would you like your favorite app to be part of Bitnami? Be sure to suggest and vote for it in our monthly contest!

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