Tuesday, March 1, 2011

E-Portfolio group is up & running!

 Our students had their first session, working with Mahara, last Friday (25th Feb).  Many had never used it before but staff who ran the introductory session for them said “…the students all took to it very easily; they just got it and had no problems at all.” They were all made members of the group created for the project – there are 25 members.

How to organise the group collaboration space in Mahara was an important focus of the Friday session too – staff led the brainstorming and a plan for the site was drafted. It will be interesting to see how this initial plan works in practice.
Students have already started uploading files & other artefacts into the group files area to share with other group members. The focus in this project is on the group rather than their individual e-portfolios, but they are sure to explore the personal uses of the e-portfolio environment too. 

You can get an idea about how the brainstorm (on whiteboard) has been translated into a Mahara view from these two whiteboard & screen shot images.

The project team has been researching the workings of Mahara Groups to make sure we understand key issues - some of these we've been discussing: 
·         Administration of group - the person who creates the group becomes the Administrator but as group admin, you can ‘upgrade’ other group members to the administrator role.
·         Group Types - now include Standard and Course types (these control how others can join the group – open to all, request to join or be invited to join). Our group is a Request Membership group.
·         Use of Group Files & Group View - means students can upload, share and organise files.
The Building Design project has various phases phase 1 is the Requirements Research. Blocks have been put onto the Group View so students can upload and share files related to different tasks within that requirements research phase.
We considered the idea of creating a group view for each task within the Requirements Research phase but this would have restricted access too much. Instead we have chosen to create a group view for this phase and use blocks in the view to organise the research collection for the task.
·         Permissions to view/ edit/ publish an uploaded file into the group space & how they can be controlled. By default, all members of the group have permission to do all. We still have to test who can adjust the permissions – is it just the administrator of the group or is it the person uploading the file (or both)?
Students are completing a survey on their existing experience in using group/online collaboration and social networking. We plan to survey them again at the end of the project, aiming to find out both how easy /useful they found Mahara was for group collaboration and how it compared to other tools they may have already used both professionally and personally.
If you want to have a look at the survey use this link:
(we used an online survey tool called ObSurvey to set this up)

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