The group has been using Mahara for 3 weeks now (the whole of the initial phase of their design project) - some feedback on how it's working:
Aaron McKay - Gordon teacher:
The Building design Industry requires collaboration in process as individuals come together to share, test, refine, develop design ideas. Creating such a culture in a vocational education setting sets many challenges such as sharing and distributing information effectively, assessing individual performances within a group setting and managing process.
Positives (of using Mahara to create this collaboration culture):
1. Mahara brings together individuals, their thoughts, ideas and a collection of relevant project information using an interface that is similar to the method in which most students collaborate externally via social networks, such as facebook.
2. Enables staff to observe what is being uploaded, by whom and when.
3. Enables postings to communicate with students.
4. Allows formative assessment.
5. Allows students to assess, give constructive and authentic feedback to each other.
1. Requires trust from users in the creating and management of information.
2. Uploading files is confusing as the uploading function isn’t block specific.
3. Order of files and naming difficult to read and find.
And students - what do they think so far?
Amy Van Berkel - Amy is one of the more experienced student users of Mahara (as she was one of the students who participated in the 2010 trial). She has been the 'student mentor' for other students using it for this group collaboration project in 2011.
- Enables you to access all your files you've uploaded to Mahara anytime, anywhere, thus negating the need to carry around piles of folders, books and paperwork.
- It provides a central location for file sharing amongst a selected group, with the option for people to contribute and not just view.
- It’s good that you can create specific views within your portfolio and then pick and choose who it is visible to.
- It’s difficult to get you head around Mahara because it’s 'backwards' to common software.
- If you have a 'Live' document, you can’t save the changes directly within Mahara, you have to save it to your own file system, then upload it again before updating the file on the view ... It’s very long winded!
- It doesn't tag new documents that have been added to view since you last visited the view.
- Would be handy to have a "Live Chat" function enabling you to converse with people when doing group work.
- Require a 'Block' within the views that enables you to put in web links directly ... similar to how the block is created for You-Tube videos.