Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Summing Up - positives & negatives of using a Mahara Group

This post has been written by Aaron McKay - Gordon TAFE Building & Design teacher and gives a great insight into the positives/negatives identified by both the teachers & students involved in our e-portfolio groups project.

In the vocational world of building design and architecture all offices have an intranet server that allows design teams to collect, share, co-ordinate and manage building design information technology and resources.
In the past in an education setting we have not been unable to allow students to participate in this manner as teachers developed resources and transmitted them to students.
This one way method did not allow students to participate in the learning environment and was not a true reflection of what happens in industry.
Introducing Mahara has allowed us to facilitate learning as students participate in the gathering, sharing and co-ordinating of building design and learning resources.

At present the group has completed two phases of the building design process:
  1. Determine Project Requirements: which involved listing and prioritising project activities, research, analysis and allocating group resources to be uploaded onto Mahara for collaboration
  2. Present Design Concepts: which involved providing a design response to the brief, site and research collected and analysed which were uploaded onto Mahara for review and reflection by colleagues and students.
Positive reactions from the teachers/student group using Mahara to date are as follows:
  • Their ability to have ownership of components of their learning
  • Their ability to share resources and work collaboratively has developed and reinforced industry expectations and working methodology
  • Allowed students to learn more effectively from each other via observation and feedback (Peer evaluation and assessment)
  • Provided an excellent resource and evaluation for teachers in the further education of other groups
  • Allowed other staff members not directly involved in the classroom to observe and give feedback to student work.
 Negative reactions from the teachers/student group using Mahara to date are as follows:
  • Difficulty of managing files, uploading and downloading
  • Late students observing other students' work and potentially plagiarising ideas/resources without contribution to the group
  • Additional time for facilitators to manage, co-ordinate the e-portfolio
  • Time and difficulty of altering paper resources/work to digital format to suit e-portfolio media
  • Maintaining student enthusiasm for additional work/time towards e-portfolio contributions

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