For various reasons, people don’t really know what an ePortfolio is and/or what the Mahara ePortfolio system could be used for. I will try and explain:
… a web based tool to track, nurture and document your learning path.
… a container to store your artefacts (textfiles, audio files, movies, pictures) in one place.
… designed in a user centered way, giving you (and only you) full control over your content, with easy tools to share only what you want to share.
… ecouraging self reflection, self learning and learning in peer groups.
… designed to practice and encourage peer review with a system-wide feedback functionality.
… designed as a kind of reversed “walled garden”, giving you easy control over the “gardens” you work in.
… made for social networking without distraction in a controlled environment.
The most obvious use case is in education. Mahara is made to accompany you throughout an educational career, from primary school, higher education to further education and vocational training. Mahara is made for life long learning.
Since you have your CV, diplomas, awards, journals, feedback and discussions all inside Mahara, a job application is easily assembled, choosing from the elements in your Mahara that fit the job you’re applying for. This leads to the use case of Mahara as a software for job agencies , – to manage and “sell” their clients.
Easy to create forums, groups, institutions, feedback forms (wherever you want them) and the option to have several blog instances per user, let you create a social networking site out of the box.
Drag & drop embedding and arranging of movies, photos and audio files make it fun to create, work with and share your content. In the primary school use case, Mahara can be used to train media skills, by having a class work with Mahara on small research projects like gathering, reporting and sharing nature observations or a day at the zoo, museum etc.
Speaking of nature, Mahara can be a platform for breeders and growers (…), to document, discuss and show off their “items”, be that cattle or flowers.
Mahara is an ideal place to document and report on work placements (which is often a requirement in higher education), voluntary work and political or environmental activism. Any example where you want to have discussion as well as documenting activities illustrates this use case really. You can write a journal, embed video, photo galleries, run discussion forums, share with and invite people to join – all inside Mahara.
I’d be happy to read about further examples of how to use Mahara, please leave a comment.