Never heard of Mahara? Mahara is our ePortfolio system, an open source platform that supports student documentation and reflection of their work over time at the university. This is a program developed out of New Zealand. The name “Mahara” is a Maori word meaning “to think,” “think,” or “thought.”
ePortfolios are widely popular in Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand and have been gaining popularity for their pedagogical value in The States and other universities across the country for several years now.
With all the talk about online learning and what it means for small liberal arts settings, ePortfolios could be the ticket to differentiating the types of learning that take place here versus larger institutions. Much of the focus of online learning, MOOCs and the like have pointed to a shift in the way we think about our teaching by using strategies such as ‘flipping’ or other methodologies that facilitate students taking a more active role in their learning. To quote John Fischman, author of a Chronicle of Higher Education blog post: Electronic Portfolios: a Path to the Future of Learning, “If we truly want to advance from a focus on teaching to a focus on student learning, then a strategy involving something like electronic student portfolios, or ePortfolios, is essential.”
In 2009, Fischman’s post commented on the work of two researchers’: Randy Bass and Bret Eynon. Fischman relayed the importance and value behind ePortfolios. According to Fischman, Bass and Eynon believe that: “At the moment, ePortfolios represent perhaps the most promising strategy for responding to calls for accountability and at the same time nurturing a culture of experimentation with new forms of learning.”
Want your students to begin taking ownership of their learning, reflecting and actively thinking about your course? Contact your EdTech and get started with Mahara!