This year we are using Mahara ePortfolios as the main assessment tool for several of our modules (- predominantly first year and integrated foundation year modules). Mahara use at this scale hasn’t happened before at the RAU and we have been carrying out a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure a smooth roll out.
Training – We have run Mahara training for our staff on the following areas:
- ePortfolios: What are they and what’s in it for me and my students?
- Introducing Mahara: a basic introduction to editing
- Using Mahara: Designing learning activities and assessment, and using groups
- Advanced Mahara: Using competency frameworks
- Mahara for Dissertation management
- Mahara as a CV builder
We plan to also run some training on marking ePortfolios just before the assessments are due in. As a team we have been working to improve our own Mahara skills and recently had Sam Taylor from Catalyst in to help us prepare for the recent upgrade to 19.04. Aurelie has visited the early lecture sessions for the modules using an ePortfolio assessment and has given the students an overview of the system. Students have been encouraged to carry out the induction activity available to all RAU Mahara users – they are awarded with a digital badge for doing so. We will be revisiting the lecture sessions just before the assignment is due to check that there are no issues and the students are happy to submit their assignments.
Batch loading users on to Mahara – In order to set up groups we needed to make sure that the right students were in Mahara. Our system is set up to authenticate through Moodle and users are only created at the moment they access the Mahara site, adding users by CSV file helped us to ensure everyone was already on the site.
Setting up the groups for modules – Groups were set up using admin accounts and students on those modules were batch loaded into the groups.
Creating templates for the assessments – we decided to use templates for all this year’s ePortfolio assessments. This has allowed us to control the layout of the Mahara pages by locking blocks and should help with consistency when marking the assessments. Some of the templates are individual pages while others are collections of pages. The templates were designed in collaboration with the module lead and were created in the relevant group and shared with the existing group members. Comments were turned off for all templates.
Adding assessment points to the relevant modules – this has been done using a Mahoodle link in Mahara assignment. Students will go to their assignment submission portal and will be given the option to submit any of their Mahara ePortfolios – most will only have the templated assessment available. Once an ePortfolio has been submitted it will be locked until it has been marked.
Marking – we intend to use a rubric for marking of the ePotfolios and as mentioned earlier will be training our academics in how to mark to make sure the marking is consistent and fair.
There is still quite a bit of work to do before the end of the semester and assessments are done and dusted. We have agreed that we would like to have a retrospective with the academics once the ePortfolio assessments are all in and marked to see how things have gone and decide if we would like to go full steam ahead with more complex and student-developed ePortfolios for other higher level modules.