Page 1

Introduction to Mahara 1.2 ePortfolio Software

Mahara is an open source ePortfolio, blogging tool, CV builder and social networking system, connecting users and creating online learner communities. Mahara is designed to provide users with the tools to demonstrate their life-long learning, skills and development over time to selected audiences. Mahara means 'think' or 'thought' in Te Reo MÄ ori. The software is provided freely as Open Source (under the GNU General Public License).

Quick Guide to Mahara ePortfolios

Logging In Your Login details will be the Username and password assigned by your Site Administrator. If you have forgotten your Username or password, click on the Lost Username/Password link to the right of the Login button

Main Menu The main menu is the most important feature for navigating in Mahara. Click on each named link to navigate as follows:       

Home: Click here to return to the Mahara homepage. Profile: Click here to navigate to your personal profile space. This is the area where you enter personal and professional details. My Portfolio: Click here to go to your portfolio area. Groups: Click here to access communications and social networking features of Mahara. Settings: Click here to change your password and to access other settings within Mahara. Logout: Click here to log out of Mahara Site Administration: Only available to Administrators. It is most likely you will not have this option in your Main Menu.


Settings allow you to configure your Mahara site usage. It also determines how friends may link with you and how the system will contact you with site notices, information and other notifications.


Your Profile area stores your contact and personal information. This is the area in Mahara where you can start to build up a picture of your interests, achievements, aims and when you are ready to do so, share them with other users. Each of the Profile fields can be considered separate artefacts which may be independently added to a View.

My Portfolio

My Portfolio is where you upload files, including multimedia content and add a Blog with associated posts. Each item of uploaded content is referred to as an “Artefact” in Mahara. These artefacts may

2 ©Orla Daly 2010

Quick Guide to Mahara ePortfolios then be arranged, rearranged and reused as Views developed for different purposes and audiences. When you click on My Portfolio a sub-menu appears as seen below.

My Files

The My Files area is a document storage area for folders and files for use within your ePortfolio. A folder is also considered to be an artefact and can be added to a View. By adding a folder to a View you can allow people, who have access to that View, to download many files rather than using the single File(s) to Download block. Only you and system administrators can access your files in Mahara. You can create any number of folders and sub-folders. To see which sub-folders and files are within a folder, click on the folder name. Add Files and Folders: 1. Click the My Portfolio option from the main menu bar 2. Click My Files

3. You must always choose Yes by placing a check mark in the field to the right of the Upload File text to acknowledge that you own copyright over or have the right to reproduce the material being uploaded. 4. Browse to your local computer and upload a file as required. It is good file management practice to organise content within folders. 5. To create a folder type a folder name in the Create Folder field 6. Click on Create Folder. The folder will appear in the list of folders under the Parent folder Home. Clicking on the name of the folder displays the content within the folder. 7. Files may be clicked and dragged into different folders. If you delete a folder you also delete the content within the folder. Multiple files may be uploaded as a zip file.

3 ŠOrla Daly 2010

Quick Guide to Mahara ePortfolios 8. Currently allowed multimedia file types are: AVI; FLV; MP3; MP4; MPEG; QuickTime:


My Blogs

A blog is an artefact in Mahara and primarily used as a reflective tool. A Blog is a journal –type tool that allows you to record your thoughts and reflections, an online diary which you can keep private or make public, engaging with people you allow to access your View(s). You can create any number of blogs with posts building up over a period of time as a reflection of your thoughts on a particular topic. You can then choose the Views to which you will add each Blog and who you want to see the blog posts. To create a Blog: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Click on My Portfolio from main menu bar Click on My Blogs from sub-menu bar Click on Add Blog Enter a title and description for the Blog Click on Create Blog The new blog will now be displayed on the My Blogs page

Add a post to a Blog: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Click on the name of the Blog which appears as a list below My Blogs Click the Add Post button Enter a name for the post in the Title field Add your post entry – you have the option to add files e.g. image or video to each post Click on Save Post to finish creating the post A blog will display the most recent post first in the list of displayed posts.

My Views

A View is a webpage in Mahara. A View is a collection of artefacts which may include text documents, information from your Profile, multimedia content, RSS feeds, web links, a blog, and images - all selected by you for a specific purpose or audience. Views are very flexible as any number of Views can be created by reusing artefacts upload from your local computer or stored in My Files. Creating a View is a three step process.

4 ©Orla Daly 2010

Quick Guide to Mahara ePortfolios Step One: Create a View 1. Click on My Portfolio from main menu bar 2. Click on My Views. As this is the first time you are creating a View, a notice “You have no Views” appears onscreen

3. Click on Create View button 4. Follow the onscreen instructions to create your View

Category Tabs


5. Click on the Category tabs to access the various blocks as outlined in Appendix B. In this example, a Text box block is added by clicking on the General tab and then dragging the text block below the line as instructed onscreen. 6. “Configure” the text box by giving it a title and adding the content. You can also add images, links, and tables to this block by using the WISIWYG editor tools. 7. Click on Save.

5 ©Orla Daly 2010

Quick Guide to Mahara ePortfolios

8. Click on the “cog” icon in the upper right corner of a block to configure i.e. re-open the block for editing. 9. Click on the icon in the upper right corner of a block to delete the block entirely from the View. 10. You can change the number of columns and the width of the columns in the View by clicking on the Change my View Layout link and following onscreen instructions. 11. You can check how the View will appear by clicking on Display my View link.

Change my View Layout

Display my View

Block Configure and Delete icons

12. Click on Category tabs again to access other blocks to be added to the same View. 13. When you have added and configured the blocks for the View, click on Next.

6 ©Orla Daly 2010

Quick Guide to Mahara ePortfolios Step Two: Name and describe a View

1. Enter a name for the View in the Title field. You should make the title relevant to the content to facilitate searching later on when you have a number of Views. 2. Add a description of the View and tags – again to facilitate searching. 3. Click Next.

Step Three: View Access 1. Read the onscreen information detailed under “Create View Step Three: Access” 2. The global settings for View Access are: a. Public: The View may be seen in much the same way as a public website i.e. people do not have to be logged in to Mahara to access the View. This option may be disabled by the Institution Administrator. b. Logged In Users: This will allow the View to be seen by anyone logged in to Mahara. c. Friends: This will allow access to anyone you have added as a Friend. You can only add users as friends if they have accepted your invitation to become a friend. Friends display in your profile.

7 ©Orla Daly 2010

Quick Guide to Mahara ePortfolios d. Secret URL: A link is generated to the View which may be sent to external people who do not have access to a Mahara system. The URL that is generated is difficult to guess so that the general public cannot see the View.

3. You can search for individual users within the Mahara system. Click Add as you find people you want to see your View. 4. Very Important – please note When you have clicked Add to choose all of the people you want to have access to the View, you must scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Save.

View Feedback Panel At the bottom of each View to which you have been assigned access, there is a menu of options with which you can interact with a specific View. The options are: • Place feedback o Click on the Place feedback link at the bottom of a View to post a comment for the View owner o You have the option to make any feedback private or making it public by checking the Make public box. This will make any feedback visible to all people with access to the View. To submit, select Place feedback and a message will be sent to the View owner. A View owner can opt to change any public feedback that has been placed to private. • Report objectionable material • Print • Add View to Watchlist o To keep up to date with changes to Views of which you have access, rather than having to visit and revisit the View, select Add View to Watchlist at the bottom of the View to receive notifications via Mahara each time the View is amended.

8 ©Orla Daly 2010

Quick Guide to Mahara ePortfolios


Groups in Mahara are a way of bringing users together into places where they can collaborate and share ideas. You can give your group a name and a description, and decide who can enter that group. A group member can create forum topics, group views, and upload group files. You can do the following with a Mahara group: 1. Configure discussion forums: This is where all the group members can discuss issues related to key topics. 2. Create Group Views: Users can view group views and can also collaborate to create new group views. 3. Share group files: Group members may upload files to the group for sharing and collaboration. There are a number of different group types available in Mahara: 1. Open membership: Any logged in user can join the group. 2. Request membership: Users of the site can request membership. You then have the option to decide whether or not you allow membership. 3. Invite only: Only site members to whom you have sent an invitation can join the group. In this instance, it is the user who decides whether or not to join the group. Users must be listed as a Friend in your profile before you can invite them to a group. Unfortunately, there is currently no bulk upload or addition of friends in Mahara. 4. Course groups: These groups allow for more formalised assessment. There are two main types of course group: a. Course – Request membership groups where users themselves have to request to join the group. Once they have been accepted into the group, these users will be able to submit their views for assessment. b. Course- Controlled membership groups where you as the group owner can search for users and then go to their profile page and add them to your group. The advantage of this is that you get to decide who is in the group and the user has no option other than to be included as a group member.

9 ŠOrla Daly 2010

Beginners Guide to Mahara ePortfolios

Appendix A

Mahara Terminology: Site Blocks: Site blocks are a navigational tool, usually appearing on the right side of the screen in a standard theme, e.g. online users block. If you click on the name of an online user you will go directly to that user’s profile page. Artefact: Artefact is the Mahara word for digital content such as files, blogs, and profile or CV/Resume information. View: A View is a webpage in Mahara used to display information that users create. A View is a collection of artefacts which may include text documents, information from your Profile, multimedia content, RSS feeds, a blog, and images - all selected by you for a specific purpose or audience. Tags: A tag is a single descriptive keyword akin to giving something a label which describes something about it. All files tagged with a certain keyword are grouped together so they become easier to locate. Friends: A friend in Mahara is someone else within the system that you would like to connect with. You can assign View Access to only friends. You can search for Friends and, if the option is available, send a friend request to connect with that person. That person must then accept your request. All of your Friends show up in your profile. Occasionally someone will not have a Send Request option if they have decided they don’t want to filter Friend requests. In that instance you will see an Add to friend button which you can just click to add to the friend. If someone has sent you a Friend request, it will appear in the main site block on your Home page. If you create a Group, you can only add friends to that group. You can get an overview of all of your Friends’ Views by clicking on My Friends. This will display an alphabetical list of your Friends and an associated list of all of their Views to which you have access Group: A group is an online community in Mahara which users can either: • • • •

Join Request Membership Be invited to join Be selected in another way

10 ©Orla Daly 2010

Quick Guide to Mahara ePortfolios

Appendix B

Blocks Category Blog

Name Blog

Icon Image

Description Display entire blog. All postings in the blog are shown in the block.

Blog Post

Displays a single post from a blog within Mahara. In the block options, you can choose which post to display.

Recent Blog Posts

Displays ten most recent posts from a blog

External Feed

External Feed

Add RSS feed to display information from other websites.

Files, Images & Video

External Video

Link to video on external websites. In the configuration settings, enter the UR link to the video you want to include in a View. YouTube; Google Videos; Teacher Tube; SciVee Add a file image from your local computer or My Files that may be downloaded e.g. image; PDF document

File(s) to Download


Add an image from your local computer or My Files.

Embedded Media

Add your own video and audio files from your local computer or My Files.

11 ŠOrla Daly 2010

Quick Guide to Mahara ePortfolios




Appendix B

Icon Image


Display a single folder containing files from My Files.


Add a customised HTML file from your local computer or My Files.

Creative Commons License

Add Creative Commons License to a View

Text Box




Add a block of text to your View

Contact Information

Display contact information which you have added to your Profile.

Profile Information

Display profile information from your Profile e.g. your profile icon.

Your Entire Resume

Display the whole of your Resume/CV.

One Resume Field

Display just one field from your Resume/CV.

12 ŠOrla Daly 2010


General Introduction to Mahara