This book has recently been published by PACKT who specialise in publishing IT books with an emphasis on Open Source applications. The mahara eportfolio project started development in 2006 combining eportfolio and social networking functions. ePortfolio software is being increasingly used to record the development of an individual’s work and to get feedback on the work. This book will take you through the steps required to create an eportfolio and provide some ideas on how you can use your eportfolio better. There is also a chapter for people who manage the eportfolios of others.
This is suitable for learners and educators wanting to document and share their learning. No prior knowledge of mahara or eportfolios is assumed. This book provides help for users and administrators of the mahara eportfolio system.
The book is laid out in a consistent style and format and includes the following
Practical exercises – Over forty practical exercises include with numbered step by step instructions and screenshots.
The practical exercise also have a description following explaining what happened in the step by step procedure.
There is full description of the topic before the exercise.
There are screenshots accompanying the instructions with areas of the screen highlighted
This book has enough instructional material for a novice user of mahara as well for someone who wants to install mahara on an Apache web server.
There is also good advice on teaching and assessment processes using mahara including
how assessments can be supported with mahara
what to look for when assessing views
encouraging forum discussion
how to evaluate whether your organisation is ready for using eportfolios and plans to help eportfolios are successfully implemented
how to manage files in mahara
What I liked
There is a good mixture of theory and practice for creating and using eportfolios
The layout of the step by step instructions with good explanations of what needs to be done and how to do this.
The organisation of the chapters is in a logical order.
All of the functions of the software were covered well with practical and theory elements.
The inclusion of content for a large variety of people from users, administrators, educators, teachers, implementers and software installers
The language and layout is broken up into readable chunks with good use of white space, bullet points and images.
This book has been published shortly after the new release making the content current.
There is good use of case studies throughout the book that provide a good variety of perspectives.
The tasks and chapters are arranged in a logical order and are easily locatable in the contents page and index
What could be improved
Some of the graphics from screen shots aren’t that clear – blowing up of small icons make them appear a bit jagged and screenshots of coloured writing makes them have little contrast
Some of the content could be referenced to help understanding. This will probably be used as a reference manual rather than read from cover to cover. For example when creating a view you should have uploaded files first, this is in a different chapter that is not referred to.
The pop quizzes are a good idea but there aren’t enough and sometimes it is hard to find answer in the material
Possibly more advice on how to use mahara for workplace learning situations
More information on how to get support from the mahara project community.
Highlight if a feature is new in version 1.2 so it is easier for people using a previous version to focus on what the new features are.
This book is a must have for any organisation administrators or educators setting up or using mahara.
There is not currently any other publication on mahara and this book will help supplement the limited online help available and provide ideas on how mahara can be used more effectively.
This book would also be useful for users of mahara wanting to extend their knowledge as there are lots of step by step instructions included.
I would also recommend that you get an electronic copy of the book if possible. This way others can view this without having to borrow this from you. Some users may also prefer the electronic copy with the advantages of adding notes and printing out selected content.