Mahara 1.4 CookbookWhat makes a delicious meal? It’s not just the individual ingredients, but how they are blended together in a mouth-watering composition. Cookbooks help both amateur and professional cooks to get this blend right and to get inspired to create variations on the presented recipes. Ellen Marie Murphy authored the Mahara 1.4 Cookbook* for cooks new to Mahara but also for those experienced in its use to give them fresh ideas of how to use this web application.

Mahara is an open source ePortfolio web application that has been in existence since 2006. It is used around the world in compulsory, higher, and further education, and other institutions by people to compile their evidence of learning, to reflect on their learning, and to collaborate in projects. Version 1.4 of Mahara was released in June 2011.

Ellen Marie Murphy is well-positioned to write a cookbook on Mahara because she is an active user and community member. Before she became Director of Online Curriculum at SUNY Empire State College in September 2011, she was Director of Learning Technologies and Online Education at Plymouth State University where Mahara is in use. In October 2010, Plymouth State University organized the New Hampshire Focus on ePortfolio Day to bring educators from K-12 and higher education together to share ideas about their ePortfolio use with each other.

The Mahara 1.4 Cookbook contains 52 varied recipes in eight different categories. Whether you want to use Mahara for the visual arts, literature and writing, create your professional portfolio with it, work in groups, create an education portfolio with primary school kids, a social portfolio, a college application portfolio or use it for certification and accreditation in higher education, you find ideas in this cookbook. There are simple and short recipes that help you create a portfolio page within just a few minutes. And there are more complex recipes that guide you through the creation of a multi-page portfolio in which artifacts collected over a long period of time are arranged.

The recipes can be followed by new users of Mahara as well as “old hats”. After a brief explanation of the purpose of the recipe and a screenshot that shows an example, Ellen Marie offers step-by-step instructions that lead beginners to the goal. Experienced users of Mahara can go through the recipes more quickly as they already know the processes for uploading files, creating journal entries and pages etc., and can focus on the innovative ideas Ellen Marie provides for portfolios. These ideas allow learners to create engaging, visually pleasing, and informative portfolios which they can expand over time for their own professional purposes, to showcase it to others, or to use it in an application process, for example.

The recipes often include additional tips and tricks which give learners further insight and options to vary the recipes and to adapt them. References to other recipes in the book help especially new users to find related content and to continue exploring Mahara by following authentic activities.

In my opinion, the Mahara 1.4 Cookbook is a valuable reference book for any Mahara user who wishes to get fresh ideas for working with his / her portfolio. It is also a great resource for educators who want to use ePortfolios with their students in finding ways to encourage their students to reflect on their learning regularly and to compile their portfolios. Although the step-by-step instructions correspond to version 1.4 of Mahara, those who work on an older version of Mahara can still benefit from the presented ideas, and most recipes can be followed on an older version with only slight navigational changes.

The Mahara 1.4 Cookbook is the second book written for Mahara and it follows in the steps of Mahara 1.2 E-Portfolios: Beginner’s Guide as fantastic resource for Mahara users. It can be purchased as eBook and as paper book.

Two thumbs up!

* By using this link to the Cookbook, you are supporting development work on Mahara.

You can engage in the Mahara community discussions and trial the application yourself.

Thank you to Packt Publishing for a copy of the eBook for review.

CC BY-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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