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Peer Review


by Richard Wyles, Mahara Project Leader


Overall Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Jun 30, 2009 by Teacher Education
Overview: Mahara is an open source Web 2.0 application built as a personal learning system or electronic portfolio tool. It can be used as a stand-alone application or can be integrated with the Moodle learning management system.
Learning Goals: The learning goals for Mahara will be established by the instructor or institution using it.
Target Student Population: Mahara is being used successfully by primary students, secondary students, as well as university students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Students should have a basic understanding of how to use Web 2.0 tools to create personal content. Mahara is easy to use so students can pick up the necessary skills with minimal training.
Type of Material: Mahara is a personal learning system or electronic portfolio system that includes social networking features.
Recommended Uses: Mahara works well for both portfolio assessment, and showcase portfolio development. It can be used to create online communities. The system is modular in design to maximize flexibility.
Technical Requirements: Users need basic web 2.0 authoring and navigation skills. Mahara, the server application can be downloaded and installed by educational institutions without cost.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: The content will be created by the students.
Concerns: This site is not for a beginning computer user. The Mahara demo site is a must for all beginning computer users.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: Mahara was designed from a learner-centered perspective. Students add artifacts or evidence of their work. Next, they create views for sharing what they have created. Finally, students share their work with others. The sharing can be protected and take place only within the system or public and shared with the world. This site improves the abilities of both teachers and students. It can be used to communicate content.
Concerns: Although Mahara is free, it requires a system administrator to install and maintain the server. Hopefully as its use grows there will be opportunities for low-cost vendor-hosted solutions. It is not a learning material, rather a learning facilitator.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: Mahara was designed to be as easy to use as common social networking technology such as Facebook. Teachers and students rave about how easy it is to use.
Concerns: As Web 2.0 transitions to Web 3.0 and semantic technologies, Mahara will need to evolve, which can be challenging for an open source application with legacy users.

Other Issues and Comments: File size restrictions could be a concern for some.