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What’s new in MyPortfolio

Aurelie18 June 2021

Our eportfolio system MyPortfolio is powered by the open-source platform Mahara.

On 24 June 2021, we’re upgrading MyPortfolio to Mahara version 21.04. This means we’re bringing you new functionalities and improving features such as accessibility and competency frameworks as well as making MyPortfolio more user-friendly.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of improvements:

Improved portfolio page layout:

    • You can now add any type of content to the page from a click of a button through a placeholder block.
    • You can easily move and resize blocks, at any time, as you add content.
    • You can add instructions to template pages to help learners with structuring their eportfolio pages.

Improvements for assessments:

    • Portfolios can be declared as a template and can have instructions locked as well as a peer-assessment block.
    • Portfolio can have a completion/cover page (using the sign-off block) .

More accessible site with a better look and feel:

    • A new portfolio theme is available.
    • You can now add a feature picture for each portfolio page and collection, which allows you to better navigate your pages.
    • Heading styles are now consistent and accessible.

For more details, you can review the MyPortfolio Mahara Manual.


21.04 Mahara video from https://manual.mahara.org/en/21.04/new.html 

If you have any question regarding setting up eportfolio activities or assessment, don’t hesitate to contact me : a.soulier@ucl.ac.uk .

 

Communicating and collaborating

Domi C Sinclair11 July 2016

Whether it is a tutor wanting to communicate with their students, or students wanting to connect with one another for support or group work, the ability to communicate and collaborate with others effectively is critical to university life. Thankfully there is a plethora of ways this can be done, using both external tools or those hosted by UCL.

One such internal tools is called MyPortfolio. It is an online portfolio tool, that also facilitates connections and collaboration via profile pages and group spaces. One of the really great things about MyPortfolio is that it also allows you to easily embed a wide range of external content, so the limits of what you can do with it are your imagination.

Why not check out our MyPortfolio YouTube playlist to find out more.

Understanding the essence(s) of portfolio-based learning

Domi C Sinclair15 June 2016

Last week saw the first ever joint AAEEBL and CRA conference, hosted in Edinburgh between 6th – 8th June 2016 whioch was titled, ‘Understanding the essence(s) of portfolio-based learning’. For those who don’t  know AAEEBL is a US based global portfolio organisation, it stands for the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence Based Learning. CRA is a very similar UK based organisation, with it’s name standing for the Centre for Recording Achievement. So, as you can imagine this was a portfolio conference.

There were 3 key themes that emerged from the conference. These themes kept popping up in presentations and discussion :

Scaffolding
Process not product
Cultural shift/ change

Let’s look briefly at these themes below, but if you would like a more detailed look them please see the AAEEBL/ CRA Conference 2016 on my personal blog.

The first theme,  scaffolding, refers to the importance of having structure around portfolio activities. This predominately broke down into conversations about templates and frameworks for guiding staff and students without restricting them. Templates can be useful for giving students a little bit of direction without restricting their creative freedom (depending on the content and detail of the template). They are also useful because, anecdotally, students can find it overwhelming to simply be given a blank space to do with as they please. A template gives students a starting place. In relation to frameworks this was mostly a discussion about their usefulness for staff, to help give them some scaffolding from which to build a portfolio activity into their module or course, either as a single assessment or as an on-going activity to support learning via reflective practice. It was thought that this framework should be fairly high level, meaning it was not too prescriptive and not software dependant.

This actually leads quite nicely into the next theme, process not product. There was a strong emphasis on focusing on the process and pedagogy of portfolios and not the product (either meaning the final output or the technological product used to facilitate them). It is easy to become distracted by debating whether you are using the best online portfolio system. At the moment UCL use MyPortfolio, which is based on the Mahara platform. As good practice we will be reviewing the use of this platform in the near future, however whether we use Mahara, WordPress or Office 365 the process of running a successful portfolio is the same and the buttons are not as important as strong pedagogy.

The final theme is perhaps the one that has the biggest impact for portfolio, especially online portfolio adoption at institutions, and that is the need for a cultural shift/ change. This is perhaps best summarised by an analogy that was used by Trent Batson (President/CEO of AAEEBL) at the conference. He was talking about the American automobile and how it took 35 years to become fully part of US culture. First they invented the automobile and it opened up a lot of possibilities, such as people being able to commute more easily for work. But even after this it still took time to build all the roads, parking spaces and petrol stations needed. The idea was proven but it took a lot longer for the infrastructure to become part of daily culture. It is fairly easy to see how this relates to portfolios. There are a number of case studies out there to prove their potential, however the infrastructure to support them is not fully part of the culture of universities. Portfolios tend to expose the learning process which can be an intimidating prospect for both students and staff a like. However, portfolios can offer a very useful reflective space where you can use journals to do written reflections, and also reflect whilst curating examples of work you have produced that you are going to include in your portfolio. Reflection gives us the ability to stop and think about our thinking, and to understand how we can do better moving forward.

Feature Focus!

Domi C Sinclair8 March 2016

There’s a wide web out there, with lots of possibilities to be achieved by utilising the plethora of creative and helpful online tools. MyPortfolio is a great resource to pull all of this external content together, in one easily viewable and shareable space. To compliment the external tools, there is also a lot you can do with internal tools such as journals and files. Once you are happy with your page(s) you can even choose a Creative Commons License to help make your content more easily shareable, and help create a bigger impact with your work.

To see a demonstration of some of possibilities of what you can embed and create with MyPortfolio check out our Feature Focus! MyPortfolio collection.

Explore. Play. Learn.

Watch us!

Domi C Sinclair2 March 2016

As you may or may not know there is a lot of information on Digital Education and our services in the UCL wiki pages, including Moodle Resource Centre, Lecturecast Resource Centre or the MyPortfolio Resource Centre.

However, there are some resources you might not know about, such as the UCL Student E-Learning Services – which provides useful guidance for students on how to do things such as submit work and interact with Lecturecast recordings.

We also have a couple of pages that we use to update you, that you might want to ‘watch’. By watching a page on the UCL wiki you will get updates when it is changed. Think of it like subscribing to the page for updates. Just log into the wiki and then navigate to the page you want to watch. There you will find a ‘watch’ button in the top right, alongside the page title.

Digital Education pages to watch:

New Feature – We use this page to post about changes to Moodle whenever we carry out an upgrade. A lot of the time these changes are behind the scenes, so we don’t detail these. Instead we link to the official Moodle release notes for anyone who is particularly interested in the exact details. If there is anything notable that has changed this will be listed on the page. You will also notice that there are sub-pages dedicated to each of our summer upgrades. As these tend to be larger upgrades, with more changes we have dedicated spaces to detail all of these changes. ‘Watch’ the New Features page to get notifications when we update the page after a Moodle upgrade.

Turnitin: Service Status and Known Issues – This page is a great resource for anyone who uses Turnitin. The Turnitin: Service Status and Known Issues page can be used to monitor the state of Turnitin, and is the best place to check if you suspect there might be a problem with the system. There is an embedded version of Turnitin’s own service status Twitter feed, which is where they will post of any outages. The Twitter feed is somewhere Digital Education have to check ourselves as well, so it’s good to check. There is also a table of Known Issues, which we are currently working with Turnitin to resolve. This includes details of any workarounds that can be used whilst the problem is fixed. Additionally you will find a Turnitin Quirks table, this is a list of features in Turnitin that are working as intended but perhaps not as desired by some users. We would also recommend you ‘watch this page’ (see steps above) to be among the first to know if there are any problems with the Turnitin system.

Mahara Hui UK 2015

Domi C Sinclair12 November 2015

Earlier this week I attended the Mahara Hui UK 2015 which took place down in Southampton between the 9th and 10th November 2015. Mahara Hui UK is the title of the official UK Mahara conference – Mahara being the software that is used for MyPortfolio at UCL. To honour Mahara’s New Zealand roots the conference is referred to as a ‘Hui’, which is a Maori term for a social gathering or assembly. The conference is held annually in different locations around the UK and features a variety of talks and workshops on all aspects of Mahara.
There is also a lot of Twitter activity during the conference and you can review post with the hash-tag #maharauk15 to see what people were tweeting.
As with most conferences, there were some key themes that seemed to emerge and repeat over the 2 days of the conference. The key themes were learner control and learning versus studying. Let me explain these in more detail. The first subject, of learner control, seems like a natural topic of conversation for an online portfolio tool, and it has a few strands. Firstly there is the tension and apprehension that can occur for both tutors and students in allowing them (the learner) to have complete control over their content and use of the MyPortfolio system. This can often mean increased freedom of expression, and a change in dynamic to give the student ownership of their work. This tension seems to occur more for first year undergraduate students, and can be an important part of the transition from the FE mindset to a HE one. The second strand of this discussion of learner control is more what can happen when you move past the apprehension and successfully hand over the reins. Once this dynamic shift occurs we can start to explore the benefits of huetagogy (self directed learning). As well as having immediate benefits this approach can help set students up to be successful life learners – particularly useful if they decide to continue a passion for academia/ knowledge as a researcher.
As for the second main theme, learning versus studying, this also comes back to the concept of huetagogy in many ways. It is about allowing students to undertake tasks and activities (which could be assessed) that encourage them to learn, perhaps through practical application, rather than simply studying by memorising the necessary information to pass tests. Learning involves engagement with the subject matter and is likely to be perceived as more fun and enjoyable – as well as installing retained knowledge into the learners mind. Online portfolio tools, such as MyPortfolio can be really useful in facilitating this, either by being the vessel on which the learning occurs, or by acting as a portfolio to collect and curate examples and evidence of learning – which may include videos of practical techniques being performed correctly, in lab selfies or copies of artefacts produced. Curation was another important topic. It is important to teach students how to curate work, so that the portfolio does not become a scrapbook of ‘everything’ but is a thoughtfully selected collection of examples of work/ evidence that has value and demonstrates the best of the students abilities.
There were many examples of use of Mahara (MyPortfolio), a number of which seemed to focus on transferring a traditional paper portfolio, which may be bulky and heavy to carry around, into the electronic system. Two examples of this that were presented were from Colin Bright, a lecturer in Social Work at Southampton Solent University and Jaye Ryan, a lecturer on a nursing course at Birmingham City University.
Finally, another benefit of the conference was the ability to hear about new features in both the latest version of Mahara (MyPortfolio) version 15.10 (which UCL will be upgrading to later this month) and the next version, planned for April 2016 – version 16.04.
New features for Mahara 15.10 include:
  • Responsive design – so that it works on all devices
  • An edit button on each group homepage – so that it is no longer necessary to go into the pages section and edit from there
  • Group journals – rather than journals being unique to individual portfolios
  • Next and previous buttons in collections
  • A drop down menu for collections, which replaces the tab navigation

More developments are planned for version 16.04, although at the moment nothing is confirmed and these are just idea. Some of the ideas include:

  • The ability to have a single page in multiple collections
  • Combining the page & collection interface (to make it simpler to use)
  • A revamp of  navigation – this would aim to make it simpler to find different functions/ sections
  • The inclusion of CSS for HTML export – this would mean that exported pages/ collections would retain their theme and look the same as they do online
  • Quicker editing of pages

There is also a planned revamp of the mobile app MaharaDroid to make it work on multiple platforms including Android, iOS and Windows phones. This is planned for release in April 2016 and will see a rename of the product (to match the multiple platform capabilities).