The reporting capabilities within the leading open source eportfolio solution Mahara will be fundamentally enhanced in a future release as a result of a project led by the University of Sussex and Dublin City University (DCU). The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Catalyst Fund makes funding available to universities to stimulate innovation in practice across the HE sector and the development of innovative solutions. Supported by the Catalyst Fund, the Advanced Analytics in Mahara project (https://aaimproject.com/) aims to provide more fine grained insights into how portfolios are used over time, and how learners engage with them with a view to supporting evidence-informed use across disciplines in the future.
As openness and collegiality have been central tenets of the project, the project team have captured requirements from the wider HE community in order to deliver outputs that are beneficial across the sector and encourage wider engagement in the use of eportfolios in support of student learning and assessment.
The scoping exercise elicited responses from universities in the UK, Australia, Czech Republic, Ireland and Switzerland. This produced data on potential enhancements that might be made to support learning analytics within the system. Synthesis of this data by the Project Team, combined with input from an expert Reference Group providing further direction on the proposed developments, resulted in identification of categories of data which would be of value to institutions.
New reports in Mahara
As a result of this requirements exercise, the AAIM Project has engaged Catalyst to develop enhanced analytics capabilities in Mahara. The four core categories of reporting to emerge include:
- Page Activity
- User Activity
- Group Activity
In line with the project’s open ethos and in recognition of the breadth of the consultation activity which underpinned the capturing of requirements, Catalyst (as lead developers and maintainers of the Mahara project) have committed to making this enhanced reporting functionality available to the entire Mahara Community as part of the Mahara 17.10 release.
This development represents the first step in the creation of enhanced analytics capabilities within Mahara, and Catalyst are already considering a long term strategy for delivering more comprehensive enhancements of this nature in an efficient manner for users.
The development of the new reports and dissemination of wider project outputs is underway. Lisa Donaldson from DCU will represent the Project Team at the HEFCE Networking Workshop on the 4th of April while Tony Coombs and David Walker from Sussex will be discussing the open approach which has underpinned this exciting project at the #OER17 Conference in London (5th-6th April). The Project Team look forward to sharing further information, outputs and examples of what this new functionality will look like in the coming months.