Mahara Newsletter - October 2015

Taking Mahara out of School

How Venture Centre uses Collxtion


Venture Centre is a innovation hub operating in Tauranga New Zealand. Venture Centre works with early stage entrepreneurs, freelancers, learning institutions and local government organisations.

It provides services and technologies to grow the innovative community and foster entrepreneurial competences through learn-by-doing and knowledge transfer experiences.

Venture Centre maintains Collxtion a hosted, multi-tenanted instance of Mahara.

Collxtion is an online service for:

• individuals who want to develop their own portfolio or port their existing one

• organisations who want to implement:

- a cost effective solution to their alumni eportfolios
- a user-centred communication service for their teams

Venture Centre customers are using Collxtion to improve collaboration, support constant learning/iteration, provide repository for ideation, validation, and development documentation and streamline due-diligence and reporting.


So what does taking Mahara out of school look like?

Example 1- Managing collaborative decision making

Who the users are

  • a steering group focused on strategic planning

  • group members are from various local organisations and businesses

Why they are using Mahara (collxtion)

  • arrive rapidly at collective decisions  to include in planning by the set deadline

How they are using Mahara (collxtion)

  • all steering group members receive an account

  • Venture Centre Institution Administrator creates accounts in collxtion and an Open Group ‘Digital Enablement Steering Group’

  • Venture Centre institution administrator adds steering group members to the open group by visiting their profile page

  • the steering group facilitator is made ‘Group Administrator’

  • the Open Group setting is turned off

  • the Venture Centre Institution Administrator is removed from the group.


What they did

  • presentations and files are uploaded to the group file area

  • each file (‘Key Artifact’) is presented as a group page - this ensures group members can access the files without having to download them AND can leave identified comments using the feedback function

  • feedback by all group members is collated in one place and visible to all group members

  • all group members receive notifications as comments are placed in real time.

NB - the Group Facilitator received 30 min training, no further training was requested for the group members to access the group or pages or to leave feedback.



Example 2- Managing a blended learning workshop series

Who the users are

  • adult learners validating their business idea (have committed) to 6 2-hour workshops over an 8-week period

  • two workshops facilitators

Why they are using Mahara (collxtion)

  • collect evidence of the process of customer validation

  • share their process and obtain feedback from facilitators and other users

  • review and discuss evidence to ascertain viability of idea

How they are using Mahara (collxtion)

  • an account for all learners and facilitators (users) is created by the Venture Centre Institution Administrator  

  • The Venture Centre Institution Administrator also creates an Open Group ‘Idea Validation Kit’

  • Venture Centre institution administrator adds users to the open group by visiting their profile page

  • the facilitators are made ‘Group Administrator’

  • the Open Group setting is turned off

  • the group is the point of entry - the URL to the group is shared to all users with basic instructions that explain:

        how to create a page

        how to share a page with the group

        how to use the forum

NB - the Group Facilitators received 30 min training. The learners received 30 minute face to face instruction on their second workshop to answer any questions they may have. The Venture Centre Institution administrator was asked to remain in the group to provide technical help if requested via the use of the forum.

learning group1.png


What they did

- Facilitators:

  • filtered participation and grouping with a questionnaire published on a group page ahead of workshop series start

  • create group pages with learning resources for each workshop, including slides

  • publish group pages with workshop summaries

  • participate in forum

  • provide feedback on shared pages

- Learners:

  • access workshop resources

  • create pages with their evidence

  • share pages to the group and gain/place feedback

  • know to access group pages from the group homepage

  • use the forum to ask questions, make suggestions and exchange with both facilitators and peers between sessions

  • all users remain free collxtion users with limited data for as long as they want.

learninggroup use of forum.png

Now what?

Venture Centre activities are collaborative and social by nature. They require an online tool that can flex to their complexity while providing a project management solution that is fit for purpose.

Mahara (collxtion)
social features and the Group functionalities are designed to support social learning through the sharing, commenting, grouping and forum conversations.

Mahara (collxtion) is an experiment! Ahead of using collxtion, I spend time with the customer [eg - consultant as in ex. 1 or facilitator as in ex.2] to elicit from them what they want to achieve, how they want to go about it.

We decide together which functionalities of
Mahara (collxtion) will be used and when/how they are revealed to users just in time.

Venture Centre aims to conduct further such experiments, out of a formal learning environment, to:

  • map how Mahara eportfolio features can be broken down to be used in particular ways, without explicitly mentioning the ‘eportfolio’ word
  • work towards integrating these features to support the development of a user facilitated community.

A little about me and mahara

I am Pascale Hyboud-Peron, and I started using Mahara in 2010. I was then working with Language teachers in NZ.
Through training teachers and facilitating eportfolio workshops for, I gained not only a lot of experience with Mahara but also a spot in a fantastic community.
I also developed a deeper understanding of social learning and community building and how they mesh to support lifelong learning.
I transitioned out of teaching to co-found Venture Centre, in Tauranga NZ in 2013.