Mahara 20.04: Better support for large organisations

by Kristina Hoeppner

The Catalyst team released Mahara 20.04 on 29 April 2020. This latest version of the popular open source ePortfolio platform has several features that support large organisations wanting to automate administrative processes. Also, general usability improvements, as well as new features of importance to portfolio creators, have been added by the Catalyst team thanks to funding provided by its clients.

Mahara lends itself well as a portfolio platform in formal and non-formal education contexts. For example, it is used by schools in Aotearoa on MyPortfolio Schools, by tertiary institutions on their own instances, or in the case of SWITCHportfolio in Switzerland by a group of higher education institutions on one site. Beyond the education sector, instances like Nurseportfolio support professionals to fulfil their portfolio requirements digitally, allowing them to keep their professional registration up to date.

Since the beginning, Mahara has supported multi-tenancy, the idea that many organisations can use one instance of Mahara to successfully support learners at their own organisations with their portfolio needs as well as make it possible for learners from different organisations to engage with each other and collaborate in communities of learners and communities of practice. Over the years, the multi-tenanted features have been expanded and refined to allow for different scenarios of engagement and support.

In Mahara 20.04, the team focused on making it easier for administrators to set up institutions and different levels of accounts by connecting to information available in external authentication methods that can be used on Mahara for single sign-on purposes. By automating the institution creation in Mahara, the distribution of account permissions based on roles, and the easier move between institution initiated by learners, organisations can be up and running faster with fewer administrative interventions giving more autonomy to account holders in how they interact with the platform from the start and for the long term.

Several other features were also included in Mahara 20.04 that improve the usability for learners, for example:

  • Labelling groups to find them more quickly

  • Adding a cover image for a portfolio

  • Switching between languages more comfortably

  • Exporting entire portfolios as PDFs

For more information on this latest version of Mahara, please read the release announcement or watch the highlight video.

Throughout May, Mahara Project Lead Kristina Hoeppner will be showcasing the new features of Mahara 20.04 in a webinar offered several times to allow interested people around the world to learn about the new features and ask questions.