Proposals/MNet replacement/LTI implementation

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< Proposals‎ | MNet replacement
Revision as of 09:12, 15 May 2017 by Anitsirk (talk | contribs)

Mahara 17.04 supports LTI for authentication purposes. This was the first step into removing MNet functionality. There are a few more steps needed to replace MNet:

  1. Assignment submission
  2. Moving content from LMS to Mahara

It would also be beneficial if Mahara files could be moved to or displayed in the LMS.

We invite comments on the functionality on this page to learn more which features are the most important ones and what the work flows are that should be considered during the development.

Forum post going with this work.

Assignment submission functionality

Goal: Allow portfolios to be submitted for assessment to an LMS via LTI


Mahara can connect to a learning management system (LMS) via LTI for authentication purposes allowing students and lecturers to jump from the LMS straight into their Mahara account. It is not necessary to set up a separate single sign-on between the two systems.

Mahara has been built as personal learning environment primarily and does come with rudimentary assessment capabilities. These are often not enough though for schools and universities as they wish to:

  • Have all assessment information in one place rather than storing grade information in two systems.
  • Use the grading methods lecturers are used to when assessing portfolios.
  • Link portfolios to assignments.
  • Archive portfolio submissions to satisfy assessment record keeping requirements.

Moodle has the third-party plugin “Mahara assignment submission” which allows students to submit their portfolios into Moodle and have them graded there. This plugin is not generic enough to be used with other LMSs and requires Moodle Networking.

In order to make Moodle compatible with more LMSs, the assignment submission functionality should be built using the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standard, which is an industry standard in use by popular LMSs.

Here we collect ideas for functionalities and requirements to consider for and discuss in regard to the submitting of a portfolio to an LMS. The information is purposely situated at the user level rather than providing detailed technical implementation details so we look at the desired functionality first. LMS assignment functionality is only mentioned in so far as required for the connection to Mahara. However, enhancements to how grading is done on the LMS or what grading methods are available within the LMS are not discussed and are out of scope.

As an assessor, I want to

  • Allow students to select their Mahara portfolio in my assignment in the LMS.
  • Have the option to set up a group in Mahara automatically so I can share portfolio templates with all students in the group who have access to the assignment.
  • View the portfolio alongside my standard grading options so I don't need to click a link to view the portfolio and don't have to arrange multiple windows next to each other.
  • Save a snapshot of the submitted portfolio to store for the required number of years for my institution.
    Note: If space is not an issue, the snapshot should be saved as HTML and Leap2A export for flexibility. If only one export format should be selected, HTML is preferred as that is independent from the current version of Mahara in use and can simply be viewed in a web browser once the HTML export file is decompressed.
  • Use my standard grading options in the LMS, e.g. rubric, feedback comments that are saved in the gradebook, and have the grade put into the LMS gradebook.
  • Be able to leave comments on the student portfolio directly in Mahara, e.g. to comment on specific artefacts on the page.
  • Have students submit portfolios that they can continue to work on during the assessment process for formative assessment.
  • Have students submit portfolios that they cannot edit while it's been submitted for assessment. Please refer to the open question “Lock submission or make snapshot?”
  • Access a snapshot of the submitted portfolio after the grading is finished in case I need to review it again. The portfolio should not be locked though at this stage so that students can re-purpose it.

As a student, I want to

  • Select my Mahara portfolio (either a page or collection) in an LMS assignment.
  • See a preview of my portfolio that I select so I can ensure that I'm selecting the correct portfolio.
  • Select a file that is in my Mahara file storage for submission to an LMS assignment.
    Note: The file should be saved in the LMS assignment so it can be stored along with other assessment information for the required number of years.

Open questions

Where to save snapshot?

Does it matter where the snapshot is saved? It might be easier or potentially the only way with LTI to save the snapshot in Mahara rather than in the LMS. Then it could be accessed like other archived assignment submissions in Mahara already in the admin interface and directly on the server for archiving of all submissions at the end of a term. See the user manual for what archived submissions look like in the admin interface in Mahara.

Lock submission or make snapshot?

Currently, you have three options in Moodle:

  • A portfolio is not locked;
  • A portfolio is locked for the duration of the grading but then released so students can continue working on it;
  • A portfolio is locked forever.

The locking of the portfolio during the assessment process is beneficial as students can continue working on the same portfolio after it's been released again. However, if they wanted to work on that portfolio already in the meantime, they could not. This is good and bad depending on how you view submissions and how you want to work with the portfolios in your class.

Another advantage of the locking is that assessors can leave comments on the actual portfolio (not just in the gradebook) that continue to be visible in the portfolio after grading and thus become a part of the portfolio. If we only saved a snapshot, none of the feedback would make it into the portfolio, but always only be in the gradebook.

It is possible to look into making a snapshot of the portfolio instead when it needs to be “locked” and not changed while the assessor looks at it. In that case, what should happen when a student needs to make changes to the submitted portfolio based on your feedback, but has already made other changes to the portfolio and it has evolved into a different direction? Should the student be able to download a saved Leap2A snapshot and add it back into their portfolio if they had already made significant changes to the submitted portfolio?

Save content from the LMS in Mahara


Link to or upload files from Mahara into the LMS


Share competency frameworks across Mahara and LMS