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Mahara is already seeing a broad adoption among schools, on the back of its Moodle integration, ease of use and social networking features. There are a few things we could do to improve Mahara further for School usage though.
When talking about Schools, we normally talk about Primary schools - which deal with children from roughly 5 to 10 years old - and Secondary schools, which deal with children from 11 to 17.
- 1 Theme
- 2 Wording Changes
- 3 More control of Social Networking features
- 4 Parental Involvement
- 5 Walled Gardens
- 6 Email requirements
- 7 Use cases
- 8 [[../../../../Roadmap/Usability Upgrade Version 1.4/7 MyPortfolio school specific#|]]
- 9 Teacher perspective[[../../../../Roadmap/Usability Upgrade Version 1.4/7 MyPortfolio school specific#|Edit section]]
The current default Mahara theme is OK for older age groups as it has been designed for a tertiary environment - it's clear, simple and a good starting point for more advanced themes.
For younger groups a more graphical navigational lay-out and theme selections that look more appealing for schools. would be useful. Feedback on what would be appropriate for such themes would be greatly appreciated. Some ideas could include larger text and buttons, brighter colours etc. The ability for students to choose their theme would also serve to increase their feeling of ownership. Theming of Views is covered by the Views roadmap item.
While some of this is covered under usability, it's worth mentioning here. It may make sense to produce a customised language pack that is optimised for kids, perhaps with more informal language and simpler instructions.
More control of Social Networking features
A lot of schools want to use a tool like Mahara to teach their students how best to behave on social networking sites. Others have reported issues around students abusing the features like groups and the wall. In these cases, it would be good if administrators could disable or restrict who can use these features.
- Disabling the wall is a common request. This comes under the issue of plugin deletion, for which there is a feature request.
- Restricting who can create groups is another common request. On many sites, it would make sense to restrict this ability to just staff and administrators.
A common question is: "How do we let parents of a student see their work?". This is worth discussing further. Some ideas include:
- Allowing new methods for accessing Views, including password access
- Giving parents accounts on the system and setting up relationships with students so that their Views are easily made available to their parents (this idea could also be extended to teachers too).
Note that we wish to remain close to the ideal of students being in control, which means we would discourage solutions that involve teachers/parents getting automatic access to an entire portfolio or Views, unless it proved to be necessary.
Mahara is designed to allow many "institutions" all share the same instance, which allows their pupils to interact together across institution boundaries. This can be a very useful feature, not least because it allows several institutions to share the cost of running a Mahara instance. But some schools still wish to maintain the "walled garden" effect of not allowing their students to see others outside their institution - or potentially allowing only some of the institutions in the system to interact with their students.
Currently, Mahara requires each user to have a unique email address. This can be problematic for younger users.
[[../../../../Roadmap/Usability Upgrade Version 1.4/7 MyPortfolio school specific#|
- “I’m changing school” – how to transfer, warnings over losing their portfolio
- “I’m leaving school to go to university” – simple export and import interface
Teacher perspective[[../../../../Roadmap/Usability Upgrade Version 1.4/7 MyPortfolio school specific#|Edit section]]
- Making management easier – recent activity, links to Views ordered by Group
- Defined tags at group, institution and site level. Free tagging enabled on/off at each level also. Where’s the over-ride? Or share tag taxonomies e.g. Label the tag taxonomy. Share. Edit