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< Proposals(Redirected from Developer Area/Specifications in Development/Plans)

The plans functionality in Mahara is going to be expanded quite a lot thanks to a contribution from the University of Bremen in Germany. The developer is Alexander Del Ponte, with pedagogical input from Prof. Dr. Karsten Wolf.


ArtefactType Plan

Plans are now available as private (as before) and group plans. So we have "private" plans which can be reached through the main menu, and we have group plans, which can be reached via the tab "Plans" when viewing a group.

Plan templates

Private plans can be created also as "template plans". This is a functionality for potential group admins (teachers). In their private area they create a plan with selectable tasks as a template plan and later as a group admin they have the possibility to create a group plan just by importing this template plan into the group. Once imported the group itself is the owner of the plan (cause it's a plan created in the context of this group), and it is completely independent from its "parent" template plan. The latter can be edited, deleted or extended while not affecting any group plans based on it.

Of course also the new group plans can be edited, extended or deleted while not affecting their parent plans.

The template plan sits in the private plans area so that it can be used across multiple groups. For example, a teacher could create a template that they then import into 5 different groups as basis and only make minor adjustments. That way, a "master" copy of the plan can be kept by the teacher and they can place copies into several groups that can then be adjusted.

There are no template plans in groups because both normal and assignment plans can be created directly within them.

Group plans

Inside a group, plans can be created (or imported from a private template of the creator as mentioned above) as "normal" plans or as "assignment plans".

A "normal" group plan works like a private plan as we are used to it from previous Mahara versions.

Assignment plans

An assignment plan can only be set up as a template in a personal account and then imported into a group or set up in a group.

The following conditions must be met in the group settings:

  • Content - Create and edit: Everyone except ordinary members (or Admins only)
  • Allow submissions: Yes

If you set a start or end date in the "Editability" section in the group, these dates will be used as default start and completion dates for any plans imported from a template.

Assignment plans provide the following functionality:

  • Group admins and tutors can edit any plans in the groups.
  • Normal group members see the plan and its tasks in a read-only view and can select every task by clicking the switch next to it. Once a task has been selected, the plan with only those tasks is added to their personal plans area and any associated portfolios are added to the personal portfolio area as well. These portfolios are only visible once the button for them has been clicked in a plan.
  • The "task portfolio", i.e. the portfolio containing the assignment instructions, is not copied into the private portfolio area but stays in the group area allowing a teacher to make changes to it at any point in time.
  • Once chosen, the normal group members (students) can view the assigned task page (with more detailed and deeper informations and additional material referring to the task), edit their assigned outcome portfolio and submit this outcome portfolio into the group - all from one single point: The task.
  • As they now also have a copy of the plan and their chosen tasks in their private area, students have the possibility to set their inherited plans and tasks settings individually, e.g. a reminder of 14 days before the completion date was set as default in the group task, but if the student wants to be reminded earlier, they can change this setting in their private area because this is their own private plan with their own assigned outcome portfolio after choosing a task from an assignment plan.

When a students submits the portfolio from the actual portfolio page, only the group is displayed in which the task was given to prevent accidental submission to the wrong group.

Typically, assignment plans would not be added to a portfolio as they only serve organisational purposes.

Benefits of the assignment plans


Assignment plans make it much easier for students to handle plans, associated tasks and referenced portfolios.

Students choose the task or tasks in the group in the group and and get any template portfolio copied automatically into their account if a template portfolio was set up. The plan is also created automatically with just the tasks that they need.

Students can manage their engagement with their assignment portfolios directly from their personal plans area.

When students set reminders, they are notified the specified time period before the completion date to complete their tasks.


Teachers can ensure that students have easy and quick access to the assignment tasks as well as any related portfolio template that helps them complete the assignment.

They also make it easier for the students to know that they are submitting their portfolio to the correct group.

Teachers can update tasks without needing to ask students to copy the task portfolio again into their area or only provide a link to it. Instead they can update the task portfolio centrally allowing students access to the most up to date information.

By creating templates, teachers can set up master copies of plans that they can reuse in multiple specific groups and only need to make minor changes.

Fields of the ArtefactType Plan

Template (Only available on the creation of a new private plan)

If set, this plan and its tasks are and will ever be (for much more easier technical handling) a template for importing into groups.

Assignment plan

These are only available when creating a template or when setting up a plan in a group.

If set, a group plan is an assignment plan, which means that normal group members will have the possibility to select tasks they want (or have to ;-)) do.

ArtefactType Task

Tasks are extended with some more fields.


Currently only an information field, which doesn't trigger actions. These can be added at a later stage.

If implemented, a group task will only be available and possible assigned group views and collections only visible to the students if the startdate is reached.

With this functionality a teacher can set up group plans and assigned portfolios "in the background" while a group already is started and visited by students without having the normal group members seeing his efforts to design cool and interesting portfolios assigned to the respective tasks... ;-)

Also if there are several time points for the submission of portfolios referring to different tasks, the students aren't possibly confused by seeing a large list of tasks from the beginning of the course (group).


If set, the student receives a reminder notification related to the set reminder time period in relation to the completion date.

Taskview (page)

Here the teacher can assign a page to the task in which the task can be described more detailed and some material could be provided.

Outcome (page or collection)

Here the student or teacher can assign a portfolio to a task. The biggest advantage of this feature is the assignment of an outcome portfolio to an assignment task. The student (normal group member) can choose the task (and make a private copy of the outcome portfolio), edit the portfolio (which also can be reached from the group plans) and submit his final outcome to the group without having to create a portfolio and on submission the user can be sure, that it's submitted into the right group.

So the student has a central "cockpit" to work on tasks which are provided from a teacher inside a group - The Plans tab, from which they can

  1. Have a closer look at a possible detailed task view
  2. Edit their portfolio for every task
  3. Submit their portfolio assigned to the task

Of course, they will find all the tasks also in their private plans area.


The workflow for the teacher depends on which functionality they want to benefit from. If a teacher doesn't want to use the template functionality, they can start with step 3 and creates the plans, tasks and assigned portfolios directly in the group. They also don't need to assign whether a task view nor an outcome portfolio to the tasks if they want their students to do the latter by themselves. (Of course students can also assign or replace a portfolio as outcome by themselves to a private plan and it's tasks "inherited" from a group selection plan.)


  1. Create task portfolio pages in private portfolio area. These can all be in a collection.
  2. Optional: Create page or collection templates that can be used as assignment portfolios for the students to start out with.
  3. Create a plan template and tasks. Create the plan with "Selectable tasks".
  4. Associate a task portfolio to a task and also an assignment portfolio. The task portfolio cannot be selected as assignment portfolio. An assignment portfolio can also only be associated with one task.
  5. Create a group setting content creation to "Everyone by ordinary members" or "Admins only", allow submissions, set editability dates.
  6. Go to "Plans" in the group and create an assignment plan by selecting a template. Until the plan has been saved, a different template can be selected.
  7. Tasks and assignment portfolios can be previewed during the task creation by clicking the "eye" button. They can also be viewed in the task overview table of a plan.

Alternatives and additional testing:

  • Create an assignment plan from scratch in the group.
  • If an assignment plan is created from a template, check that the editability dates previously set in the group are automatically added as default dates to each task. These dates can be changed.
  • If a reminder was set in template tasks, these should be set as default reminders on the respective tasks.
  • Create tasks with and without task portfolios, and with and without assignment portfolios.
  • When a plan is added to a page and that page is copied, the plan should not be visible on the copied page. It should also not be placed into the personal portfolio area.
  • When a template plan is copied to a group, all assignment portfolios are copied as well as all task portfolios. The task portfolios are all added to a single collection to make finding them in the group easier. Task portfolios are not copied to student accounts whereas assignment portfolios are.


  1. Visit the group and click the "Plans" tab.
  2. View the desired plan. Preview the tasks and the assignment portfolios via the buttons on the task if there are any available.
  3. Activate task by using the slider.
  4. Go to personal plans area and view the tasks. Click the task portfolio. Click the assignment portfolio. Now it will be placed in the "Pages and collections".
  5. Check that all assignment portfolios were copied to "Pages and collections".
  6. Check that no task portfolio was copied. They stay in the group area.
  7. Add content to the assignment portfolios.
  8. Submit the assignment portfolio for a task by clicking the checkbox next to the task or by going to the group plan and clicking the submit button or by going to a page in the assignment portfolio and submitting it there. The page is submitted. The task should also receive a yellow background and the "Submitted" status, removing the "Edit" and "Delete" buttons.

Additional testing:

  • Change the assignment portfolio on a task to have (1) no portfolio, and (2) a different portfolio from the personal area.
  • Click the "Completed" checkbox next to a task but not submit the portfolio. The checkbox should still be checked. Remove the check and click it again: The submission question should come up again.
  • Create a normal plan, not a template, and add it to a page.
  • Add the assignment plan to a page.

Still to look into, add, change

  • When an assignment plan is created and a task portfolio submitted, it should also be possible to submit it via an LMS -> Need to check if that is still possible.
  • Task should not be able to be deleted while the associated portfolio is being assessed like with any other submissions.
  • Look into language strings
  • Page navigation bar should be available on both task portfolios and assignment portfolios rather than setting the default to "No" as that makes it harder to see that there are other pages in the collection, esp. because the navigation block is not put onto a page per default. The preview only shows the page and not the navigation so that will be fine but it'll allow people to also view portfolios and tasks from "Pages and collections" in the usual way (even though the preferred way would be via a plan).
  • Add descriptions to selection options when setting up plans, tasks, and group settings to ensure that the new options are mentioned and people know what they are for.
  • When a task is activated, a green success message (to go away after a few seconds, which is now possible) should be displayed stating that the task was created in the personal plans area.
  • Task portfolio should be linked from an assignment portfolio so it can be reached easily and reviewed while working on the assignment. This could be done via a link in the "Instructions" area that sits right above any page instructions that might have been put on the page as well. It will open the task portfolio in a separate window.

Future functionality

  • Use the functionality of the new submissions plugin, which will be described later but is relatively self explaining.
  • Set up templates / assignment plans on institution and site level