Thursday, April 15, 2010

Requested review of a Mahara E-portfolios Beginners Guide (for a freebie)

I've been asked by Packt Publishing to do a blog review of a recently released Mahara E-portfolios Beginners Guide:

Mahara 1.2 ePortfolios - Beginner's Guide -
Create educational and professional ePortfolios and personalized learning
communities By: Kent DM, Bradbury GG, Hand RW, Kent MA

in exchange for a 'free e-book' version :)

"This book is for:

- learners who want to maintain online documentation of their projects and share it with a particular teacher or trainer (a learning / assessment portfolio) for feedback,
- educators who want to set up an ePortfolio for their students in order to encourage and advance personlised and reflective learning, or
- professionals who want to share journals and project doucment with their team, capturing and sharing their existing knowledge and creating new knowledge in communities of professional practice (knowledge management/organsiational development)" pg 2

There is also a chapter for 'Institution Administrators, Staff Members, and Group Tutors' too, and appendixes which help you consider what's involved in implementing your own instance of Mahara and installing Mahara.

The book is well written and presented, using simple language and scenarios (case studies) to describe what are e-portfolios and how to create an e-portfolio using Mahara. I like the 'sense of humour' style of writing ie "Have a go hero" activities which encourage you to get amongst it and create your own e-portfolio.

The book is structured for 'inchworms', who like to be 'taken through a new process step by step' pg 24 (which I find a lot of educators and people new to ICT like) - but don't fear you 'grasshoppers' (like myself), you will still be able to 'hop around bits of information' as they are needed.

[Bracketed Exerts] help highlight and explain concepts ie 'What is a view' pg 11, and there are activities to ensure you understand the information being presented ie 'pop quizzes', 'Time for action' activites, and 'what just happened' recapping of information. A thread of 'Case studies' throughout the book illustrate how and why information can be presented in your e-portfolio. There's even answers to the 'pop quizzes' in the back of the book (of course).

The book offers some great reasons why you would use an e-portfolio (pg 9-10 - Ways of using Mahara, pg 16-18 Why Mahara?). There are even references to 'presentation' styles ie considering the 'aesthetics' of a 'view' (pg 103).

Although not a cheap resource (Book = around 22-24 UK pounds or e-book = 14-17 UK pounds), when you calculate how much of your time it would take (cost) to produce such great step-by-step resources you can quickly justify the outlay.

Demonstration Mahara site to practice using Mahara here:

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