The glossary has two parts. Every user encounters the basic terms in Mahara. The advanced terms are for users who want to understand more and are especially for administrators.
The glossary gives you a very quick definition of a term. Where possible, terms are linked to their primary occurrence in the manual. As terms are interconnected and can appear in multiple places, please refer to the index for further locations or use the fulltext search in the sidebar to search for a specific concept.
Your content is generally protected and private and not accessible to others by default. You put your content into pages and collections. Then you decide to publish your pages and collections for other users, groups or the public.
Access means that depending on the access permissions you give for a page or collection, individuals, members of a group, all users on your Mahara instance or anybody online can read and possibly also comment on your content if that functionality is enabled.
See also: Share
You have personalised access to Mahara via a login and password. Your account identifies you in the system. Your name (and profile picture) are displayed around the system, e.g. on your profile page, forum posts, portfolio pages etc. You can manage your account in your settings.
Artefacts are all types of content that you add to your personal content area, i.e. text, journal entries, pictures, audio files, video files, images etc.
Mahara can administer users fully internally by creating accounts manually of by CSV file. If user account data is stored in external applications, e.g. an LDAP directory, a SimpleSAML identity provider or Moodle, users can use their usual logins and passwords to connect to Mahara. The authentication methods used in an institution are managed in the institution settings byt the site administrator.
In general terms, authors are content creators and have the full rights on their works be it text, audio, video, still images or any other form of expression. If you are not the author of your own artefacts but wish to use somebody else’s work, make sure that you are allowed to do so. If you cannot use their work, you should not put it into your portfolio or use it in groups.
Blocks exist on pages. They contain your artefacts that are displayed in context on a page to make up the portfolio.
- Closed topic
A forum topic can be closed for members by the group administrator or forum moderator. The group members can read the topic content, but they cannot reply.
A collection is a bundle of pages that contain your artefacts. A navigation block or the navigation bar helps to move from page to page in a collection.
You can ask other users and / or friends to comment on your pages and / or collections that you have shared. Comments should be constructive and helpful. They should point out things that you did well and others that you may need to improve by providing constructive suggestions and encouragement for further learning.
The comments area is at the bottom of each page, but can also be turned off by the author of the page or artefact.
- Controlled group
Controlled groups are similar to courses in learning management systems. The administrator can place users into the group who then cannot leave it. Usually, the administrator allows the submission of pages and collections to this group for assessment purposes.
- Course group
Course groups allow the administrator to assign certain members the tutor role. Tutors can then give feedback on submitted pages and collections if these are allowed, but cannot add or remove users from the group.
- Cover letter
Generally, the cover letter is the first page in an employment application and forms part of your résumé. It could be the first page in a collection for an employment or internship portfolio.
- CSV file
CSV means “comma separated values” and describes the structure of a text file in which table columns are separated by a comma (or sometimes also semi-colon). You can create a CSV file with your data most easily in a spreadsheet software such as Libre Office Calc or MS Excel. You can use CSV files in Mahara to create and edit user accounts and groups as well as manage group members.
The dashboard is your start and overview page after you logged in. You can customise the information you see on your dashboard and for example have easy access to pages shared with you, your notifications, forum topics you are following etc.
- Display name
You may not want to use your first and last name around the site and can thus create a display name, i.e. a nickname, if the site or institution administrator allows that. Furthermore, in huge institutions where several members have the same first and last name, the display name can be used to differentiate between them.
- Editability of a group
Group administrators can decide if group members should only be able to add content to a group during a certain time frame. This can be useful when a group is course-related and shouldn’t allow the adding of files or conversations after the end of a course. Group administrators and tutors can always add, edit and delete content at all times.
- Embed code
You can make content from other websites such as videos, audio, animations and presentations visible in Mahara by linking to it. If the external content can be embedded via an iframe or code that starts with <object> or <embed>, it can usually be displayed in Text or Note block or journal entry. Iframes can also be displayed in the External media block on a page. The site administrator may need to add specific iframes that you wish to embed to the allowed iframe sources.
- Exact search
Exact search reduces the number of search results you get for users. Only results that are identical to the search terms will be found. For example, if you search for “james smith” without exact search turned on, your results page lists everyone starting with “james” no matter whether the last name is “smith” or not. If you turn on exact search, only users whose first and last name is “james smith” will be found. There is no need to use quotation marks when searching. Quotation marks are only necessary if you want to search for a display name that consists of two names. You must be a site administrator to turn exact search on or off.
- Files area
You can use files in different locations: in your personal portfolio, groups, institutions and on the site level if you have access to the latter ones. The site administrator defines the size of the files area. Organise your files area carefully by placing your files into folders and by adding metadata such as descriptions and tags to your files and folders. That makes it much easier to distinguish a file after months from dozens or hundreds of others.
You can limit your search results to find your search term in tags only when you search shared pages. Furthermore, you can also limit your search for pages that have been shared with you or others.
Written asynchronous discussions in groups are separated into topics for better organisation and make up a forum.
- Forum moderator
Forum moderators can edit forum posts and add posts in closed topics. They can edit forum topics or create new ones in the forum for which they are moderators.
Friends are your contacts on the site. You can ask other registered users to become your friends. If they agree, you can then invite them into groups or share pages or collections with them more easily. However, you do not have to become someone’s friend to view their portfolio pages or collections. A user can always share pages or collections with you without making you a friend.
You can use the submission functionality in groups to lock portfolio pages or collections when giving feedback. Mahara itself does not have a gradebook, but you could still record any grading results in the comment section at the bottom of each page and make it visible only to the author. Some institutions use the rating functionality in the comments section for grading purposes.
For more formal assessments, you can link Mahara to a learning management system. In Moodle for example, you can use the Mahara assignment submission plugin to assess portfolios directly in Moodle using standard Moodle grading options such as outcomes or rubrics.
You can create groups and invite other users into your groups to work collaboratively on projects. Groups can use forums for discussions, a group files area for sharing files, journals to reflect collectively and create and share pages and collections. The site administrator can disable the possibility to create groups for regular users.
- Group administrator
Group administrators define group settings, create new forums and administer group members.
- Group homepage
The group homepage is the starting point for activities in a group. You can show the group description, a list of group members, latest forum posts or any number of other blocks.
Your inbox is the place where you can access the notifications and messages you received from other users or the system. You can decide whether you want to read your messages in your inbox or receive them via email.
You can invite any other users to your groups if you are the group administrator, or you may be able to invite your friends into groups in which you are a member. The invited users can accept the invitation or reject it.
A Mahara site can consist of any number of independent institutions in which users and certain institution settings are administered. This allows the use of one Mahara instance for many organisations without the need to install Mahara for each.
- Institution administrator
Institution administrators can manage institution settings and users. They do not have access to other institutions or settings on the site level.
- Institution page
Institution administrators can create institution pages that can be used as examples or templates for institution members. They can be copied automatically into the accounts of new institution members.
You can collect personal reflections about a topic or learning progress in a journal. It consists of a series of these reflections that you write in individual journal entries. Per default, you have one journal, but you can add more if you enable multiple journals in your settings. You can add journals to pages as a whole, as individual entries or selected based on tags.
You can decide to publish a journal entry so others can see it if it is in a page or keep it as draft for yourself only.
Leap2A is a portfolio standard that is used by a number of ePortfolio systems for data exchange. In Mahara, users can export their entire portfolio or parts of it as Leap2A file and then have it imported into another Mahara instance or an ePortfolio system that supports Leap2A to continue straight away without having to re-create their portfolio. Since every portfolio system functions differently, a complete one-to-one transfer of information is not possible and in most cases some work is required after the transfer.
When you upload content to Mahara, you may need to agree to the upload agreement or specify a license for the content you upload so others know whether it is your own or was created by somebody else. You can use the Creative Commons block if you want to share an entire portfolio page under a Creative Commons license.
Mahoodle is the term used for connecting Mahara and Moodle for single sign-on and content exchange.
Users in an institution are institution members and users in groups are group members.
Messages are sent to you by other users. The messages appear in your inbox and can be delivered via email as well.
Moodle is a learning management system (LMS) and thus teacher-centred. Courses in Moodle are filled with learning content by teachers. Students (users) get access to the content and can discuss it and are often graded on their performance. Moodle and Mahara can be used in combination. If connected, users only need one account for both systems and can switch between them without a new login. Mahara can be used as personal repository for users, and they can copy their own assignments and course contributions into their Mahara account as artefacts.
Notifications are automatically created by the system and inform you about new feedback on your pages, new forum posts in groups, new access to other users’ pages and much more. The notifications appear in your inbox and can be delivered via email.
- Objectionable material
On the page of a user to which you have access, you might come across content that is inappropriate, offensive or violates the terms of usage of the site. You can click the “Report objectionable material” link on the page or the artefact details page and give your reason why you marked this content as objectionable. Administrators are notified, can review the content and could block the offender from accessing the system until the content is removed. It cannot be defined in general terms what is considered inappropriate. The owner of the site has to define this based on the purpose of the site and the age of its users for example.
Forum posts can also be reported as objectionable by clicking the Report button.
- Online users
This sidebar shows other users that have been online during the last 10 minutes. Institution administrators can limit this list to show only users from their own institution.
- Open group
Open groups can be joined by anyone without group administrator approval.
The owner is the person or group that has created a page or collection or to whom artefacts belong.
You can design pages by arranging artefacts on them. You define the page layout and - if enabled - the theme for it. You give other users access to pages so they can view your work and comment on it. Several pages can be added to a collection. All users can create personal pages and group members may be able to create group pages.
Pages can also be created as templates for further use by others.
- Page layout
The page layout defines the number and width (wide or narrow) of columns on a page. You can also define rows in order to align your content on the page.
Plans are simple ToDo lists consisting of tasks. You can add your plans as blocks into your pages.
Portfolios gather stuff, i.e. learning artefacts and evidence. In Mahara you place your artefacts into pages which you can bundle up into collections. A page or a collection can then already be your portfolio. Thus, you can create many different portfolios. You decide whether you want to share your portfolios with others or keep them for yourself. You can create portfolios for many purposes, e.g.
reflecting on courses;
creating and reflecting on projects;
personal reflecting on individual development or separate learning processes;
creating résumés and your learner biography;
creating a showcase of your best work and much more.
- Privacy statement
Information about the use of private data from the Mahara site. Usually, there is a link in the page footer to it.
Your profile page is visible to other users on Mahara. You should only display as much information about yourself as you are comfortable for other users to see. Your display name or if you do not have one, your first name and last name, is displayed along with your profile picture. Users may also be able to contact you and invite you to groups. All other elements on your profile page are optional.
- Public group
Public groups are visible to anyone on the Internet. You do not have to be a member of the group to follow forum discussions or view pages. However, you need to be a group member to participate in the discussions or create pages yourself.
You can recommend a group to your friends if the group administrator allowed that. The group administrator then still needs to approve the group membership.
The résumé details your education and employment history, your achievements as well as skills and interests in a tabular format. Generally, you use it when you apply for an internship or job. However, as the elements in your résumé are reusable, you can also use individual elements in other portfolios.
- RSS feed
RSS feeds aggregate news from portal pages, forums or blogs. You can add RSS feeds from external sites to your pages using the “External feed” block. The content will be updated continuously. Mahara can also create RSS feeds for forums in public groups and journals that appear in public pages.
You can search for pages by title, description or tags on “Shared with me” and will see a list of results immediately. You can also search for users by using the user search box. If the site administrator turned on exact search, you need to provide the complete name of users in order to find them. Otherwise, a part of their name is enough but often yields too many results. Fulltext search is not available if the site administrator installed Elasticsearch on the server.
- Secret URL
You can create secret URLs for pages and collections to give users who do not have a login to the site access to your pages or collections. The difference to making pages or collections public is that search engines cannot find these pages (unless a link to them appears on a web page).
You can share your pages and collections with other users by giving them access to them. The people with whom you have shared your pages and collections may comment on them. You can also share pages with people who do not have an account on the system by sharing your pages and collections with them via a secret URL.
- Single sign-on
Single sign-on (SSO) describes the process to log in to one application and switch to another connected application without having to log in again. Moodle and Mahara are often connected via SSO, which is called MNet. The other built-in SSO authentication method in Mahara is SAML. Others can be added via plugins.
Site means the whole site and the administration on the global level for a Mahara instance.
- Site administrator
Site administrators can define system (site) settings for an entire Mahara instance. They can add, edit and delete user accounts and have access to all content even in private user areas as they can log in as any user, e.g. to assist with troubleshooting issues.
- Site files
Files area on system (site) level that the site administrator can work with. Files that are placed in the
publicfolder in the site files are available to all users.
- Site page
Pages created on site level that can be put into new user accounts automatically as templates.
A skin is a way of customising the look of a portfolio page on top of a theme. The use of skins must be allowed by the site and institution administrator. If they are allowed, users can create them themselves and change the background, fonts and font color for certain elements on their page. Skins can also be shared with others on the site or exported and imported.
Staff on the site or institution level have a few additional permissions compared to regular users. For example, they can create controlled groups and hide groups, and they can also view statistics if the site administrator allowed that. Institution staff are also listed alongside institution administrators on their institution’s contact page.
- Sticky topic
Topics in a forum are sorted according to the date and time of posts. The topic with the latest post is normally shown first. Sometimes topics should get more attention even if there are no new posts. They can be marked “sticky” and stay at the top of the topics list. Group administrators and forum moderators can mark topics as sticky or disable this setting.
Tags are keywords that facilitate searching for your artefacts, pages and collections when the title and description are not enough. You can view all your tagged content in a tag cloud in the sidebar and find content again more easily.
- Tag cloud
You can display your most often used tags in the sidebar in a so called tag cloud. The tags are shown in different sizes: A tag that is used more often is bigger than a tag that is used seldom.
Tasks are created as part of a plan to provide more details on it. They can also be used to list items on a ToDo list. A task is defined by a title, a description and a completion date.
Pages and collections can be offered as templates to other users. They can be copied, or institution and site administrators can have them added automatically into the portfolio area of new users. Templates are used to jumpstart the collection of content and the creation of portfolios.
- Terms and conditions
The terms and conditions define the appropriate use of the site. The site administrator can display a link to this page in the footer of every page and also ask users to confirm them during registration.
The graphical interface design is called theme. If you have institutions on your site, they can have their own theme. Users can also use individual themes for their portfolio pages if the site administrator allows that.
Discussion forums are made up of topics that represent a discussion around a particular theme each.
Tutors only exist in course groups. They can give feedback on submitted pages that are locked from editing while they give feedback. After they are finished, they release the pages or collections and the portfolio authors can fully edit their content again.
Users are people who have access to the Mahara site and can log in in with a personal account.
The wall is a block on your profile page. Other users can leave a message on your wall.
You can add pages and collections that have been shared with you to your watchlist. You will receive notifications when these pages are updated.