MAHARA-REFLEFOLIO: EXTENDED MAHARA E-PORTFOLIO SYSTEM ENHANCING STUDENT REFLECTIVE LEARNING
In recent years, e-portfolio systems are increasingly being used for student-centered learning in higher education. Many universities use Mahara, which is an open source e-portfolio system. However, one of the problems with Mahara is that it assumes that the series of activities represented by accumulated artifacts are summarized and displayed on a Web page, which makes it unsuitable for student reflective learning and assessment activities during the learning process. The need is for a practical way of using Mahara for reflective learning and assessment. The purpose of this study is to provide support for student reflective learning and assessment activities using e-portfolios through the learning process. We developed an extended version of the Mahara e-portfolio system, “Mahara-reflefolio”, and then evaluated its usability.
2. Current Problems with Mahara
There are two problems with Mahara:
(a) It does not have sufficient functions for performing learning and assessment activities during the learning process.
(b) It has bad operability because the screen composition and navigation hierarchy is difficult to comprehend.
3. Framework for Student Reflective Learning
3.1. Requirements for Solving the Problems
The requirements for solving the problems with Mahara are as follows.
(1) To construct a more effective execution environment for reflective learning using e-portfolios.
(2) To develop functions that support reflective learning using e-portfolios.
(3) To offer user interfaces that can be operated easily.
3.2. Framework for Reflective Learning
We developed the e-portfolio unit as a framework to satisfy the requirement (1). This is a framework for formally describing the information needed to realize reflective learning and assessment using e-portfolios. This makes it possible to treat all learning outcomes generated by activities using e-portfolios, which leads to the unification of student learning and assessment. In this work, we propose “e-binder” and “e-loose-leaf”, both of which are based on the e-portfolio unit.
4. Development of Mahara-reflefolio
Mahara-reflefolio was developed by implementing the framework introduced in the previous section with the current Mahara system. The functions of the extension part based on the framework are as follows. This meets the requirement (2).
(3) Support for promoting reflective learning
A) Disclosure range setting
B) Distribution of e-loose-leaf pages
C) Group list
D) User list
E) The newest assessment list
5. Evaluation of Usability
We compared the number of clicks when performing assessment activities making full use of the current Mahara system to that when performing the same assessment activities using the proposed Mahara-reflefolio.
5.2. Evaluation Results
The number of clicks during self-assessment using Mahara-reflefolio was improved 43.3% compared with using the current Mahara system. There were also improvements with peer assessment, at 33.3%, and teacher assessment, at 40.0%.
Mahara-reflefolio can be used to carry out assessment activities with just a small number of clicks, thus demonstrating that it has a higher usability than the current Mahara system. This satisfies the requirement (3).
We developed Mahara-reflefolio. Results of an evaluation on system usability demonstrated that the system can be used to perform assessment activities easily through the learning process.