Mahara, Eyjafjallajokull and the insurance claim

Eyjafjallajokull doing its best to teach us how small we are
Eyjafjallajokull doing its best to teach us how small we are

Eyjafjallajokull – a name I still can’t pronounce, even though it has changed the way I view air travel forever. I’m calling it ‘the day the world got big again’, since all of a sudden it made me realise ust how much we take air travel for granted, and how damned far it is from the UK to Australia. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been stuck in the UK after what was a fairly disastrous attempt at attending the UK Moodlemoot last week thanks to the plumes of volcanic ash which shut down UK airspace for the best part of a week. As soon as the reality hit that my flights home had been cancelled I started the frantic task of working out how to get home – along with another 150 000 stranded tourists…

Regardless of whether I sat tight and hoped that the ash cleared or attempted to head down to Madrid by train and catch a flight from there one thing was clear to me – I’d need to submit an insurance claim at some stage to get back all the significant amount of additional money I was spending to get by as I tried to find a way home. When I first phoned up the travellers insurance folks at Travel Insurance Direct (who I must say have been awesome throughout this whole thing), they made two things very clear – that I needed to make ‘reasonable efforts’ to keep the costs down, and that I should keep as much evidence as possible to back up the claim when the time came. I started grabbing the receipts I’d already incurred and tried to work out how I should keep them all together, and I realized that I already had what in theory should have been the perfect answer right in front of me – Mahara.

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Mahara in Practice 2 – Mahara Assessment in Moodle

Last time I posted about assessment in Mahara it was using Mahara’s somewhat limited capacity to act as an assessment tool. I got no problem with this, since I agree that things like a Gradebook really belong in an LMS rather than in an ePortfolio, collaboration and social networking tool like Mahara.

But what if you need to do a more formal assessment in an LMS like Moodle?

A single sign-on integration between Moodle and Mahara is nothing new, and has already provided a basic integration between the two systems, but there has never been a neat way for students to submit a selection of work from their ePortfolio into Moodle for assessment beyond copying and pasting links between the two systems…

…until now.

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Mahara in Practice 1 – Groups and Assessment

One of the least understood things in Mahara is the potential for using groups as an assessment mechanism. I think this is because of two reasons:

  1. The documentation about this feature on mahara.org is not great, something I’ll rectify shortly after making this post (if I can stay awake), and
  2. Those who sign up for a free demo Mahara account anywhere won’t get to see the feature, as you need an Admin user to set up the special group types that can be used for assessment.

For a while its struck me as a shame that this is the case as I think it is one of Mahara’s better kept secrets, so I have finally gotten around to putting together a presentation on how it all works, why you should care and what would make it better in future.

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