My use of Mahara (17.04 in conjunction with Moodle 3.3+) has been reported here. When the term is ending (end of june) time seemed right for looking back and getting some feedback. As a starting point I took a study by Lisa Beutelspacher (Information. Wissenschaft & Praxis 2012; 63(4):227–231) and I asked the same questions. Her evaluation is from 2012, Mahara looked quite different these days and digital competencies of our students have changed too, so I was curious about possible differences. The original study was done at university in Computer Science classes with students from 1st to 5th term. The results for the first group of questions (Mahara in general and usage in class) are summarised in figure 2 (translation see slides of my results). At first I was a little disappointed seeing so little “Very good” – but taking into account the first three grades which are labeled “Very good” to “Quite OK” the percentages are very fine.
I tried to ask the same questions asked before, my students are from education level 9 (14-15 years) to 11, three very different classes have been asked, all of them have been using Mahara through the whole year:
- Computer Science or IT, where basic IT skills are taught. I do this by doing project work, presenting results using Mahara (11 students)
- German Classes, where all sort of (creative) writing is done as well as studying German literature (11 students)
- Mathematics, where teaching is done on a quite high level (this is a engineering oriented class) using technology very much. (23 students)
The results are remarkable in at least two ways:
- The percentages of positive feedback are significantly higher than the results from university. While for the 9th level students the feedback is almost positive overall the percentage drops a little with age.
- Surprisingly a subject like German language/literature gets a high rating — better than Mathematics.
Especially the second point, I think, is due to the way Mahara is designed and can be used (see here).
See more results in part 2.