Book Review: Mahara 1.4 Cookbook by Ellen Marie Murphy

First off thanks to Packt Publishing for a copy of Mahara 1.4 Cookbook by Ellen Marie Murphy to review. I have been looking forward to this book for months now!

Unlike some technical books out there, which are just how to use an application, this book provides the user a rich suite of recipes for practical use of Mahara.

The book is broken down into chapters about:

  • The Visual Arts
  • Literature and Writing
  • The Professional Portfolio
  • The Primary Education Portfolio
  • The Social Portfolio
  • The College application Portfolio
  • Certification and Accreditation Portfolio for Higher Education

However, most of the recipes provided could be used in many situations so you can read the book as a whole or just dive in to the particular examples that are of interest.

So rather than go through the book chapter by chapter, I am going to cover a few of the example recipes provided in the book to give you a taste of the wealth of recipes.

In Chapter 4, Ellen Marie takes the reader on tour of group usage.  One of the recipes focuses on Creating Templates for students in a language class. The author firstly explains the different types of templates available; system, group and user, and the pros and cons of each. Then we are brought through the steps for creating a group template so that users can provide a range of evidence of their competency in the language. The template included:

  • Writing samples
  • Audio recordings
  • External video
  • Reflections
  • Translation of an audio piece
  • Translation of a video piece

The author then explains how the student would be able to copy the template and fill it in with their content and submit it to the group admin for review and feedback. One thing I immediately like is that after the recipe, there is a “See Also” section pointing towards  recipes which may be of interest if you like this one. Nice touch!

In chapter two, the recipe on the Poetry Chapbook caught my interest. In this recipe the author introduces the method for digitally binding the portfolio pages on poetry together in a collection. The process is explained very clearly and it is very easy to follow. The interesting touch in this chapter is that we are provided with two techniques in one for navigation between the pages, either using the block or creating links between pages. The author also explains about adding a page to the chapbook after its already created for use as a Title page. Good Tip!

Chapter 8 one of the recipes introduces us to building a portfolio access page for outside reviewers. This recipe caters to those who require external reviewers to have actual access to the students portfolios. I like the approach to the solution provided by the author and the clear well explained steps to achieve the outcome. The new combination of locking the pages and providing external access is a good approach to this problem. Very neat.

Some of the recipes are great instructions on how to use the key parts of Mahara which some may not have come across yet – such as setting a theme and a layout for your profile page. I think that many people will find reading this book an essential part of their planning when considering Mahara for their institution.

If you use Mahara or plan to use Mahara and haven’t yet ordered your copy of this book, I recommend you give it a shot!


The book on Packtpub site

The sample chapter (4)

Article about using Plugins with Mahara

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1 Response to Book Review: Mahara 1.4 Cookbook by Ellen Marie Murphy

  1. Dominique-Alain JAN (dajan) says:

    I am pleased you loved this book. It is a great work Ellen Marie Murphy has provided. Such a pity Packt Pub are not ready to translate this very useful book in other languages.

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