Mahara Hui: Community gathering at Te Papa

On 19 and 20 March 2014, 100 Mahara enthusiasts gathered at Wellington's iconic museum, Te Papa for the first Mahara Hui.

The hui brought together people from all walks of life who use Mahara as their ePortfolio, collaboration and social networking system. School teachers, university instructors, independent consultants and members of the core Mahara development team from New Zealand and Australia as well as two delegates from France and Switzerland attended the event.

Mark Nichols from the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand opened the hui with his engaging keynote, “Mahara and the challenges of adulthood”, in which he looked back at the history of Mahara and then shared his views about future directions.

Thirty presenters followed in his steps during the course of the hui and shared their knowledge, use cases and experiences with others in two parallel conference streams. The presentations covered the following themes:

Building a community of practice using Mahara
Enhancing the educational experience through the use of Mahara
New features or plugins for Mahara
Using ePortfolios with health professionals
Integrating Mahara with other systems
MyPortfolio.school.nz in New Zealand
Open source
The place of ePortfolios in professional development
Creating and expanding ePortfolios in secondary education

You can access the presentations that could be shared publicly on the conference website.

The conference streams were followed by a one-day optional hackfest at Catalyst on 21 March 2014 where developers and users could work on anything related to Mahara. Developers expanded their knowledge of how people are using the software, saw portfolio examples and answered burning questions. Some users got together to brainstorm new functionality for Mahara and started writing personas to capture the needs of various groups of users, whereas others worked on fixing issues or creating new features. The hackfest was a valuable opportunity for both developers and users to collaborate.

Catalyst is proud to have been the main sponsor of this first Mahara conference in New Zealand. It allowed us as project maintainers and lead developers of Mahara to get together with users and other developers to discuss the software and potential future development work. We would like to acknowledge our co-sponsors who contributed financially to the hui and were instrumental in its success: Totara LMS, ThinkAgency, and Kineo Pacific.

If you are interested in learning more about Mahara, please check out the demo site, join the conversations in the community or express your interest in attending a Mahara User Group meeting. We are gauging interest for establishing a regular gathering in New Zealand and would like to hear from you.

The response to the hui has been very positive, so we expect more conferences will be organised in New Zealand in the future.