Mahara and the secret URL


At the recent Mahara UK conference, I learned much. There’s a whole load of good practice going on across sectors in the UK – Mahara uptake is already impressive, and in my opinion, set to get more widespread.

One aspect left me a little confused: the secret URL.

When you create content in Mahara, it’s published to a view (soon to become a ‘page’ in the release 1.4). Each view can be shared in a number of different ways. You can make it public, accessible from anywhere. You can make it private, accessible to nobody. You can selectively share it with others in the Mahara environment in which you have registered. There’s a further option, that of the secret URL. When you choose the secret URL option, you are given a link to share. Send this link with others in whatever way suits you. Nothing wrong with this – its a nice simple method to share one or two items of content with a limited audience. In my view, that’s about it.

What I saw at the Mahara conference though was a whole lot of content that was being communicated via secret URLs. What I also saw were lists of shared secret URLs gathered together manually and published in another view. In other words, this is a bunch of text and HTML links that you have to edit – not an effective process when managing many links. This I really don’t understand. Why manually collate and publish a bunch of links to content when automated options are available directly in Mahara?

1 Response

  1. Mary July 2, 2011 / 09:31

    Hi Chris. We use secret URLs this way simply to save current non-Mahara users time. For instance, our teachers are not yet on board with Mahara so they don’t yet have accounts to log in and see views (pages) As an example, their form will have made views about themselves and once a child has made a view they can share it, as you say, in different ways: “add” selected people – at the moment that won’t work for their form teacher who isn’t on Mahara; email the secret URL – that is fine except the form teacher will then have 32 emails in their inbox and will still have to collate them manually unless they don’t mind sifting through their emails each week to check each pupils’ view – or ,make it public – again which still means the child would have to email the link. By collating on one view the secret URLs of one form and then giving them to the respective form teacher (or member of SLT or governor), this makes their life easier in terms of looking quickly at the views that interest them. I suppose you could use public instead of secret URL yes, but ideally the views would still be collated somehow, even if in a spreadsheet hyperlinked to the child’s name) and potentially, if a child shared their own public view with a relative abroad then potentially that relative could work out the links to other children’s views by changing the url. Maybe once all teachers are on Mahara we will rethink it but at the moment we don’t see another way to make access simpler.

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