On the up: student produced Mahara tutorials

As our Mahara portfolio pilot continues to gain momentum, it’s clear that most users are getting quite comfortable with the product. What has been really surprising is that so little support has been required through this process. Whether the support is in product functionality, or in coaching users through the cultural challenges associated with a new facilities, there is usually a considerable amount of supporting activity going on. In my experience, this particularly low demand for support is almost unheard of when introducing a new product.

Of course, I’m really pleased that the uptake has been so swift and the response so positive. It really has encouraged me to continue promoting Mahara to other staff as a product that we could work with in the longer term.

Today, one of the teachers assisting with the pilot let me know that her group had been making screen casts using Screenr. It was communicated to me as a practice exercise – a first attempt. But hang on, I’ve watched these videos – and they are really good!

What’s great about watching these tutorials is observing the immediately obvious differences between the media I have already produced, and these new tutorials produced by our students. Each student (or group of students) has used their own initiative with the tools available, taking a different creative approaches. I’m looking forward to sharing some of these tutorials – made by students for students – in the Mahara Guide blog we have established to support our pilot.

A video from Luke and Sophie demonstrates how the contributions of two students can be used to enhance the content. This really is their first effort, but I think with a little more work, they could be on to something good. More dialogue between the two narrators would take the tutorial to a new level – each contributing to the overall message, but also adding their own commentary or opinion. Overall, the content is very good and really does illustrate just how easy it is for anyone to create materials of this quality. Take a look at their tutorial on uploading files to Mahara.

One thing that Katie did was to move a small Screenr capture window around the screen to provide more focus than would otherwise be found with a fixed aspect (and therefore a clearer image too). You have to be careful with this approach though – too much movement and you might lose your viewer (or nauseate them). Check out Katie’s first video about creating a blog.

I hope the next steps for the students in our pilot groups is to produce more materials like this, broadening the subject content and in doing so extending their own understanding of Mahara. Engaging these same students in producing more video materials could be really beneficial, and will support some of the objectives of our learning model. There is just as much opportunity for reflective thought, feedback, discussion and commentary in video material as there is in written content.

5 Responses

  1. Geoff Rebbeck November 16, 2010 / 20:00

    This is a really good record Chris. Not sure where you find the time to do all this. Anyway I shall be following every syllable as we follow you a few steps back. Thanks

  2. Rosemary November 20, 2010 / 19:23

    Interested to read your comment “this particularly low demand for support is almost unheard of when introducing a new product.”
    This echoes comment I have heard elsewhere when collecting recent studies. As here: Lewisham College experience.


    As Geoff says a good account will follow your progress with interest!

    • chri5grant November 22, 2010 / 08:50

      Thanks for commenting, Rosemary. Very interesting to read the Lewisham College case study, particularly the Mahara references.

      I am sure many organisations aspire to deliver an infrastructure as illustrated in Lewsham’s ‘vision’ – our strategy has communicated this desire for many years, but we have yet to realise this vision. Perhaps the closest we come is that our VLE (Moodle) is the hub of the learning space, with other services accessible from within, but unfortunately with the requirement to enter further credentials as or make the transition from one to another!

  3. Don Presant January 20, 2013 / 16:09

    Thanks for this!
    Quick note: there’s a typo on your banner – “manger”

    • Chris January 20, 2013 / 17:36

      Hi – thanks for the tip-off, Don. My role is much more about business activities than feeding animals!

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