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Mahara is an open source e-portfolio system with a flexible display framework. Mahara, meaning 'think' or 'thought' in Te Reo Māori, is user centred environment with a permissions framework that enables different views of an e-portfolio to be easily managed. Mahara also features a weblog, resume builder and social networking system, connecting users and creating online learner communities.
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Mahara is a unique content management both in how it was developed and what it is typically used for. First, it was first developed in New Zealand in 2006. The project was funded by the New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission’s e-Learning Collaborative Development Fund. This makes it the only government sponsored CMS on the market today that I am aware of. It was designed not so much just to make websites, but to create online places where people can collaborate and work on projects together. Today the platform is funded by New Zealand’s Ministry of Education as well as funds provided by the Mellon Foundation.
The Mahara page says that this is an ‘electronic portfolio’ tool as well, which helps to illustrate what types of things it can and should be used for. While it certainly is not going to be the first choice of developers who are looking to make a traditional blog or website, Mahara absolutely has some very practical applications for many people around the world. Like most CMSs, Mahara is an open source system and free to use.
When choosing a content management system, evaluating Mahara should be pretty simple. If you want to make a web property that is great for collaboration and ePortfolios, this is an excellent choice. If you don’t, however, there are other platforms out there that are much better. That is not to say anything bad about this one, just that it was designed for a different general purpose. Some people will even use this platform alongside a traditional CMS so they can have a normal website plus a portfolio.
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