Archive for the ‘Mahara’ Category

Awards Time?

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

With nominations soon closing for the NZ Open Source Awards I’ve just heard about Packt Publishing’s Open Source Awards – It looks like Moodle and Mahara aren’t eligible, but if you’re aware of any open source products that you think should be recognised make sure you nominate them! – Packt are offering cash prizes to the winners and runners-up.

The NZ Open Source Awards are a bit more flexible and a wider range of projects will be eligible but nominations are closing very soon!

New Mahara book

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Packt Publishing just sent me a copy of the new Mahara book:
Mahara 1.2 E-Portfolios: Beginner’s Guide

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and read through a text-book, my eyes tend to glaze over and I find something else to read instead! I’ve also never been very good at sitting down and “studying” – This book surprised me, I was expecting a book detailing the different features in a dry step by step manner, but what I found was quite different. The first paragraph of the content in the book made me feel a little uncomfortable:

So, you’re interested in Mahara? Maybe you are already using it, but you are wondering if you are using it well. Maybe you’ve recently heard of Mahara and you are wondering if this is actually the ePortfolio solution you were looking for? Or, maybe you have been told you have to use it and you just need to get a sense of what Mahara is all about?

The book seemed to be talking to me – that’s not supposed to happen is it? After reading further I began to almost see the writers at the front of a computer lab speaking to me sitting at a PC – this easy to read tone engaged me in the book and the blend of content, hands on activities, and reviews made it an interactive experience – not what I’ve come to expect from the reference manuals I normally have on hand! The book has some great use cases and full detail without overwhelming the reader. It’s split up into logical bite-sized chapters that could be tackled one at a time when the reader has a quiet moment. Packt release this book as an eBook which I found useful – it meant that you could switch over to a web browser and run through the activities on the demo site provided specifically for readers of the book. I have a multi-monitor display which made this easy – some readers will definitely prefer the hard copy. Unfortunately the urls in the eBook weren’t live urls so I had to copy/paste them, but that didn’t take too much effort.

I’d recommend this book to anyone new to ePortfolios or new to Mahara – it gives the reader a really good detailed knowledge of not only the features of Mahara, but how they can be used in a variety of ways for very different groups of people. The book is great for real users – teachers/students/educators – it gives a much “easier to digest”, concise guide than the mahara.org online documentation. It’s not aimed at Administrators or Developers but if you haven’t implemented Mahara yet it gives some good information for new administrators or those considering Mahara’s suitability towards the end of the book. I’d highly recommend that any organisation running Mahara grabs a hard copy of the book to lend someone when they walk into your office and ask “so what’s this Mahara thing?”

It’s available on Amazon, but cheaper from Packt Publishing who sell the eBook as well.

Moodle Networking bugs

Friday, September 11th, 2009

I’ve been battling with a couple of issues with Moodle Networking over the past week!

The first was an issue where the configuration of Mnet between a Moodle and Mahara site on the same server worked fine, it obtained the various keys as necessary, but when an Mnet call was made like a Single Sign on call from a Moodle user accessing Mahara, it would fail – with no useable error message anywhere to be found! – I eventually traced it down to a call to xml_parse – turns out that libxml in certain versions of PHP is quite buggy – and this is actually a known issue with other areas of Moodle. MDL-17136 MDL-16759

IMO we should really notify administrators that they are potentially running buggy code so I’ve created MDL-20220 to add such a notification!

The other issue I’ve been battling with is related to Moodle and Mahara not generating any keys at all – this is centered around the installation not being able to locate an openssl.cnf file on the server, and it appears in my testing that adding an environment var on the server didn’t reliably work! – also I needed to get this to work on a XAMPP install or an MoWeS install, so setting an environment var wasn’t really an option! I’ve got an incoming¬† patch for 1.9Stable and Head that fixes this – I also have a patch for Mahara which will go upstream very soon!

Mahoodle SSO Config

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Moodle and Mahara complement each other quite well, and it’s been possible for a while to set up SSO between them.

We do a lot of Moodle+Mahara with SSO for our clients – and most of these are hosted on the same web server, but following the instructions in the document I linked above can be tedious and time-consuming!

So I wrote an auto-config script that does the work for us!

to keep it simple at this stage it is a single file, it contains lots of hard-coded error strings, and doesn’t always display them as pretty as it should, but it works!

just drop the file into your moodle/admin directory and call it via the browser (you will need to be logged in as an admin to use the script)
if your Mahara install has been dropped into your Moodle webroot, or if it’s in the directory above your moodle webroot it will automatically find it, and display the path in the form on the screen – if not, you will need to know the server path to your mahara install – it’s the same as the $CFG->dirroot you have configured in the Mahara config.php

Once you’ve entered the Mahara dirroot on the form – hit execute, and it will go through all the steps necessary in Moodle and in Mahara to configure them to talk nicely to each other! – when it gets to the Mahara configuration, you will be asked to login to Mahara – make sure you login as an admin!

the file is available here (although I’ll put it in contrib and the modules & plugins db at some point soon)

keen to hear of any issues you experience or any ideas for improvment!