A first guiding principle with the development of the Mahara ePortfolio system is that it is learner centred – a form of Personal Learning Environment. This is in contrast to the more institution-centric Learning Management System (LMS).
Mahara is a stand-alone system that can be integrated into a wider virtual learning framework. Unlike some pundits, we believe the Learning Management System remains a highly useful application for delivering learning. We also believe the overall environment can be enhanced and complemented by a learner-centred personal learning environment such as Mahara. Pan-institutional learner communities can also be encouraged using Mahara.
Mahara’s architecture is inspired by the modular, extensible architecture of Moodle. The Mahara team has also been heavily involved in the Moodle community, with recent work mostly focused on Moodle Networks. Similarly, Mahara systems can be networked together as well having single sign-on from Moodle 1.9 upwards. In a sense, we see Mahara as a ‘sister’ application although the two systems are not required to go together.