KPU ePortfolio Case Studies

BSN-PB Nursing Program

Overview of Mahara in the BSN-PB Program

Purpose/Learning Goals

The BSN-PB program has been using Mahara since we began the program in Fall 2012. This is a blended program where all theory courses are taught completely online and all practice courses are blended.

We use Mahara extensively in almost every course of the 7 semester program. We consider the ePortfolio to be the heart of the technology used in the program and it serves several purposes that can be summed up as:

  • Aesthetic Expression
  • Reflective Expression
  • Professional Development

See Power Point link below for more information on this process.

Mahara as Medium: Feeding the Learning Spirit through aesthetic and reflective expression

Mahara as Medium: Feeding the Learning Spirit through aesthetic and reflective expression

The KPU Bachelor of Science in Nursing - Post-Baccalaureate Program uses Mahara open source e-portfolios to engage students in creative, scholarly, and reflective learning activities in every online course in the program. Faculty members develop their own Mahara e-portfolios to model and assist student learning. Digital artifacts, including visual models, theoretical interpretations, reflective journals, and artistic work such as free verse, prose, graphical work, photographs, video, and multimedia productions are showcased in an organized way within the e-portfolio milieu. Students develop a collection of e-portfolio pages each semester, which form a rich and robust body of work over the course of the program – a concrete testament to the development of critical knowledge, awareness, and competencies over time.




Students receive technological support from the Program/Curriculum Coordinator who also acts as Administrator of the program site. Pedagogical support for course related activities is provided by the program faculty as well.

Students are provided with hands on orientation to the program with two computer labs during the initial two week residency of the program. At this time, they are led through the process of creating their semester collection of pages (1 page per course), writing journals, displaying images embedding videos, and so on. They also receive a manual (see below).



BSN-PB Mahara Manual

Lessons Learned

Our advice to others who may be considering using eporftolios in their courses or programs

  • Ensure that marks are given for ePortfolio use. Students are more motivated to use them when they are part of their ongoing course grade.
  • Develop a rubric to use when assessing the ePortfolio (see file below).
  • Make sure students have time to practice using the software in a guided environment e.g. book some computer labs for orientation.
  • Encourage self expression within the ePortfolio - we do give structured assignments and expectations but also encourage self-initiated content.

Future Plans

We plan to continue this intense integration of Mahara in every semester of the BSN-PB program. We are hopeful that KPU will adopt Mahara as a standard software so our students and faculty can enjoy a more seamless experience with Moodle-Mahara integration.


BSN-PB Portfolio Examples

Here are some screenshots of various BSN-PB student pages. Each student creates a collection of pages per semester,, so for instance in Semester 1 they would create 6 pages, one for each semester course.











Mahara Integration in the Program

Read more about this integration of Mahara with other technological layers

used in the BSN-PB by clicking the link below

Cultivating Nurturing Learning e-scapes: A Food Forest Analogy

Cultivating Nurturing Learning e-scapes: A Food Forest Analogy

In the BSN-PB program, Mahara ePortfolios are used as assessment, credential, learning and showcase portfolios. Students complete a profile page with resume specific data and other personal information. They create collections of pages organized in semester clusters for ease of accessibility and organization. Over the seven semesters, learning artifacts are added to produce a robust repository of student work. These artifacts include aesthetic creative work, practice journals, case study analyses, and other assigned work.

The Mahara environment is easy to use and can display written work, art and visual models, galleries for assignments such as Photo Novellas, links to online work done in programs such as Educreations and Voice Thread, and uploaded files and videos. The Mahara interface uses a simple drag and drop approach to file integration enabling students to display their work aesthetically in a well-organized way.

Mahara is also used for practice and theory related reflection. Praxis is a key component of all seven practice courses in the program, where students practice with clients or in labs to master nursing skills, then engage in reflection-on-action, reflection-in-action, and reflection-for-action with their fellow classmates and faculty instructor. Dialogic journals are used frequently within Mahara to encourage critical and meaningful reflection by students, and responded to by faculty to encourage praxis reflection.

Mahara provides an accessible and permanent space for students to reflect on work they have done using other technological layers, such as iPads and apps or SIMs lab practice. For instance, students are asked to use nutrition and fitness apps on their iPads in semester one, then reflect on their progress over time in their Mahara course page.

Mahara reinforces professional development, by helping students learn to use their profiles, resumes, achievements, and artifacts to promote nursing competencies and demonstrate life-long learning. Nurses are expected to engage in personal and professional development on an annual basis as part of licensure maintenance and renewal. The Mahara interface provides valuable practice to enable this ability post-graduation. Students have commented that seeing their work develop over each semester has given them a deeper appreciation of what they have learned and how they have developed over time. This awareness is invaluable for current and life-long learning. These software capabilities help reinforce the importance of Mahara to the program’s technological e-scape.


Student Artifact Collection

This page showcases some of the visual artifacts created by students within various courses of the BSN-PB Program. There is a strong Arts-based focus in the blended BSN-PB curriculum which encourages haptic, visual, creative,  interpretative, reflective expression. Mahara is the pefect tool for displaying these expressions.




Weaving Together Photo Novella Example

This is an example of a Photo Novella used to show students how to create one during their initial orientation to Mahara (students do several Photo Novella assignments throughout the program). This one is of the Weaving Together 2013 event held on the Langley campus for Truth and Reonciliation week - it is a sample assignment for several of the Relational Engagement courses in the program.

Weaving Together Event