I was kindly shown some examples of Mahara pages that had been produced by students at another University by a colleague who also works there. These were very useful, because I started making notes of what made an effective page, from the point of view of the tutor who is advising the student on creating the page. Also from the point of view of a tutor who has several of these to mark! Here are my observations:
Use small images
The ones that stood out had a variety of images or YouTube videos embedded.
Do your students know how to reduce the size of images, suitable for viewing on screen? A 2M photo is great for printing but does take time to upload onto the page. Reducing the size of an image, to say, 400K, even less, will give a fair on-screen representation.
Transfer Word documents to PDF
When a Word document has been uploaded and presented on a page, in order to view the document, several clicks have to be made to access it. Do you want to download or save, How do you want to view it and so on. When a PDF document is accessed, provided you have a PDF reader (freely available), the PDF document is much quicker to access and is also more professional.
Produce images of certificates
Instead of putting certificates or emails into a document, consider taking a photo of it or a screen grab of it, and then embed the image into the Mahara page.
Use the Mahara plan tool
Creating a plan in Mahara enables a student also to identify tasks that are associated with the plan. Plans (and associated tasks) can be added to a page. When a student has completed a task, they can indicate so and any updates also appear on the page.
Check the YouTube videos
Depending on security issues and the source of the YouTube video, there may be a longer time taken to access some YouTube videos. (I had a message saying this video contains content from SME. It means that the content owner Sony Music Entertainment (SME) is not allowing YouTube to broadcast the video in your region.)
Suggest to the students to check the source of the videos. Better still, suggest that they create YouTube accounts of their own and create their own videos.
Journal is a great way to for a student to collect text summaries of activities, progress and reflection. Either all, the latest or specific messages can be added to a Mahara page.
Avoid Journal messages with attached documents
Adding a document to a journal seems a good idea at the time but not when the journal entry is on a page and it takes several clicks to get there. Add the file separately to the page.
Investigate alternative layouts
The default layout is 3 columns, evenly spaced. Four columns can produce a newspaper-like effect.
Investigate Text Box
Students can use Text Box to introduce items on the page. Text can also be used to signpost to the tutor where pieces of work that fulfil various criteria are located on the page. If text is used on more than one page, consider using a journal entry for the text instead.