With a focus on assessments, and especially those of the authentic variety, more and more we look at portfolios for student assessment. These truly can assess a student’s knowledge over time. The one shot test, no, not so much. So in the 21st Century, we need a portfolio system that a school/school system can implement online. We use Moodle in our district, and took a look at Mahara. Moodle is the course management system, that could be used for portfolios, but definitely excels for online professional development. Mahara is for portfolios, an open source application, that integrates with Moodle. What I like about it, it is distinctly for portfolios. Not like some others, where that is part of the functionality, that IS the functionality of Mahara.
So what about FolioSpaces? FolioSpaces (foliospaces.com) actually uses Mahara for its application. So what FolioSpaces does is provide the user with the platform, without the need to worry about updating a server, security on that server, or other technical concerns. They also market it as a solution not only for education, but also for professional and personal reasons. That makes a lot of sense. If you want to create a professional portfolio, which I would suggest you do, you do not want to apply for other jobs if you have it hosted on your current employer’s site, whether a school or business. As they say on their site:
FolioSpaces is your personal space; it moves with you
So what does FolioSpaces provide? You receive all the functionality of Mahara: electronic portfolio, weblog, resume builder, and social networking system. Of course, a big difference as opposed to a self-hosted Mahara would be a larger pool from which to create a social network. Possibly a positive, if needing employment. For schools, that also translates into lesser security, if that is a concern for your district.
Ok, so did I hook you? Now is the time for the bloated cost, right? A $100 a year for hosting? $25.00 a month for support? Nope. As their website states, they are the world-leading FREE fully featured tool. They do offer Premium accounts, but for just your plain jane account–free! Definitely good for the personal side, and also good for evaluating Mahara before going through the trouble of setting up a server. Check it out and provide an authentic way to assess your students!