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Canvas & Mahara: Open & Integrated

"Mahara" is a Te Reo Māori word meaning "to think, thinking, thought". It's also the name of the incredibly popular open source ePortfolio used around the globe.

Kristina Hoeppner, project leader of Mahara, shares their story: "Mahara started as a joint project in 2006 between Massey University, Auckland University of Technology, The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, and Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. These tertiary providers realised that a learning management system (LMS) was not enough to meet their students' needs, and that they needed another platform to allow students to create personal learning environments and have full control over their learning content."

Flash forward to 2017 and many institutions in the Asia Pacific (APAC) and European (EMEA) regions who use Mahara have also begun adopting the Canvas LMS. Because Canvas and Mahara are both open source, we saw an opportunity to leverage the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standard, which is foundational to Canvas, to seamlessly integrate both platforms.

To get Mahara working alongside Canvas, we provided funding and co-development to add LTI to the Mahara codebase. After months of effort and evolution, Mahara (beginning with version 17.04 and moving forward) can now be added to Canvas courses through a simple integration from the App Centre.

For Mahara, this is just the beginning. The roadmap includes the ability to submit portfolios directly to Canvas for assessment. According to Hoeppner, "We've taken the first step, which was crucial as it lays the groundwork for additional integration points. The next step is to take a closer look at other functionality that would be useful for connected LMS and ePortfolio systems."

Keep learning,

Julian Ridden, Product Strategy Manager
Instructure