Guest writer, Carole McCulloch, explores Totara Social.
“Wow is that a new social media space?”
Yes, however Totara Social is more like a social space, personal learning space and e-portfolio repository all rolled into one!
“The first version is a feature-rich, robust and powerful social learning platform based on
Mahara, the open source e-portfolio platform,” says Richard Wyles, TotaraLMS
I explored Totara Social this weekend and was really impressed with its simplicity of navigation, its clean design and its robust functionality. My explorations were enhanced by previous experiences with other Learning Management Systems and especially with Mahara. I would like to recommend your individual exploration of Totara Social – it is well worth the effort. You will see for yourself the benefits for all levels of users in the eportfolio world, from the student, the tutor, the corporate manager or the community group.
Totara Social has huge potential for breaking down those barriers of complexity that exist in tools some other eportfolios, for the new user. You will find it a simple process to create your eportfolio page, your blog entries and for sharing personal achievements and ideas with your class or organisation.
Totara Social maximises and enhances the flow of conversation between users in the system and builds on that collaborative learning through the sharing of ideas. Yes, a brand new function called Ideas is built into the list of content types.
The user begins with the development of their own profile – as in most social media sites; and has the choice of who to share with. Your image gallery becomes a feature of your profile as well as a repository of artifacts to illustrate your eportfolio Page. See below for a sample profile page from Catriona Ward.
You may add extended profile information to display your credentials such as Professional awards, Educational course completions, Publications or Skills and Achievements.
Some of the groundwork for the development of Totara Social was based on the current need for online users to interact on a social basis with other members of the same online space. Connected people use the “Like” function as a quick way of acknowledging a friend’s posting in social media – the ‘like’ function is now built into Totara Social.
The user may then establish a Blog and make some related postings regarding their current studies or work based projects. They have the choice of sharing those too, as well as inviting comments and ‘likes’. See below for a sample blog post from Catriona Ward from her editor’s perspective and one from mine published and ready for comment.
Yes, I know you’re now really excited about the new Totara Social and you want to explore. I hear you … but wait there’s more!
You can also create new knowledge collaboratively using the Ideas and Questions tools within Totara Social. You can propose an idea and invite others to vote or pose a question and invite the group to contribute answers.
You can upload all of your favourite artifacts to illustrate your awards, achievements and learning journey. Plus you can do that from your laptop or your mobile device. You can import your existing eportfolio from another Mahara site and enable instant populating of your collections.
Totara Social is designed for the corporate user and along with that comes a subscription fee. However, in my opinion, it would also be a fantastic tool for educational organisations as it would appeal to schools because of its simplicity and user friendly interface. Will the subscription fee may put it out of reach of many educational organisations?
I really like Totara Social and hope to explore some more. What about you?
How can you get into Totara Social and explore?
Totara Social is currently available to Totara Partners, of which Brightcookie in one, from October 2014. Brightcookie staff are happy to organise a time for a Totara Social demonstration. There is also a six month free trial subscription to all existing TotaraLMS customers to try Totara Social – October 2014 to March 2015.
Contact Brightcookie for more information.