Introduction to the Digital Ethics Principles

Version 3

Why did AAEEBL Create this Resource?

As outward-facing ePortfolios become more common, students, educators, administrators, and staff need guiding principles to ground their practice. Indeed, members voiced this need during the 2018 AAEEBL Annual Meeting. In response, AAEEBL formed a Digital Ethics Task Force of ePortfolio scholars and practitioners to develop principles, strategies, and resources for general use.

Who is this Resource Intended for?

Anyone involved in administering, teaching, creating, or practicing ePortfolios, including students, professionals, educators, administrators, staff, and platform providers, will find advice, suggestions, and examples here.

What is The Purpose of this Resource?

This resource is meant to guide students, professionals, educators, administrators, staff, and platform providers in ePortfolio practice as it relates to digital ethics. Use these principles to illustrate ePortfolio best practices, guide the development of your ePortfolio curriculum, or apply to your ePortfolio practices.

What is its Structure?

This resource is organized around a set of 10 principles relating to digital ethics and ePortfolios. Each principle has three parts. First, the resource provides an abstract or summary of the principle and strategies that can be used across contexts. Second, it offers scenarios to illustrate how to apply these principles in practice. Third, it includes a list of citations that feature further information on each principle. You can use the principles to navigate the document and glean the suggested practices based on each principle.

Principles and Strategies

The principles are written as broad, overarching rationale statements without specific details to allow for wide applicability. Each principle is explained and situated through a number of strategies that provide readers with details for application.


The scenarios illustrate how the principles’ strategies might come into practice in a particular local context. The goal of these scenarios is to model best practices in action by providing details about a situation with possible responses or questions to consider. Because contexts can vary, the scenarios are not intended to be all-encompassing.

Additional Resources

Additional resources are provided for each principle and include articles, book chapters, digital repositories, guides, and educational websites.

Before you begin

ePortfolios are reflective, iterative digital spaces where students develop and communicate an intentional identity to a selected audience. Before you begin to read, we recommend that you review the following resources to ensure a shared knowledge of common terminology and core principles of ePortfolio pedagogy.

  • The Field Guide to ePortfolio — This publication by AAEEBL and AAC&U (Association of American Colleges and Universities), compiled by over fifty ePortfolio practitioners, is designed to serve as a comprehensive guide to the concept of ePortfolio and what it looks like in practice.
  • ePortfolios, the Eleventh High-Impact Practice —This article articulates the logic behind naming ePortfolios as a high-impact practice and discusses how to design an ePortfolio curriculum that yields high-impact results.

Notes about Version 3

Significant updates to version 3 of the principles include the revision of the ‘Access to Technology’ and ‘Cross-Platform Compatibility’ Principles into the ‘Technology and Usability’ Principle and the revision of the ‘Consent for Data Storage,’ ‘Privacy,’ and ‘Content Storage’ Principles into the ‘Data Responsibility’ Principle. There are currently 10 Principles in total.

In Version 2, the Task Force elected to stop the process of numbering the principles because we wanted to avoid encouraging readers to think of them hierarchically. Instead, we want readers to understand that the Principles are interconnected and locally situated, meaning that their relevance will increase and decrease according to each reader’s specific needs in a given time and place.

View earlier versions of the Principles: