One of ten Digital Ethics in ePortfolios Principles

Institutions should provide appropriate support for students, educators, administrators, and staff who create ePortfolios.


Institutions must devote resources to supporting ePortfolios, including professional development in ePortfolios. ePortfolio stakeholders are encouraged to partner with offices that have expertise in disability, informational literacy, technology, writing, and teaching and learning to create inclusive ePortfolio requirements with built-in alternatives for individuals with limited access to technology and the internet.

Stylized hands holding a heart

Strategies for applying this principle include…

  • Adequately funding and evenly distributing the responsibility for developing, teaching, and assessing ePortfolios throughout a program, department, college, and/or institution.
  • Developing and providing training and support on digital ethics, digital citizenship, and effective pedagogical and assessment strategies for educators, staff, and program directors who work with students on ePortfolios.
  • Developing clear ePortfolio requirements so that all students can be successful, especially students who have little to no experience with ePortfolio-building technologies.
  • Providing alternatives for financially disadvantaged students who cannot afford the costs associated with certain ePortfolio platforms and/or technologies or do not have access to a stable internet connection.
  • Creating a set of protocols for data consent, collection, storage, and maintenance and training staff, faculty, and students on these protocols through workshops, handbooks, and other institutional documents.
  • Identifying institutional resources and partners for ePortfolio support, such as the office of accessibility, librarians, reading/writing/learning centers, technical support, etc.


Scenario #1

You are an educator who is excited about your first capstone course meeting for graduating students. On the first day, you explain that students will be creating an ePortfolio that will both document their learning from their coursework and showcase their professional experiences to employers and/or graduate schools.

You show example ePortfolios from previous years and ask the class to analyze them in groups. One of your students who is new to ePortfolios would like to participate in this well-planned first day activity, but they are blind, and you have not considered how they can view the example ePortfolios. You have never considered the platform’s ability to interface with screen readers, and you can tell that your lack of preparation is making your student feel anxious about their ability to engage with the class and complete this capstone assignment.

When designing ePortfolio assignments, it’s important to consider all students with diverse needs. Institutional experts in disability and accommodations for students with disabilities can help you vet platforms for accessibility, and digital resources can also help you test a site’s ability to interface with assistive technologies, such as a screen reader.

Scenario #2

You are a student. You are participating in a study abroad program and have been asked to contribute to a collective ePortfolio documenting your experiences in an online course that pairs with the abroad program. You have stretched yourself financially to be able to afford the trip abroad and take time off of work. You have never traveled outside of your home country before, so you are feeling anxious. You have little experience with online learning and ePortfolios.

In the pre-trip introduction video to the online course, the educator explains that the class members will all be able to log into the ePortfolio site and contribute photos, blog updates, and reflective writing entries. You know that you will need internet access and a device to do this. You begin to panic. You do not have a laptop, and while you can use the platform on your phone, you have not budgeted for an international data plan.

Your educator assures you that there will be free wifi available for your use where you will be staying. Also, the educator has provided you with details where you can check out a laptop from your institution to take abroad with you.

Scenario #3

You are a writing program administrator and/or staff member, and your dean has recently asked you to bring ePortfolio assessment into the composition program. You are excited at this possibility, as you have heard about ePortfolios at conferences and in academic journals in your field. However, when you ask about funding for this initiative, your dean says you will have to use your current budget. Your program is staffed mostly by part-time and non-tenure-track professionals who carry high teaching loads and already have limited access to professional development funds.

After taking a moment to process the situation, you explain to the dean that an ePortfolio requirement is an exciting, but sizable, commitment. You suggest reaching out to peer institutions that use ePortfolios to understand how much money they spend annually on staff, technology, professional development, assessment, curriculum development, etc. You also reach out to the disability advocates, technology experts, and the librarians on campus to assess the institution’s current resources to support this initiative, as commitment from them in particular would be beneficial. After research and discussion, you meet with the dean and explain the amount of funding and support you feel your program will need to have a successful and sustainable ePortfolio initiative.

Scenario #4

You are a program administrator placed in charge of your institution’s new ePortfolio office. As part of the annual review process for the office, you have been tasked with collecting copies of every student ePortfolio created by the institution for that year and conducting a learning assessment. After ePortfolios are collected and assessed, records must remain in an institutional repository for five years.

A new instructor enters your office voicing concern about the ePortfolio assessment process. You explain that your office has developed an informed consent process for ePortfolio collection, which allows students to opt into the assessment process. To guide them and instructors in learning about data collection and consent, your office has published its data collection and management protocols on the program’s website. Included in these protocols are steps that ensure student privacy, such as separating ePortfolio links from student assessment records and de-identifying student data at the end of each year. You remind the instructor that they must attend a pre-semester workshop on ePortfolio data collection and invite them to contact you if after that workshop they have remaining questions about the process.


Department for Education (UK). (2018). Data protection: A toolkit for schools, Open beta: Version 1.0. Department for Education.

Jones, B., & Leverenz, C. (2017). Building Personal Brands with Digital Storytelling ePortfolios. International Journal of EPortfolio, 7(1), 67–91.

Newman, T., Beetham, H., & Knight, S. (2018). Digital experience insights survey 2018: Findings from students in UK further and higher education (p. 76). Jisc.

Slade, C. (2017). Using ePortfolios to strengthen student identity verification in assessment: A response to contract cheating. 2017 EPortfolio Forum EBook of Short Papers, 27–34.

Slade, C., & Tsai, J. (2018). Building connections through integrated ePortfolio curriculum. 2018 EPortfolio Forum EBook of Short Papers, 50–56.

The University of Queensland. (n.d.). Digital essentials. Library.