ePortfolios: Mediating the minefield of inherent risks and tensions

Kift, Sally M., Harper, Wendy E., Creagh, Tracy A., Hauville, Kim L., McCowan, Colin R., & Emmett, David J. (2007) ePortfolios: Mediating the minefield of inherent risks and tensions. In ePortfolio Australia - Imagining New Literacies, 26th and 27th of March 2007, RMIT University, Melbourne. (Unpublished)


The ePortfolio Project at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) exemplifies an innovative and flexible harnessing of current portfolio thinking and design that has achieved substantial buy-in across the institution with over 23000 active portfolios. Robust infrastructure support, curriculum integration and training have facilitated widespread take-up, while QUT’s early adoption of ePortfolio technology has enabled the concomitant development of a strong policy and systems approach to deal explicitly with legal and design responsibilities.

In the light of that experience, this paper will highlight the risks and tensions inherent in ePortfolio policy, design and implementation. In many ways, both the strengths and weaknesses of ePortfolios lie in their ability to be accessed by a wider, less secure audience – either internally (e.g. other students and staff) or externally (e.g. potential employees and referees). How do we balance the obvious requirement to safeguard students from the potential for institutionally-facilitated cyber-harm and privacy breaches, with this generation’s instinctive personal and professional desires for reflections, private details, information and intellectual property to be available freely and with minimal restriction? How can we promote collaboration and freeform expression in the blog and wiki world but also manage the institutional risk that unauthorised use of student information and work so palpably carries with it? For ePortfolios to flourish and to develop and for students to remain engaged in current reflective processes, holistic guidelines and sensible boundaries are required to help safeguard personal details and journaling without overly restricting students’ emotional, collaborative and creative engagement with the ePortfolio experience. This paper will discuss such issues and suggest possible ways forward.

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ID Code: 6495
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: social networking, ePortfolio, blogs, harm, wikis, ePortfolio technology, HERN, cyber, online access, ePortfolio design, online privacy, ePortfolio policy
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES (080000) > LIBRARY AND INFORMATION STUDIES (080700)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Division of Technology, Information and Library Services
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 (The Authors)
Deposited On: 13 Mar 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2015 06:04

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