Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Legal Issues of E-Portfolios (and Web 2.0)

Last week a colleague and I presented at a regional event that looked the legal implications of using technology in education. (We we will upload the presentation slides to our RSC Wiki shortly).

The event was run by JISC Legal, a service that I’ve mentioned on here previously. (They are a useful organisation to note as they have a wide understanding of the complex legal issues associated with using technology in education and their website hosts a wealth of resources).

Their website has been updated with several new resources and it seems that some time ago they had also documented some of the legal issues to do with e-portfolios. In their usual spirit of sharing, they had produced two publications that included a consideration of the following areas:

· ePortfolios - what kind of legal issues might exist?

· Data protection, compliance with the law?

· Data in our ePortfolio system is owned by the institution, is this right?

· We have created this nifty way for learners to publish parts of their ePortfolio to one of our websites for public or restricted access viewing. Are there legal issues we ought to consider?

· We are planning to roll out an ePortfolio system for our learners, but are concerned that some disabled learners may not be able to access the full functionality of the system. Does this expose us to legal liability?

The publications are now new, they were published in 2004, but they do still raise a number of valid legal considerations for anyone thinking about implementing or currently using e-portfolios. The publications can be accessed via the links below.

1. Developing and Operating an ePortfolio System - Assessing the Legal Issues
2. Legal Aspects of ePortfolio Systems: A Short FAQ

(For a wider consideration of the issues relating to e-portfolios this post might also be useful as well as the Higher Education Academy’s publication “Supporting Student E-portfolios” a resource shared with me today).

1 comment:

Ray Tolley said...

The matter of 'Legal Issues' is a result of introspection within the HE sector that I have often argued against.

JISC has done some excellent work on e-Portfolio thinking BUT, they think from a very isolationist point of view where their e-Portfolios are often used for institutional purposes like content delivery, PDP, ICT skills assessments etc.

Try stepping back and taking an independent view of an e-Portfolio as I did. Look at Dr Helen Barrett's work in terms of Lifelong, Lifewide Learning and Leisure. Consider the e-Portfolio as a tool for all, 5-95 or K to Grey.

There are less legal issues to face once one accepts that the e-Portfolio is firstly a showcase of one's own work - and thus no problems of IPR.

Secondly, and of particular reference to those users with less awareness of the problems, no personal data need be entered or disclosed until the user needs to pass on appropriate information to a potential employer etc. - and even then the selected audience can be given special access rights or permissions to see such data.

PS. I'd love to talk with you further on the whole topic of e-Portfolios or even give a presentation if you wish.

See some of my work at:

or contact me at: