e-portfolios – what are the risks?

It seems that many project teams are interested in implementing e-portfolios this year but few if any have included issues surrounding e-portfolios as part of their risk management strategy. 

The first issue that comes to my mind is the issue of learner privacy.  I acknowledge how effective e-portfolios are as a tool to assist learners to collect evidence and present it to their facilitator to demonstrate levels of competency – there is absolutely no question around their usefulness. My main concern is that e-portfolios collect private information about the learner; even though the learner has some control over what is included in their e-portfolio the question must be asked ‘who else has access to this information?’

E-learning strategies that involve e-portfolios must take into consideration the sensitive nature of the information collected in an e-portfolio and how this can best be managed.  It is crucial that your learners are fully aware of the risks involved in keeping information in an online environment, who has access to it, and what type of content should included or excluded from their e-portfolio.

One way to manage your risk is to develop a privacy plan for your organization. In this plan you must clearly identify what the risks are, how your learner’s will be informed of the risk, who owns the content in the e-portfolio (remember your learner’s are creating this as a result of an enrolment in one of your training programs) and what will happen to it after the course is over.

Another issue that presents itself is the opportunity for an e-portfolio to be ‘hacked into’ or the learner’s identity stolen.  Your risk management strategy must carefully consider this and ensure that security measures are implemented to prevent this from happening.

I hope this post has started you thinking of some potential risk.  There are some useful resources available to assist you with the management and implementation of e-portfolios.  Please visit http://www.flexiblelearning.net.au/content/e-portfolios-4 for more information and access to some free resources.

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