AAEEBL Digital Ethics Principles: version 1

Principle 1: Support

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

ABSTRACT: 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. 

Strategies for applying this principle include…

  • Adequately funding and evenly distributing the responsibility for developing, teaching, and assessing ePortfolios throughout the 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.
  • 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 a student. You are excited to attend your first capstone course meeting for graduating students. On the first day, the educator explains that you will be creating an ePortfolio that will both document your learning from your coursework and showcase your professional experiences to employers and graduate schools in your field. 

She projects example ePortfolios from previous years and asks the class to analyze them in groups. You are new to ePortfolios and would like to participate in this well-planned first day activity, but you are blind and the educator has not considered how you can view the projected ePortfolios. When you ask about the platform’s ability to interface with screen readers, the educator replies nervously that she has not been asked to consider this before. You feel anxious about your 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.


    1. Jones, B., & Leverenz, C. (2017). Building personal brands with digital storytelling ePortfolios. International Journal of EPortfolio, 7(1), 67–91.
    2. Newman, T., Beetham, H., & Knight, S. (2018). Digital experience insights survey 2018: Findings from students in UK further and higher education (p. 76). 
    3. 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. 
    4. Slade, C., & Tsai, J. (2018). Building connections through integrated ePortfolio curriculum. 2018 EPortfolio Forum EBook of Short Papers, 50–56. 
    5. The University of Queensland. (n.d.). Digital essentials. Library.

This document was created by the AAEEBL Digital Ethics Task Force: Amy Cicchino (Auburn University), Megan Haskins (Auburn University), Megan Crowley-Watson (Edward Waters College), Elaine Gray (Appalachian State University), Morgan Gresham (University of South Florida), Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand), Kevin Kelly (San Francisco State University), Megan Mize (Old Dominion University), Christine Slade (University of Queensland), Heather Stuart (Auburn University), and Sarah Zurhellen (Appalachian State University)

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