Tuesday, April 08, 2008

 

Digital Identity & ePortfolios

Eifel is sponsoring a conference in Montreal in May 2008 entitled, "ePortfolio & Digital Identity." Serge Ravet of Eifel has recently written a blog entry entitled, "The ePortfolio is dead? Long life to Digital Identity!" I think the way Serge conceptualized the ePortfolio is more like my concept of the Working Portfolio, or the Digital Archive for Life. Below are Serge Ravet's 2004 metaphors as listed on my Portfolio Metaphors page:
These metaphors go far beyond the concept of a portfolio as "a purposeful collection of work that demonstrates efforts, progress and achievement" over time. So, giving that list of services a new name is fine with me... but I don't think the ePortfolio itself is dead! Just the conceptual definition that Eifel held in 2004. I have always seen two elements of ePortfolio development:
The research that I have conducted since 2004, where I have recreated my portfolio with now 34 different tools, services, or software (my Online Portfolio Adventure) really focused on the ePortfolio as Product or Presentation. All of my artifacts were stored on my web server or one of my online services, such as my .Mac account. My most recent study, looking at different online storage services, plus this blog (my own eDOL), represents the concept of the Working Portfolio, or ePortfolio as Process.

As more companies begin to offer online storage or lock boxes, such as Wells Fargo, Microsoft, Google (medical records right now), Amazon's S3, IBM, and a host of other online storage services, we need to find another term that incorporates all of these purposes. What would be the unifying concept of Eifel's former ePortfolio services, Wells Fargo's digital safe deposit box, Europass' universal CV or online personal health records? I'm not sure I like the word identity in the context of the Working Portfolio, because it will be further misunderstood (just as the term ePortfolio has been). The term identity is used in a variety of other contexts, such as identity theft (criminology), identity development (sociology and psychology), corporate identity (business), etc. Within the context of portfolios in education, perhaps a better term to use would be "digital archive" or "lifetime personal web space" or just plain online storage.

I do see the larger picture that Serge proposes:
If modern education consists in developing one's identity, then digital education must become one of the priorities of education, along with physical or moral education.... But the challenge to tackle from now on is not the simple use of ePortfolio any more, but digital identity education. We now all have a digital identity, even if we are not aware of it.
That is certainly a provocative statement, subject to further debate. I've never viewed the use of an ePortfolio as simple. Perhaps that is because the more I learn about ePortfolio development, the more I see its complexity. I agree that young learners need to be good "digital citizens" and be more aware of the consequences of their online activities. ISTE has made Digital Citizenship one of the new National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). I am excited to continue this debate in Montreal.

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