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ELearning, Volume 2, Number 4, 2005 doi: 10.2304/elea.2005.2.4.

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E-portfolios and Digital Identity: some issues for discussion

MHAIRI MCALPINE Scottish Qualifications Authority, Glasgow, United Kingdom

E-Portfolios and Digital Identity: Issues for Discussion

ABSTRACT As awarding bodies modernise their procedures and incorporate elements of e-assessment into their qualifications, e-portfolios are emerging as a popular method of allowing candidates to display their abilities. All major United Kingdom awarding bodies now accept evidence from eportfolio products for at least some of their qualifications. Although there is a substantial body of emerging literature looking at how e-portfolios can be used and the practical implications of increasing provision, issues of identity and privacy with widespread use of e-portfolio products are rather less well explored. This article highlights the two dominant paradigms of e-portfolios eportfolio as assessment and e-portfolio as story before exploring the concept of identity, particularly in relation to authentication, within an e-portfolio. It also considers the concept of emplotment as defined by Ricoeur as a means of making sense of the narrative identity created. The article examines the implications and issues for awarding bodies associated with personal identity, privacy and surveillance which are raised by the widespread use of e-portfolios. It goes on to suggest some areas for further investigation and exploration.

Introduction As awarding bodies modernise their procedures and incorporate elements of e-assessment into their qualifications, e-portfolios are emerging as a popular method of allowing candidates to display their abilities (Smith & Grant, 2004). E-portfolios are defined in different ways by different people (e.g. Barrett, 2001; Truer and Jenson, 2003). However, these variations tend to be more related to uses and purposes than to essential features. As such, it is possible to identify the following five features that e-portfolios share. E-portfolios are:

an organised collection, comprised of digitised artefacts, seeking to provide an authentic record, related to an individuals status, particularly associated with learning, although may cover other areas. The vast majority of e-portfolios are provided by educational establishments, although some students have themselves set up their own personal ones. There are clear advantages associated with the use of e-portfolios, which are driving their popularity both with institutions and with students. Nonetheless, consideration must be given to the evidence gathered in them and the privacy issues surrounding them. This article is designed to initiate a debate on the future of e-portfolios and the identity issues surrounding them. E-portfolios have the capability to change the learning and assessment paradigms currently in place. However, the manner in which this is done is key to ensuring their success and benefits to learners, educational establishments and awarding bodies. Advantages and Identified Risks Associated with E-portfolios There are a number of key advantages to learners, educational establishments and awarding bodies associated with the introduction of eportfolios. The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has identified a number of these (McAlpine, 2004), which are leading the SQA towards the introduction of e-portfolios as a means of enhancing our assessment. Some of these advantages include: Increasing the validity of the assessment by allowing more forms of evidence to be incorporated. This raises the quality of our assessment and ensures that we are indeed giving accurate results and feedback to candidates. Non-traditional forms of evidence gathering such as audio or video logs; records of computer interaction, or communication and dialogue can also be held in an eportfolio,providing a richer and more valid collection of evidence. Improving the validity of assessment should be a key requirement in any reform. Increasing the accessibility of the assessment by allowing recording forms (such as video or audio material) to be easily incorporated, so that candidates who have additional requirements can easily provide evidence in an appropriate medium. This has important implications under the SENDA [1] legislation which, although it does not cover SQA explicitly, does cover educational establishments. Accessibility, however, goes beyond formal special

educational needs and can ensure that candidates can receive and present information in a way which best fits their personal preferences. Increasing the reliability of verification. Verifiers can see the same record of achievement as the original assessor, as they can have easy access to the whole portfolio, taking away barriers in transportation and storage. Storage issues are a common problem with existing portfolios, and candidates who have difficulty with record keeping, or a chaotic home life, may experience particular problems. Providing a central electronic resource for storage would be a great boon for those candidates and ensure that verifiers could get access to all of the evidence that they required. Improving the assessment process, in that a digital format is both an efficient storage system and a good method of managing data gathering. Furthermore, search and retrieval functionality for large or complex portfolios far exceeds anything that could be developed for a paper-based system. Additionally, the workflow process can be managed online eliminating the need for maintaining secondary logs of process data. Speeding up the appeals process. Electronic transfer is far quicker than the transfer of paper-based materials. As the evidence is already collated in one place, the use of e-portfolios would afford an opportunity to review the evidence much more quickly than in the current system. It should be noted that these advantages may not always work cumulatively. The increase in validity associated with the greater variety of media in which evidence can be stored may make for less uniform entities which may challenge the reliability of the assessment, and also the management process. This article has suggested that there are significant advantages for the assessment system in introducing e-portfolios. Beyond assessment, e-portfolios are also considered important tools for developing the learning process. Barrett (2005) explores their use for reflective learning and draws positive conclusions, indicating possibilities for their use as an employment tool providing an opportunity for reflective learning and as a document of the learning process. She also contrasts her view of the positivist paradigm of portfolio as test with her vision of a constructivist paradigm of portfolio as story, and argues that only through paying attention to both can a balanced assessment system result from e-portfolios. These multiple aspects of e-portfolios have found favour with those who wish

to develop a more comprehensive assessment system in the United States to complement the drive towards the standardised testing being used in the No Child Left Behind initiatives (Stefanakis, 2002). In this context, e-portfolios afford the opportunity to be used not just for assessment per se but also for a wider more evaluative use, aiding the learning in the process of assessment. As Barrett highlights, e-portfolios provide an opportunity for children to construct their own narrative, which can then be used for assessment purposes. This can enable a deeper and richer understanding of their learning, contrasting with the standardised nature of formal examinations; in the process, this may also aid childrens learning and self-reflective skills. Mhairi McAlpine 380 As can be seen from the above, there are good reasons to introduce eportfolios and significant advantages for candidates, centres, assessors and awarding bodies such as the SQA. The introduction of e-portfolios also has its associated risks, however. Shulman (1998) has identified five of these: that it becomes a self-advertisement; that unnecessary additional work is generated; that it becomes a general repository; that only best work is included; and that the evidence may become objectified. Additionally, Gill (2003) identified a number of threats related to the introduction of e-portfolios specifically within a qualifications framework. These included those risks which would affect the competition between learning providers; IT-related risks (including data protection, unwieldy file size and providing the hardware required to support this mode of assessment); the level of skills that the assessors would require; the motivation and skill of students in using the system; industrial standards requirements; the requirements of culture change; and the need for a top-down approach. She also noted that the value and status of endorsements by examination boards and regulatory bodies were taken note of by users. Her focus-group participants felt that this impact should be taken into account when these bodies endorse products and should require them to clarify the precise level of endorsement. Most of the evidence-based research looking at these developments has focused on evaluating the quality of the evidence (Tillema, 2001), the need to ensure validity and reliability (Moss et al,

2004), and the technical infrastructure required to facilitate this migration (Gill, 2003). Beyond these, however, there are questions of control and ownership over the content of the e-portfolio issues of access to the data and questions of identity and privacy, on which the literature is less well defined. Several researchers have highlighted the potential for an e-portfolio to become a virtual identity (e.g. Truer & Jenson, 2003). However, the implications of this have remained rather unexplored outside the more general context of data surveillance (e.g. Poster, 2001) or online learning (e.g. Land & Bayne, 2002). Identity Real and Virtual The ability to see oneself as separate from the world around one develops at around three months (Rochat & Striano, 2002) while the concept of self-identity the ability to recognise an image of oneself and see it as distinct from others develops at around 15 months (Lewis & Brookes-Gunn, 1979). The concept of global self-worth, which integrates domain-specific self-concepts, does not develop until between five (Flavell, 2000) and eight years (Harter, 1999). From eight until adolescence, the internalisation of social roles and incorporating them into a global self-concept continues, while at adolescence, it would appear that a major identity crisis emerges (Erikson, 1968), together with a lowering of self-esteem (Rosenberg, 1986). Thus, in the years covered by the Scottish Curricular Guidelines (3-14) and the Scottish National Qualifications Framework, childrens self-identity is still developing. Although major stages of identity development are characterised by the integration of separate identity threads into a coherent whole (e.g. Erikson, 1968; Harter, 1999; Flavell, 2000), and multiple identities are frequently thought of as a medical problem because of the popularisation in the 1960s of Multiple Personality Disorder (more commonly known now as Disassociative Identity Disorder ), it would appear that it is, at least to some extent, normal to have multiple adult identities. In studying gender, race, sexuality and class, researchers (e.g. Gonsiorek & Rudolph, 1991; Hall, 1992; hooks, 1994) have noted that people perceive their identities in different ways where there is a clash between their personal habitus and the field in which they operate, leading to the development of differing identities which fit the context in which they are operating. People have different identities associated with multiple roles. These roles are generally played out within differing physical or temporal spaces, leaving the choice of how much to reveal about the other identity to the individual who inhabits it.

Within cyberspace, self-presentation is to some extent controlled by the individual. However, as Suler (1996) notes, aspects of personality which are not consciously presented leak due to the intimacy of the medium. Suler (1998) also notes that cyberspace is perceived by teenagers as a safe environment to explore issues with their identity and self-perception; however, it is noted both that there are many areas of the Web which are unsafe and unsettling, and that there is a tendency fordeviant behaviour to manifest itself in cyberspace. The illusion of anonymity which it affords may encourage this particularly in adolescents who are exploring identity issues (Suler & Phillips,1998; Suler, 2004). Children and in particular teenagers are well represented on the Internet. However, from the discussion above it is clear that they do not always consider the implications of what they write in a virtual forum, they do not have the self-awareness to consider how their actions are presented in the same manner as an adult user, nor do they consider the reader in the same manner as in reallife situations. As such they are not always protective of their privacy or reputation in the same way that an adult may be. This has important implications should we encourage students to use technologies which may result in them inadvertently exposing emotions, behaviours or interactions that they would normally keep in a private or ephemeral space. Where e-portfolios may be encapsulated as part of a safe domain either as a segregated part of the Net, or as part of a school virtual learning environment (VLE) system this issue may be circumvented to some extent. However, there are a number of systems which allow and even encourage public sharing of information, and if portfolio evidence may be used in external assessment, by definition there must be external access to at least parts of it. Furthermore, the advantages that the ability and ease with which one can publish or share this information with peers, teachers, examiners or others can bring are clear, and may well outweigh the risks. Nevertheless, there has to be an awareness of both the potential of accidental identity exposure and the rights of children to deem parts of their identity private and to control who has access to such information. Identification, Authentication and Data Surveillance Roger Clarke (1994a), looking at how people may be identified within technological systems, argues that an identity is quite different from an entity. A real-world entity, such as a human, may have multiple identities which inhabit aspects of themselves. In cyberspace as well as in the real

world, there may be only one entity which has multiple identities associated with it, and as such, the issue becomes authentication rather than identification checking that the data which is being presented does indeed associate itself with the real-world entity that it says that it does. Ito (2002) goes further, suggesting that authentication need not reveal the entity behind the identity, but merely authorise access regardless of the entity behind the information.
Most people believe that identity is simply ones name, age, sex and address. In fact, we all have multiple identities that are aspects of the entity which is unique human being flesh and blood that we are Identities can be roles such as shareholder, officer, rape victim or spouse. Identities are identified by identifiers. Some identifiers require the authentication of the entity whereas some identities can be authenticated by uniforms, passwords, secret hand-shakes or other identifiers which do not expose the entity behind the identity. It is essential to consider the issue of identity independently from the issue of authentication of the entity. (Ito, 2002, p. 246)

The analogous situation in cyberspace is considered by Clarke (1994b) through invoking the Jungian dualism of anima/persona, where the anima is the entity and there are digital personae created from their data trails. He considers the creation of digital personae by individuals and the rise of data surveillance particularly through matching personae on the basis of common identifier(s) and profiling, where a set of characteristics are generated for particular purposes and data holdings are searched for digital personae who fit those characteristics. He identifies ten dangers to the individual and twelve dangers to society through the rise of data surveillance and its consequent chance of matching the digital persona to the real-life entity. Lyon (1994) explores the surveillance methods and concludes that the popular surveillance imagery of Orwells Nineteen Eighty Four, comprising the centralisation of surveillance power and the two-way transmission of information, became dated as that decade came to a close. Instead, a growing metaphor for the new dataveillance made possible by computers is that of Benthams panopticon (1995 [1787]), explored by Foucault (1983), who regarded it as a method of internalising social control. The asymmetry of power the observer who can see everything yet is not himself seen was considered by him to be the essence of power, resting on the differential possession of knowledge.

In response to these concerns about digital privacy and surveillance, Cameron (2005) defines seven laws of identity which, he claims, define the set of objective dynamics that constrain the definition of an identity system capable of being widely enough accepted that it can enable distributed computing on a universal scale. Cameron argues that people are sufficiently concerned about their digital identity to take steps to protect it and that only systems which adequately protect the user and their identity/ies will be widely adopted. These laws are: The law of control. Technical identity systems must only reveal information identifying a user with the users consent. The law of minimal disclosure. The solution which discloses the least identifying information is the most stable long-term solution. The law of fewest parties. Technical identity systems must be designed so that the disclosure of identifying information is limited to parties having a necessary and justifiable place in a given identity relationship. The law of directed identity. A universal identity system must support both omni-directional identifiers for use by public entities and unidirectional identifiers for use by private entities. The law of pluralism. A universal identity system must channel and enable the inter-working of multiple identity technologies run by multiple identity providers. The law of human integration. The universal identity system must define the human user to be a component of the distributed system, integrated through unambiguous humanmachine communications mechanisms offering protection against identity attacks. The law of contexts. The unifying identity meta-system must facilitate negotiation between a relying party (a service that consumes the identity given in order to give access) and user of a specific identity presenting a harmonious human and technical interface while permitting the autonomy of identity in different contexts. Further details of the laws and a more detailed definition together with links to the discussion which developed them can be found in Camerons blog (Cameron, 2005).

These seven laws, Cameron claims, form an objective set of criteria to which any system that seeks to be accepted as a backbone of identity-related distributed computing must conform, in order to be widely accepted and adopted. Although these laws have been developed particularly in the light of sophisticated technology, well beyond that which e-portfolio systems are currently capable of delivering, it is always difficult to predict how systems will develop and how sophisticated they or their users may become. Tosh & Werdmuller (2004a) indicate how e-portfolios may be integrated with other technologies such as weblogs to create more powerful systems, and speculate (Tosh & Werdmuller, 2004b) about the potential for the integration of further social software into eportfolios and the benefits to be gained. Moves towards this have already been implemented with the alpha release of ELGG ( an e-portfolio system which integrates key elements of social software into the system. There are clear indications that e-portfolio products are becoming more sophisticated, and there is no reason to suppose that this trend will lessen. In the interests of future-proofing, these laws have clear implications as we move from an experimental phase of eportfolio provision to one in which we hope candidates can take their e-portfolio with them throughout their learning lives. Of course some of these laws may need to be breached in the interim, but an awareness of them and recognition of where they are breached for practical and developmental reasons will ensure that we address them as soon as it becomes technically and practically possible. E-portfolios and Narrative Identity
Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts. (Rushdie, 1991)

The narrative aspect of e-portfolios as story suggests a self-constructed identity portrayed through the e-portfolio. Ricoeur (1995) defines the concept of emplotment as a process by which an individual gathers together actions (or ante-narratives experiences, events or symbols that are not coherent enough to form a plot on their own) and puts them together into a story line.

This story line is read by both the self and others, which then intersects with the actions and the plots to form new stories. Narrative identity is formed of these three phases of construction: action, emplotment and reflection, bound in a linear temporal framework forming a hermeneutic. Ricoeur also looks at two aspects of identity identity as self, and identity as same and argues that the formation of a narrative identity is the process by which the two are integrated and reformatted to a new temporal frame of reference of past, present and future. If we look to e-portfolios, we can see the three phases as: the action that has been bound in the entry; the entry that is formed; and the reflection which develops together with the feedback which students receive. The portfolio as a whole becomes a virtual narrative identity, developing over time, with actions and plots (entries) mediated in the light of reflection and feedback. The initial temporal framework is pre-set with the dating of uploads, although the new framework is less determined. In what Jarrett (2004) calls database subjectivity in her explorations of blogging,
the database does not work by constituting a modern subject, aware of his/her transcendent and unique interior consciousness. Instead it produces identities which can be dispersed across numerous sites, but pulled together temporarily through the particular filter or search function in operation at the time. (Jarrett, 2004)

There is also a difference between the narrative identity embodied in the individual as described by Ricoeur and the narrative identity embodied in the portfolio. In an individual the power to recast stories remains within the individual, who is free to reshape actions in the light of reflection, to construct new plots which over-power the old, and present them in a new temporal framework. However, in portfolios, the process of emplotment is laid bare through the reflective comments and feedback that is presented, and the power over temporal structuring is undermined by database structure, which affords equal value given to all entries. Nonetheless, the ability to create dominant narratives does provide an opportunity to provide a qualitative level to the data, thereby controlling the identity far more than traditional forms of assessment data held such as raw scores, grades or certificates. One form of qualitative data which has traditionally been held consists of report cards, where instructors comment on the

achievements of their pupils. These are mostly hidden from public view, although they do remain visible throughout schooling. Increasingly, schools have been allowing children to comment on the report, but it is clear that the focus of control has been with the teacher. With e-portfolios, that control has the potential to transfer back to the student, allowing them to dictate the narration. Structuring, such as the elements of a qualification, can provide a narrative template to be followed and support the student in both the development of their work and also in its presentation. Flexibility in the structure can allow alternative presentations, either for different qualifications, to tailor for a potential employer, or to draw together themes for informing future paths thus allowing multiple identities and control over the narration. The Responsibilities of Awarding Bodies and the Legislative Context In the United Kingdom, awarding bodies have a pivotal role as gatekeepers of access to both highereducation and the vocations (Dearing, 1997); an arbiter of enhanced social and economic status, they have an ambiguous relationship to the State (QCA, 2002; Tomlinson, 2002). Most are publicly funded at least in part but are not directly accountable to the public. Rather, they report to government departments, and receive their funding indirectly through examination fees rather than block grants. In Scotland we have the SQA a single examination body which provides most f the assessment to Scottish schools and the majority of the assessment in Scottish Further Education which affords a rational approach to initiative development. In England, however, there are a number of examination bodies which compete for candidates in a quasi-market system, leading to a diversity of provision and a desire to be in the forefront of technological development. In a time when the relationship between the government and the individual is the subject of some debate, awarding bodies must consider their responsibilities to protect the privacy of their candidates, particularly in the current legislative context. There is some concern over the amount of data surveillance that is currently undertaken by the United Kingdom government, and over the powers that have been created to gain information, particularly with those under 19 years of age. The Children Act (2004) has provision for the establishment of a database of all children in England and Wales, while a second database holds records of all children who come into contact with social services for any reason. The Learning and Skills Act (2000) provides for a database of all 13-19 year olds and although consent is required for data-sharing, once this is given there are no limits on the type, quantity or extent of this. While children, as others, have privacy rights under the Data Protection Act (1998), these are undermined by provisions in the National Health Service Act (1977); the

Childrens Act (1989); the Education Act (1996); the Crime and Disorder Act (1998); the Local Government Act (2000); and the Learning and Skills Act (2000). Furthermore, there are more generalised concerns over privacy and information sharing with the proposed introduction of a National Identity Register (Identity Cards Bill, 2004). Other than the data that the government itself collects, it has also passed a raft of legislation that enables the government to access data collected by other public bodies, private entities or individuals. The Terrorism Act (2000), the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000), the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act (2001) and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Communications Data) Order (2003) together place duties on public bodies as well as private individuals to share data under certain provisions, with penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment for individual non-compliance. E-portfolios, by their nature, are designed to be repositories for all kinds of personal data and provide a shadow of the entity behind the screen. While the data gathering and information sharing, which the above legislation provides for, only capture objective facts, access to the contents of an e-portfolio could give out more about the subjective life of the entity. There is a view currently being expressed that
the education landscape of the future will see learners develop portfolios of their learning achievements, not just for formal learning outcomes, in electronic form. These will form the basis not only of their learner records, but also of their CVs, applications for both further learning and work, and their career decisions. These portfolios will need to be transferable not only across institutions but also across sectors. (JISC/BECTA, 2004)

This statement indicates that there is a vision of the same portfolio being used from when children enter state-provided education, between three and five years old, through to university and on to adult learning and professional development. The narrative aspect of e-portfolios as story has the potential to create selfconstructed identities portrayed through the e-portfolio, weaving an individuals learning and feedback to provide a reflection of who they are and what they have learned. However, this process may

require the inclusion of sub-optimal work such as the first draft of an essay or the reflection that the individual had missed the point of a science lesson. In order for this to be forthcoming, students must be confident in their power to control the narrative. The use of an e-portfolio for assessment purposes encourages candidates to provide evidence of their achievements and interests. However, in doing so they create a powerful reflection of themselves a paper trail of their subjective selves, their activities and achievements in a manner which would not normally be done, except perhaps through private small family collections of photographs and mementos. Although this may not directly impact on children as such, it has heavy implications for the adults they will become as Andre Bacard pointed out,
If I wanted tocreate a surveillance society, I would start by compiling dossiers on kindergarten children so that the next generation could not comprehend a world without surveillance (Bacard, 1996).

The existence of such a record also creates problems with child protection considerable amounts of personal information may be included in an e-portfolio, including small and personal details and photographs that may locate the candidate geographically. Information may also be included which may indicate the vulnerability of a child; the fears of the child; the routine of the child; and ways in which to win them over. In the United Kingdom, concerns have already been expressed by Local Education Authorities about the availability of multimedia images of pupils (Scotland on Sunday, 2002), while the Home Office seeks to raise parental awareness of child safety on the Internet and warns about the dangers of making geographic data publicly available (Home Office, 2004). It should be ensured that any data collected, generated or distributed by or about children does not undermine the safety advice that is currently being distributed, or the protective policy measures that Local Education Authorities currently have in place. E-portfolio data must be carefully protected by all authorities which are involved in the provision of such facilities to children and adolescents they need to monitor the forms of information which are publicly available, to ensure that information which is not to be shared is held securely and that those who are authorised to have access to non-public information use it in an appropriate manner. Consideration should be given to developing procedures to ensure that

access to candidate material, particularly of those under the age of 16, is only given to appropriate people. Some level of vetting may be required to ensure this. Security of candidates personal information is something which must be considered high on the list of priorities. Conclusions There are a number of implementation options for awarding bodies that are seeking to encourage the use of e-portfolio systems with their centres. The SQA is currently considering four possible options (McAlpine, 2004): fitting in with a wider scheme of electronic data collection; providing an SQA e-portfolio that candidates could log into in order to upload information that they wanted to submit for assessment; working with centres and vendors to accredit portfolio products as acceptable for submitting work for summative assessment; or accepting eportfolio evidence regardless of the system in which it is presented, if it meets pre-defined standards. A key consideration in the development of an e-portfolio strategy should be the responsibilities that awarding bodies have, in conjunction with their centres. It should be made clear who the owner of any data within an e-portfolio is whether it is the candidate, the centre or the awarding body. Within the United Kingdom it must be established what rights the awarding body has to release it to a third party, what obligations there are under the Terrorism Act (2000), the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000), the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act (2001) and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Communications Data) Order (2003) to release held data, and what the rights and responsibilities of e-portfolio holders in other countries are. In encouraging the use of e-portfolios with children and adolescents, it should be borne in mind that their sense of self-identity is not as well developed as that of adults, nor is their self-awareness and sense of audience as keen. Although students need to control the data, its release and its presentation, some support may be required for them to do this effectively. It should be ensured that awarding bodies do not require evidence that may be compromising, either psychologically or physically. They should work to ensure the safety of their candidates through existing vetting procedures and regulation of released information. The

ability of a candidate to present him or herself in different ways to different audiences is a skill which should be nurtured by encouraging the use of selected sub-sets of data, rather than the full presentation of the e-portfolio, and children should be educated about their right to privacy and the need to protect their digital personae. The concerns raised by Clarke (1994a, b) must be taken seriously as awarding bodies start to request, demand or hold information on candidates. The work of Cameron (2005) may suggest appropriate technologies and developmental models which can ensure both candidate data protection and also a popular and well-adopted system. Furthermore, as potential holders of information on candidates, which implies responsibilities under various pieces of recent legislation, awarding bodies should both clarify their legal position as well as have an active input into the development of any further legislation in this area. The potential of e-portfolios is immense in terms of enhancing the validity and authenticity of candidate assessment as well as assisting learning. However, awarding bodies must be aware of the power that lies behind that potential and ensure that they safeguard it carefully. Note
[1] The United Kingdom Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001, which establishes legal rights for disabled students in pre- and post-16 education.

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MHAIRI MCALPINE is currently a project manager in the Computer Assisted Assessment Team in the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). She has published widely on assessment both generally and in an online context. Her current interests are in the technical specifications of question and test construction, e-portfolios, item banking and the use of social software in assessment. As part of the SQA, she works closely with colleagues in schools, colleges and universities to ensure a smooth introduction of computer-enhanced assessment to increase the

validity and reliability of the qualifications offered. She has served on the Steering Group for the International Computer Assisted Assessment Conference since 2004 and currently sits on the Association of Learning Technology Conference (ALT-C) Programme Committee. Correspondence: Mhairi McAlpine, Scottish Qualifications Authority, Hanover House, 24 Douglas Street, Glasgow G2 7NQ, United Kingdom (