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Digital Ethics in ePortfolios with Kristina Hoeppner and Kevin Kelly

Welcome to Episode 111 of the Think UDL podcast: Digital Ethics in ePortfolios with Kristina Hoeppner and Kevin Kelly. Kristina Hoeppner, M.A., is the project lead for the open source portfolio platform Mahara, working at Catalyst IT in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington in Aotearoa New Zealand. She traded hemispheres and careers in 2010 and enjoys supporting and working with the New Zealand and worldwide community of educators, learning designers, and education innovators in both formal and informal learning settings to create positive and supportive learning environments. Since 2019, she has been a member of the (Association for Authentic, Experiential, & Evidence-Based Learning) AAEEBL Task Force on Digital Ethics in ePortfolios and, since 2021, a member of the Executive Committee of FLANZ (Flexible Learning Association New Zealand). In September 2022, Kristina started the podcast ’Create. Share. Engage.’ in which she interviews members of the portfolio community to share their stories in a contemporary medium, making these stories accessible beyond academic articles and conference presentations. Kevin Kelly, EdD, works with colleges and universities as a consultant to address distance education, educational technology, and organizational challenges. He also teaches online courses in the Department of Equity, Leadership Studies, and Instructional Technologies at San Francisco State University, where he also previously served as the Online Teaching and Learning Manager. Kevin is a member of the AAEEBL Board of Directors and the AAEEBL Task Force on Digital Ethics in ePortfolios. He co-authored with Todd Zakrajsek the 2021 Stylus book, Advancing Online Teaching: Creating Equity-Based Digital Learning Environments which is featured in episode 55 of the Think UDL podcast. In today’s podcast my guests explain the ethics of ePortfolios and how they are aligned with UDL principles. It turns out, there is a lot of overlap between the two! Kevin, Kristina, and their colleagues on the task force have done all of the heavy lifting so that you don’t have to, and you’ll find links to the digital ethics for ePortfolios on the Think UDL web page for this episode.


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students, learning, portfolio, principles, ethics, UDL, create, accessibility, learner, technology, digital, instructor, educators, eportfolio


Kristina Hoeppner, Kevin Kelly, Lillian Nave

Lillian Nave  00:02

Welcome to Think UDL, the Universal Design for Learning podcast where we hear from the people who are designing and implementing strategies with learner variability in mind. I’m your host, Lillian Nave, and I’m interested in not just what you’re teaching, learning, guiding, and facilitating, but how you design and implement it and why it even matters.

Lillian Nave  00:42

Welcome to episode 111 of the Think UDL podcast, digital ethics in ePortfolios, with Kristina Hoeppner and Kevin Kelly. Kristina Hoeppner is the Project Lead for the open source portfolio platform Mahara, working at Catalyst IT in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington in Aotearoa New Zealand. She traded hemispheres and careers in 2010 and enjoys supporting and working with New Zealand and worldwide community of educators, learning designers, and education innovators in both formal and informal learning settings to create positive and supportive learning environments. Since 2019, she’s been a member of the Association for Authentic, Experiential, and Evidence-Based Learning or AAEEBL T Task Force on Digital Ethics in ePortfolios, and since 2021, a member of the Executive Committee of FLANZ (Flexible Learning Association of New Zealand). In September of 2022, Kristina started the podcast ‘Create. Share. Engage.’, in which she interviews members of the portfolio community to share their stories in a contemporary medium, making these stories accessible beyond academic articles and conference presentations.

Lillian Nave  02:05

Kevin Kelly works with colleges and universities as a consultant to address distance education, educational technology, and organizational challenges. He also teaches online courses in the Department of Equity, Leadership Studies, and Instructional Technologies at San Francisco State University, where he also previously served as the Online Teaching and Learning Manager. Kevin is a member of the AAEEBL Board of Directors and the AAEEBL Task Force on Digital Ethics in ePortfolios. He co-authored with Todd Zakrajsek the 2021 Stylus book, ‘Advancing Online Teaching: Creating Equity Based Digital Learning Environments’, which is featured in Episode 55 of the Think UDL podcast if you want to go back and listen to that one.

Lillian Nave  02:55

In today’s podcasts, my guests explain the ethics of ePortfolios and how they are aligned with UDL principles. It turns out there is a lot of overlap between the two. Kevin, Kristina, and their colleagues on the task force have done all of the heavy lifting so that you don’t have to, and you’ll find links to the digital ethics for ePortfolios on the Think UDL webpage for this episode.

Lillian Nave  03:23

Thank you to our sponsor Texthelp, a global technology company helping people all over the world to understand and to be understood. It has led the way in creating innovative technology for the workplace and education sectors, including K-12, right through to higher education for the last three decades.

Lillian Nave  03:46

Well welcome both Kevin Kelly and Kristina Hoeppner. I’m very glad to welcome you both to the podcast, Kevin back for a third time and Kristina for a bang up first time, I’m really excited to talk to you both about what you’ve done with ethics and ePortfolios. So let me start off with Kristina and ask you the question I ask my guests, which is what makes you a different kind of learner?

Kristina Hoeppner  04:12

Thank you for this question, Lillian. It actually prompted me to reflect a bit more deeply on who I am as a learner than just kind of knowing my preferences that I have. So kind of really being talking with people and not just at learning by myself online. And I think at the core, I’m into camps. So on the one hand, I’m the bee, who flies from flower to flower, gathering nectar and helping the next generation of plants to grow and then also supporting its hive. On the other hand, I see myself kind of as an emperor penguin, who can dive deep into the ocean to find nourishment, brings the food back to the surface, and then she has it with their family. And while they of course, other animals that can dive much, much deeper into the ocean, I kind of like the emperor penguin because they do live in colonies, and so they, they share, they work together, and they live together because for me, it is important that I can share what I have learned, often also teach it to others, which then helps me understand ideas, concepts, and technology better.

Lillian Nave  05:30

Fantastic. That’s a very different answer that I’ve heard a lot of answers over 100, and that’s the first I’ve had with two different metaphors, the bee and the emperor penguin. So I love it, it’s so much in community as well. And, Kevin, I’ve already asked you about what makes you a different kind of learner. So I’m gonna actually go on to another question for you. And then ask my guests, if they want to find out the answer, they’ve gonna have to listen to our previous episodes [laughs]. But I wanted to ask you about what we’re talking about today and what prompted the creation of these Digital Ethics in ePortfolios Principles that we’re going to talk about today.

Kevin Kelly  06:13

So both Kristina and I are active members of the Association for Authentic, Experiential, and Evidence-Based Learning, the longest acronym in the world, AAEEBL, And as part of that community, in 2019, actually, the group that leading the conference in July, held a forum session designed to interactively engage the conference attendees in identifying issues, questions, reference materials, and resources related to digital ethics and ePortfolios because it had arisen as kind of a big topic of conversation back then. And so they had discussions ranging from theoretical to pragmatic, and they also wanted to make sure they touched on not just how do we support students, but how do we support educators, staff who support educators, campus leaders, and even folks who work at ePortfolio platform providers, so that we’re looking at the whole ecosystem of stakeholders. And you could probably extend that even further to family members and employers and others who review ePortfolios, as well as produce or develop them. And so the community at that forum asked for practical guidelines. So as a follow-up, the AAEEBL leaders launched a task force to begin the work of crafting useful principles that would work for those different stakeholder groups identified earlier. And similar to the UDL principles, the digital ethics principles wanted to be that highly practical nature. So they give concrete strategies, they have specific scenarios of what they look like for different stakeholders. So they can see themselves in the picture as opposed to trying to extrapolate from some abstract idea that’s encapsulated in one pithy sentence.

Lillian Nave  08:09

Yeah. Right. So this has been going on for quite a while since 2019. So here we are recording in 2023. This has been a lot of years and thought going into this.

Kevin Kelly  08:20

So we are in the tail end of year four of the Ethics Task Force, the Digital Ethics Task Force that was spun up, and each year, we get ready to kind of share what we’ve worked on over the academic year in July at the conference, and then we kick off a new year with how are we going to bring this forward in new ways. In some cases that has been to develop further principles; in between in year two, we added principles to the mix, n year three, we looked at ways that we could increase our outreach because people loved them, but not many people knew about them. And this year four, we’ve been actually even engaging in research around different aspects related to the principles. So it keeps growing, and we constantly touch back to the principles to make sure that they’re not only accessible with respect to people using assistive technology, but also people can access them in different ways.

Lillian Nave  09:23

Wow, fantastic. And I – every time I get a chance to speak with you, you have so much that goes into every thing, every point, every principle, and looking at all of our digital ethics for the ePortfolios, I just see so much research that’s gone into it in the last five years. So I was really excited to dig into them because there’s so much overlap. And let me ask my first question, I’ll start with you, Kevin, with the very major overlap with universal design for learning and the digital ethics in ePortfolios and the first one, and I’m gonna pull up his accessibility. So tell me more about why accessibility is so important as a digital ethics for ePortfolios.

Kevin Kelly  10:10

Absolutely, you’re right that there is major overlap, and the Venn diagram is like almost a, what do you call it, a lunar eclipse [laughs]. And so, so many UDL principles suggest providing alternate pathways to present topics, creating multiple pathways for students to engage or communicate, minimizing distractions, if they have attention challenges, and all that good stuff. So the digital ethics principles, and the one and related accessibility in particular, asks different stakeholders to consider similar strategy as they support all students completing projects that can be showcased through an ePortfolio. And so often people think of ePortfolios as kind of a culminating activity, but really, it’s a growth experience where students are showing their work at different stages, to different audiences. So they could show a draft to their peers, a final product to an instructor for a grade, and then a polished product that incorporates instructor feedback to a prospective employer, all using the same tool, but maybe with different reflections, and they all need to consider those who’s consuming this material? Is this in an accessible format?

Kevin Kelly  11:24

And so some of the principles ask faculty and staff to make accessibility a consideration when they adopt the platforms, but then the students need to know about accessibility, so that they can be part of the solution. So that when they’re creating videos, you know, when I have my own students use Flip, as a tool to create small two or three minute videos, I also in the instructions for the assignment, share the link to the tutorial where they can go and edit their captions that are automatically generated because they’re good, but they’re not perfect. And we want to make sure that they meet the accessibility standards that are set up by our campuses and such. And so really this principle of accessibility in the digital ethics sense, is  of looking at it in a broad sense of what responsibilities we have to make sure that everyone can participate.

Lillian Nave  12:16

Yeah, and one of the things I’ve been thinking about really recently is how are our students going to make accessible documents or, you know, hand things into us, unless we are teaching them. We need to be doing that, and as you said, make it part of the assignment that, okay, you’re handing in your annotated bibliography, make sure it has headings, make sure it is on an accessible document, and that a screen reader could read it. And I haven’t seen that as part of assignments very much. And now I’m making that a part of everything that I’m doing so that when – so that means when they upload it or put it into their ePortfolio, you’ve got fewer steps then, too, right, bake it into the beginning?

Kevin Kelly  13:04

Absolutely. And we have just again, to touch back on how these digital ethics principles are constructed. The principle at the top is supported by a rationale and then a small number of strategies, and then these concrete scenarios of what it looks like. And one of the scenarios for accessibility involves modeling how students should create alternative text for images that they use to demonstrate that they’ve met the learning objectives and things like that. And for something like a student in my class, this term, created an infographic, which was really complex. So it had a lot of text, and I told them about how to create descriptive, long text, so that he could not worry about how to encapsulate such a big weighty image in 10 words or less [laughs].

Lillian Nave  13:53

Yeah, yeah, it’s so important. And I’m seeing a slow shift, but a shift that’s beginning that now all of our producers, if we’re making producers of content, that’s what we want our students to be is creators of content rather than just consumers, we’ve got to be teaching how to make those pieces of content, those examples to be accessible from the beginning, rather than oh, now like you said, the infographic, we’ve got to redo it, we’ve got to change it, to make it comply with you know who your audience is. What happens if you have not just a student, you have another professor or you have somebody who you’re going to be working for one day or you’ve got somebody right out in the job world who wants to see what you’re doing, and they might need an accessible format in order to understand what you’ve done.

Kristina Hoeppner  14:43

I think also, one point is that I’ve seen it more recently is that I think we need to get it into our muscle memory. Because of course in a way, yes, it’s – it might be a bit more work to add an alt text to an image and when you are rushed, you may not want to do it immediately and think you can go back. But how often do we actually go back? And so if we make it part of the workflow that when we use an image, there’s automatically in our text added or a caption, and when we create a video or a recording of something, we automatically also make it part of the workflow, of the whole task to also create a transcript. And when creating the transcript, then also have it done as live – as captions. Because we do have the technology available to help with that so that we don’t manually have to put in all the timestamps, yet still correct the automatic captioning. And I think, yeah, that is really important that we don’t see it as this extra bit, but it’s just part of what is expected, like it’s part of creating a table of contents when an essay is turned in that it does have a reference list and that it does have chapters or different sections, so why not also in regards to accessibility?

Lillian Nave  16:05

Absolutely, I totally agree with that. And I’m glad our listeners are hearing that, and I’m sure many of them have been proponents of this for quite a while. But I think we need to be spreading this word to other fellow instructors, lecturers, as they are now teaching this in their courses. So Kristina, let me follow up and ask about another principle. The first one I want to ask you about is similar, but it’s ‘Technology and Usability’, also very much related to Universal Design for Learning. And so can you tell me more about this ethic in the context of the ePortfolios?

Kristina Hoeppner  16:47

Lillian, as you said, it is very similar to accessibility, and therefore a nice lead over into the second principle because of course, when we talk about ePortfolios, technology is often at the forefront of our thinking because ‘e’ in this context, typically means ‘electronic’, though, there are also other possibilities of what that ‘e’ could be. And that’s why, yeah, technology and relatedly usability is so important to consider when creating portfolios. Of course, we could just continue with the conversation around accessibility since that is a huge part of usability and that I think also shows nicely that the principles that we have developed are interwoven. So they are not trying to stand on their own, but they really also show how they interact and that be always need to consider the context there as well.

Kristina Hoeppner  17:48

But kind of tying our principle of technology and usability a little bit to the UDL principles, I think we can highlight three there. And the first one would be language and symbols. So for example, can you use the technology that you use to create your portfolio in your native language? We have to acknowledge that not everybody is a native English speaker. I’m neither. I am just lucky enough that I had learned English in school and not everybody has that possibility. Is there the possibility of having the interface translated or at minimum can you write in the portfolio platform in the symbols that you use? Can you write in Cyrillic? Can you write in Kanji? Or do you have to resort to the English alphabet?

Kristina Hoeppner  18:50

Secondly, I think also, and that is also part of accessibility, how do you represent the information? Is it at least encoded twice? So for example, if we have icons in the platform, do you not just put the icon there, but is there also text visible to screen readers that says what this icon is? So that you have the contextual background. Is there maybe also a short description of what this icon means when you hover over it? Because we can’t expect that every culture has the same denotation of what an icon could be.

Lillian Nave  19:31


Kristina Hoeppner  19:32

Looking at the UDL principle of comprehension then as a second link to our ethics and – or to the link between the ethics principle and the UDL principle, I think there it’s also do we provide workflows and do we have enough descriptions available to the learner so that they don’t have the blank page syndrome that they actually know what they need to do like having a task description there or know how to go through an application. And kind of also what I’ve already touched on a little bit, are they’re commonly known icons used? And is the language in English, it would be plain English, which is not the same connotation that is being used in other languages, but is it a language that is kind of free of lingo so that you don’t need to learn an entirely new vocabulary?

Kristina Hoeppner  20:29

Which then I think also goes into perception quite well because the technology you use – so that kind of leads nicely, I think, also in a third UDL principle, which is perception. And that means to me, can the terminology used into technology be customized? Can you cater, for example, to different education levels or to cultural circumstances? Do you actually use the term ‘portfolio’ or do you call it something else? And there, of course, I’m a bit biased because I develop an open source portfolio platform called Mahara with a team of developers, and of course, in open source, you have the possibility to make any sorts of changes. So there we can have different language packs, it can be provided in, in many different languages, and also people using the platform can customize the language. So instead of using ‘blocks’, for example, to put on a page, if they realize, well, our learners do not know the concept of a block, they think more in terms of sections, then we can very easily change that to sections, therefore make it easier for them to understand the software and not needing so much front loading to work with the tool. And which kind of also then leads to the final question. If I can’t use or understand the technology, how can I actually belong? How can I make – how can I really feel like I have something to contribute, and this technology helps me because we are not using technology for technology’s sake, we are using it to complete a task, to learn something, to reflect. And therefore I think the technology layer needs to be as easy as possible for students as well as faculty to use.

Lillian Nave  22:28

Yeah, you also bring in that last part makes me think of flexibility, another main, yeah, UDL principle, that flexibility to use if it’s not a block, maybe different sections, or which tools to use. And I must say, in one of the interactions I’ve had with faculty in helping actually a math faculty member, they wanted to do a lot of students showing like what their work was, but some of the tools they had, they could not translate even just mathematical symbols, right? So having a program that is right, that’s flexible enough, or knows how to recognize superscripts, subscripts, you know, all of the things that might be specific to that particular area is important, and also goes into that design phase, right? We have to be thinking about this ahead of time, just like with our accessibility conversation, it’s got to be baked in, it’s got to be part of our muscle memory, to be thinking about that even beforehand, a big design…

Kristina Hoeppner  23:35

Exactly, Lillian, and I think in the – in our principles, Kevin did mention that we have the title, a rationale, scenarios, and also strategies and in the strategies, we want to be very practical that we imagine what a lecturer could do, what an instructor could do, in what situation a student might be. And then translate the strategies that we have developed into a very practical example. Again, also to help that understanding to make the principles more usable and therefore give very specific ideas on what it could be also showing that it doesn’t necessarily have to be something very complicated. A lot of the strategies and scenarios that we showcase are oftentimes very common sense. So that it is – that it doesn’t have to be that added burden that suddenly people need to learn something completely new.

Lillian Nave  24:40

Yeah, and I really appreciated looking through all of the ethics principles and the scenarios because it did bring up all the different stakeholders. So the ones that Kevin brought up at the very beginning, thinking about students, thinking about lectures or instructors, thinking about outside, maybe possible employers who might be looking at what learning has happened. And this is just a very different and great I think, improved type of educational activity than let’s say, the traditional you hand in a paper or an assignment just to your teacher, right just to the instructor, and therefore, you know, you’re one audience that you have, and it is kind of a very closed system.

Lillian Nave  25:28

And one of the UDL principles is so overriding this whole thing is having authentic assessments and authentic tasks. So something that would be useful for a future employer to see how they put together a project or their thinking in going through a process that would be really good for somebody outside of the educational loop to see. And so when you open it up to people outside of just the student and the teacher or instructor, then you open up to wow, we need to be accessible, we need to be thinking about the tech everybody’s using, how are they going to access it on a phone, on a laptop on a desktop, you know, and it just opens up all these different cans of worms, I don’t know [laughs], different ways of thinking about it, that we do need the ethics because if you’re just one instructor using an ePortfolio, you might not be thinking about or know to think about all these other kind of variables that now come into play if it – because it’s different than just you’re going to hand in a multiple choice test, or you’re going to give me your infographic for just me. And there’s just so much more that goes into it. So that’s why I think this is just so much labor, so much work that you’ve made available for all of us that I really, really appreciate.

Kristina Hoeppner  26:54

Thanks Lillian, and I totally agree with you that the portfolio lends itself very much to authentic assessment and to also to being reused because while we often talk about ‘the’ portfolio, there’s actually multiple portfolios that you create, like Kevin said earlier, you create one for learning, for assessment, and then you repurpose some of the artifacts for a showcase portfolio and that also goes to one of the principles we are coming to later, the the visibility of labor, that you don’t always have to start from scratch.

Lillian Nave  27:25

Yeah, that’s great. So okay, so Kevin, we’ve been sort of bringing in a couple of words like belonging, we’ve talked about twice, but there is a an ethic called DEIBD in ePortfolios. And I’m familiar in the last year of using not just DEI – diversity, equity, and inclusion, but also belonging but there’s another D that I haven’t seen as often so I was wondering if you could go through all of these the – can you explain what the DEIBD is and why you’ve decided that this is important to include, which I agree with just so you know [laughs], in digital ethics in ePortfolios?

Kevin Kelly  28:09

Sure, so many educators and the Think UDL community members are probably familiar with diversity, equity, and inclusion or DEI initiatives. And I know the UDL team at CAST has recently announced their Equity Rising Campaign where they’re actively looking at how to expand the principles in an equity context. You also see publications like Andratesha Fitzgerald’s book on anti racism and UDL. And so this is becoming a more concerted effort to look at not just the maybe physical barriers that might get in the students’ way of learning, but also institutional barriers, biases, and assumptions that we make. Yale, their Center for Teaching and Learning has some good ideas about some of those assumptions, like, we assume that students who need help know where to get it and also have the wherewithal and agency to ask for it, which we know especially during the pandemic, we learned, that the students who have the most challenge, who are at highest risk of dropping out or stopping out or what have you, are the least likely to self advocate and ask for help.

Lillian Nave  29:29

Right [Kevin laughs]. There’s a lot in there.

Kevin Kelly  29:29

So when we look at DEIBD, which we define as diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, as you hinted, spoiler alert, and then decolonization. And so you can see that colleges and universities around the world have expanded DEI to include other core values. Some add accessibility, and they use the acronym IDEA because of the letters worked out and then others will add social justice and they’ll use the acronym JEDI. And so our task force added belonging and decolonization because we felt that those are global values for ePortfolio practitioners, and Kristina just did a great job of describing how the technology itself can affect students’ sense of belonging, as well as how the assignments are constructed. Are you doing this in a way that’s inclusive? Or are you doing it for a dominant culture or for people whose parents who have been to college already? All those different aspects of the experience that we may not think about from our lens, our identity, our privilege, and so we need to step back and make DEIBD part of the portfolio process. So the principle itself sounds pretty straightforward, educators are aware of equity related challenges and address learning needs related to each student’s identities, cultures, and backgrounds as they create  ePortfolios. Sounds easy, right?

Kevin Kelly  31:01

Right? So but yeah, when you start to unpack it, when you dive into these strategies and scenarios, what we decided to do was look at that principle through different lenses, almost like going to the eye doctor and saying, ‘Is it fuzzier now or is it clearer now?’ So and we looked at each of those core values diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, decolonization to provide a narrower focus so people can tighten in on something that they really wanted to increase, foster, support.

Kevin Kelly  31:32

For example, this strategy for fostering belonging includes giving students some choice of expression in their portfolios. This not only aligned with UDL, but signals to the students that their traditional, personal ways of learning, their ways of expressing things are valued, and so that gives them that sense that, hey, we care not only about your ability to show you reach these learning objectives, but we care that you do it in a way that resonates with how you’ve gone through the world.

Kevin Kelly  32:01

Focusing on decolonization might include gaining awareness of how different cultures, including but not limited to indigenous peoples, share and gain knowledge, i.e. the process or knowledge traditions, as well as how they view the world. And so what’s the context in which they’re creating this work that goes in their portfolio? And this also means respecting and adhering to cultural norms and concepts from indigenous and other cultures that might be very different from the dominant culture. Again, you know, I work in the United States. I’m conscious of the fact that a lot of things that my students are asked to do come from a very western, Eurocentric way of looking at the world, but San Francisco State University where I teach, there are 108 languages other than English spoken at home.

Lillian Nave  32:52


Kevin Kelly  32:53

And so we have a really diverse set of students, and they’re getting more diverse every year. As you know, we’re reaching out to increase our enrollments by engaging communities that may have been left out of the conversations in the past. And so that means that as we create assignments and ask students to do this work that we need to be thinking about, it’s a very different world with different people.

Kevin Kelly  33:21

And so on a personal note, I teach a general education class called ‘How to Learn With Your Mobile Device’. And this spring because I’ve worked on this DEIBD principle with Kristina and we did interviews with educators in the U.S. and Canada, New Zealand, Australia, so it was a variety of people, I made an effort to ask my own students to consider their past learning experiences as well as their knowledge traditions as part of describing their identity as a learner. My first outcome for my class is ‘Describe yourself as a learner in the past, present, and future’ and to take a little bit on ‘What makes you a different kind of learner’ question that the Think UDL podcast folks answer, but they’re doing it in a very intentional way, and I specifically try to give them hooks to go find more about what they may not have learned about their own knowledge traditions because if they’re not from, you know, an interdependent culture that learns in community, they may be in a very self paced, do it on your own individualistic way of looking at the world, and I want to make sure that people start thinking about the roots of how they come to know and use and apply what they’ve learned.

Lillian Nave  34:39

Yeah, you know, that makes me think of that fishbowl metaphor that we’re all as individuals, a fish in a fishbowl and we don’t recognize that the water that we’re swimming in is specific to us. And so you had mentioned the interdependent type of community learner versus the individualistic and I know that my students often will come into my intercultural class learning about that, and they’d say something like, I don’t have a culture, I’m just very, you know, very normal, very bland. And there is an assumption that they don’t have a culture, but it’s really peeling back those layers of an onion, let’s use lots of metaphors here, to find out that it’s just their way of knowing. One way was that very individualized, I’m gonna go in my room, shut my door, read the book, answer the questions. And there are multiple ways to learn, that include storytelling and hearing from multiple voices, maybe around a campfire, and hearing it over and over and over again, as a way to really imbue it in the way we see the world rather than take a test and move on.

Lillian Nave  35:49

And yeah, I found that I didn’t recognize that. I didn’t realize that and so like way later, like, twice as old as my students are now. And having that as part of how students learn and knowing my way and may not be the only way is really a threshold concept. Like once you know that you can’t go back into that dark room anymore, like, oh, people are gonna learn differently than I do? And maybe I can learn in that way, as well? It might be a little uncomfortable, but I love that everybody should be uncomfortable a little bit. And we don’t make the same people uncomfortable all the time, right?

Lillian Nave  36:28

So I really appreciated all five letters in the DEIBD part [laughs] of this principle, and I’ve followed your work for a while, and I love your mobile learner class because I think all of your students are learning so much more how to increase their ability to be great students, expert learners, which of course, is the goal of universal design for learning.

Lillian Nave  36:57

So that brings me to another question, another deep dive with Kristina here. And that’s about data responsibility. You may say data responsibility, I’ll take either one. But it’s another major overlap with UDL. And can you explain why you’ve included this in the digital ethics for ePortfolios?

Kristina Hoeppner  37:22

Gosh, I think this is, especially now a topic similar to accessibility, where we can just spend two hours just talking about that because it is becoming more and more important. And while it’s kind of, I think, always been important, but it has come more to the forefront, like a lot of things have come to the forefront, especially over the last three years. So kind of going back a little bit. In the beginning, I said, I’m like a bee who flits from flower to flower, and so I do tend to have the shiny new tool syndrome, like so many in education, that we just want to try the new things because they are cool, we want to see how we can incorporate them, do they fit how we think of the world, how we want to learn? And so that is really exciting because of course, a lot of innovation can come from that. And we realize more about ourselves of how we learn.

Kristina Hoeppner  38:17

However, I think there is a flip side to it. And we don’t need to be aware of what we share through all of these shiny new tools. So I think we do need to be be aware, though, of what we share through all of these new tools and where actually our data goals. So a lot of institutions have or need to follow certain privacy regulations. So in the United States, it’s often the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, commonly referred to as FERPA, in the European Union, it’s the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). And these govern, of course, not just necessarily student data in the case of GDPR, but kind of general personal data, but it does say kind of where you can store that data. And if we ask students to use social media, to use video sharing websites, AI tools, portfolio platforms, both institution provided or ad based that are often free in the world, are our students actually, are our students actually aware of what happens to their data? Do they still own it? Can others use it? Can they control who can see the content? Because often, of course, we kind of tick the checkmark next to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Statements without reading it. And of course, if a teacher tells me I need to use a particular site, then indirectly I assume that it is teacher or institution approved…

Lillian Nave  40:04


Kristina Hoeppner  40:05

… and therefore I use it. But has my teacher actually looked at it? Has my educator looked at it? Has it had been vetted by a learning designer, not just in terms of the pedagogical implications, but also what actually happens when I actually enter some data? And so I think this ties in with the UDL principle of ‘Expression and Communication’ because we do want to have the representation of content in different ways and do want to encourage the use of multimedia, but at the same time, we do need to be aware of the implications for data.

Kristina Hoeppner  40:49

So just to give you a couple of examples for that. Recently, of course, everything is about artificial intelligence. So of course, I’m going to bring that as an example because a lot of people are trialing it, and there’s so many great possibilities of how we can use artificial intelligence, both as educators and also students. But did you really read the privacy policy? Did you see…

Lillian Nave  41:15

Doubtful, yeah [laughs].

Kristina Hoeppner  41:18

Many probably haven’t. And so did you know that anything you enter through the web interface into ChatGPT can be used by OpenAI to further train the language model to – and also to put the content back into their data set to improve their service? And recently, there have been news around confidential information being leaked into ChatGPT because employees put in text to make an email sound better that they either need to send to a client or put a coding project in and suddenly that it’s ends up in a corpus, in a data set where it cannot be removed anymore. And the second example, probably is maybe so a bit a little bit closer to the heart of what students do is, if you include a YouTube video in an otherwise untracked web page, suddenly, Google is tracking your through the use of that video. Do the students know that? Do the students who put the video into their portfolio know that? Do the viewers interacting with the portfolio know that, that they are in a way now forced to be tracked? Because they need to watch the video, they don’t really have a choice because there’s maybe not a transcript available or they just click on it. But do we know all of those things? And do we make conscious decisions about which tools we use?

Kristina Hoeppner  42:54

And sometimes can we even make decisions? Because of course, while it’s fantastic that we have live captioning in a lot of video conferencing software, if we keep the recording on, during, say, a breakout conversation, that should be kept confidential, or somebody in the main room, what they don’t really want to have recorded normally or have been to cut out from the final recording, the live caption still captures it, and it will go in the data set and we do not have the control over it. So there are some quite heavy conversations that will need to be had. And I’m pretty sure that a lot of organizations already have them to make students and faculty more aware of what is actually happening with their data so that we don’t just force students into a situation that they might be uncomfortable in or ourselves as well.

Lillian Nave  42:59

Yeah,I must say that I came head to head with that technology and data this semester because I have set up my students to speak with students all over the world, I do a little project where they meet up over Zoom or contact each other somehow. In some countries, WhatsApp is great, and some it’s not really appropriate, and so Telegram might be a better option for those students. And some of the students that we worked with could not Zoom was not allowed in their country. And so those were things that I learned and hadn’t done all of my background when I added a new partner in a new country that I hadn’t worked with before, and I needed to do my due diligence in order to find out, you know, what my students would be comfortable doing and what the students in some other countries around the world that I was less familiar with. So I learned my lesson, right? And we need to be thinking about it. And thank goodness, you’ve got these digital ethics for us to be thinking about, you know, before we go on something like that we better be conscious about what we’re asking our students to do and know those answers before we, in essence, require them in order to get their grade, right, before knowing it.

Kristina Hoeppner  45:24

And I think that’s then also where again the principle of flexibility comes in that once we’ve made student aware, intermediate, explicit of what potential options they are, to also still give them the option to use those technologies if they are comfortable with them, or maybe even test record things on their computer without any internet connection whatsoever, and be able to upload it directly into their portfolio platform rather than needing to use one of those sharing sites that – where they might not want to have a confidential conversation appear when the portfolio is being used for mentoring or for healthcare, for example, or when talking with kids. We don’t need to consider those vulnerable communities as well.

Lillian Nave  46:15

Absolutely, I really appreciate this. We’ve gone – like a big deep dive on at least four of these, but you have all come up with 10. And so I wanted to go over briefly the last six. They’re all very important, but in the interest of time, I wanted to ask Kevin, if you could briefly go over those three remaining ethics, the practice, evaluation, and promote awareness to round off our discussion.

Kevin Kelly  46:45

I will and these three, there are three more after those…

Kevin Kelly  46:49

So hold on to your seat [Lillian laughs]. But yeah, the principle of ‘Practice’ states “ePortfolio creators need opportunities to develop and practice the digital literacies necessary to create accessible and effective ePortfolios.” The principle of ‘Evaluation’ says, “ePortfolio evaluation should consider process, inclusion, reflective practice, and alignment with the stated objectives of the context in which the ePortfolio is created.” And the principle of ‘Promoting Awareness’ just asks institutional administrators, staff, educators to take responsibility for promoting awareness of digital ethics in ePortfolio making.

Lillian Nave  46:49


Kevin Kelly  47:31

Now, the connective tissue among these three principles can be described as a triple A approach: awareness, action, and assessment.

Lillian Nave  47:40


Kevin Kelly  47:41

Everyone involved in the ePortfolio work should be made aware of the types of ethics issues that might arise, should have the tools and skills to engage in accessible and ethical ePortfolio practices, and should take a continuous improvement approach as they look at ePortfolio products and processes. So in practical terms, this would be similar to campus efforts to promote UDL, right?

Lillian Nave  48:04


Kevin Kelly  48:05

That means starting more outreach campaigns that link to additional resources, creating training opportunities for students and faculty, and dedicating time and energy, which is a rare commodity, energy and time are both right up there with palladium, I think, to seeing how well the campus did. And to give a quick example, as a short follow up to Kristina’s last comments, this principle could or this combination of principles could look at universities’ data responsibility, right, so more overlap with the Venn diagram. The platform providers ask students to accept an end user license agreement, click, click, I don’t know what I just clicked, but I didn’t read it. And that usually describes how they intend to use the students’ data, the campus data, etc. However, colleges use student ePortfolio data for analytics, for enrollment purposes, for student ePortfolio artifacts as evidence for accreditation reviews. And so then you start asking yourself, ‘Are we making students aware that we’re using their data in these ways? Are we changing our practices to make the ethics issues known? Are we evaluating whether or not students feel like they’re being coerced or doing things because it’s helping them get their degree, and do they have alternatives?’ So you can see that they’re, these principles are meant to stand alone, but they definitely work in concert with one another, and that’s why we’ve introduced hashtags or ways for people can find those connecting points from principle to principle.

Lillian Nave  49:45

Fantastic. It’s just so thorough these guidelines. You thought of all of in the years you’ve put it together all of the different stakeholders and ways we should be thinking about it and I have appreciated learning about it. I’ve got three more to go, Kristina, I’m gonna turn it over to you to ask about, if you could explain the last three, that’s ethics of ‘Support’ and ‘Respect Author Rights and Reuse Permissions’, and then ‘Visibility of labor’ that we hinted at before.

Kristina Hoeppner  50:20

Sure. Let me start with the, I think the easier one of the three, and that is the ‘Respect for Authr Rights and Reuse Permissions’ because that is fundamental in academia in many other – in many countries around the world. And so I’m sure that a lot of listeners of your podcast are very familiar with those. So that students need to cite their sources and also that they need to be aware of whether they are allowed to share an image they found online or a video they found online. Does it for example, have a creative commons license attached that allows reuse and maybe even re mixing it? Or are you allowed to embed the comment – are you allowed to embed the content? Or do you maybe better just link to it because then you’re not pretending it to be part of what you have done.

Kristina Hoeppner  51:13

The other two principles are ‘Support’ and ‘Visibility of labor’, and they for me go really to the core of embedding portfolio practice at an organization. Because often we see that portfolios are done by one instructor because they’re very enthusiastic about authentic assessment or learning and want to give different ways of learning to their students, make it possible for them to learn flexibly, and include the whole human rather than just looking at checkbox activities and essays. And of course, I’m making things very dramatic and painting black and white, which, of course, it’s not the case. However, really, in order to have these portfolios not just be a one off activity that students do, but embed it into their general learning, maybe ideally, hopefully, also make them lifelong learners so that they continue with their portfolio beyond the class is that we don’t need to provide adequate support for staff and for students, that they need to have the technology available, that they need to have learning designers available, who can assist them in revamping activities so that they are suited for portfolio work, that students then also have the support they need through guidelines. Earlier, Kevin mentioned that he points to videos or to tutorials so that students actually know how to use the technology or what they are supposed to do.

Kristina Hoeppner  52:56

And all of that culminates in the visibility of labor that it can’t be ‘Oh yeah, just do the portfolio on the side, it’s not much work.’ But that it’s really recognized that there should also be prep time accounted for, that there might even be some relief of other tasks that an instructor does because also giving feedback on maybe 300 portfolios takes a bit longer than having the learning management system automatically grade a multiple choice quiz.

Lillian Nave  53:26


Kristina Hoeppner  53:26

And so with do want to be mindful also about the additional workload often for faculty and staff, but also for students, and also the emotional labor that is being performed, which is not the case when there’s a multiple choice quiz. Whereas in authentic assessment where we bring in – where we ask students to reflect on their learning, maybe even bring in some of their personal experiences, it’s quite a different sort of task.

Kristina Hoeppner  54:00

And so really to sum up, we’ve mentioned a couple of times that the principles are interwoven, that there’s a huge Venn diagram that gets bigger and bigger. And really, the principles take, I think, a holistic look at the whole area of portfolio practice because we don’t just give techniques and strategies on hand of how to construct a portfolio or how to do better with an assessment portfolio or how to use the technology, but we also look at the wider context, how can for example, a portfolio implementation at an organization be supported so that then students and staff can focus on more on the details of creating the portfolios, but that the principles really cover the entire portfolio ecosystem.

Lillian Nave  54:59

I think it’s just so helpful for anyone who is using ePortfolios, which is a high impact practice, it’s really something that I use at my institution. It’s so very good for students. It’s a reflective practice, which is also another UDL principle for students to look back on their learning. There are so many good things about ePortfolios, but what I see is always an issue is we’re asking our faculty to do more and more and more, and oftentimes with less, so here’s more time I want you to devote to this. And what you’ve done with these 10 digital ethics is cut down on the workload for the faculty, to have to think about all these 10 different things that ‘Oh, I didn’t think about the technology that I was supposed to be using.’ And now we can design this from the beginning, and you’ve got a list of ethics, but also the scenarios that tell us, you know, what should you be thinking about so that everybody is not reinventing the wheel every time they want to try an ePortfolio. And so for that, I individually am very thankful and wanted to get this out to more folks so that they can see the great amount of work, the amount of labor that you’ve put into this. And just the thoughtfulness. I keep on – the word that keeps coming is thorough, it’s so thorough, it’s so thoughtful, and then I’m like, that’s the same word. Everything is [laughs] very thorough and thoughtful in putting this together, so I just want to thank you both for the time you spent on this over several years and for the chance to come and talk to me on the podcast. So thank you very much, Kevin, for coming back again.

Kevin Kelly  56:47

I absolutely wouldn’t miss it for the world, and I appreciate the opportunity to connect with you and share ideas with your community.

Lillian Nave  56:57

Always great, Kevin, and Kristina, it’s been lovely to get to pick your brain and find out all the things that you’ve put together for this. So thank you very much for joining me.

Kristina Hoeppner  57:07

Thank you, Lillian. And I think we do have to also keep in mind that it’s not just the work of Kevin and me on the task force. So while we have been two have the founding, kind of in a way, I guess, founding members because we started in the task force in 2019, there have been lots and lots of people, including Sarah Aurhellen from Appalachian State University, who are members of the task force. So typically, we have between 10 and 13 members each year, and I’m sure, Llllian, you’ll link to the web page on the AAEEBL website where we’ll have all those names listed. And they come from many different universities, from not just the United States, but hopefully also next year, we’ll be expanding even beyond the borders of the States, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines, in order to broaden the horizon and bring in even more voices than we have currently on the task force. So everybody who’s worked on it, who’s come to our workshops, both at conferences, and throughout the year, who’s helped our thinking and reflect on those principles going from 10 to 13, and then back to 10, consolidating things, has been really, really important in order to make this huge piece of work and now go more into the research aspect as well. So I’d like to thank everybody who’s been involved in the task force in one way or another.

Lillian Nave  58:41

Yes, thank you so much for mentioning that. And it was my colleagues, Sarah Zurhellen who sent me an email, so, ‘Oh, this sounds really great. I wonder who it is.’ And then it was Kevin. I was like he’s doing this too? This is so much. This is really good [laughs]. So thank you both and all your collaborators. I will have a link to all the digital ethics on the episode web page for this podcast. So thank you very much, and I really appreciate it.

Kristina Hoeppner  59:10

Thank you, Lillian.

Lillian Nave  59:13

You can follow the Think UDL podcast on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to find out when new episodes will be released, and also see transcripts and additional materials at the website. Thank you again to our sponsor Texthelp. Texthelp is focused on helping all people learn, understand, and communicate through the use of digital education and accessibility tools. Texthelp and its people are working towards a world where difference, disability, or language are no longer barriers to learning and succeeding. With over 50 million users worldwide, the Texthelp suite of products include Read&Write, Equatio, and OrbitNote, which work alongside existing platforms, such as Microsoft Office and G Suite, enabling them to be integrated quickly into any classroom or workspace with ease. Texthelp has changed the lives of millions worldwide and strives to impact the literacy and understanding of 1 billion people by 2030.

Lillian Nave  1:00:20

Additional support for the podcast is made possible by Appalachian State University where if you call it Appalachian, I’ll throw an apple at ‘cha. The music on the podcast was performed by the Oddyssey Quartet comprised of Rex Shepherd, David Pate, Bill Folwell, and Jose Cochez, and I am your host, Lillian Nave. Thank you for joining us on The Think UDL podcast.

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