Saturday, March 1, 2008

Do I make my ePortfolio public?

The issue of privacy and security has arisen with regards to my ePortfolio. In the comments to my previous post, there were some concerns raised about making this ePortfolio public. So I have had to go back to the reasons why I have decided to have an ePortfolio.

Most of the reasons for having an ePortfolio are tied up with giving it a public profile ie role modeling to my students and midwives, and using it as a teaching tool. My friends know I am quite shameless in wanting to build a public profile as a midwife and educator who uses Web 2.0 and social networking effectively in her professional practice. And ultimately, I may want to change my job one day which will require my ePortfolio to be made available for potential employers to view. So if I wish to achieve these aims, my portfolio will have to be public.

But...my portfolio is also an extremely important part of my ongoing professional midwifery recertification and has the potential to contain some very sensitive material and personal reflections about women, students, and colleagues. It is highly unlikely that I am going to write anything sensitive about what I learned from attending a conference, but it is much more likely if I am talking about my clinical midwifery practice. I have a professional and legal requirement to maintain my clients' anonymity. My position as educator could also be seriously compromised if I published inappropriate material, be it in my portfolio or on this blog. And as Merrolee pointed out, being 'too' open may affect employment opportunities in the future, although others such as Michele Martin would disagree and say that it is vital to maintain a transparent online identity.

So, how am I going to manage this.

For the time being I am going to continue with keeping my portfolio open but refrain from publishing sensitive material about women and the people I work with. It may be that I eventually end up with two portfolios - one with public information and the other containing very sensitive reflections will be kept private.

I think it is important for me to make aspects of my midwifery practice open to the public: surely potential midwifery clients should have access to my practice statistics? That will help them make an informed choice about whether they choose me as their midwife or not. However, I must admit I am very likely to keep information about any cataclysmic mistakes I make private. I believe that if health professionals were a lot more open about their practice, weaknesses and errors as well as strengths, there would be a lot less litigation than there is now. Women and families are less likely to sue if health professionals are open with them and acknowledge their mistakes. Maybe if we were more open about our cataclysmic mistakes, others would learn from our experiences and be a lot more supportive of us- but that is another post altogether. And I should also add at this point that I have not made any cataclysmic mistakes, so I am speaking hypothetically!

I am really keen to continue this discussion so please feel free to drop by with a comment. If you have an ePortfolio, what do you make public and what do you keep private? What do you think I should keep private and why?

As a midwife, what information about your practice would you make public in a space like a blog or ePortfolio? If you are a non-midwife, what information abut a midwife would you want to have access to?

Image: 'pay heed'
www.flickr.com/photos/24342172@N00/155845472

4 comments:

Michele Martin said...

Hi Sarah--My thoughts are that you should always have two portfolios--one that is for you and includes everything. This one can be private if you want it to be, although some people would be OK with it being public. You wouldn't necessarily promote the entire version, though, because in many cases it will be way too much info.

I think you need to create separate presentation portfolios that are geared toward specific audiences. What you want to communicate about yourself for re-certification will be different than what you want to communicate to women interested in having you as their midwife. You tell different stories to different audiences, so I'd argue you should have separate portfolios for each group.

I wrote more about it on my blog:

http://michelemartin.typepad.com/thebambooprojectblog//2008/03/how-public-shou.html

It's a great question!

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for all your support as I go through this process, Michele and I think you are right about having different portfolios, but then, I probably should have 2 different blogs - educational and midwifery. Actually, I should probably have 3 (blogs and portfolios) - 1 for consumers.

BUT....its finding the time to maintain all these things and keeping duplication to the minimum.

I loved your blog post that you have referenced. I think the discussion about what information the general public want to see about health professionals is one that needs to be explored. I would love to continue this discussion in the future.

Carolyn said...

Hi Sarah. I have started an eportfolio in wetpaintwetpaint. I had it closed to begin with but have not made it open. I want to be able to keep components of it private however and I know I am supposed to be able to do that, but I am having difficulty working out how to do that. Do you know by any chance? Wetpaint and wikispaces are very similar and Wetpaint offer educators and students the option of add free wikis for free. sorry if this sounds like an ad.

Carolyn said...

By the way one of the reasons I want to know this is because I want students to be able to present components of their e-portfolio for assignments and want to work out how they do this as well as for my own needs. I know Mahara have some clear guidelines on how to do this and we will need to be able to have this sort of option as well.