Role- and Relationship-based Identity Management for Privacy-enhanced E-learning

In IJAIED 21 (3)

Publication information



Abstract. An e-learning discussion forum, an essential component of today’s e-learning systems, offers a platform for social learning activities. However, as learners participate in the discussion forum, privacy emerges as a major concern. Privacy concerns in social learning activities originate from one learner’s inability to convey a desired presentation of oneself to another learner. A user-controlled identity management (IM) allows a user to com- municate, depending on a context, as much or as little information about the self as they want, and therefore, can provide users desired control over their contextual representations, which in turn contributes to privacy. A role- and relationship-based identity management (RRIM) model provides a coarse-to-fine classification of context based on purpose, role, and relationship. At the coarse level of context, a purpose-based identity allows presentation of one- self for a specific purpose. At the fine level of context, a role-based identity can facilitate presentation of oneself within the capacity of a role, while a relationship-based identity allows a user to reveal or conceal information appropriate for a relationship. We employ the model in a real e-learning system (i.e., iHelp) to facilitate privacy for e-learners in a discussion forum. The results of a pilot study and a large-scale user study in a real course (i.e., Introduction to Sociology) validate that RRIM features help learners maintain their desired level of privacy in an e-learning discussion forum.