Learners maintain ownership and intellectual property rights (IPR) of their materials held in the e-portfolio system, especially if these materials are used for course work or for assessment. The institution does not own the IPR of content in an e-portfolio simply because it was created whilst studying at the institution (see ePISTLE Guidelines 4: Storage and Access)
In the ePISTLE project users were most concerned about what would happen to their work once they had moved on from the institution in which it had been created. An institutional policy on removal and long-term storage/access of learner artefacts in the e-portfolio is required to address this issue. This is discussed in more detail in the technical section of this infoKit. This will impact on their engagement with the tool and was particularly important for older learners in FE rather than amongst school age users (see ePISTLE Guidelines 3: Transition).
Further issues are created when learners import artefacts to provide examples of evidence when they have been on placement or working for an employer. The employer, in the case of a law firm, would consider that they have IPR over the materials and therefore they could not be uploaded to the learner’s individual e-portfolio as highlighted by the UKCLE project.
Charlesworth and Home (2005) state that it is a misnomer to refer to the e-portfolio system as being ‘owned’ by the learner. Many institutions are referring to the e-portfolio system in this way to emphasise that the tool is to be learner-centred but legally this would not be the case. They suggest referring to the hosting of the learner’s e-portfolio material in the system as taking a ‘stewardship’ role of the materials which is defined as ‘the assumption of responsibility for the proper management of learner data’ (Charlesworth and Home 2005, p3).