Psychological ownership and personal learning environments: do sense of ownership and control really matter?

  • Ilona Buchem Beuth University of Applied Sciences


New power relations and the shift in control have been some of the key topics driving the discussion about Personal Learning Environments (PLE). This paper explores the role of sense of ownership and control in use of technology- enhanced learning environments. The paper is rooted in the theory of psychological ownership and reports on empirical findings from a joint study conducted at universities in Berlin and Augsburg (Germany). The study encompasses the results of an online survey with 50 students from three different university courses, exploring multiple relationships between ownership, control and learning in context of web-based ePortfolios. The results of the study indicate that control of intangible elements of ePortfolio, such as control of content or personal data, is more related to the feeling of ownership of one’s ePortfolio than control of tangible elements, such as technical tools. Based on the example of web-based ePortfolios, the paper argues that the perception of a learning environment as a Personal Learning Environment is related to perceived ownership of intangible elements.