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Article: Vocabulary Bank for Education

By Mike Collett, Vocabulary Management Group

Vocabulary Bank for Education

The Vocabulary Management Group which developed the Vocabulary Bank for Education (VBE) as part of ASPECT had a successful dissemination event in London on 26 November 2010 to: raise awareness of the VBE and its associated services; encourage collaboration in the use of terminology services; and to demonstrate the latest leading-edge technologies. Presentations from the event and a VBE user guide can be downloaded at

The ASPECT VBE provides a range of multilingual, controlled lists relevant to learning in the European Union, including those that are used to validate metadata profiles, and a thesaurus used to describe educational topics.

It is provided as a web application, hosted by the Vocabulary Management Group, which enables users to search or browse stored vocabularies in order to find out more about the terms used, their relationships, contexts and translations. It is based on Lexaurus Bank software and managers can use the Lexaurus Editor to both create and change vocabularies.

The repository of published vocabularies is available for anyone to view via a web browser and the VBE can be searched and browsed to locate vocabularies or individual terms without registration or logging in. In order to be able to download vocabularies users must register.

Vocabulary Bank for Education

Searching the VBE

The ASPECT VBE features include:

  • Flexible, format independent data model
    • Polyhierarchical - terms can exist at more than one place in a vocabulary.
    • Reuse – terms can be reused in other vocabularies with the source vocabulary recorded. This makes it easier to make vocabularies based on existing terms.
    • Multiple schemas to allow a wide range of uses
    • Customisable relationships to model different structures
  • Multilingual. The VBE enables labels for properties of terms or vocabularies to be given in many languages.
  • Full history and versioning so that any change can be identified and the difference between any two versions can be shown.
  • Fully searchable so that users can find terms or vocabularies very quickly by typing in words or parts of them.
  • Controlled references or faceted classification - allows users to describe facets of their terminology so that items can be classified, for example, according to level or subject.
  • Machine interfaces so that other computer systems can interrogate the VBE directly (REST API). Feeds are provided to give alerts to any vocabularies that have changed (using RSS and ATOM feeds).
  • Granular permission and role management for editors with synchronization with Lexaurus Editor
  • Faceting filtering on vocabularies..
  • Display for non-Latin right to left display languages.

The response to the VBE during the project has been very supportive. Users have registered to download the various vocabularies and other ASPECT partners have integrated their services with the VBE, in particular to validate Learning Resource Exchange metadata instances.

The VBE now contains over 11.000 terms and 75 vocabularies. This does not include the translation of many terms, some of which have been translated into up to 25 languages.

The VBE is accessible from Given the positive response to the VBE, it will continue to be hosted by the Vocabulary Management Group for some time after the end of the ASPECT project in February 2011 while project partners continue to work on a model that will allow it to become a self-sustainable part of the LRE Service Centre.

Approaches from organizations that have relevant vocabularies they wish to publish are welcome.