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ASPECT for Experts in Standards


R-SO.1: Support the development of free and user-friendly tools to edit, deploy, re-arrange, and play educational content.

These tools should have open interfaces following open specifications. Coordinate the development of these tools. Leverage the potential of open source development in Europe.

R-SO.2: Provide community-based conformance competence forums, supporting stakeholders which apply open educational standards.

These centers should be freely accessible for all. They should allow for open discussions of practical interoperability issues.
No specification can foresee all potential issues. Authorize a specification management group to rapidly provide preliminary recommendations on how newly emerging issues should be handled until the specification is updated.

R-SO.3: Support the development of application profiles and domain profiles of existing standards reflecting what is used in common practice.

Provide tools helping software developers and content authors to become fully compliant with these profiles. Develop a culture where the end user can rely that all features described in these profiles are implemented in any product that claims conformance. Only release standards and profiles that have been fully implemented and tested.

R-SO.4: Maintain backward compatibility

Whenever possible, data conformant to one version of a specification should remain conformant when the specification is updated. This builds trust into the specification, avoids re-engineering costs prevents slow-down of specification take-up.

R-SO.5: Do not encode controlled vocabularies in bindings.

Controlled vocabularies evolve rapidly to meet changing requirements and must often be available in multiple languages. Terms and their definitions must also be documented. The management of controlled vocabularies is optimized when they are encoded using specifications such as VDEX, ZTHES, or SKOS and stored in a bank (such as the ASPECT Vocabulary Bank for Education) independent of a binding. The binding can then refer to these external vocabularies. This comes at the price of an extra look up for resolving an identifier into the corresponding vocabulary term in a given language. However, the benefits (e.g., better management of controlled vocabularies, support for multilingualism – see R-SO.6) are worth this extra cost. Moreover, in order to lower this cost, ASPECT has developed an array of tools to integrate binding and vocabularies. These include the ASPECT transformer service, the ASPECT Application Profile Registry, the ASPECT Vocabulary Management Tool, the ASPECT Validation Services. When using changing vocabularies, make sure content is conformance tested using the latest version of the vocabularies in use.

R-SO.6: Uniquely identify each controlled vocabulary and controlled vocabulary term and only use identifiers in metadata records.

Because identifiers are language neutral tokens, they can be associated with multiple translations of the same term. Using tokens in metadata records makes it possible to display in a given language a metadata record created in another language provided that both languages are available in the vocabulary bank.
Note that this recommendation is applicable to all organizations developing controlled vocabularies, not just standards organizations.

Tools and Services

Learning Technology Standards Observatory LTSO

  • URL:
  • End users: Anyone interested in Learning Technology Standards and Specifications
  • Description: The Learning Technology Standards Observatory (LTSO) is a focal access point to updated information on projects, results, news, organisations, activities and events that are relevant to the development and adoption of e-learning technology standards and specifications. It offers a newsletter service, access to relevant experts and up-to-date information in this field.


  • D1.3.2 Final Public Report
  • D2.1 ASPECT Approach to Federated Search and Harvesting of Learning Object Repositories
  • D2.2 Design of Data Model and Architecture for a Registry of Learning Object Repositories and Application Profiles
  • D2.3 ASPECT Approach To Multilingual Vocabularies, Including Automated Translation Services
  • D3.1 Best Practice Report for Content Use
  • D3.2.2 Conformance Testing Tools version 2
  • D3.5 Best practice report for content use v2.0
  • D5.1 A critical mass of metadata that can be searched for and discovered seamlessly
  • D5.2 A critical mass of content to which a set of preferred standards and specifications have been applied
  • D5.5 Report on the advantages/issues associated with the large-scale implementation of selected standards

All these deliverables can be accessed from .