Curriculum Exchange Format


The Curriculum Exchange Format (CEF) is available as a European Standard from standards bodies (EN 15943:2010). The EN includes an example xml binding based on Zthes.

There is also a CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA) available that describes how CEF could be applied to model curricula.

General information

information to be gathered details
Name / title of source/model and version if applicable Curriculum Exchange Format (CEF)
EN 15943:2010 and CWA 16078
Stakeholder CEN TC353 and CEN WS-LT
Explicit / implicit  
Organisational competence  
Number of people currently affected  
User communities  
Significant use cases European Schoolnet vocabulary bank Kennisnet
Significant business cases  
Sample materials  
Key features influencing uptake  


(see the Features page or the separate pages for each feature)

N Features ? notes
00 More than one model 1 The model describes a way of modelling curricula. It does so have a structure and a "term" within that structure that can have relationships with other terms. Hence the CEF can model a single LOC or a set of them in a structure.
01 Identifiers 1  
02 Hierarchy (internal) 1 Can represent a polyhierarchy.
03 Internal relationships 1  
04 External relationships 1 If an item originates from a different source the source is identified
05 Conditionality / optionality 0 Some properties of terms and CEF instances are optional. It would be of a particular profile of CEF to define conditionality or optionality of a LOC.
06 Text syntax 0  
07 Structured identifiers 0  
08 Classification 1 This is possible.
09 Level attribution 1  
10 Level definition 1  
11 Context 1 This can be described using DC properties.
12 Evidence and assessment 0  
13 Extensions 1  
14 Profiles 1  
15 Adaptation 1  
16 Definition by example 1  
17 Learning resources 0  
18 Learner records 0  
19 Multilinguality 1  

Any other or longer information

CEF Instance

A CEF Instance is similar to LOCstructure in that it is a discrete entity with metadata to describe it and it contains other items and relationships.

CEF element CEF definition InLOC mapping notes
dc:title The name of the CEF instance same  
dc:creator The name of the creator of the CEF instance. LOCassociation type by  
dc:subject The topic areas covered by the CEF instance. LOCassociation type topic  
dc:description A description of the CEF instance. same  
dc:publisher The name of the publisher of the CEF instance. LOCassociation type by  
dc:contributor The names of contributors to the CEF instance. LOCassociation type by  
dc:date The publication date. issued  
dc:type The type of CEF instance.   There is no CEF type vocabulary specified and this is left to implementers. DC defines type as "The nature or genre of the resource." Example values could be curriculum or topic. Could define an InLOC category to suit.
dc:format The format of the CEF instance. no map  
dc:identifier The identifier for the CEF instance. same  
dc:source The source for the CEF instance. no map  
dc:language The language of the CEF instance (from ISO639). The primary language first. similar InLOC puts primary language in the LOCstructure, others as attributes of string elements
dc:relation Items related to the CEF instance. LOCassociation of type=LOCrel  
dc:coverage The coverage of the CEF instance. could be a LOCassociation of type=category DC defines coverage as "The spatial or temporal topic of the resource, the spatial applicability of the resource, or the jurisdiction under which the resource is relevant." Examples might be Europe or France.
dc:rights Rights statement governing the usage of the CEF instance. same  
resolver The resolution service. A uri prefix that provides a resolution url when combined in some way with the identifier of a term.    
thesNote This can be used for adding information about the CEF instance that is not covered by other elements. The following are reserved labels for thesNotes:
  • authority is similar to publisher often taken from a controlled list
  • version
  • purpose is taken from a controlled vocabulary including navigation, mapping, metadata.

CEF term

A CEF term is similar to LOCdefinition in that it is an entity with metadata to describe it and may have relationships to other items. Some items may considered to be LOCs and are defined as objectives in CEF but not all items are LOCs.

In the table below some properties of items are described and mapped to InLOC properties but only those that seem relevant.

IA element IA definition InLOC mapping notes
termId An opaque string of characters which uniquely identifies the term within a CEF instance. This could be a uri or a local identifier. id  
termName The name of the term in a form that may be displayed to a user or used as a search term in a target database. The termName may be translated using langString title similar treatment of language
termCategory Identifies a term as belonging to a particular topical subset or micro thesaurus. LOCassociation type=category  
termLanguage The primary language of the term. language  
termType An indication of the basic type of the term, chosen from the controlled vocabulary PT, ND, NL
PT = preferred term
ND = non-descriptor (non-preferred term)
NL = node label
LOCassociation type=category CEF to publish the scheme
definition A definition of the concept represented identified by the termId and labelled by the termName. description  
termVocabulary The identifier of the vocabulary the term originates from. ? Maybe primaryStructure
browseRoot (true, false) Indicates if a term should be displayed as a top term or not. new LOCassociation type=category CEF to publish the scheme
sortKey An explicit sort key for the term based on application-specific sorting rules to produce order not attainable through a strict alphanumeric sort. no map serialisation order can be taken as sort order, otherwise not mapped
termCreatedDate   created  
termCreatedBy   LOCassociation type=by  
termModifiedDate   modified  
termModifiedBy   LOCassociation type=by  
termNote   LOCassociation type these both support extensions in a similar way
termNote reserved labels      
authority An approved Authority that created and "owns" the term. Can be used by systems to allocate user permissions.   could extend to new LOCassociation type=by term
CEFType A label taken from a controlled vocabulary used to indicate the type of term from a curriculum perspective.
e.g. objective, topic, action, competency
These may vary according to context.
LOCassociation type=category CEF to publish any schemes. Could be used to differentiate LOCs form non-LOCs.
displayNote A note associated with a term that may be used for display purposes. Many curricula have information associated with a node in a structure that is not part of the term. merge in with furtherInformation  
level An indication of the level that the concept applies to taken from an identified controlled vocabulary. For example Year 1 or Year 2. LOCassociation type=level  
longTerm A term label that is longer than can be easily managed in user interfaces, but needs to be retained for completeness - e.g. parts of a curriculum document. merge in to furtherInformation  
subject The main subject(s) that a concept belongs to. Similar to Qualifier and Category but from a set of subjects typically used in curricula taken from an identified controlled vocabulary. LOCassociation type=topic  


Relationships in CEF and InLOC are similar but in CEF the model does not specify the binding as skos specifically. A term is modelled as having an optional set of relationship sub-records and with each relationship being of a basic type these are BT, NT, USE, UF Linguistic Equivalent and RT. Additional relationships can be given using an optional extension of the basic types such as extending NT (Narrower Term) by Narrower Term Partitive to indicate the the object is a part of the subject.

When CEF instance is expressed using skos many of the relationship should be expressed in the same way as LOC.

Compound relationships are allowed in CEF (though not aware of implementations).

In CEF a term can be preferred or not, hence it is possible to relate an item to another item, such as to indicate a close or exact match, and choose to have the item included in the structure as a term to be used or not as well as indicate if it originates from the same structure or a different one.

CEF direct CEF inverse InLOC direct InLOC inverse notes
type = NT type = BT hasLOCpart isLOCpartOf  
typeNote = NTP typeNote = BTP isOptionalPartOf hasOptionalPart needs a separate indicator that an item is optional. Similarly for necessaryPartOf
    hasPreRequisite isPreRequisiteOf could be expressed as a hierarchy using BT and NT with an extension of prerequisite
RT   related   symmetric though extensions may not necessarily be
UF USE exactMatch   In this case the object of the USE relationship is a preferred term but the other is not. InLOC doesn't do preferred terms.
    closeMatch   the RT relationship could be used with a match extension.
sortKey   no map    
LE   exactMatch   with different language

Guidance requirements