Please note: This section of the website details activities prior to TVET Australia Limited assuming management of the AEShareNet licensing system.
Development of the AEShareNet data structure
Contents of this page
- What is the AEShareNet data structure?
- How was the data structure developed?
- AVETMISS and the introduction of the ASCED Field of Education
- Treatment of module codes
- Format Type field
- Other relevant pages on this site
- External links
In the context of this document, the AEShareNet data structure means the database structure and the associated coding schemes used to describe Material Registrations in AEShareNet. The full data structure behind AEShareNet includes a much more comprehensive data structure describing, for example, Members of AEShareNet and details of specific licences transacted between members.
Much of this document contains material was written in 1999 and was originally included in the Local System User Guide but has now been separated out. As a result, this document focuses on specific fields where it was thought necessary to explain background thinking to decisions made. Future version of this document may provide a more comprehensive explanation of the issues related to other fields in the data structure.
The data structure for describing materials in AEShareNet had to meet several criteria:
- It needed to contain fields to implement the licensing system envisaged in the AEShareNet Charter and Functional Specification.
- It needed to be as consistent as possible with descriptive systems and terms already in use in the VET sector.
- It needed to be consistent with emerging systems for resource description and resource discovery being developed internationally to facilitate exposure of Australian VET resources to an international audience.
- As far as possible where controlled vocabulary coding schemes were desired these schemes should be maintained by other organisations as AEShareNet does not have the resources to maintain coding schemes.
- In implementing these criteria, the AEShareNet data structure drew heavily on the EdNA Metadata Standard, which in turn is based on the international Dublin Core metadata element set.
Wherever possible, where fields require the use of controlled vocabulary coding schemes, existing coding systems are used. These are coding schemes which have been developed and are maintained by other key organisations. AEShareNet does not have the resources to develop or maintain coding schemes for individual fields. Consequently in some cases this may mean that more than one coding scheme is to be used for a field. The Subject field allows users to select from three possible subject thesauruses: The VOCED Thesaurus, AVETMISS Discipline Group and the OZJAC Subject Thesaurus.
The VOCED Thesaurus, (previously known as the APSDEP Thesaurus with VOCED supplements) is currently used by VOCED to classify listed material. It is envisaged the VOCED Thesaurus will be used on AEShareNet to classify Research and Policy Materials including catalogues, bibliographies, thesauri, policy documents, workshop, seminar or conference proceedings, research reports, questionnaires, survey results, evaluation studies, feasibility studies, and statistics.
The AVETMISS Discipline Group Identifier (Release 2.0) and the OZJAC Subject Thesaurus are appropriate to use in classifying the content of VET materials on AEShareNet which relate to a particular subject or discipline area.
As VET is a dynamic sector, changes are taking place constantly. One such change which directly affects AEShareNet is the development of the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) by the ABS in consultation with the VET and Higher Education sectors.
The National Training Statistics Committee (responsible for AVETMISS) has given "in principle" agreement to implement the new Field of Education (FOE) classification within AVETMISS replacing the Field of Study and Discipline Group Identifiers (used to code courses, qualifications, modules and units of competency).
However ASCED is not yet implemented and supported in other parts of the VET sector. AEShareNet has therefore decided to use the AVETMISS Discipline Group system until ASCED has been implemented and tested.
The current version of AVETMISS is Release 3.0, September 1998 (which has 5 digit level of detail for Discipline Groups), however AEShareNet has chosen to use the Release 2.0, May 1996 version of AVETMISS. The only change to the Discipline Group classifications between version 2 and 3 was the deletion of the last level of detail (Release 2.0 has a 7 digit level of detail for Discipline Groups). There are therefore no compatibility problems in using Version 2. The reason AEShareNet chose the Release 2.0 version is that ABS will be producing a concordance (mapping) between the 7 digit AVETMISS Discipline Group and the 6 digit ASCED Field of Education Classification. It should therefore be possible to automate translation from existing AVETMISS Discipline Group codes in AEShareNet data files to the new ASCED system when it is available, without having to manually review entries.
The term "Module" relates only to courses based on curriculum. When a student enrols in a course based on curriculum they enrol in modules. The term "Unit of Competency" relates only to qualifications based on training packages. Students enrol in Units of Competency when they undertake a qualification based on a training package.
Accreditation of Courses
Accreditation of Courses based on curriculum takes place at the State level. Each State has been given a bank of codes and the State recognition authority issues them to courses as they are accredited. These are national codes. Many states also allocate a state code to their accredited courses. The States/Territories are responsible for supplying the National Training Information Service (NTIS) with information on their State accredited courses including national codes. NTIS in turn provides these Course codes and descriptions to AEShareNet and they form part of the listing available in AEShareNet of NTIS National Codes (along with codes for Training Packages, Units of Competency and Qualifications in Training Packages).
Modules do not have national codes, they have state codes. When a state buys a module from an existing course in another state, they may change the module code to fit in with their course. There is no requirement for the "purchaser" to maintain the existing ("vendor") code. So nationally, there may be a number of codes in various states representing the same module. There is no central National register of state issued module codes.
What Are National Module Codes?
A number of years ago, ACTRAC commissioned various projects to write modules. At this time they issued the author with parameters for a set code which they were to use. These were called "National Module Codes (NMCs)".
When some States use these existing modules, they retain the original "NMC" and do not recode them to fit in with the new course. It is not clear that all States follow this practice. NMCs are still utilised by ATP as part of their stock codes.
There are still a number of the old national modules which are commonly recognised and adopted in the VET sector, for example:
- NOS - national office skills
- NCS - national communication skills
- NGMS - national generic management
- tourism and hospitality modules
There is no longer any nationally maintained database of National Modules.
Treatment of module codes in AEShareNet
As described above, AEShareNet does not have the resources to maintain coding schemes and prefers to use schemes which are in general use in the VET sector and are maintained by an identified national body. It is therefore not possible for AEShareNet to support module codes (either state or national) as a coding system in AEShareNet in the same way that is done with, for example, NTIS National Codes or the AVETMISS Discipline Group codes.
However given that module codes (especially national module codes) are still used as a reference point by people in the VET sector, the Local System User Guide suggests that these codes may be included in the Description field where appropriate. This will allow some searching on these codes, although it should not be relied or expected to be as comprehensive as the supported coding systems.
Traditionally the format of VET materials have been described in terms of physical format. Most resources were print based and others were tied to particular physical formats such as video tapes, audio tapes, and more recently CD-ROMs. No single agreed system for describing format was used across the VET sector. Digitisation has meant that the link between physical formats and the type of content is well and truly broken. For example, resources which are basically intended as a print resource might be distributed via a website as a PDF file, they could be placed on a CD-ROM. Audio resources can be distributed on audio cassettes, or could be MP3 or other audio format files distributed via a website or CD-ROM.
There are two separate issues here. What is the format with respect to how the resource will be used (read, listened to, viewed) and what is the format with respect to distribution and access (including what equipment do I need to access the resource). This distinction is the cause of much confusion and has been argued out extensively in the Dublin Core community. The Dublin Core resolution was to call the first "Type" and the second "Format". For Type a recommended list of values has been developed called DCT1. For the second the recommendation is to use a scheme such as IMT (Internet Media Type).
The approach being used in the AEShareNet database is to use the Dublin Core "Type" list as a separate field. (Unfortunately it was too late to change the field name used in the AEShareNet data structure which is "Format Type").
Descriptions in the User Guide have been written specifically for the AEShareNet context based on the List of Resource Types 1999-08-05 from the Dublin Core "Type Working Group".
The following Dublin Core values have not been incorporated into the first release of the AEShareNet Local System software:
It is conceivable that the above two value might be relevant in future, but have been left out at this stage as we could see no immediately relevant examples. Models in the sense of simulations can be covered in most cases by "Interactive resource".
- Physical object
It is hard to imagine any situation under which these type of resources would be covered by an AEShareNet licence.
Physical format information should be included in the "Description" field if it is likely to be important to the licensee in deciding whether the material is in a suitable format for their use.
Additional information is available in:
- The Local System User Guide provides practical advice for members conducting data entry.
- The Local System Technical Reference includes detailed documentation of the Material Registration database structure including field names and lengths.
- Technical Overview and Credits provides an entry point for more technical information about the AEShareNet technical systems.
- Dublin Core Metadata Initiative
- Dublin Core
- List of Resource Types
The current version of this list (which may supersede the version of DCT1 used by AEShareNet) is kept at:
- EdNA Metadata Standard
- VOCED Thesaurus