In 1999, a process of renovation and standardization of Europe’s higher education landscape started with the signing of the Bologna declaration. This process lead to the definition of standard ways to create university curricula, assign degrees, and evaluate students. After more than ten years, the reform process is well under way and a number of higher education policies and processes have already been consolidated. For instance, the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) has now been adopted by most European countries and allows students to attend courses in foreign universities and to automatically transfer the credits they earned abroad to their home university.
While the Bologna process surely has helped to consolidate the heterogeneous higher education systems across Europe, there is still a long way to go before creating a coherent, interconnected and integrated higher education system in Europe. For example, today an exchange student who wants her ECTS credits recognized at her home university has to provide a written certificate from the foreign university about her performance. Once earned, the credits are typically entered once at the foreign university, transferred by post to the home institution, and entered a second time manually at the home university. This scenario clearly points out the lack of cohesion and automation across university systems inside Europe.
It is critical for the successful continuation of this process to support the publication and exchange of information among universities. With this aim in mind, we created the Bowlogna Ontology to model an academic setting as proposed by the Bologna reform.
In figure 1 we present our efforts to design this ontology and the entire process that lead to its creation starting from the deﬁnition of a linguistic lexicon derived from the Bologna reform and its conversion to a formal ontology (see Figure 1). We also describe practical applications of our ontology for end-users at universities (such as a faceted search and browsing system for course information).
The adoption of a standard schema would facilitate the mapping between heterogeneous university schemas and enable information flows among universities (e.g., Erasmus students who have taken exams in foreign universities). Such an adoption would also allow the creation of general tools for internally searching and browsing data in universities. In line with the LinkedUP project, the availability of the Bowlogna ontology may foster the release of open data on the Web by educational institutions. Currently, we are working with the University of Fribourg, Switzerland in order to publicly release a Linked Open Dataset which uses the Bowlogna ontology to describe the current course offering at the university.
The availability of the Bowlogna ontology may foster the release of open data on the Web by educational institutions. Currently, we are working together with the University of Fribourg, Switzerland in order to publicly release new Linked Open Data which use the Bowlogna ontology to describe the current course offering at the university. Additionally, we have used Bowlogna to create a benchmark for semantic databases over an analytical workload called BowlognaBench as well as proposed a faceted search interface over the Bowlogna ontology for easier search and navigation of courses, teaching units, exams, etc.
The Bowlogna ontology can be found online at: http://diuf.unifr.ch/main/xi/bowlogna
Scientific publications about the Bowlogna Ontology
Gianluca Demartini, Iliya Enchev, Joël Gapany, Philippe Cudré-Mauroux: The Bowlogna ontology: Fostering open curricula and agile knowledge bases for Europe’s higher education landscape. Semantic Web 4(1): 53-63 (2013). http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/SW-2012-0064
Gianluca Demartini, Iliya Enchev, Marcin Wylot, Joël Gapany, Philippe Cudré-Mauroux: BowlognaBench – Benchmarking RDF Analytics. SIMPDA 2011: 82-102. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-34044-4_5