What can be conceptually modelled?

Is there a useful, simple, easily understandable set of categories (or “top ontology” ) for helping people know what kind of thing they are thinking of when doing conceptual modelling or concept maps?

I started to think about this kind of thing when writing my book on e-portfolios, because I wanted a decent basis for discussion of what kind of information there is, or could be, in e-portfolios — and also, what kinds of things can e-portfolios refer to. I couldn’t find anything that was simple enough and easy enough to understand, or that I thought would really be helpful to my readers. So I wrote a short section on that in my book.

But then, doing all this recent conceptual modelling work, for European Learner Mobility and other things, the same issues came back. For example when we talk about a “qualification”, what on earth are we talking about? Is is a (physical) piece of paper? A definition of some sort? A status in society? A string of letters? Perhaps the concept of qualification is multi-faceted, and means all these things and more. But that isn’t much use for a conceptual model, where concepts need to be related to other concepts. These different meanings of “qualification” participate in radically different relationships with other concepts.

So, I’ve taken the ideas started off in my book, and put them in a separate web page, which can be developed as people share their feedback with me. It is intended to help people reflect on and understand what kind of concept or thing they mean, when doing conceptual modelling, so aiding communication in and about concept maps.

Here, then, is a link to the page with my “top ontology” — open to discussion and development. Please comment (through whatever medium), and help me make it into a useful resource.

3 thoughts on “What can be conceptually modelled?

  1. Pingback: Modélisation conceptuelle | IP blog

  2. Pingback: More competency | Simon Grant of CETIS

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