I am working with the ISO/IEC 19788-1:2011 these days, reading and taking notes to see if and how it can be adopted for specific projects. The other day I downloaded the freely available version mentioned above, printed it, took my highlighters and started reading through. The document starts with some introductory information and also by providing “Terms and Definitions”. Although I am familiar with most of the terms, reading through this section, I was kind of confused by the terms used. The writing was clear and the references to other related terms was clear as well, but still I needed some kind of visualization to wrap my head around them.
To this end, I decided to create some depictions of the terms referenced in “Terms and Definitions” of the ISO/IEC 19788-1:2011, just to allow me to read through the rest of the document more easily. And of course, since I created them, I decided to share them here, hoping that they may come in handy to someone else studying the standard. There are already some concept maps in the end of this document, which may also come in hand. Unfortunately, I only discovered them half-way creating mine on paper, so I decided to go ahead and finish my work either way.
Before going into the graphics, first of all, note that the use of the specific shapes, connecting lines and relations do not by any means follow a specific entity-relationship or other diagram logic. It’s more of an artistic approach of my own that helps me understand and document relations and connections. So if something is off, based on your experience and knowledge, please bear with me! On top of that, I would appreciate any comments for parts that I may have misunderstood, in the comments’ section as always!
Trying to grasp the concepts, I tried to find a “zero-point” from where I could start building the greater picture. So, for ISO/IEC 19788-1:2011, an “Entity” can be any concrete or abstract thing that exists. This can be a person, an object, an idea, an event or a process. Each entity has “Attributes” that characterize it and it also has “Attribute Values”, the value that each attribute takes. Now, each Entity that is referenced by a stable identifier (like a URI), is a “Resource“. A group of resources whose properties and behaviour, follow the same rule or rule set, are referred to as “Resource Class“. Resources and Resource Class are both described with the use of “Data Elements” that also have their own Attributes and Attribute Values. A Data Element is a unit of data. We’ll break here to look a bit more at the Data Elements.
A Data Element, a unit of data that is, is described in a “Data Element Specification” (upper right of Figure 2). When the Data Element conforms to a specific rule or rule set, it is called a “Conformant Data Element“. An aggregation of Data Elements, is called a “Data Element Group” and their description using specific attributes and values, is called a “Data Element Group Specification“. As a concluding remark that we’ll hold in the back of our heads for now, each Data Element that describes a Learning Resource (resource used for learning, education and training), is called a “Metadata Element“.
Going back to Figure 1, we see that each Data Element has one or more Content Values (content of the data element) that form the Range of the Data Element. As we can also see in the orange area, a “Domain” is defined as the Resource Class whose resources are described by a Data Element. Therefore, the set of all Learning Resources is considered as a specific Domain. An “Application Profile Specification” is the description of the “Application Profile” through its Attribute Values and the Data Element Group Specification (Figure 2).
When an Application Profile is used to describe a Learning Resource, following a specific rule set, then an “Application Profile Record” is created. If all the Data Elements used within the Application Profile are conformant, then the result is a “Conforming Application Profile Record“.
The remaining terms explained in chapter 3 of the ISO/IEC 19788-1:2011 are pretty straight-forward and self-explanatory. Terms like “Conditional”, “Definition”, “Extension”, “Identifier”, “Literal”, “Mandatory”, “Name”, “Obligation Status” “Optional”, “Refine” and “String” should not be difficult to grasp. Having a somewhat clearer perception on the terms explained in the figures, it’s time to attempt to go forward with the remaining of the document. I am naming this post “Part I” cause I am pretty sure that there will be a “Part II” as well!
Comments are welcome! 😉
UPDATE: Please find below a short presentation available through Slideshare, outlining the same concepts discussed in the blog post above.