Concept Resource Maps


Jack Yensen, B.Sc.(Hons), Ph.D., RN

This is the second of a series (1) of 4 linked articles that attempts to construct some strategies for learning. This, the second article, describes concept resource maps, and illustrates how to construct them and how to use them. The articles that follow will be organized as shown below:

Given sufficient interest, it is the intent of the author to build a set of CE courses to address each of these articles. Any person completing these courses should be able to design, build, deploy and manage concept maps, concept resource maps, learning objects and wooks.

This article is organized as follows:

What is a concept resource map?
How do I find resources quickly and easily?

How do I use concept resource maps?

What is a concept resource map?

As an illustration I have chosen a typical topic from a nursing course, namely 'bullying.' The challenge is to develop a strategy that will allow taking any concept map for any given concept and then populating it rapidly with resources such that a student, a nurse, an instructor, an instructional designer or a member of a curriculum committee could quickly assemble a learning object, a content module, a course, a program or a curriculum and be confident that they were including comprehensive, relevant, accurate, timely and engaging resources for the consumers of their learning products.

In the example of the concept of bullying, the concept itself may be derived from a parent concept map:

How do I find resources quickly and easily?

The strategy is to develop a JITROD template (2) that allows for fast execution of searches for relevant and comprehensive resources. The technique was developed a few years ago and has been refined to allow for a variety of new sources and any subject matter. Here is a template that will encourage a comprehensive collecting strategy. As you move the cursor over the components of the concept map, a pointing hand will indicate a clickable hotspot and on clicking smaller windows will open and dynamically generate the results of the search or show previous search yields.

The child window that is spawned will explain the search strategy for that resource. It will be seen that each of the branches specifies a particular type of category or resource. A search for each type of resource may be executed electronically in most cases, and in the completed example search yields are shown. For a given concept, it may not be necessary nor desirable to search every type or category of resource, since this might lead to resource overload. In the template it can be seen that there may be some potential for recursiveness, i.e. the concept resource map itself may be child or parent of another concept map or learning object. Similarly, it may be converted into an RSS feed, thereby becoming part of a distributed concept resource map repository. Once the resources have been reviewed and selected, the final concept resource map may be converted into many different kinds of learning objects, suitable for inclusion in a repository.

If we re-purpose the concept map into an outline form, we can add more detail to the individual strategies:

How do I use concept resource maps?

There are several obvious uses for concept resource maps:

In the generic and unpopulated form, the concept map template may serve as a useful guide on the side for users who wish to explore different ways of mining for resources. Such an application might be a useful structured introduction for students in learning comprehensive strategies for resource mining and organizing (digital asset management). In the populated form, concept-resource maps are a useful and dynamic way of presenting students or clients with a large array of resources, from which they may selectively browse or manage resources. For example, once could imagine linking new faculty to a populated concept resource map for orientation to a new curriculum or course. Similarly, the same strategy might prove effective in helping nursing students prepare for their licensure exams. Their are many such potential applications.

One of the most exciting uses of populated concept resource maps is to use them in the rapid generation of learning objects. Learning Objects are defined here(3) as any entity, digital or non-digital, which can be used, re-used or referenced during technology supported learning. Examples of technology-supported learning include computer-based training systems, interactive learning environments, intelligent computer-aided instruction systems, distance learning systems, and collaborative learning environments. Examples of Learning Objects include multimedia content, instructional content, learning objectives, instructional software and software tools, and persons, organizations, or events referenced during technology supported learning (LOM, 2001).

Here is an example of a learning object related to nifedipine. How was this object generated? Firstly, a concept-resource map for nifedipine was developed using the approaches described above. Here is a piece of the unpopulated concept map:


Using this concept map, it is easy to populate the map with resources. Here are some of the resources used:

Web Resources

Nifedipine - RxList Monographs
Nifedipine Adverse Reactions
Calcium Channel Blockers Center
Withdrawal of nifedipine capsules: jeopardising the treatment of acute severe hypertension in pregnancy?
Nifedipine for hypertension may not increase the risk for adverse cardiovascular events


Drug Database
Nifedipine (Procardia XL) - crystal structure


Ion Channel

Recent Reviews

Anon. (1999, Nov). An evaluation of beta-blockers, calcium antagonists, nitrates, and alternative therapies for stable angina. [Review] [0 refs]. Evidence Report: Technology Assessment (Summary), 10, 1-2.
Conlin, P., & Williams, G. (1998). Use of calcium channel blockers in hypertension. [Review] [102 refs]. Advances in Internal Medicine, 43, 533-62.
Elliott, H., & Meredith, P. (1997, Dec). Clinical pharmacokinetics of nifedipine. Implications for the care of the elderly. [Review] [26 refs]. Drugs & Aging, 11(6), 470-9.
Elliott, W. (2001, Apr). Hypertensive emergencies. [Review] [45 refs]. Critical Care Clinics, 17(2), 435-51.
Epstein, M. (1999). Diagnosis and management of hypertensive emergencies. [Review] [50 refs]. Clinical Cornerstone, 2(1), 41-54.
Ho, M., & Belch, J. (1998). Raynaud's phenomenon: State of the art 1998. [Review] [37 refs]. Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology, 27(5), 319-22.
Kaufman, S., & Schneider, E. (2000, Mar). Dangers, myths, controversy. Sublingual nifedipine for hypertensive crisis. [Review] [22 refs]. Jaapa/Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, 13(3), 67-8.
Leonetti, G., & Zanchetti, A. (2002, Jan-Feb.). Results of antihypertensive treatment trials in the elderly. [Review] [31 refs]. American Journal of Geriatric Cardiology, 11(1), 41-7.
Papatsonis, D., Lok, C., Bos, J., Geijn, H., & Dekker, G. (2001, Aug). Calcium channel blockers in the management of preterm labor and hypertension in pregnancy. [Review] [186 refs]. European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Biology, 97(2), 122-40.
Ruddy, M. (2001, Aug). The INSIGHT and NORDIL trials: Are calcium antagonists equivalent to established drug therapies for cardiovascular protection? [Review] [47 refs]. Current Hypertension Reports, 3(4), 289-96.
Varon, J., & Marik, P. (2000, Jul). The diagnosis and management of hypertensive crises. [see comments.]. [Review] [166 refs] Comments Comment in: Chest. 2001 Jan;119(1):316 ; 11157632. Chest, 118(1), 214-27.
White, C. (1997, Oct). Calcium channel blockers in left ventricular dysfunction or congestive heart failure. [Review] [20 refs]. Connecticut Medicine, 61(10), 659-61.

Using Macromedia Flash, it is now possible to put all of these components together as a learning object, allowing for a zoom back approach from the molecular level to the tissue level to the system level. Then the concept resource map resources may be added (in this case as Web resources) allowing for further drill down. For example, in the final learning object, clicking on web resources will show the partially populated concept-resource map for nifedipine, where clicking on either the drug molecule itself or the calcium channel will lead to further resources. Such a strategy will accommodate Benner's(4) novice to expert continuum in all learning objects.


(1) Yensen, J.A.P. (2002) Strategies for Learning - from Concept Maps to Learning Objects and Books to Wooks. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI). Vol. 6, No. 2. [Online]. Available at

(2) Yensen, J.A.P. (1998) Just In Time Resources On Demand (JITROD) for Nursing Education. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. Vol. 1, No. 3 [Online]. Available at

(3) LOM (2001). LOM working draft v5. Retrieved May 23rd, 2003 from the World WideWeb:

(4) Benner, P. (1984) From Novice to Expert: Excellence and Power in Clinical Nursing Practice. Menlo Park, CA.: Addison-Wesley.