Issues affecting the utility of computer-based mapping applications.
This thesis records an investigation of the issues that affect the utility of computer-based
mapping applications - where a computer-based mapping application provides a
computer-generated environment to facilitate the construction of concept maps. 'Concept
map' is a term used to describe a graphical representation, the purpose of which is to
informally express ideas and the associations between ideas, whilst facilitating the
generation and sorting of ideas.
The work reported is the first of its kind to compare and contrast the strengths and
weaknesses of the different media with which concept maps can be constructed. The work
is exploratory, combining investigation with software development.
A brief overview of the content of the work completed is as follows:
• The literature relating to concept mapping was reviewed to identify the likely needs of
those engaged in mapping activities.
• A significant sample of people was surveyed in order to ascertain the perceived needs
of those engaged in mapping.
• The software currently available to draw maps was surveyed in order to assess the
utility of computer-based mapping applications, with respect to the perceived needs of
• A prototype computer-based mapping application was developed to act as a focus for
• As a result of feedback from users of the prototype computer-based mapping
application, it was discovered that the main way in which people create maps is to
generate and sort a few ideas at a time.
• The prototype software was further developed, as a result of feedback from mappers, .
and in its final form has been made available in the public domain.
• A glossary of terms was developed, by which the designers and users of computer-based
mapping applications can assess the utility of any given piece of software, in the
light of the tasks mappers wish to achieve.