Organizing learning materials through hierarchical topic maps: An illustration through Chinese herb medication

B. J. Shih, J. L. Shih, R. L. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This research aims to use hierarchical topic maps to compile digital learning material and to discuss its design and application possibilities. The system renders tremendous original assets and then embeds a self-organizing map (SOM) in the material database to produce topical learning materials, as in this case, an illustration through Chinese herb medication. It helps to demonstrate robust professional information as well as knowledge structures, and provides a customized and interactive learning dynamic to support both progressive and constructive learning styles. The paper first gives a detailed procedural description of the material construction, explains how topic map techniques were applied, and observes the implications and potentials of the technology to education. Both the technical and educational evaluations of using SOM topic maps in compilation of learning materials have resulted in positive feedback. SOM allows users to review the complete databank in structural hierarchical order, which provides comprehensive understanding of the entire set of learning materials, and also brings opportunities to users to discover knowledge related to their study area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-490
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Computer Assisted Learning
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Chinese herb medication
  • Digital learning material
  • Self-organizing map
  • Topic map


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