Introducing UML

by Rudy P
The article i read this week was “Conceptual Data Modeling in the Introductory Database Course: Is it Time for UML?” by James Suleiman and Monica Garfield. This article gave a few reasons why the Unified Modeling Language or UML should be taught in introductory database courses at universities. When teaching conceptual data modeling, a majority of  schools teach the Entity Relationship or ER notation. This is for various reasons including preference and text book support, as many text books only dedicated only a single chapter or a part of the appendix to UML. There have been an increase in the teaching of UML in courses, however not as the primary modeling notation. The main fact backing the claim that UML should be taught in introduction to database course is its use in industry. The authors make the claim that UML has become an increasingly popular notation in the workforce, and thus should be taught in a more detailed manner in academia.

This article was interesting to because we were recently introduced to the ER model, and seems to be the primary data modeling notation the text book and the course will be using. While flipping through the text book it seems that UML is only briefly spoken about when the topic of  Object Oriented Data modeling comes up. If industry is beginning to or is exceedingly using UML as their preferred modeling notation, then I believe the academic curriculum should reflect the industry trends.

The article did not seem to be pushing the use of UML, or did not even state it was the better of any other notation. The article did however attempt to show how industry and academia differ and why. There was not much support for UML from top IS schools, and to changes one’s curriculum there must be a significant reason to. This preference in industry may not be drastically enough to justify a change in one’s curriculum, however if this is something that students may commonly face in the work force then it should be taught in the classroom.


Suleiman, J., & Monica, J. G. (2006). Conceptual data modeling in the introductory database course: Is it time for UML? Journal of Information Systems Education, 17(1), 93-99. Retrieved from;

2 thoughts on “Introducing UML

  • October 7, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    It sounds like we need to start learning more about UML since it is growing popularity in the industry, but perhaps it is better to stick with learning the E-R model because it has been the most widely used fore many years. Also perhaps the E-R model is easier to learn and teach than UML? I don’t know too much about UML, but it’s difficult to really learn new concepts when there’s not enough information about it.

  • October 9, 2012 at 12:17 am

    UML is for Object Oriented data modeling and OO programming so it is not for CIS 305, but it will be introduced in CIS 315 Introduction to Systems Analysis & Design if you are interested in learning more.

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