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Digital technologies and impact of bad/absent schema

Ben-Ari and Yeshno (2006) found that people with appropriate conceptual models of digital technologies were better able to analyse and solve problems. While learners without appropriate conceptual models were limited to aimless trial and error.

The problem is that digital technologies are increasingly blackboxes/opaque , which makes it very difficult to figure out the conceptual models that underpinned their design. To make matters worse most of the training/documentation offered with new digital technology is focused on providing recipes to follow, rather than conceptual understanding.


Post from a developer talking about (reluctant) change from one version control software to another (each with their own schema/models) and includes

It turns out that if you’ve been using Subversion, your brain is a little bit, um, how can I say this politely? You’re brain damaged. No, that’s not polite. You need a little re-education. I walked around brain damaged for six months thinking that Mercurial was more complicated than Subversion, but that was only because I didn’t understand how it really worked, and once I did, it turns out—hey presto!—it’s really kind of simple.


Ben-Ari, M., & Yeshno, T. (2006). Conceptual Models of Software Artifacts. Interacting with Computers, 18(6), 1336–1350. doi:10.1016/j.intcom.2006.03.005