The term “model” has different meanings depending on the field of study. In the context of learning, a more precise definition is worthwhile because models are ubiquitous. Animations can also be seen as models.

Many models serve as substitutes for a reality. Models can, for instance, serve the purpose of gaining knowledge or aesthetic enjoyment. Even music or abstract graphics can be viewed as models. Artistic models sometimes replace what people dream of, fear, or simply find beautiful. They replace reality from the perspective of experience.

Not only material models but also imagined models fulfill a substitute function. For example, mentally visualizing a floor plan can guide one’s way through a building. When it comes to imagined models, one can speak of a mental model.

Models structure consciousness and thought. This can be seen, for example, in an abacus, which helps perform arithmetic operations.

Models, and animations in particular, can help eliminate critical factors in learning. In the fields of technology and natural sciences, this includes the lack of perceivability of the corresponding reality.


Stachowiak, Herbert: Allgemeine Modelltheorie, Wien/New York: Springer 1973