If you didn’t understand anything this week, you might learn something here.

by Asim K
Ladies, gentlemen, and classmates: I’ve got the perfect solution for you in the case that you’ve been staring at the whiteboard for the past week and all you can make out is pretty boxes in blue expo marker. I ran across an intuitive article written by Hui-Lien Tung and Hsiang-Jui King titled “A Web-Based Tool for Teaching Data Modeling” in our own ACM Digital Library.

The authors start off by describing the purpose of their paper: to illustrate a new method of teaching and learning data modeling through the web. Between using the entity relationship diagram system (basically, our project) and the process of normalization (taking a relational approach, i.e. what we’ve been doing in class), the authors step in Dr. Zhang’s way and mention that learning modeling through the process of normalization, although easier than ER diagrams, is obsolete. A new, alternative method is needed they say.

Tung and Kung further go into the explanation of their web-wrought concept and step by step explain the process of creating diagrams through text in a web browser, along with pictures (I love pictures). This process carries on until the end of the article where, finally, an ER diagram is generated through the web-based process of ER data modeling with the click of a button.

So, although this process sounds amazing, simple, and effective – it’s not. If you don’t believe me, check out the source below. When we think of web applications, we think of applications that will make our life easier, not artificially difficult as some how Lung and Tung have managed to do. Honestly, I expected more out of an idea for a web application created in the year 2010 – the year when companies like Dropbox, Apple, etc. were doing everything they could to make graphical user interfaces friendlier and easier to use. The web application, linked in the paper – which by the way don’t waste your time trying to access because the page doesn’t work anymore – is all based off of a text-based data input system. Honestly, I’d stick with Dr. Zhang’s normalization process any day over this. If you haven’t understood anything in the past week, I guess you can try out reading this paper, but hey, you’re probably better off reading our textbook (assuming you bought a copy 🙂 ).

Kung, H., & Tung, H. (2010). A web-based tool for teaching data modeling. Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges26(2), 231-237. Retrieved from http://0-delivery.acm.org.opac.library.csupomona.edu/10.1145/1860000/1858619/p231-kung.pdf

6 thoughts on “If you didn’t understand anything this week, you might learn something here.

  • October 14, 2012 at 11:36 pm
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    I wish I could view the web application. Although it might help some students learn some concepts of data modeling, I don’t think it could simplify it, because that is something that takes years to master.

    • October 14, 2012 at 11:46 pm
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      I think you can do it man. Believe in yourself.

      • October 14, 2012 at 11:54 pm
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        Lol….Did i just Loled? Excuse me…

  • October 14, 2012 at 11:53 pm
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    Great read Asim! It is good to know the way of learning through the web application. It looks pretty clear too. Have been doing well so far by combining our lecture, PPT and the book. But I will definitely try out the web application in your post.

  • October 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm
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    It would be a very useful data modeling automation tool if well-designed and implemented, however a common problem occurs to many academia research projects is the lack of funding or support even though it may be a good idea to start with, compared to many well-funded and executed startups. I also think that certain fundamental knowledge concepts, such as ERD and integrity constraints, would be important to understand for students/beginners, regardless which modeling tools or what type of databases we use.

    • October 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm
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      Thank you Dr Zhang! I’ll definitely be looking into those concepts

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