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Pitfalls in teaching with Cases

Each of the cases we provide at this site is complex and multi-layered enough to require more than a simple once over to understand. There are multiple actors, some of them representing the same entity at different times. There are closely interwoven networks of action and reaction guided by multiple and mixed motives, where the real state of the information available to an actor at any one time is unclear.

This is not just an oddity of the cases we have selected; it is a property of all cases if they are studied closely enough. Finally, it is a property of the real life of technology in use.

To help out, we provide you with some tools you will need to teach these cases in a classroom environment. One of those tools is some advice about pitfalls one is likely to find in any discussion of cases this complex.

 The Search for a Single Cause

Subjectivity in Thinking About Causes

The Search to Affix Blame

The Rush to Legalism

The Loose Ascription of "Human Error"

A Fixation on the Technical Failures (and Fixes) in the System

Concluding Comments