Analyzing systems using the Motion Picture lens

The motion picture lens is a great way to analyze a system over time, as it goes through the processes of change. Unlike the Function/Structure model that Banathy (1973a) describes in Chapter 3, the Motion Picture lens provides a great view of the system over time.

Banathy (1973b) states in Chapter 4 that this model is very effective for analyzing open systems which are responding to their environments. This type of system would be constantly making small adjustments and changes based on input received from the environment and might even be making major transformations through co-evolution if the need called for it.

Banathy proposes that the model works well with educational systems. A healthy educational system would be open to its environment. It would respond to changes in the environment and make adjustments to itself to stay current and ensure its services remain in demand.

He also referred frequently back to the community-based wellness system as a good application of the lens. I think in a way that a wellness system would be similar to an educational system, because the goal of a wellness system is, to a certain extent, the education of its members in the way in which to get and stay healthy. This may be why the lens is so effective.

Banathy also states that the transformative process is most effective when all members of the system have a clear image of the system. In many systems, the image of the system may not be shared among its members. There may be some disagreement as to the system’s purpose as well. In these cases, the Motion Picture lens may be less effective at defining these systems and providing an adequate analysis of the system’s state and changes through time.

I found that the model made a lot of sense to me. I liked the recursive nature of the model. I liked the way that information flowed within the model, always being analyzed, the most important elements selected, items acted upon or transformed, and then the output used by the next process. It also made sense that some unhealthy organizations might screen out information of vital importance to the system but which indicated the need for change. I’ve seen members of my own system act in that manner and try to hide important indicators which would require a drastic change to our system. Even though the change would be in the best interest of the system, the evidence so indicating was hidden or suppressed. The result endangers our programs and even our very existence as a school, but these people do not want change at any price. It also helps to be able to look back and see how changes were made gradually, over time, rather than quickly. Analyzing a system in this way and seeing this makes it easier to have patience and to understand that the process of change is a lengthy one, and that it will happen eventually.


Banathy, B. H. (1973a). The functions/structure model. In Developing a systems view of education: The systems-model approach (pp. 59–97). Salinas, CA: Intersystems Publications.

Banathy, B. H. (1973b). The process lens: The motion-picture model. In Developing a systems view of education: The systems-model approach (pp. 99–172). Intersystems Publications.


3 responses to “Analyzing systems using the Motion Picture lens

  1. Nicely reflected here, Julia. I saw it come across my feed and just wanted you to know I’m still reading what you post from time to time. Keep up the excellent work!

  2. Pingback: LTEC 6250 – Fall 2016: Blog Twelve | UNT – Yun Lauren Liu

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