There remains one more course-level decision to make. Should you use a metaphor to help organize and style your course? If so, which metaphor?
A metaphor is a consistent design that models the structure and appearance of the course on something familiar to learners. A metaphor can be an extended analogy, theme, motif, ongoing scenario, or overall question. Such metaphors, analogies, and explicit comparisons can help people learn . A good metaphor lets people apply what they know about a real-world environment to the task of navigating the WBT course. It also gives the course a unified and consistent appearance and organization.
Metaphors are common in online training, though we often take them for granted. Let's consider a couple of examples of how a metaphor can contribute to organizing and imparting learning.
The Yohkoh Public Outreach Project (solar.physics.montana.edu/YPOP/) chose the metaphor of a movie theater for a collection of tutorials, activities, and scientific data on the physics of the sun.
The project never really took off until we had a unified version as expressed through a theme. Solar physics just isn't a theme that immediately grabs people's attention; instead we use the theme of a movie theater. We selected the movie theater because the real highlight of the project is a long-term scientific-quality movie of the Sun. So, each aspect of the site is created to ...