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Designing Web-Based Training: How to Teach Anyone Anything Anywhere Anytime by William Horton

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3.4. CONSIDER A METAPHOR

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 [85]. 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.

3.4.1. Examples of metaphors in WBT courses

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.

3.4.1.1. Solar theater

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 ...

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