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Metaphor and meaning making

The right metaphor is used in context.

From Learning Technologies 2011

By understanding your audience you come to understand what metaphors will have resonance.

By working in the communications industry, by reading a good deal, looking at even more, you develop a sense of what is cliché.

Whilst clichés work, indeed repetition of expressions that work make sense, in many contexts the cliché fails to make an impression, for example, thinking of a multinational like players in an orchestra.

I like, from a design point of view, the idea of ‘Swim Lanes’ because as a swim coach I understand the relationship between the coach/coaching team and the athlete.

The sense of personal development makes sense, as do the motivations and effort. The trick for me is to translate this into programmes of study.

This image has more power to my mind than a pool with water in it, the lane ropes out and Bill Furniss blowing a whistle at Rebecca Adlington.

We will get bored of the sports cliché these next 12 months.

  • If learning design is like swim lanes, then what has happened here?
  • No one signed up for the course and the organisation went bust?
  • Lack of support?
  • Course materials out of date?
  • Systems failure with the VLE that leaves the experience somewhat less like swimming up and down a pool?

All we are doing here is trying to get others inside our head, or better still, to create something extra corporeal, like the ‘Object 3’ in Engestrom’s learning systems.

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