When an Instructional Designer Hold the Strings of Puppets: A Qualitative Study of Using Visual Metaphor in E-learning Environment



Studies have shown the importance of visual metaphor in facilitating learning. Metaphor aids in communicating complex concepts in a clear manner, and enhances the learning experience. This study investigates graduate studentsí experiences and attitudes toward visual metaphors in an online learning environment. The visual metaphor used in this study was developed for an online instructional design course. Participants read the materials and were asked to respond to open-ended questions. The participantsí responses were analyzed qualitatively. A within-case analysis was conducted, followed by a cross-case analysis, in order to study multiple cases. Evidence encountered suggests that visual metaphors assisted participants in fulfilling their educational goals. When interviewed, all participants appreciated the visual metaphors presented and stated that they preferred the presence of visual metaphors in the context of their studies. However, the participants had different perspectives on how the meaning of the metaphors could be perceived.