So you’re in class, just teaching along, and a new concept walks in and nobody recognizes her. How do you introduce this strange concept to your students? You could ask if anyone has met her before. But maybe no one has. What else can we try?

In the Ontario Extend Teacher for Learning Module, it is suggested that we can use analogies to help explain new concepts.

For example, at eCampusOntario we love us some Open Education. Therefore, we often find ourselves talking about what it is. If you haven’t heard, Open Education, at its simplest, is sharing. Sharing your teaching resources, plans and ideas as well as the products of learning in order to help others get ahead. One analogy that might help is the chairlift: the lovely machine that, if we’re lucky enough to have access to one, can drag us up the hill without a hike. Open Education can be a chairlift that takes you part of the way up the mountain, so you don’t have to climb the whole way all by yourself.

In your discipline, what is a concept that is often hard to understand? Can you think of an analogy that helps to make sense of the concept? Show us how the analogy fits in a description, illustration, video or puppet show.

image credit: “Aerosilla 2” flickr photo by morrissey shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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