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Spring is fast approaching, and that means that we are approaching the camping season–I mean for normal people, not those maniacs who go camping in the middle of winter like they never heard of a cabin or something. But I digress.

With the great outdoors at our disposal in the coming months, our mind turns to the abundant metaphors that roughing it provides and—as you might have guessed—some of those metaphors deal directly with eLearning.

Tent stakes

Humans have been using tents for many thousands of years, originally as a portable dwelling for nomadic hunter-gatherers, and today used mostly for recreational purposes. A crucial element of these shelters are the stakes, which anchor the cloth parts of the tent to the ground, keeping the covering taut, which in effect keeps the whole structure standing.

If eLearning were a tent, then these stakes would be the foundational principles of eLearning. The University of Mary Washington’s Online Learning Initiative laid out five values for effective course design. They are intellectual community, interactivity (between students and teachers or between students), active learning, reflection, and self-directed learning. Keeping these principles in mind while you design courses, you can create a more sturdy structure that fully immerses your learners in the material.


If you, like me, occasionally want an outdoor experience, but also some luxury amenities, glamping is the way to go. Short for “Glamorous camping,” this lovely pastime is the best of both worlds. You’re out in the wilderness, soaking up all of nature’s wonder, but when that grows tiresome, you can kick back in a spacious stand-up tent with interior design and two twin beds. TWO TWIN BEDS! If you don’t believe me, just do an image search for glamping. Could camping get better? Because I think it just reached it’s natural limit right there.

If you want to experience a warrior-like feeling akin to scaling El Capitan without a safety line (not recommended), but want to do so in style, try one of our many eLearning templates (definitely recommended). It’s your text, your images, and your course, but we’ve taken care of the aesthetics, so you can have your cake and eat it too.


As every young scout troop knows, the wilderness is a place where it pays immensely to be prepared. You’ll need a sleeping bag, a knife, food, flashlight: the works. Most important, you’ll either need matches, flint and steel, or in the case of my scout troop, a BIC and some lighter fluid (again, not recommended).

When it comes to eLearning, you need to prepare as well. You don’t just run in there, guns-a-blazin’ and start building a course on the fly. You need to think about and, with your team, put a design down on paper so you know where to go with it. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, most of the great works of literature were not nailed on the first draft, so don’t expect your first attempt to be your best work.

What about the great outdoors reminds you of eLearning? Let us know in the comments!

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