A brief footnote on the metaphors at play themselves:
Whenever I talk about how educational experiences are structured, I speak almost nonstop in metaphorical language. "Course" was a well-chosen metaphor because it rested on a developed understanding of the notion of exploring land. I think that "modules" could be another strong metaphor, if we extend to it our land-based understanding. What we could build by switching our organizing metaphor from "courses" to "modules" is a landscape that encourages learners to find new and useful perspectives on a field rather than to simply make it to the end of the trip. It's inherently outward-looking and network-aware. If modules exist at a point and offer perspective, learners are successful when they look at the field from a well-chosen set of perspectives, a set that allows them to triangulate to pin down the important concepts on the map and offers a diversity of angles so that they can get a good understanding of the overall lay of the land.
"Modules" as a name for this metaphor itself may lead us base our reasoning on our understanding of something other than land, like assembling a machine, which is a different powerful underlying metaphor that brings to mind more questions of how pieces fit together and choosing the right components. But if that understanding loses the outward-looking aspect of the exploration metaphor we are familiar with, we might also weaken the need to fit our learning to the landscape.