Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Speak Words Others Can Understand: Avoid Jargon

It is very important to use language that other people can readily understand when we are trying to communicate a message we want to “stick” and resonate with them. This may sound obvious, but I realize I’ve often been guilty in the past of using a lot of jargon when I talk about educational technology and multimedia communication with teachers. It is VERY easy to turn off teachers when we use technology jargon and terms with which they are not familiar. I think this is (unfortunately) a very common occurrence in technology workshops and at conferences.

'Social Media Cartoon Comic: The Language Of Social Media' photo (c) 2011, seanrnicholson - license:

To address this, we could take the approach that we need to “educate” teachers about new terms and lingo. While this strategy is viable and does work with some teachers, I’m finding a better strategy is to change my own language and vocabulary so teachers can immediately understand what I’m talking about and not need provided definitions of terms.

This is the approach I’m taking with my “Mapping Media to the Curriculum / Common Core” website, eBook and digital learning initiative. Instead of saying “blog” I’m focusing on “interactive writing.” Instead of “podcast” I’m encouraging student digital projects using “narrated art” and “radio shows.” I think changing our vocabulary and terminology when it comes to technology integration is HUGE. It can make the difference between being understood or tuned out. It’s as big a deal as speaking the local language or dialect when we want to communicate any kind of message.

The following verses from the apostle Paul reminded me of these dynamics today. Although Paul was writing about “gifts of the spirit” in a religious context, I think his exhortation to pay attention to the words we use (so we are understood plainly by others) is equally applicable to an educational technology / professional development context.

1 Corinthians 14:7-11 NLT

Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle? It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space. There are many different languages in the world, and every language has meaning. But if I don’t understand a language, I will be a foreigner to someone who speaks it, and the one who speaks it will be a foreigner to me.

See it at

Confused by slava, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  slava 

Mobile blogged from my iPhone with WordPress for iOS at a rest stop in Florence, Kansas.

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