2023-11-29 20:53

Kobus van Wyk

Dismantle terminology barriers

The e-pioneer keeps explanations simple.

As if state of the art technology is not complex enough, the terminology used to describe it is often way beyond the grasp of the average teacher.

When discussing technology concepts with teachers the e-pioneer must keep explanations simple.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you can’t understand it well enough,” said Albert Einstein.  This means that the e-pioneer must have a clear understanding of a concept before attempting to explain it to others – knowing what it is, how it is done, when it must be used, where it is applicable and why it works.  If this can’t be done, the one doing the explaining must pause, get a proper understanding of the matter and only then proceed with the teaching process.

Stay away from technical jargon – those terms techies throw around in their conversations, but which make no sense to others.  Avoid such language, particularly the use of acronyms.  Before using a technical term the e-pioneer must consider how likely it is that the other person will understand it.  Always explain unfamiliar words or phrases when they are used for the first time or when you are not sure whether they are understood.

E-pioneers who can’t get through to teachers must consider whether they have not perhaps created a technology barrier.  Resolve the problem by keeping explanations simple.

Click here for more food for thought for e-pioneers.


  1. Abso-bloomin-lutely!
    Why use difficult-to-understand jargon?
    You say that the terminology is way beyond the grasp of the average teacher… Well, I can relate to the teachers here… When those techies get talking, I have no idea what they’re on about.
    I always tell them that I just need to drive the car; I don’t need to know what’s under the bonnet. Sometimes the technical aspects of technology become a distraction from ‘driving’ the computers.

  2. And sometimes when you try, innocently though, to explain or simplify a term, you are met with a disdainful “no, i know that”.

  3. The late Richard Feynman, physicist, used to say more or less the same that if you cannot explain difficult concepts simply to a lay person then you don’t understand it yourself. Physicists are usually good with analogies, steering past some jargon.

    Example : In SNA training explain IP addresses and what DHCP/DNS does to educators. Use a cell phone with names/ numbers as an example.

    Drawing a picture/diagram does a lot for understanding jargon. Even if you don’t understand everything so long you have a basic understanding of how things work, that’s ok. We can build on that. In school, for those who studied Biology (Life Sciences these days), we learnt things by drawing, labeling, writing down the functions of the labels and how the different parts function together. I think this is a way to get to understand some of the jargon.

  4. If you look at the booksellers out there in the Malls and beyond, you will find a book …… for Dummies ! ICT terminology is also available.

    We (educators) need to know more than the average man / woman on the street about ICT ….IF you / we are working with IT daily in our / your work environment. What has surprised me up to now is …… the age group that is ICT literate & knows something about the terminology …. the very young and the almost the very old …. it is the inbetweener that is ICT illiterate group.

    NO BIG WORDS but “translate” and “explain” the terms will help to grasp the ICT LANGUAGE. We don’t need experts in schools and classrooms re ICT jargon, just educators who can do some TROUBLESHOOTING with the basic concepts on hand.

    Albie > 50

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