Sunday, October 03, 2010

Deciphering the Texts of Instructional Design

Granted, it's Sunday night after a jam-packed and exhausting weekend and my brain feels a wee bit dead. So here I am reading an Instructional Design textbook (Reigeluth, 1983) and I'm struggling with this one:

"External Conditions are those events outside the learner that activate and support the internal processes of learning. The appropriate provision of the external event is the framework for planning instruction."

I mean, come on.

Why do we make this so hard for ourselves?

12 comments:

Aneesh said...

Incomprehensible jargon is the hallmark of a profession.
Kingman Brewster, Jr.

:-)

Elena Tikhomirova said...

As for our language - Russian - complecated sentences are writen when you try to write shorter. Some difficult words give an impression of shortening your thought but unfortunatly they only make it longer to understand.

Perhaps we can write longer but simple and real because we all love stories and simple conversation, not the theoretical statements...

Suha Tamim said...

Thank you for making a point of it. I come across it a lot. English not being my first language makes me wonder if it's just me but then again, other readings just flow and I don't find myself going over the sentence again and again to get its meaning

Simone said...

The harder to decipher you are the more deep your thoughts must be. :-)

But in many endeavors simplicity is often the hardest thing to achieve.

Ben said...

I think it reflects collective insecurity about our field. It screams, "No, we really are a profession! See, we've got our own jargon and everything!"

msquareg said...

I disagree. This isn't jargon. This is vocabulary, and as a couple of others suggested vocabulary (and jargon admittedly) is a hallmark of a field of endeavor. Charlie Reigeluth is anything but a purveyor of jargon. Here in this instructional-design theory text, he (and reknowned colleagues) is using the vocabulary proposed by giants in our field and psychology. Internal events and external events are bounded by behaviorism, information processing theory, and nine events of instruction. These terms are defined. To use other terms would be incongruent and would cause more confusion, I believe.

Lady of the Lake said...

I give msquareg some points, but mostly agree here! Reigeluth is a tough go, no doubt about it. I think he feels the need to be extremely explicit in definitions like the above in much the same way a philosopher feels the need to precisely define terms. This doesn't make it easy reading, though.

But, he's worth it; albeit definitely an advanced text. There's good solid stuff in there, and not stuff you find elsewhere. Ok, now I suppose I ought to spend a paragraph defining 'stuff' . . . ;-)

Mark Sheppard said...

I'm leaning more towards vocabulary rather than jargon. CR is a bit of a heavy slog to get through, but it's a solid foundation for a lot of ID practices. I used to find myself making lots of margin notes translating what they said into something more digestible. Apparently I was "making meaning" in some sort of deconstructivist-turned-self-directed-constructivist sort of way. ;-)

Lady of the Lake said...

Mark said, "Apparently I was "making meaning" in some sort of deconstructivist-turned-self-directed-constructivist sort of way.

I like that! :-D

Cammy Bean said...

Ah, Mark -- yes, "making meaning"! That's what I'm doing.

I agree that this is vocabulary vs. jargon -- no intention of disrespect to Charles Reigeluth on my part. I think the green book is great. As Lady of the Lake says, "there's good solid stuff in there!"

And yet, I do find academic language so very challenging. And I'm a reasonably intelligent person. When I have to read a sentence 3-4 times to just figure out what the words mean, let alone the meaning...

I do learn from the working-it-through-part, no doubt. But I admit that I still have no idea what "The appropriate provision of the external event..." means.

Cammy Bean said...

Suha -- academic language (in English) often feels like a second language to me. And yet we persevere, so we can bring the message to the people!

Elena -- please tell me a story (perhaps a practical tale of a theory applied...)

Jane Bozarth said...

Well if academics wrote in plain English, then they wouldn't be All That anymore, would they? Reminds me of the dissertation process, when most days it felt like I was writing in a second language. I know of someone who makes a living as a freelancer who "academics up" student dissertations in order to make them more obtuse and incomprehensible. (PS: Shame about the Riegeluth text. It's great, book but goes out of its way to be inaccessible.)