Translate to Communicate: Facilitating Client Understanding of Design Languages


instructional design, communication, clients, consulting


In this chapter I discuss how principles of natural language translation can help instructional design- ers communicate instructional design languages in ways more natural to their clients. I argue that instructional designers should focus more on the fundamental meanings they are attempting to com- municate through their design languages than on the mechanics and style of those languages. This can lead designers to nd representation methods that help their clients better understand design meanings than if designers only used the language conventions with which they were already familiar. My hope is that this contribution to the literature on instructional design languages will lead to new language conventions that help designers more easily communicate their intentions and plans to all those who have an interest in a design’s overall success.

Original Publication Citation

McDonald, J. K. (2008). Translate to communicate: Facilitating client understanding of design languages. In L. Botturi & S. T. Stubbs (Eds.), Handbook of visual languages for instructional design: Theories and practices (pp. 18-32). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Permanent URL



IGI Global




David O. McKay School of Education


Instructional Psychology and Technology