Thursday, 17 July 2008

Another Review Survey Examines How Organisations Lacerate English

I'd just completed one survey from LSN asking what I thought of their web site (dreadful) when up comes another where I could really let rip. It was mostly on the subject of how government agencies communicate and even includes a list of expressions and made-up words with an invitation to rate each one on a scale from jargon to acceptable Plain English. Great! Full marks to LSN for trying and I can't wait to see the results. Well, actually, I can and probably will because I cannot remember ever getting to see any results from government agency surveys in the education sector with one or two notable exceptions from Becta and the Regional Support Centres.

I recall one that LSDA did in an effort to see how well colleges were getting on with getting staff to use new technology. There had been one survey in 2002 or thereabouts and I was involved in analysing the data received for a repeat performance two years later. A colleague and I had to conclude that roughly half the respondents had used a 1 - 5 scale one way and the other half had it the other way round. Didn't exactly make analysis easy! I refused to make any report but my more obedient associate rattled off a couple of pages of Word A4 in wonderful edu-prose that meant he got paid but no-one in the sector was any the wiser as I never saw it mentioned again.

If you haven't already contributed to this one, though, you really must. They've included a box where you can say what expressions or terms annoy you too. Some questions are unanswerable but the jargon ones are fine. They also ask things like how often would we like e-mails advertising CPD events (I did include CPD in my list of annoying terms along with almost everything beginning e- . . )so there's a great chance to say NEVER or at least 'less than once a month' please.

The Learning & Skills Network do do a lot of good work and have some intelligent people on board but few people running the show have good current experience at the chalkface and desperately need our help. This survey might just do the trick. If you didn't get one in your e-mail then try asking at http://lsneducation.org.uk if you can participate. It's your chance to kill of some initials and jargon.

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