Terminology and Jargon

I’m currently studying an OU course in UI Design and Evaluation. Over on the course message board we’ve been having an interesting discussion about the terminology / jargon that the course materials use – in particular the concepts of task scenario, concrete use case, use scenario and essential use case:

a task scenario is related to a specific case, ie it is ‘concrete’
a concrete use case is not related to a specific case, ie it is abstract
a use scenario is a predicted task scenario for an as-yet unwritten system
an essential use case is less specific and higher level than a concrete use case

The students with a development background find this terminology particularly problematic because terms like use-case already exist with a definite and slightly different meaning in OO programming. It’s less of a big deal for me – I’m not a programmer so in my head, they mean what the textbook says they mean.  Even so, as a writer I can see that the concepts and their definitions are a bit on the messy side. This is an area of the course that everyone seems to be struggling to learn and retain.

I’d be interested to know how much use these terms get from people doing usability in the real world.  If you’re communicating with people from different disciplines, the last thing you need is terminology that means something different in their discipline.  I can also see how, as a field that often has to fight to be taken seriously in industry, the language of programming may have been appropriated to add gravitas.

Your thoughts please…