Write an extended definition. If you were from another country, how would you explain it to me? For example a microwave oven cooks food. how? how long? What does it look like? How do i program it? Choose a modern convenience or idea (trust, responsibility, etc) and clearly define it.
This is an interesting assignment. Basically, you are looking at a lot of specific detail. You want to include the definition step by step. You'll want to act out the process yourself, writing each step down as you go. Then turn that into a clear essay with words that show order, such as first, second, next, and then.
I have to be honest, if the topic is open, I personally find abstract nouns or emotions to be the easiest topics for extended definition essays. Consider ideas that are open to more than one interpretation and show how you define the word based on your own experiences and observations.
The microwave example in your prompt sounds more like a "how-to" essay than an extended definition essay. I agree that details are key (in either case) and using personal experiences as examples is a great way to back up your ideas.
Very interesting question here which is asking you to think sociologically to explain and interpret another world to a stranger or a foreinger who doesn't now or understand how this world works. Good ideas are given above - pick one object, perhaps a television might be a good one, and consider how you would explain it to someone who has no understanding of technology or an alien completely unused to our world. How would you explain concepts such as "channel surfing"? What comparisons can you make that your audience would understand? Good luck!
A modern convenience will probably be easier for you to define than an idea...take for instance "honor" or "love"...these ideas are much more difficult to explain than "microwave" or "computer" since they are not items you can touch, see, and watch them operate. Ideas are also difficult to define since no two people define them in the same way--they are intangible and different to every individual.
Sounds like you are on the right track, and you've got some good advice here. Choose your item, make a list of all the things it does, and answer the following questions: How, What, When, Where, Why to the best of your ability for the item you choose. Then weave that all into an essay that fully and completely explains your choice.
Your teacher is probably looking for you to be as specific as possible on an assignment like this. Assume your audience has no idea what the item does. Maybe think about explaining how an ipod works to someone who has never used one. For example, I can guarantee my grandpa has no idea how to even turn an ipod on.
Be specific in what it looks like, the functions, etc. Make sure to explain every aspect. Don't use terms that the audience might not understand without explaining what they mean. You'll need to explain the terms. For my ipod example, you'd need to also explain things like download, itunes, usb, mp3, etc.
It may also be helpful to use some comparison, but you really have to make sure the comparision is relevent. For the microwave example, you could explain how the microwave heats compared to a conventional oven.
A printer is a device sent to us straight from Hade, dipped in the River Styx, so as to ensure proper rage and frustration in the poor dimwitted user who thought he could get any decent work done. It claims to neatly print documents and images from your computer, but in actuality, it just spits out blank sheets at you when its not busy clutching onto your report for dear life, or displaying error messages.