A Guide to Empathetic Design – by Jimi Gipple

The notion of empathetic value in training and education is not a new one. In fact, the opposite is true. The combined discoveries of evolutionary biology, neurocognitive science, and behavioral psychology reveal a set of core human principals illustrating the affectionate, highly social, cooperative, and interdependent nature of humans’ biological empathetic predisposition (Rifkin, 2010, p. 2).

Empathy precedes understanding, which in turn precedes learning behavior. By extension, comprehending the larger context of our world through both a social and biological lens informs our understanding of learning and subsequently the vast importance of empathy in education and training. The ability to understand, relate and communicate the thoughts, feelings and emotions of learners is vital.

So why then, despite the seemingly universal agreement of empathetic value in the design and implementation process, is it that so few contemporary eLearning initiatives realistically account for the systematic design and reflection of empathy in training.

This whitepaper explores the act of consciously applying and integrating empathetic techniques in educational design, supported through the analysis of theoretical frameworks and definitions, empirical evidence of empathetic impact in training, and the application of empathetic reasoning in design models.