Activity 3 – Empathy Methods

In reviewing the Empathy methods as described in the Bootcamp Bootleg (Stanford University Institute of Design, 2016) and the Design Kit (IDEO, 2015), I believe that a combination of Composite Character Profiles and Group Interviews would be the best path forward for me in my quest to empathize with the adult students of my school board.

My design challenge revolves around the lack the of preparation and knowledge that the adult students in my organization have towards hybrid (blended) courses. Hybrid learning was originally introduced as a more flexible delivery method recognizing that adult continuing education students seeking to complete their secondary school courses have different responsibilities and backgrounds than standard high school students. They often have families to take care of and part-time or full-time work that they must attend to. By allowing these students to take some of their learning online, it was believed they would have an easier time to balance their school life with their other responsibilities. For the majority of students, this is the case. Unfortunately, for others it seems that new barriers are raised that include lack of technical skill to navigate an online environment and an overall lack of buy-in to this method of learning.

Currently I have 2 sets of data in the form of focus group interviews and pre/post course surveys. The breadth of information that I have access to is vast and I hope I can make the most use out of it. From the focus group interviews, I have spoken with many students about their successes, challenges, and suggestions to how hybrid learning can be improved; from the learning management system to the general course overall. By going straight to the students, I have learned first-hand how students are accessing their course and how they are faring in their own opinion. From the surveys, I believe that I can create a composite character profile which will also help me understand the needs of a demographic that is different from my own. I cannot say that I know what it is like to be completing 3 high school courses as a mature adult student while trying to raise a family with 2 children by working a full-time job simultaneously, but at least I feel I can start to empathize with those in similar situations. By having a few character profiles generated, I hope to be better able to understand the challenges that various groups have with hybrid learning and together with the feedback gathered from the focus groups, begin to design my digital resource.



IDEO. (2015). Design Kit – Methods. Retrieved from

Stanford University Institute of Design. (2016). Bootcamp Bootleg.  Retrieved from

5 thoughts on “Activity 3 – Empathy Methods

  1. Hi George,
    Great post and I believe, character profiles generated, empathy method would be a great way to be able to empathize with your students. I look forward to your digital resource. Also, from my experience, lack of confidence is one of the big factors of low success of online learners particularly ESL students.
    Good luck!

  2. Hi George, I think your access to an abundance of data is going to help you greatly to put together the composite profiles. I actually decided against that method as I didn’t believe I had enough data, based on my past experiences of creating them. I wanted to offer a potential strategy on creating composite profiles, which I have found useful. Depending on the data, I either try to make more profiles that are more general or less profiles that are very specific. I find that when you don’t have enough data to make a specific profile, it can not be an accurate portrayal of the user. The same goes for the other way around. Hope this will help in your process!

  3. Hi George
    Composite Character Profiles and Group Interviews sound like a great way to gain an understanding to the group you are trying to reach. Buy-in and ability (either due to perceived skills / ability or lac there of ) to commit, and achieve the goals presented is not easy. I look forward to seeing your solutions and product, all the best

  4. Hi George,

    That’s great that you were able to go straight to the students and collect so much data, allowing you to use composite character profiles. It sounds like there are many areas where there’s opportunity to improve things for the students, so this could make a big difference for them. I look forward to hearing about the results.

  5. Hola George.

    Thanks for your post and for contemplating this work. My favourite part of your approach was the bit around building out multiple character profiles. I imagine that having a few options to identify with will better resonate with your varied target audience. As you say, each person will face some (or all) of the challenges you highlighted so the framework you describe will likely provide you with a fulsome prototype that you can refine as you learn more.

    Looking forward to hearing more as you continue to explore. Karen.

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