These questions posed by Western University in their problem of practice guide struck me as particularly powerful and relevant for learning design:
• Whose interests are being served?
• Whose needs are being met?
• Whose voices are being silenced, excluded, or denied?
• How do we know? (Western University, 2016)
The answer often depends on who you ask. That’s why design thinking’s emphasis on empathy is so important. To me, it’s a reminder of who should be at the top of the hierarchical flow chart: the learner. An effective PoP needs to ask the question: whose problem is it? It’s easy to lose focus when there are often other external influences: financial pressures, management goals or software vendors. I came up with this crude mini-manifesto to help me focus, and avoid biases. I coupled it with an even messier Empathy map to help me to understand the learner’s needs. If you can read it, you give you my highest praise. It’s goal is to capture Kouprie and Visser’s (2009) process of empathy that involves talking to the learners, physically being and observing their environment, and then reflecting on your own reactions, emotions and feelings to that process (p.445).
Brecher Cook, D., & Worsham, D. (2018, April). Let’s Build Something! (The Toolkit). A Rapid-Prototyping Instructional Design Workshop. Retrieved from https://ucla.app.box.com/v/build-something-toolkit
Kouprie, M., & Sleeswijk Visser, F. (2009). A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s. Journal of Engineering Design, 20(5), 437-448. DOI: 10.1080/09544820902875033
Western University (2016). Problems of Practice for an Organizational Improvement Plan. Retrieved from: https://www.edu.uwo.ca/graduate-education/documents/professional/Problem-of-Practice-Guide.pdf