5 Steps Towards Empathic Instructional Design In Online Training

5 Steps Towards Empathic Instructional Design In Online Training
Summary: Putting yourself in the role of the corporate learner gives you the ability to sympathize with their needs and understand their motivations. This involves a healthy dose of good old-fashioned empathy. In this article, I’ll explore the Empathic Instructional Design process, which allows you to create learner-centric online training that focuses on the feelings and perspectives of your corporate audience.

5 Steps To Apply Empathic Instructional Design In Online Training

Empathy is part of our everyday lives. We aren’t naturally born with it though. In fact, we slowly but surely develop it over time, with each interaction and conversation helping our ability to sympathize with others. Empathic Instructional Design involves observation, research, and a number of other processes that target the needs of your corporate learners, including needs they don’t even realize they have yet. Instead of relying solely on indirect feedback methods, such as surveys, this Instructional Design strategy takes a more personal approach. It allows you to gain valuable insight about the latent wants, goals, and needs of your corporate learners, so that you can develop online training courses that change their perspective and help them overcome common challenges.

The Empathic Instructional Design Process

According to Leonard and Rayport, two leading proponents of Empathic Instructional Design, there are five essential steps involved in the process:

  1. Observe
    Make observations to determine which skills and knowledge your employees use on a regular basis. This also involves paying close attention to their preferences and the tasks that they carry out over the course of a typical work day. Their body language and the way they interact with their colleagues and customers is yet another area of concern as it reveals a great deal about their job performance and state of mind. Observe a select group of employees to see what motivates them, how well they collaborate with their co-workers, and what they think about the tasks they are asked to perform. If you are unable to observe corporate learners while they are on-the-job, then you may want to speak with their managers and supervisors to learn more about their job duties and attitude toward their work responsibilities. For example, a supervisor might disclose that most of their employees are dissatisfied with the current online training program or would like to modify the complicated return process that is now in place.
  2. Collect Data 
    This step of the process involves more detailed feedback methods, such as focus groups and interviews that can give you a better understanding of employee needs. However, it differs from most other Instructional Design strategies due to the fact that you are focusing on their motivations, current emotional state, and their opinions or thoughts about their work. Conduct surveys that center on the more subtle aspects of your employees' backgrounds. Instead of focusing solely on their experience levels, employment history, and skill development, ask them about their feelings toward the company and what they feel is lacking from the online training program. If they are a bit hesitant to answer, then try making the surveys anonymous so that they are more willing to give their honest opinion.
  3. Reflect & Analyze
    Once you've carried out a sufficient amount of research, it's time to reflect upon and analyze the data you've collected. This stage involves identifying the challenges and obstacles that your employees are facing, as well as getting a clear idea of how they feel about certain aspects of their work. Carefully analyze the cause and effect of your findings. In other words, what is causing them to feel this way or behave in a certain manner? Why don't they have the tools or resources they require to do their job effectively? Take a look at all of the information that you've gathered by observing and surveying your employees in order to get a complete picture of what they actually need from the online training program. Is there a common thread, such as a skill set that they are all lacking or a task that they have not mastered? Take note of any attitudes or perceptions that your employees share. For example, if 9 out of 10 staff members aren't happy about the current POS system, this may indicate a widespread problem that is hindering productivity.
  4. Brainstorm 
    Now that you have a general idea of what your employees are thinking and feeling, the next step is brainstorming solutions to common problems. This involves determining which online activities, content, and online assessments are going to help them achieve their goals and fulfill their needs. Start planning the Instructional Design of your online training course and figure out how to fill the gaps and increase employee satisfaction with the resources you have. Choose the online training content that you are going to include, such as eLearning scenarios, simulations, and multimedia presentations. Brainstorm which layout, color scheme, and images are ideally suited to their needs and preferences.
  5. Prototype
    This is when you start putting your thoughts and ideas into action by creating a sample, or prototype, of your online training course. The main goal is to get feedback from management and any other stakeholders. Using this feedback you can make any necessary improvements and modify your Instructional Design approach. Start creating a rough prototype for your online training course. Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be anything too complicated. In fact, it just needs to get the point across so that you can finalize the layout, colors, and overall tone before you dive into the development process.

Empathic Instructional Design centers on the emotions and core needs of your corporate learners, and offers you the chance create to compassionate and conscientious eLearning experiences. If you can dedicate the necessary time and resources to every step in the process, then you will be able to equip them with the tools and knowledge they require to achieve success.

Being able to offer constructive criticism is one of the most important aspects of eLearning empathy. Read the article 7 Tips To Give Constructive Criticism In eLearning to discover top tips for giving effective feedback that inspires and encourages your online learners.