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How Empathy Can Enable A Personalized eLearning Experience

Having empathy and understanding what empathy is, means that you have the ability to see the world through the eyes of another and understand and share their feelings. Lots of people have the capacity to empathize. You could say it's in our nature, allowing us to build prosperous relationships amongst various societies. To paraphrase Daniel H. Pink, successful people in this age of information overload will be those who can understand their peers and care for them. Empathy is the ability to step into another person’s shoes and experience their feelings. Empathy is not a standalone concept.

  1. The design should be from a user’s perspective to anticipate their problems and come up with a product/service that helps.
  2. Stories are the path to understanding.
eBook Release: eLearning Design And The 'Right' Brain
eBook Release
eLearning Design And The 'Right' Brain
Discover more about the interactive elements in eLearning that will appeal to the right brain and help create memorable, sticky learning experiences.

Empathy In Learning

For learning to be empathetic, it has to understand the learners' mindset, working environment, challenges and factor them in to offer a solution. It should build a personal connection with them.

This is how it can be done in eLearning:

  • Personalize the learning experience
  • Offer simple and open navigation
  • Reinforce knowledge with diagnostic feedback

Personalize The Learning Experience

This isn’t rocket science. Ask for the learner’s name at the start of the course and use it to address them periodically for the assessments, while sharing tips or summarizing the key points. This will build a connection between the learner and the course. Offering additional resources in multiple formats will give learners the flexibility of accessing the one in their preferred format. For example, do you need to offer a glossary of terms? Offer learners links to a PDF, a podcast, and an infographic. Use ice breakers that list learners’ common challenges or the questions they might have. Seeing their issues in the course will build an immediate rapport and give the assurance that their concerns are being addressed allaying fear.

Offer Simple And Open Navigation

Adults are self-directed and dislike being restricted in their learning. An effective eLearning course gives them the option to access the sections of the course they are interested in, instead of forcing them to go through the entire course. Put yourselves in the learners’ shoes and empathize. You surely wouldn’t want to look for a needle in a haystack!

Some tips to ensure a memorable learning experience:

  1. Structure the course into well-defined sections, each covering one learning point completely so that learners don’t have to scramble around different sections for one topic.
  2. Ensure navigation is easy to use, with a simple, well-labeled menu (learners shouldn’t need to access the Help screen to figure out how to use the menu).
  3. Ensure screen titles in the menu are of the same length and parallel in structure.
  4. For interactivities, let learners proceed to the next slide if they wish to without forcing them to visit all sections.
  5. Provide links to additional resources in the Resources section, rather than in individual slides, so that they are available throughout the course.

Reinforce Knowledge With Diagnostic Feedback

Feedback can be an extremely useful mechanism to close the learning cycle and show them the big picture, yet again. Instead of feedback that just says, "You are right" or "Sorry, you are wrong," invest a little in offering feedback that’s true to its name. Feedback should tell learners why they are either right or wrong, along with the reasons. Informative assessments, give learners a detailed explanation about why a particular choice is correct or incorrect. In summative assessments, once done, give them the option of revisiting the slide where the learning point was discussed.

  • Authoring tools now give the flexibility of including audio, video clips, and hyperlinks along with the text.
  • Leverage these elements to offer learners a detailed explanation on the topic, along with related resources.

Being empathetic and having empathy matters. Learn about how to utilize the ability to step into another person’s shoes and experience their feelings by downloading this eBook: "eLearning Design And The 'Right' Brain." It will further help you become a 'Right' brain expert; and, moreover, learn how its role in learning can be of use to you.

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