Empathetically Mapping The Future

This blog post is in response to the Empathy Map activity from the Technologist Module of Ontario Extend.

I’ve been putting off doing this particular activity because I haven’t had a class with which to do the activity with. I figured I would have to wait until September when I have a new class and then realized that I am teaching in a compressed semester (they complete their courses in 9 weeks) and there is no way I can easily fit this activity into that time frame. What is an Extender to do? Then I remembered: Course Evaluations. At the end of every course we ask students to complete course evaluations with comment sections asking what they liked about the course, what suggestions they had for improving the course, and any additional comments.

I like the course evaluations because they give me a truthful look into what my students are thinking. I like to do mid-semester check-ins using Google Forms, or something similar, however, I usually find those more positive then they should be. I feel that is a result of the students being worried that the survey is not completely anonymous. I can assure them they are, but there is always that worry in the back of their mind that I might be a vengeful instructor who will wield my mighty wrath upon their grades… I am not.

“50s Movie poster mad scientist style” flickr photo by glen edelson https://flickr.com/photos/glenirah/4376553184 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

For the empathy map I’ve created I decided to use the comments from some recent Science classes I taught in the Faculty of Education at Lakehead. I tried to include everything I could, both the good and the bad. The good comments are always nice for the ego, but it is the “bad” comments that tell me where I need to improve, or what I need to change so the course meets the needs of my students… much as an empathy map will.

This exercise was beneficial in that I was able to go over the comments from the past few times I’ve taught the course which helps remind me of the issues and successes as I write my course outline for next year’s courses. Essentially teaching the same courses over and over is the last step in the Design Thinking Process – iteration. Hopefully, things improve as I do it again, and again. I guess we will see.

Header Image: Sticky Notes flickr photo by Gabotoc shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

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