Empathy is the human ability to identify and understand another person’s situation, including the emotions that they are experiencing. As the name suggests, an empathy map is a tool that can help you build empathy with your end users. In the context of Digital Social Impact course design, it can be used to define social impact problems for individuals and communities and better understand their pains.

Best used for

Finding local social impact challenges to solve

Time to introduce this activity in lecture / Time to run this activity

15 min / 30 min

In the context of Digital Social Impact courses and learning activities

Potential tool for lecturers to figure out possible areas to tackle with students

Main Target Group

Lectures, Students and Local Communities

Potential tools for digitising this activity

Breakout rooms in Teams, Zoom, with a Miro/Mural board, Gather town

Step by Step

1 Start with the GOAL section, by defining WHO will be the subject of the Empathy Map and a goal: something they need to DO. This should be framed in terms of an observable behavior.

2 Once you have clarified the goal, work your way clockwise around the canvas, until you have covered Seeing, Saying, Doing, and Hearing. The reason for this is that the process of focusing on observable phenomena (Things that they see, say, do and hear) is like walking a mile in their shoes. It gives us a chance to imagine what their experience might be like, to give us a sense of what it “feels like to be them.”

3 Only AFTER you have made the circuit of outside elements do you focus on what’s going on inside their head. The large head in the center is one of the most important aspects of the map’s design.

4 As you/your students learn more about the who you are empathising with i.e. the beneficiaries of the digital social impact course, revisit your empathy map canvas and update it with your new learnings and insights. It is a powerful tool to use in the design phase which can be used across Delivery and Reflection too.