Encouraging Awareness and Empathy for Diversity through Experiential, Practiced Simulations
Abstract: The diversity of classrooms across the U.S. has changed exponentially throughout the years. Individuals must be able to communicate and collaborate with individuals unlike themselves, but are often not prepared to do so. As educators, it is our responsibility to help develop our students’ competence, empathy, and tolerance so they are more aware of the differences between diverse audiences. This paper describes an experiential, simulation-based learning activity designed to encourage graduate students’ development of empathy for and awareness of diverse student populations. In order to allow students to take the “role of the other,” they were placed into different situations where they had to complete a simple activity with some simulated element experienced by a different audience. Those differences within the activity included visual impairments, auditory impairments, dyslexia, and serving as English language learners. Upon completion, students reflected with the group about their thoughts, feelings, struggles, and the implications of their experience on the future of their designs in instructional technology and teacher education. Their reflections, responses, plans, and games demonstrated that the activity made them think more about designing for diverse audiences.