Ethics and Empathy in Technical Communication

Room 42 is recorded before a live studio audience

Room 42 is where practitioners and academics meet to share knowledge about breaking research. In this episode, Dawn Armfield explains how empathy and ethics create technical communications for real humans and not monolithic audiences.

In this episode

Dawn M. Armfield, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Technical Communication in the Department of English where she teaches usability, user experience, research methods, visual communication in technical communication, instructional design, travel writing, and prototyping. Her research focus is on human-centered design in emerging, immersive, and embodied technologies with a focus on empathy and ethics. She has published in interdisciplinary fields with emphasis in emerging technologies, visual communications, online collaborations, and educational technologies. Her most recent publication is a co-authored chapter, “Human-centered content design in augmented reality.”​ Prior to becoming a professor, she was an instructional technologist, systems analyst, project manager, and web content developer.

The semantic shift from user to human has created a space in which the people, the audiences, that we create content for have more depth and diversity than those of us in technical communication used to focus on. In order to create spaces, documents, and environments that appeal to that diversity, we need to look at the ways people connect with one another, the problems that arise in those connections, and the solutions that we can deliver. By incorporating empathy and ethical studies into all of my classes, students, and future technical communicators, have the understanding of why we’re not creating for a monolithic audience, but for real humans.


Faculty Page:–staff/dawn-m-armfield/ 

Twitter: @dawn_armfield


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