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LIVES (Learning Iteratively via Evolving Stories) [refinement v2, with user journey map, prototype ideas, feedback and name changed]

A guide to create learning communities through storytelling.

Photo of Khuyen Bui Gia

Written by

  • Designers have portfolio. Programmers have software projects. Journalists have writing samples. But that's about it.
  • From interviews with people with personal portfolios, the act of putting together the pieces is often more important and rewarding than the portfolio itself. An insight emerges: perhaps the portfolio is a means to something else, to the act of reflecting and taking stock of one's life and work.
  • One skill that learners of all ages need to master is reflection on past experiences. It is how the most important lessons from our life and work come from, yet they are not easily captured in resume and portfolio. Moreover, reflection is often a confusing process. How do we first start then?
  • The answer is story. Through generating personal stories, we can start to uncover common themes and articulate our life and work philosophies. Only then can we align them and develop a cohesive vision that will guide our futures.
  • From these stories, we can also identify our skills, values and how we respond to different situations. This work of reflection has two main benefits:
  • First, it helps create trust with ourselves (think about how prevalent the Impostor's syndrome is for millennials). Second, the narrative that comes from such reflection can be used to communicate with future employers that we are up to the challenges of the job and more importantly that we share common values.
  • Storytelling is everywhere, not only for the Drama and English students but also for job interviewing. Stories make life go around. Learners of all ages have been telling stories informally, but the skill is rarely properly emphasized and taught in formal schooling. 
  • Students have to write personal essays when they apply to college but not during and upon graduation. What if each college freshman starts making a portfolio of stories with lessons learned and skills developed in addition to the traditional resume?
  • Moreover, what if we have groups of learners sharing & helping each other refine our own stories? How about a story slam of "What I've learned from work?" with candid lessons?

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

Learners of all ages, particularly high school and college students. The needs of tomorrow require people who can create a coherent story for themselves, about what they have learned and how they all fit together and shape their future.

This idea emerged from:

  • A group brainstorm
  • An OpenIDEO outpost or chapter
  • An individual

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

We need experienced storytellers who know how to teach this complex skill.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Sample workshops: A group gathering where we listen & help each other refine stories from our experiences. Translating Resume to Learning Portfolio. I will try it with a group of friends and then with openIDEO Boston chapter and some other events.

Tell us about your work experience:

I'm a senior in Tufts University. I have had 5 years of experiences volunteering in a nonprofit to develop a community of service leaders (http://sealnetonline.org) as well as managed different teams and projects. I love designing and facilitating workshops, retreats and experiences. I've been parts of many different communities (many even oppose each other) and personally thrive among admirable nerds.

How would you describe this idea while in an elevator with someone? 2-3 sentences.

LIVES (Learning Iteratively via Evolving Stories) is a simple guide for creating a supportive coaching circle, sharing personal stories, understanding common themes and crafting a narrative that will shape our futures.

What is the specific problem your idea is trying to solve? 1 sentence.

Help students reflect, refine and reinvent their life stories to understand their values and thus be better prepared for the future.

How is your idea different or unique from what is currently on the market?

Simplicity: Usually this work of making sense of one's life is done with the help of a life coach, counselor or mentor. Having a clear guide greatly simplifies it. Human Connection: The guide is best used with a partner, friend or even a group of strangers. It facilitates meaningful human connections through sharing personal stories.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

Self-report: fulfillment level, quality of relationships How quickly can one learn to tell a meaningful personal story. Change in school/ life decisions Number of human connections made.

How might your idea be transferable to a large number of people?

The guide can be easily shared to many people. It will also contain ideas on hosting dinner forming partnerships, coaching circles and even community guidelines.

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

I hope to continue implementing it in my university and immediate circles of friends. I'm also excited to exchange ideas with other people who are working on similar challenge.
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Attachments (2)

LIVES-Prototypes-Feedback.docx

Personal prototype: hosting dinner.

LIVES-User-Journey.docx

Thanks Manvitha for the pretty illustration.

27 comments

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Khuyen and team,

There is just a week left of refinement. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.

Photo of Terry Hosler
Team

Khuyen
I fully agree that everyone needs to be able to tell their own story. Not only does it help the listener relate to how the storyteller has common ground to understand the challenges and solutions of a group issue or work but also, I have found, the more someone can think about and refine their story for a given audience the more they know the depth and value of the asset they bring to a given community - be it work or social challenge.  This is also a strong element in my sharing of the idea of Pick a Problem not a Major. Would you be interested in collaborating?

I have also found that in helping students prep for interviews of all varieties - job, scholarship, admission, media interview, internship, etc. - the question most dreaded and the one they feel most unprepared for is 'Tell me about yourself'.  This is especially hard for students reared in cultures where 'talking about yourself' is considered bragging and frowned upon (i.e. the American south).  Learning to tell their story gives students the skill to differentiate between discussing their strengths and abilities to work with challenges and just 'blowing their own horn'. Many really struggle with this.  I believe approaches that give them a focus such as Pick a Problem and the methodology of yours would truly help in reflecting the value of the student.
Terry Hosler

Photo of Khuyen Bui Gia
Team

| the more someone can think about and refine their story for a given audience the more they know the depth and value of the asset they bring to a given community |

Yes! And the key word here is "given" --- stories can be very specific and therefore be a powerful instruments for change. I've read the entry "Pick a problem" and really liked it. The way I think about it is "Pick a question" and track how that question evolves over time. To me, a question seems more dynamic and active than a problem. Anyway, let's collaborate!

| the question most dreaded and the one they feel most unprepared for is 'Tell me about yourself'. |

Coming from Vietnam I completely agree! (I've got better though, thanks to US college admission process. It also helps that the story doesn't have to be verbal, because many are more comfortable writing things down).

I think the "Tell me about yourself" question is too generic from the interviewer's side too. I believe many employers now ask "Tell me about a time when you ..." It is important for the students to remember that the interviewer often means the latter, not the former. If I were an interviewer I'd ask "Tell me about a time where you put your whole heart & mind into something. What was it? How was it? How did you emerge after the experience?"

Photo of Sriram Venk
Team

I really like this idea of building stories of learning. In addition to thinking about learning, it will have another by product which is reducing drop outs. Whenever you feel down and feel like quitting , you can read these stories and feel motivated to continue learning.

Photo of Khuyen Bui Gia
Team

Interesting. Manvitha Ponnapati just mentioned to me a similar point that re-reading the stories we have told/written would help the learners stay with the original intention when they started the learning journey. I write letters for myself and set it automatically send to myself at a random point in the future. Thanks so much for sharing!

Photo of Raghava Manvitha Reddy Ponnapati
Team

I love the idea. I hated the idea of making a resume because i always felt like it hid my true personality. And finally for one of my interviews I cut up pictures of all the projects i did and took them with me . I loved the idea of the mullet resume : https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/creative-confidence/ideas/the-mullet-resume-business-up-front-party-in-the-back. which was part of previous OpenIDEO challenges. i am sure we can draw inspiration from that !

Photo of Khuyen Bui Gia
Team

Yeah! I'm thinking the next refine stage is to ask someone who has got a learning portfolio --- like you --- to hear about your experience. It will also be nice to hear the reactions from the interviewer's side too!

Photo of Raghava Manvitha Reddy Ponnapati
Team

Yeah! The idea came from one of my professors. She told me to Show up with a Prototype for the interview.

Photo of Raghava Manvitha Reddy Ponnapati
Team

On the interviewer's side, when I first spoke to the CEO at my current workplace- he asked me to tell him a story about one of my projects. That initially threw me off since it wasn't something usually people interviewing you for tech positions ask. When I came in for the in person interview - I brought along the pictures with me. I am not sure if it influenced the decision to hire me in anyway but it gave me confidence in the interview.Also looking at the pictures of things I did helped me get over the impostor syndrome experience.

Photo of Khuyen Bui Gia
Team

So the benefit from the learner's perspective is clear
- Confidence (I've actually done this and I have something to show)
- Preparing for real interview (I've distilled my learning into these lessons)

From the interviewer's side
- Verify that the interviewee has actually done the work as she's able to tell a coherent story.

Anything else to add?
The more interesting question to me is if there is correlation between being able to tell good stories about past learnings vs actual job performance (which I assume is what many people are after). Do you have thoughts?

Photo of Raghava Manvitha Reddy Ponnapati
Team

That seems about right!

In answer to your last question, I don't think there is any correlation there necessarily. I think being a good storyteller versus actually being able to do a job are two different skills. From the perspective of an engineer, it's easy to talk about the project /"tell a story" versus actually getting it done. It reminds me of startups that have great pitches but don't have the tools to achieve what they pitch. Maybe people will be more comfortable with hiring a person by their story when combined with a technical interview unless the position they are hiring for is more about engaging with people. Lots of maybe's so interviewing others may clear those up.

Photo of Raghava Manvitha Reddy Ponnapati
Team

A good group to interview could be people who have portfolio websites(not just designers) . I am sure they are trying to tell a story through their sites.

Photo of Khuyen Bui Gia
Team

I like that. So some of the questions we can ask are
1) For people who have portfolios
- How has the portfolio been helpful for you? What do you use it for? How often, how long?
- How have other respond to your portfolio?
- What is the process of making it? Anything particular about the process that was really a highlight?

I'm still not sure who else I should be interviewing.

Photo of Raghava Manvitha Reddy Ponnapati
Team

It would be great to find someone who is about to graduate and is currently in the process of making their portfolio or resume. We can probably post it to the message boards for the chapter on meetup and openideo boston chapters page and see if anyone is interested in being interviewed in exchange for a coffee :)

Photo of Khuyen Bui Gia
Team

That's me and a lot of my friends! Maybe I should just wrote about my experience coz I know it best haha.

Photo of Raghava Manvitha Reddy Ponnapati
Team

Haha ! We could try interviewing each other! I graduated a year ago and spent 5 months redesigning my portfolio over and over again and I am still unsatisfied with it. But interestingly , I haven't thought about it in a long time since I got my job. But I did remember new details about my projects from a couple of years ago while making the portfolio. I also remember getting a couple of new insights on those projects when I was making it! I wish I had those insights earlier on!

Photo of Raghava Manvitha Reddy Ponnapati
Team

This is a cool idea too : https://itunes.apple.com/app/id987877304 It's an app by moo.com which allows you to create tiny cards with images and text and use those to share what you do when you meet new people.

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Welcome to the Refinement phase Khuyen! We've added new Refinement questions to your original submission that we'd love for you to answer. Please check out the Refinement Phase Toolkit for instructions on how to answer the new questions and other recommendations we encourage all idea teams to consider in the upcoming weeks.

Refinement Phase Toolkit: http://ideo.pn/2du9sf7

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 02/01" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Khuyen,

I hope you are having a nice day.

There was an idea that was in the refinement stage in our End of Life challenge that might give you a few ideas on execution and the user journey - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/end-of-life/evaluation/once-upon-a-generation It is called ‘Listen - Collect - Create' and is about ‘creating stories, tales and legends inspired by the lives lived by our loved ones’.

Also in this challenge was ‘Impact of Your Life’ which connects the stories of who you impacted in your life - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/end-of-life/evaluation/impact-of-your-life

I would recommend really digging down into what is the problem, how is this solution and think about what the competitors are to demonstrate that this a ‘need to have’ and not a ‘nice to have’.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Khuyen,

Welcome to the refinement phase, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me by using @ and typing my name.

Take care,

Kate

Photo of Khuyen Bui Gia
Team

Thanks! I'd love to see other people interested in the idea to join the team. This is so exciting!

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

I am excited too :-)

Are there any other submitted ideas that resonate with you and maybe connected to your idea (they don't have to be in the refinement phase)?

Photo of Pete Kale
Team

It sounds as though your initial focus in on discovering stories directly from your team. Possibly better would be to seek stories that resonate from others your team knows. By focusing on stories they have "heard" that inspire them, you can distill the elements that stand out. Interviewing recruiters both academic and business HR could be a rich source of powerful stories to start with.

Photo of Khuyen Bui Gia
Team

Pete Kale That's actually a great great idea! It also nudges young people to go out and interview people they look up to (and want to model after), which is always a good experience in itself. Thank you.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

HI Khuyen, have you seen ExpertChat - 'Online system to track students interviewing experts in their field'?

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Khuyen,

Great idea!
Have you seen Less About Grades: Portfolios & Websites for Experiences ? I think there is room for shared learning.

I wonder if there could be an element of Less About Grades: Portfolios & Websites for Experiences 

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Andrea Zelenak - if you have time, it would be great to know your perspective.