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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

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  • 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 ( 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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Personal prototype: hosting dinner.


Thanks Manvitha for the pretty illustration.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Khuyen and team,

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

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