The growing phenomenon of lacking life skills among Gen Z in Vietnam has always been a huge concern, about which multiple studies have indicated out the emergent numbers of consequences that result from this trend. This trend, however, has been penetrated through various solutions, such as institutions’ life skills courses, schools’ and universities’ events, workshops, and so on. On the other hand, these solutions are separated from each other, not ensuring a comprehensive learning experience for Gen Z. Therefore, KICK-IT-OFF was developed through both primary research such as interviewing and secondary research to fill the gap of the current solutions.
KICK-IT-OFF is a project that aims to empower Gen Z individuals by providing them with the necessary life skills for sustainable development, with the ultimate objective of making them inclusive society pioneers. KICK-IT-OFF utilizes gamification to create immersive learning opportunities that simulate realistic scenarios where learners can apply their knowledge and skills. The project also recognizes that people have different learning styles and paces, and thus offers a 1:1 mentorship program that is mutually beneficial for both the mentor and mentee. To achieve its goals, KICK-IT-OFF needs to deeply understand the needs and perspectives of young people, successfully find effective approaches to solve social issues, and ensure that its program is both effective and engaging for its target audience. This is where design thinking comes in. Design thinking is a problem-solving methodology that emphasizes empathy, creativity, and iterative experimentation. It is often used in the context of product or service design but can be applied to any type of project (Razzouk and Shute, 2012, Dorst, 2011). By utilizing the design thinking model to tackle social problems, KICK-IT-OFF can gain a deeper understanding of the needs and context of the people who are affected. This enables the project to work collaboratively to co-create solutions that are both desirable and feasible, while also having a meaningful impact.
User/customer centricity is the term for the empathy approach, which begins with the identification and comprehension of the user and their context. This aids in defining the actual challenges and demands before developing value propositions that the project will offer.
- Urgent situation
In today’s world, particularly in Vietnam, Gen Z is suffering from a lack of life skills, which includes both soft and survival skills. That said, the following numbers will show the reasons why KICK-IT-OFF’s team decided to assist in tackling the problem. To start with, only 57% of Gen Z members presently possess the listening and communication skills necessary to facilitate cooperation, according to some reports in 2022. A focus group discussion with 108 participants from the general young population was conducted by the British Council in 2020, and the results indicated that only around 30% of the skills required for future occupations are covered by what students learn in schools. Moreover, Statistics (2022, cited in Doan, 2022) stated that the average suicide rate worldwide is 10.5. Other data from the Center for Psychological Crisis Prevention (PCP) (2022, cited in Doan, 2022) shows that suicide intentions are highest among teenagers in Vietnam between the ages of 15 and 24. More than 10,000 persons in this age bracket participated in a national study in Vietnam in 2010 that revealed 4.1% of respondents had considered suicide and 25% had actually tried to take their own life. Because Gen Z, especially students, have not been provided with the required life skills training and assistance while attending schools or universities, there is a growing demand to teach and help students in developing these abilities. It means that the primary reason for Gen Z’s lack of life skills is that the education system and schools have not added programs to encourage and facilitate life skills in this generation. Additionally, schools place a strong emphasis on hard skills or professional knowledge but have not given life skills much thought.
- Understanding pain-points
Neglecting life skills is typically in schools; graduated students today fail in having the abilities necessary to thrive in the real world (NASSP, 2018). 58% of students do not completely have awareness of the notion of life skills; only 42% of students may know the complete definition of life skills, which is “Life skills education is designed to facilitate the practice and reinforcement of psychosocial skills in a culturally and developmentally appropriate way; it contributes to the promotion of personal and social development, the prevention of health and social problems, and the protection of human rights” (WHO, 1999, cited in UNESCO, 2003) from the result of the academic research. 66% of students are aware of life skills are important, while just 28% of students mentioned that providing them with life skills is urgent and necessary (Doan, 2017). Students might have a clear understanding of what life skills are and the value of life skills education; they are aware of the abilities that are required and can communicate their desires while studying life skills. Life skills are generally well-known, but the issue is the importance of life skills is still underrated.
According to KICK-IT-OFF primary research that was conducted in the form of several interviews. Throughout the interviewing process, KICK-IT-OFF collected verbatim data from 22 individuals whose ages range from 17-23 years old. The research indicate that if students are motivated, they will actively engage in online self-study as well as activities at clubs and organizations. Second, they do not care much about life skills (concentrating on learning and grades), but parents and schools may help with those, even if they are not actively searching for them. Many students have the propensity to be aware of the circumstance but to be too concerned, purposefully avoiding conversations about “toxic behavior”. Having a phone addiction makes studying on a phone very unproductive and distractible, in addition, FOMO or depending on others might be increasing if the life skills are not trained. As a result, students do not actively think about taking a long-term life skills course from the center, especially since they still do not have enough time to learn purposely. Plus, the segment of life skills training with mid-range costs has not been mentioned much. Students might misunderstand the terms focusing on developing soft skills, and self-improvement. They realize that they only think online learning is specialized knowledge, not about survival skills, or life skills. They always have an active learning tendency, ready to prioritize experience over learning. Nonetheless, there are no appropriate solutions for them. Moreover, the remaining schools will apply to teach life skills, but it has not been effectively communicated widely in many forms of activities, especially with flexible time and venues. It tends to learn passively, without feeling like experiencing. There are no reliable projects/solutions that match their applicable needs, including flexibility, topics, and experiencing activities.
Empathy Map of Gen Z who lacks life skills
Design Thinking means answering a need, not pushing a solution. The project needs to deliver solutions that are consistent with ongoing realities and a comprehensive assessment of the causes.
In general, the cause of the lack of life skills in Gen Z is that there is no investment in the program to learn about this area when students are in the compulsory education program. The level of instruction in this program is also influenced by the educational direction of different institutions or regions. And these are caused by the perception in schools and students, and this can also have both positive and negative effects on the direction of life skills teaching in each institution.
At the same time, it is the factors from real-life cases or from experiences that have affected and formed negative consequences for the lack of life skills. Specifically, the lack of life skills has taken a toll on both health and mental health. It is these things that have led to extremely alarming figures.
Fishbone Diagram of the Life Skills problem
The process of generating ideas and solutions through sessions such as Sketching, Prototyping, Brainstorming, Brainwriting, Worst Possible ideas, and a variety of other ideation techniques is known as ideation (Castro, n.d). Regarding the KICK-IT-OFF team, before we came up with the idea of providing life skills courses and an interactive video game, the team underwent and utilized various techniques including brainwriting 6-3-5. This process took us months to research and determine the final solution, in which we had to identify the gap of the current solutions. In detail, the below tables show seven solutions Gen Z is currently seeking regarding life skills, mostly soft skills.
Current solutions regarding life skills
The listed solutions that Gen Z is utilizing are mostly motivated by their intrinsic desire to improve their life skills. However, the options vary greatly, such as playing games and attending events and workshops. As a result, our answer is to combine Gen Z’s habit of playing games with the conduct of life skills classes connected to our games so that Gen Z may practically use the knowledge they learn from our games – a concept known as “Active learning”.
Given the fact that all of the team members that take part in KICK-IT-OFF are all Gen Z, hence, we tend to understand Gen Z better, and gain a depth-insight into the life skills problem that Gen Z is experiencing. However, in order to successfully develop such solution, the KICK-IT-OFF team also sought assistance from life skills experts and teachers. Therefore, from the combination of the Gen Z team and the mentoring from those who teach Gen Z, KICK-IT-OFF was born.
It is now time to bring our definitions and ideas to life during the prototype phase. A prototype is the first, original model of a proposed product, and that is exactly what we set out to create (Castro, n.d).
After we agreed on our final solution, we set out to find and propose KICK-IT-OFF to information technology collaborators to build our first version of the website, which includes various functions such as signing up for courses, signing up as teachers, blogs, community, etc. Along the way, we also seek life skills experts for consultants on the knowledge and the curriculum of our courses. That said, KICK-IT-OFF’s website is aimed to have a scratch demo by the end of June. The purpose of the website is to inform visitors what KICK-IT-OFF is about and its solution along with other functions.
In regards to the interactive video game, the concept of the game has been formed, which is an educational type of genre where players will go through levels to earn game points. The uniqueness of our game is that those who are studying KICK-IT-OFF’s courses will have additional benefits when playing the games, such as limited characters, game points, etc. The game will have a profound story and character development. However, due to a lack of human resources, the game is yet to enter the development stage. So far, the website and the courses are prioritized by KICK-IT-OFF. Meanwhile, KICK-IT-OFF continues to form the game’s script, its storywise, and its function.
The testing phase will take place in real life to determine whether or not the project’s concept is valuable to real people. This phase begins after the prototype is completed and shown to the user to begin receiving input, then reflecting and questioning how to enhance the product (Castro, n.d.).
For effective testing, KICK-IT-OFF does not focus on asking users whether they like the solutions KICK-IT-OFF creates. Instead, we continue to develop “Why” questions to explore all aspects, so we can get the root causes for the process of continuously improving the solution and perfecting the project product.
The theory of change tool is used to express the need we are attempting to address, the changes we wish to accomplish (our outcome), and what we intend to do (our activities) (Harries, Hodgson, and Noble, 2014).
Theory of change
With a small amount of crowdfunding input and a small number of core human resources for the project, but with the enthusiasm and time we spend wanting to see the effectiveness of the product testing we bring to users. Therefore, with each project activity, we always aim for SMART goals and set clear milestones. To ensure that activities are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and aligned with the mission and vision of KICK-IT-OFF or not.
Planning Triangle for a supported KICK-IT-OFF project
We always have reviews that gather direct input from users or consumers at the end before going on to the next level because each activity has its timeline. Because each stage has its unique nature and characteristics, testing occurs not just at the end, but also rotates and repeats continually whenever possible. Aside from that, risk and mistake reduction when a finished product reaches the consumer.
The ultimate stage of Design thinking is implementation, which is when all of the acquired knowledge and idea is transformed into the final product.
Following the above processes, we also gathered data files, ideas about problems and solutions for customers that we are interested in, and a prototype, to start implementing and developing the system of KICK-IT-OFF. The following are the primary steps in the implementation phase:
Installing the development environment: Setting up the tools and frameworks required for application development. Including the installation of software development kits, an integrated development environment, and any project-specific documentation or stakeholders.
Optimize performance: the management process is founded on an Agile methodology so that it can be modified if errors occur. Furthermore, to facilitate the process of exchanging ideas and assisting one another in problem-solving, we employ popular technologies on a regular and consistent basis when implementing projects.
Evaluation: we assess both the product implementation of the project and the user experience/attitude towards the product.
Test and debug: Conduct a thorough test of the application to identify and fix any bugs or issues before mass deployment.
Ultimately, we intend to launch a minor campaign to reach users directly. Then, using other modes of communication, push it even further.
In conclusion, KICK-IT-OFF is a transformative project focused on empowering vulnerable Gen Z individuals with essential life skills for sustainable development. The success of KICK-IT-OFF hinges on its ability to deliver an effective and engaging program that aligns with the needs and expectations of its target audience. Design thinking, with its emphasis on empathy, creativity, and iterative experimentation, is an invaluable tool for achieving this goal. By taking a user-centered approach, KICK-IT-OFF can gain a deep understanding of its target audience and develop a program that meets their needs. Design thinking also fosters innovation and creativity, enabling KICK-IT-OFF to develop new and effective ways to teach life skills to its target audience. By taking an iterative approach based on feedback from its target audience, KICK-IT-OFF can continuously improve its program to ensure it remains effective and engaging. Ultimately, design thinking plays a crucial role in KICK-IT-OFF’s ability to empower the next generation of leaders and create a more inclusive and sustainable society.
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