EcoSystem Project

EcoSystem Project
The design of the Full-Body Interaction Learning Environment called EcoSystem was based on an Evaluation-Driven approach. We also researched the potentials of elicitation techniques to define child-generated gestures.



The development of learning environments based on Full-Body Interaction has become an increasingly important field of research in recent years. However, the design and evaluation strategies currently used present some significant limitations. Two major shortcomings are: the inadequate involvement of children in the design process and a lack of research into what meanings children construct within these learning environments. To tackle these shortcomings we present an Evaluation-Driven Design approach, which aims at analyzing situated interpretations made by children. These interpretations are used to guide and optimize design in an iterative process of design and assessment. This Evaluation-Driven Design method was applied in the development of the EcoSystem Project, a Full-Body Interaction Learning Environment for children aimed at supporting learning about environmental relationships.

For this project, we formalized the Evaluation-Driven approach in a three-stage procedure aimed at creating continuous iterations and an on-going feed-back loop between design and assessment. The goal of the procedure was to define an iterative path to guide the design process from an initial ideation phase toward the evaluation of a prototype. For this purpose, children’s participation during the process was modulated according to the different roles of children’s involvement; i.e. co-designers, informants and testers. For all three stages, we worked with children between 10 and 12 years old. Children came from different schools and each class group participated in only one of the three consecutive stages. In all three, they came from middle class urban public schools located in the city of Barcelona, Spain.


The procedure of the study was organized as follows:

  • Stage 1 Children as co-designers: This first stage of the study had the goal of defining the educational needs through the use of Participatory Design methods. For this purpose, we analyzed children’s representations, previous knowledge and misconceptions on concepts related to environmental education. Then, we employed them to define design requirements and to develop a first prototype of the game.


  • Stage 2 Children as informants: The second stage of the study had the goal of analyzing children’s interaction and interpretation of the first prototype. This analysis was oriented toward using their feedback as instruments to refine our design proposal.


  • Stage 3 Children as testers: The third stage of the study aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of the designed Full-Body Interaction Learning Environment in supporting learning and comparing its use with traditional instructional methods. 


Potentials of the Evaluation-Driven Approach

The application of this iterative approach proved to be highly effective both in facilitating continuous improvements in the proposed design and in reducing misconceptions by children using the environment. Moreover, experimental evaluation reported significant learning gains in children. This suggests both the potential of using Full-Body Interaction to support learning and the effectiveness of our Evaluation-Driven approach in optimizing design solutions through the analysis of children’s interpretations. This study confirms the fundamental importance of involving experts and end-users in the design process and suggests how focusing aspects such as interpretative process and situated interactions can meaningfully contribute to research in this area.  


Child-Generated Gestures in Full-Body Interaction Design

Our previous studies  have indicated that the Full-Body Interaction Learning Environment facilitated children’s understanding of the elements and rules of the ecosystem. Nevertheless, children still had some difficulties to grasp the relationships between the different elements in the environment. Starting from this perspective, we hypothesized that using gestures or actions to enact these relationships would have been helpful to facilitate their understanding. The goal was to improve the interaction design of the system and, hence, address the better understanding of the Ecosystem environment by children. We conducted a study with children to identify how they can be encouraged to give their own design solutions. We used two different techniques to facilitate the design of gestures: “sketching through the body” and “sketching with puppets”. A total of 17 children (11 girls and 6 boys) between 10-11 years old were asked to think of different gestures to demonstrate reciprocal relationships between specific game elements.  


Bodystorming vs. Pupped-Based Design

Relevant differences in the results using these approaches suggest potential insights related to both co-design technique for Full-Body Interaction Learning Environments. Childing using the bodystorming technique proposed a wide range of ideas and were very excited and engaged during the activity. However, they did not manage to focus on the design goals and tended to personify mainly game elements rather than relations between these. Children employing the puppets for designing gestures, successfully addressed the design goals and managed to propose solutions related to the design challenges when asked by the researchers. Furthermore, one group was constantly switching between “acting” and “using puppets” and showed a much higher capability of proposing novel design solutions for the specific challenge. Such findings could be related to the importance of generating a balance between “getting immersed in a situation” and “stepping back” from it in order to construct knowledge and learn. Thus, the act of continually switching between performing with their own bodies and simulating those gestures with puppets may have helped children to reflect upon their own knowledge and express it more precisely. In particular by role-playing through their body, children may have become immersed in the challenges and then, by using the puppets they might have had the opportunity of “stepping back” and externalize to their ideas more concrete. 


Related Publications:

Marie-Monique Schaper, Ole Sejer Iversen, Laura Malinverni, Narcis Pares. (2019). FUBImethod: Strategies to engage Children in the co-design of  Full-Body interactive experiences. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies., 132: 52-69.  DOI= 

Schaper, M. M. (2019). Co-design strategies with children in Full-Body Interaction for situated non-formal learning experiences.(Doctoral dissertation, Universitat Pompeu Fabra).

Laura Malinverni, Marie-Monique Schaper and Narcis Pares. (2016). An evaluation-driven design approach to develop learning environments based on full-body interaction. Educational Technology Research and Development. DOI=http://dx.doi:10.1007/s11423-016-9468-z

Marie-Monique Schaper, Laura Malinverni, and Narcis Pares. (2015). Sketching through the body: child-generated gestures in Full-Body Interaction Design. In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC ’15). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 255-258. DOI=

Marie-Monique Schaper, Laura Malinverni, and Narcis Pares. (2014). Participatory design methods to define educational goals for full-body interaction. In Proceedings of the 11th Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology (ACE ’14). ACM, New York, NY, USA, Article 50. DOI=

Principal researchers

Narcis Pares


Laura Malinverni, Marie-Monique Schaper

Fàbrica del Sol, Ecoserveis

 Aula Ambiental de la Sagrada Família, Societat Catalana d‘Educació Ambiental (SCED)

Centre de Suport a la Innovació i la Recerca Educativa (CESIRE)

Escola Pere IV


The project is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

The Grant number is: TIN2014-60599-P